The Great War
Until Independence in 1922, Irish soldiers formed part of the British Army. The Regiments of Irish origin were:
- Irish Guards
- Royal Irish Regiment
- Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers*
- Royal Irish Rifles
- Connaught Rangers*
- Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians)*
- Royal Munster Fusiliers*
- Royal Irish Fusiliers
- Royal Dublin Fusiliers*
* These units were disbanded under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922; the others remained part of the British Army.
The Irish Army was supplied with British-designed weapons that were sourced from War Office surpluses. This included British Mk. I guns. These were used alongside other ex-British weapons and equipment.
Interestingly enough, the only item of equipment which was not sourced from British Army stocks was the helmet, which was similar in design to that of the German Army. However, these helmets were actually produced by Vickers Ltd. from 1928 onwards.
For an unknown reason, the Irish Free State Army did purchase the following commercial guns:
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There is footage of the Irish Free State Army, exercising with the Vickers in the inter-war period, from Pathe News. The video is available here.
Second World War
Ireland remained Neutral during the Second World War; however, it declared ‘The Emergency’ and mobilised in preparation for potential invasion from either the Allies or Axis forces.
One of the items of equipment that was developed, and only apparently used, by the Irish Free State Army was a handcart for transporting the Vickers. This can be seen in use in the clip here. It contained one gun, tripod, condensor can, Spares Parts Box, and four ammunition boxes of 250 rounds each. Other gun team equipment, such as a shovels and picks were also carried.
An example of these handcarts is in the VMGCRA Collection and has been fully restored along with two further examples for international collectors.
The Irish Army continued to use the Vickers after the War. The only conflicts in which they took part, which featured the Vickers, was as part of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Congo.