'Erin go bragh': Canada's Irish Rangers in WW I

April 04, 2014

Recruitment poster, Canada. 1915.

After the British declaration of war on Germany in 1914 Canada, as a dominion of Britain, was also at war. The standing militia of roughly 3 000 men was not nearly enough to fight the European War and arrangements were quickly made to raise battalions in towns across the country, many who were large enough would raise their own battalion that,  until its deployment in Europe, would remain under the name of the place from which it came. In addition to locally raised battalions, recruited from the farmers and businessmen of the surrounding area, the Canadian government also made efforts to raise “special” battalions that would increase recruiting among particular communities.

 Along with the 22e Bataillon, one of the only purely French speaking battalions of the CEF, the 199th or Duchess of Connaught’s Irish Rangers was raised to draw in recruits from the Irish community of Montreal and pitched that Irishmen joining would be able to fight alongside their fellow countrymen. The 199th was raised in 1915 and trained in Canada at Valcartier; however by May 1917 it was absorbed into the 23rd Reserve Battalion, most likely the result of losses at Vimy that prevented the battalion from listing a full strength.

 As with the Pals battalions in England, many local battalions found that they could not keep their original character, as men died during battle and there were no recruits to replace them. Oftentimes, the battalions were absorbed into others or renamed and as a result it is sometimes difficult to track the wartime paths of many of them. Additionally, men were frequently transferred in and out of units and by the end of the war many battalions were a mixture of men, some of whom would probably never see the city from which their battalion hailed.

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Below is a simplified description table for the posters offered by The Grenadier. (each lower grade may contain the flaws listed in the higher grades):

Condition A+
Mint. Like new: rarely seen in original vintage posters.

Condition A
This poster has no paper loss, has retained fresh colors, and has no restoration. It is very clean with fresh, bright colors. It may not be perfect, but any minor flaws are unobtrusive and not harmful to the image area.

Condition A-
The poster may have minor, unobtrusive restoration, perhaps minor age toning, evidence of folio folds. Colors are strong. Any minor paper loss will be confined to the borders, not affecting the image area. This is the "normal" collectable condition for original vintage posters.

Condition B+
The poster may have minor restoration, perhaps minor age toning, and evidence of folio folds (like those graded A-) which may have been retouched. Colors are strong. Any minimal repairs will not detract from the quality of the image. They may have minor paper loss, usually limited to the border area, which may have been replaced. Evidence of tape residue or removal may be visible in the corners or border area.

Condition B
Posters in this range are usually described as being in "very good condition." There may be unobtrusive restoration of small missing pieces and/or repaired tears at the edges or at folio folds, but the work will not be detrimental to the quality of the image. Colors are fresh and the restoration is not considered "significant."

Condition B-
The paper may show minor evidence of handling. Paper toning may be evident. Paper acid burns at original folio folds may be evident.

Condition C
This poster is in fair to good condition with need for restoration or with restoration work which is evident. There may be minor paper loss, some fading in the image area, folds, or tears. The image, however, is intact and the artist's intention is evident. “C” posters may show visible wear, fold lines, tape residue or light foxing. These posters will have had professional, archival restoration work.

Condition D
This grade denotes a poster with significant flaws: missing pieces, serious fading, poor restoration, dry mounting, etc. Such posters are not considered collectable.