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John Redmond visits the Western Front
John Redmond (centre) recently visited the front. His brother William Hoey Kearney Redmond (left) and his son William Archer Redmond (right) are both in the British Army. Photo: National Library of Ireland, IND_H 17825

John Redmond visits the Western Front

Paris, 1 December 1915 - John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, visited the Western Front this week.

Among the places Mr. Redmond went was the battlefield of Loos: ‘We ascended to the height of 200ft and had a complete view of the battlefield, with Loos itself in the distance. We saw the German lines winding like a snake, and our lines nearer to us.’

British soldiers wearing gas masks attack a German trench during the Battle of Loos. (Image: Illustrated London News [London, England], 30 Oct 1915)

With the Leinsters

The following day, further along the Front, Mr. Redmond met the 2nd Battalion of the Leinster Regiment:

‘All the time we were in this camp shelling and big gun firing from British and German lines was continuous.’

‘We then proceeded to Plug Street wood and walked through three lines of defence until we arrived at the firing line. Most of the trenches were supplied with periscopes, and we were within 80 yards of the firing line of the Germans.’

‘Although nothing which could be termed an attack was proceeding, the roar of the guns was continuous, and there was scarcely any cessation from rifle fire and from machine gun fire.’

‘While we were there a man behind us in the woods, who proved to have been a Waterford man and a constituent of mine, was struck by a stray bullet and instantly killed.’

Side by side
Mr. Redmond made his way through the extensive trench system to meet more Irish soldiers: ‘I met the Dublin Fusiliers and men of a battalion of the Ulster Division – the Royal Irish Rifles – side by side in the trenches.’
Referring to the Royal Irish Rifles, Mr Redmond said: ‘I was told that Belfast men and southern and western men in the regiment were the best of comrades and friends.’

[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.