THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Volunteer defence corps holds meeting in schoolroom

From the News Letter, February 27, 1916

Saturday, 27th February 2021, 6:00 am
A recruiting meeting in connection with the Belfast Volunteer Defence Corps had been held in the schoolroom of St Simon’s Church on the Donegall Road, reported the News Letter in 1916. Picture: News Letter archives
A recruiting meeting in connection with the Belfast Volunteer Defence Corps had been held in the schoolroom of St Simon’s Church on the Donegall Road, reported the News Letter in 1916. Picture: News Letter archives

Last night a recruiting meeting in connection with the Belfast Volunteer Defence Corps had been held in the schoolroom of St Simon’s Church on the Donegall Road, reported the News Letter in 1916.

Presiding over the meeting the Very Reverend the Dean of Belfast said that they met that night in a time of immense national strain with their armies engaged in “a struggle for existence of the nation” he said he it was the duty of every man to do what they could for King and country.

Turning the focus of his speech to the corps itself he said that they had been organised to enrol those who might be unable to join the regular arm to defend the home front.

He said: “There must be a considerable number of such men in Belfast, and if they are ineligible for the army they should come forward and do their bit to help in the present crisis.”

The dean added that the Volunteer Defence Corps were a non-political and non-sectarian organisation and had been established to give the country “all the assistance possible”. Major Jeffries, the commanding officer of the Belfast Docks area, who also attended the meeting testified to the work of the corps in the city and added that he could find work for many more members who enlisted in the corps.

The News Letter report on the Volunteer Defence Corps meeting at St Simon’s Church concluded: “The meeting was a most successful one, several recruits being secured, and the clergymen promising to assist the movement in every way.”