The Emergency 1939 - 1946

On the outbreak of World War II, in September 1939, the Defence Forces mobilised at a strength of less than 20,000. A recruiting campaign began and an effective fighting force was quickly developed. In April/May 1941 the strength of the Emergency Army reached a high point of almost 41,000 and in June 1943 the Local Defence Force reached a strength of 106,000.

Mobilisation saw the formation of two divisions and two independent brigades. The First Division, under Maj Gen M. J. Costello, had its headquarters in Cork while the Second Division, under Maj Gen Hugo McNeill, had its headquarters in Carton House, Maynooth. The independent 5 and 8 Brigades were based in the Curragh and in Rineanna (now Shannon Airport) respectively.

The area based Commands relinquished responsibility for field operations but continued to undertake all garrison duties, recruit training and the organisation of the Local Defence Force.

Approximately 170 aircraft crashed or force landed on Irish territory during the period. Separate internment camps were established in the Curragh for both Allied and German aircrews as well as the 164 German seamen rescued by the MV Kerlogue in the Bay of Biscay. In addition to the bombing of the North Strand in Dublin, bombs were also dropped in Campile, Dundalk, Monaghan, Carlow and the Curragh.

 

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