Section 5: The Ulster Volunteer Force

The Ulster Volunteer Force was established in January 1913. The Ulster Volunteer Force was an organisation pledged to oppose Home Rule by force, if necessary. In its early days the UVF was organised in an informal way and groups of local men practised marching and drilling with ‘dummy’ guns. Rallies and marches were organised by some landlords at estates like Finnebrogue in Downpatrick and the Annesley estate in Newcastle. During the course of 1913 the UVF became formally organised on military lines and by 1914 had illegally acquired arms from Germany. By 1914 the UVF had almost 100,000 members.

Image A is a badge worn on UVF caps.

Image B shows members of the UVF marching in Ballynahinch area in 1913. 

Image C is a calendar produced by the East Down Unionist Association for the UVF for 1914.

What do images B and C tell you about how the UVF developed between 1913 and 1914 ?

Image D is a postcard showing members of the UVF marching. The postcard says that the UVF contains ‘the gentleman of fortune right down through every grade’.

Can you see different social classes of men depicted in the card ?

Why was it important for the UVF to show that it had support from a wide variety of men ?

Who is ‘Mister Bull’ ?
Image E is a photograph of UVF nurses in Saintfield taken in 1914.

Find out in what other ways Unionist women showed their opposition to Home Rule.

What does the presence of a nursing corps in Saintfield tell you about the UVF in 1914?

What might some of these women have done later on in 1914 ?

  • Image A
  • Image B
  • Image C
  • Image D
  • Image E