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Extent of British war casualties revealed
British dead on the battlefield near Zonnebeke Photo: Imperial War Museum

Extent of British war casualties revealed

Financial cost disproportionately high for Ireland

London, 20 November 1918 - Now that the war is finally over, attention has turned to counting its cost; in both human and financial terms the figures are considerable.

An official statement on British casualties, puts the number of those killed and wounded at more than three million. Of that number, it is calculated that 658,704 servicemen were killed - including 37,876 officers - and 2,032,122 wounded. A further 359,145 are said to be missing or prisoners. 

The theatre of war that exacted the greatest human price has, undoubtedly, been France, which accounted for the deaths of 32,769 officers and 525,843 of those from other ranks. 

Ireland's financial burden
Also substantial, has been the financial cost of the war, and, according to the Irish Independent, Ireland has borne a disproportionate tax burden during the course of the conflagration.

Ireland’s contribution to the Imperial exchequer has risen from £11,134,500 in 1913-14 to £26,865,000 in 1917-1918. This year, the contribution will be higher still.

The revenue per head of population has risen from £2 10s 10d in 1913-14 to £6 2s 8d last year.

The burden of taxation needs now to be lifted on Ireland, the paper has argued:

‘Home Rule or no Home Rule Ireland is entitled to special treatment, and should be taxed only in proportion to her capacity. If this principle is to be disregarded in the future, as it has been hitherto, it will be impossible to carry out a reconstruction policy in this country, and in the exacting time ahead, we may find ourselves reduced to an impoverished condition.’

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.