Ireland’s New Memory of the First World War: Forgotten Aspects of the Battle of Messines, June 1917

  • Richard S. Grayson Goldsmiths, University of London


The narrative of the 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) divisions fighting side-byside at Messines in June 1917 plays a major and valuable role in crosscommunity reconciliation on the island of Ireland. However, there is no sustained historical analysis of precisely who (in terms of geographic origin) was serving in the two divisions by June 1917. This article does that, concluding that around one-third of the men in each division had no Irish connection. This opens up the prospect of nuancing the Messines narrative so that it might play a part in British-Irish reconciliation.