THE MOBILISATION OF THE ULSTER VOLUNTEER FORCE
Report from The Belfast Evening Telegraph, April 25th, 1914
Castledawson men, recruited over a seven mile radius, mobilised in the Protestant Hall well within the given time. Every man answered the roll, patrols and despatch riders left the hall at 10-30, patrolling the roads throughout the night, and met neighbouring units and patrols. Major Connyngham inspected the men at midnight, and dismissed them at 8-20 this (Saturday) morning.
The Volunteers of the Clogher Valley, comprising the area of the South Tyrone Battalion, under Mr. William Coote, J.P., commanding officer, made a fine response to the mobilisation orders of last night. The battalion includes some 13 companies, and it is calculated that over 99 per cent. of the entire membership turned out in about three hours’ notice. The men assembled at the various company drill centres in charge of company commanders shortly before midnight. At Fivemiletown, Clogher, Augher, Ballygawley, Aughnacloy, Caledon, Benburb, and other centres, the men assembled promptly at the hour communicated in the despatch messages which reached the commanding officers by motor cyclists earlier in. the night. The men engaged in an all-night vigil, the time being passed at most centres at route marching. The whole community was seething with excitement, and numbers of people remained up all night wondering what was going to happen and watching eagerly for the latest developments. The men at the various centres of the battalion were disbanded about eight a.m., after despatch riders conveyed despatches to them to the effect that the plan had been successfully carried out.
The Cookstown Battalion, consisting of twelve companies, received orders between six and eight o’clock on Friday evening to mobilise by ten o’clock without transport, but with certain other equipment, and with rations. Details from the various companies show that this mobilisation was successfully carried out. After roll-call the men received orders as to their duties for the night, and marched off in sections. So far as Cookstown is concerned the streets were patrolled all night, and in every direction from the town patrols met parties of the country companies, so that the entire district was covered. The object of the mobilisation was carried out in a most satisfactory manner, and the men were dismissed after eight o’clock this morning.
The Volunteers’ mobilisation roused the keenest interest in Coleraine district, the marching and counter-marching being watched by large crowds. The local companies turned out every available man, all being accounted for. The destinations were not disclosed, but the reports from South Derry show the movements must have been simultaneous throughout the county. Absolute precision characterised the arrivals at the various points, and the men were fully equipped for twelve hours’ duty. Many motors passed through Coleraine at 3.30 this morning with transport lorries. Captain Gaussen, superintended the movements in the county, and the demobilisation was ordered at four o’clock.
Acting on official orders the Crossgar Company of the Ulster Volunteer Force mobilised on Friday night at their headquarters. There was a splendid turnout of the men, who remained on duty all night.