Kath Kimber-Alldridge - Either with us or Against Us: British Perceptions of the Irish in World War2

Kath Kimber-Alldridge

DEPT/SUBJECT AREA - Politics and Cultural Studies

SUPERVISOR(S) - Professor Mike Sheehan and Dr Gerry Oram

RESEARCH DEGREE (PhD/)

THESIS TITLE - Either with us or Against Us: British Perceptions of the Irish in World War Two


SYNOPSIS

Existing literature on Anglo-Irish relations in the Second World War has suggested that in British popular and political discourse the neutral, Free State Irish were seen as being complacent, stubborn, stupid and even cowardly. However, there was significant Anglo-Irish intelligence collaboration, many Irish nationals in the British Forces and a significant contribution by Irish immigrant labour during the war years.

My thesis will explore and analyse the extent of ambivalence in British perceptions of the Irish, in public perception and government policy, and how far older prejudices or national stereotyping resurfaced or evolved during World War Two, particularly in light of Irish neutrality.

Key questions that emerge here are whether shifting circumstances of war changed attitudes to the Irish, and further if, at time of extreme threat to Britain and her Empire, was Ireland, though neutral, considered an enemy.