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Friday, October 3, 2014

VBCW 1938 in Northern Ireland

As King Edward VIII. refused to abdicate and wants to make Wallis Simpson his queen, opposition formed, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin resigned and as the only ones left willing, Sir Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists (BUF) formed an executive government. As the rest of the United Kingdom prepares for civil war,  Northern Ireland plunges  into chaos. One of the prominent pro-Nazi British was Lord Londonderry.  

Siege of Mount Stewart (Opening Moves of VBCW in Ulster)

As Britain plunged into civil war, Lord Londonderry saw the opportunity to consolidate Fascist power in Northern Ireland. Assembling members of his National Socialist League (NSL) on his estate at Mount Stewart he planned to seize Stormont, the Northern Ireland Parliament, and simultaneously seize the Governor General at Baronscourt. He hoped to have his power base as leader of Northern Ireland, who would then with strong government declare for King Edward VIII. The attack on Baronscourt was a failure with the fascist company held off by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) A specials who were the Governor General’s guard. The fight went on till reinforcements by elements of the B specials and British troops loyal to the government arrived. Londonderry's plans to strike at Stormont stalled when the lead elements of his Battalion were ambushed South of Newtownards by A & B specials of the RUC and elements of the Regular army from Belfast. They retreated back to his estate at Mount Stewart and dug in.

The opposing Factions are forming

In Belfast the Socialist workers militia in response to the attempted coup seized some of the railway and road infrastructure. To complicate things elements of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Irish Republican Army (IRA) decided to renew hostilities as Irish Nationalists saw England’s difficulty as an opportunity for reunification. By this time, Mosley appointed Lord Londonderry as Governor General of Northern Ireland and “convinced” Prime Minister James Craigavon, that his leadership was needed at the front to defend his territory in County Armagh. So you got die hard Unionists of the USC and UVF defending the bridges over the Bann. The united fascist organisations of BUF, NSL and the British Fascisti try to cement their rule by enforcing law and order, along with the reestablished feared Black and Tans Auxilliary Police. And of course you still have a British garrison. Just to point out there was no territorial army in Northern Ireland though supplementary reserve units were forming at this time. The RUC also had some Heavy equipment. 
A revived Irish Citizen Army (ICA) is marching under the Starry Plough again, formed in the whole of Ireland out of the left wing groups of the Republican Congress, and trying to force their way to Ulster to free the North of British rule and establish a Worker’s Republic. In this period the Socialist IRA had been involved in street brawls with Eoin O'Duffy's Blueshirts. Irish Blueshirts launched a raid into Northern Ireland attacking the police station at Loughgall. The RUC officers put up a spirited fight and held of the Blueshirts till a relief column arrived from Armagh, made up of troops from the loyal Royal Irish Fusiliers depot and the RUC.  
The Protestant League was formed by members of the protestant community, especially the Church of Ireland, who do not take kindly to the new king and his fascist prime minister. They are allies of the Anglican League of England, and in this case anti-catholic and anti-communist in nature. Its political spectrum reaches from old conservatives over liberals to grumpy people, who just defend their town and property and want to be left alone. Also some trained forces are in line: the disgruntled members of the RUC, who were those who attacked Lord Londonderry when he went to take power, as well as the disbanded Irish Guards have a real grudge against the government that threw them out.
You've got lots of weapons, some pretty experienced fighters, more factions than you can shake a stick at, police barracks and army bases to raid for guns and explosives. You've also got huge Ulster Scots and expat Republican communities in America ready to send weapons over. 

The Threat of the Irish Free State

With the disapproval of the Irish Catholic Church to communism the IRA leadership had broken its links with the Communist party established in the early 1930's. The IRA had also remained sceptical of the Irish government and saw itself as the protector of the original declaration of 1916. Seeing Northern Ireland as a part of the Irish republic. You also would have disaffected Republicans who felt abandoned by the Free State. And animosities from the civil war still affect Ireland. There is no love lost between the Irish Free State army and the IRA either.  With the political turmoil the treaty ports issue might have been very low on a British government agenda. The Irish government immediately sealed off the Treaty ports and tried to intern the garrisons. The Ulster Government of Viscount Craigavon negotiated the handing over of the ports to Eamonn De Valera’s Irish government with the garrisons being prepared to act on the orders of Craigavon. Useable stores are transferred covertly to Ulster and the Irish army exchange quantities of military stores in exchange with what is left behind. This move was on the one hand expected to appease the Irish Free State and keep it from intervening in the North, which on the hand could be reinforced by the troops from the Treaty port garrisons to put down the political unrest and restore law and order in Northern Ireland.   

Lots of Questions remain concerning the outcome of this Very British Civil War in NI

How many church of Ireland unionists would be pro Anglican League?
How far would Loyalty to the crown be pushed by Edward VIII.'s actions?
Would the Irish Free State hold together as the instability spread?
Could old scores be settled from the civil war?
Would the Irish Regiments of the British Army desert on masse and how would they side on the mainland?

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