COUNTY ARMAGH. - SPECIAL DUTY IN BELFAST.
T he late troubles in Belfast entailed duty of a particularly tiring and uninteresting character upon the police, the military and the Resident Magistrates.
The affected quarter was Queen's Ireland, where a number of isolated assaults had been made upon a certain section of workmen employed in Messrs. Harland and Wolff's and Messrs. Workman and Clark's shipyards. As these assaults usually took place at dinner hour, when some 30,000 workmen were scattered over about two miles of road, the difficulty of affording adequate protection may be easily conceived. The plan adopted was to distribute six military pickets at more or less equal intervals over the disturbed area. These pickets were kept in touch by patrols of Harbour Police, and each picket was accompanied by a small force of the R.I.C. and a Resident Magistrate.
As a matter of fact, after the advent of the military the assaults ceased, and before they had been withdrawn everything was quit and the works in full swing. This duty meant rising at 3.30 a.m. every morning except Sunday, and remaining on picket in the open until 6.30 p.m. It was most fortunate that during this trying time the weather held up fairly well. There was practically no shelter for the men and no seating accommodation beyond an occasional rough plank raised upon a couple of bricks. Everyone, however, managed to appear cheerful, especially the " Tommies." who, seated on the pavement indulged in endless games of cards played with miniature packs. The Regiments on duty were the Cheshire's, the Highland Light Infantry ( from Mullingar), and K.O.S.B.'s. Each H.L.I. picket included two pipers who discoursed sweet music to thousands of delighted rioters (?) during meal intervals. The K.O.S.B.'s were seriously remonstrated with because they came attended by one piper per picket only, while the Cheshire's must have felt rather out of it in the entertainment line, not having pipers and being unaccompanied by their band.
In ordinary times it is nearly impossible to get a permit to go over these wonderful shipyards, but during this period all those on duty were allowed into the works without question. To the mechanically minded this was in itself a great solarium. Indeed a certain officer of the Force displayed such extraordinary familiarity with the " why and wherefore " of everything in the shape of machinery that the wonder is why Messrs. Hartland and Wolff have not snapped him up long ago! " All's well that ends well," and i think all were glad when " the show " was over, especially a certain popular and sporting R.M., who remarked " that on the 12th of August he was accustomed to a different form of entertainment."
Ref :- R.I.C. Mag, September, 1912.