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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2001, Vol. 4 No. 2 .

Northern Ireland in the Second World War
John W. Blake

Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 2000
570pp. Reissue with foldout maps. Index. Hb.: 45.00; ISBN 0-85640-678-3

Originally published in 1956, Northern Ireland in the Second World War, is an absorbing and detailed account of the role and experience of Northern Ireland and the people of Northern Ireland during the Second World War. From 1940 the Stormont government required its departments to maintain a record of their wartime activities. In 1945, Blake, with access to these and other records some of which were not released to the public until the 1970s, or not at all, compiled an account.

The book chronicles the war years from the preparations for hostilities through to the conclusion of the conflict. The chapters focusing on the Home Front highlight the particular difficulties faced by Northern Ireland, including the open border with a neutral Eire, IRA activities, opposition of the Catholic Church to conscription in Northern Ireland, and the logistical problems of ensuring that evacuees were billeted with families of their own religion. The few but devastating air raids suffered by Belfast are described as well as the deficiencies in Northern Ireland's defence arrangements. Further chapters detail the crucial role played by Northern Ireland and people from Northern Ireland serving in the armed forces at Dunkirk, Burma, North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Normandy and in the ocean convoys.

The reissue of this densely packed volume gives a fascinating insight into the experiences of Northern Ireland during the Second World War.

Helen Morris

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