(Nearly) every girl loved a soldier - UU research

May 20, 2004

Predecessors of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment - the British Army regiment at the centre of abuse allegations in Iraq - had a much more positive interaction with the Irish civil population when posted here over a century ago, according to research by a University of Ulster academic.

Dr Neal Garnham, a senior lecturer in History at the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages at the Magee campus, probed how the East Lancashire Regiment - one of the units which amalgamated to form the current QLR - was received when it was stationed at Newry for more than five years in the 1880s and 1890s.

"As in Iraq, troops had a role to play in law enforcement, which meant that relations with the local population could become fraught", he said.

But his research found that at the regimental headquarters in Newry the troops played a major role in local society and appeared to be well accepted by the local population:

  • Regimental teams took part in a whole series of sporting contests including football, cricket and polo matches.
  • The regimental band appeared at almost all the local fetes and public events.
  • Men and women of all political and religious beliefs visited the messes in the local barracks.
  • Soldiers were invited to join local social clubs and associations, turned out for local sports teams and brought much-needed money into the town.

    But, according to Dr Garnham, there was an even more significant mark of the acceptance of the troops in the town at that time.

    While the regiment was serving in Newry more than 10% of all marriages in the town involved local girls and soldiers from the garrison.

    University of Ulster
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