In the late 19th century Irish Republicans started to press for a united Ireland, and the Liberal government was quite willing to give Northern Ireland to them, but the British people of the Island refused, and started to protect themselves by importing some hundred carbines with ammunition from Germany.
When it was decided by the Government to hold onto the six North Eastern counties, the weapons were stored in a Police Station at the corner of Browns Square and Shankill Road. They remained there until the second World War broke out in 1939 and when it was decidedto have a battalion for home defence the Local Defence Volunteers was formed, which was later called Home Guard, and I assure you that there was nothing Dad’s army about it, I joined it in order to gain some experience with weapons.
When unarmed drill had been taught for a few weeks, we were taken to the Police Station and, down in the basement, were the guns, thick with grease. We were each given cloths with which we were told to clean one each until there would be not a trace of grease. It required an hour of hard work, but eventually, my weapon was clean, and I was told that while I was in the Guard I would be responsible for it.
We went back to the school where we practised and were told that the guns were c singleshot weapons and had to be reloaded after each shot, and, when we went to a firing range at Spier’s Place On the Shankill, we were told to hold our breaths just before firing, and we were ordered to fire ten shots each.
I fired my ten and the sergeant took our targets to the Captain who, on asking who had fired that target, was told Guardsman Martin ordered that I should be taken out and shot as, though all of my shots were within an inch group, only nine rounds had hit the target.
I must have held my breath too long on possibly the first shot.