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Edwin Lambert
William Lunn MP
Rothwell Courier and Times.
At a recent formal opening by the Mayor of Belfast (Ald. Sir James Johnston), of a Belfast reception depot in connection with the Royal Air Force, the first of its kind to be established in Ulster, the Commanding Officer for the province of Ulster, Captain A.E. Irwin, R.A.F., of Woodlesford, who in 1915 and 1916 did effective work in the Barnsley and Wombwell district, explained that the idea of the air force coming to Ireland originated from the fact that the authorities were absolutely convinced that Irish sentiment would be specially responsive to the principles of the corps., and that the young men of the country would readily fall into line to make this separate arm of the service a complete success. (Applause.)
Personally he felt quite convinced that they would do extraordinary well in Ireland generally. What they wanted was the help of North, South, East, and West in the struggle. It was no time for indulging in contrasts. It was a time for individual and collective duty. The worst enemy to recruiting would be comparisons between the North and South.
No young man could justifiably cover up his holding back by the excuse “Until the South has done as well as the North I will not join up.”
They were all proud of the men who contributed their quota to the Army of the Empire no matter what part of the country they came from. “Leave out comparisons altogether,” pleaded Capt. Irvin.
“Let such men act from a sense of duty and carry that duty out, irrespective of what other people or other provinces may have done; let each man who can volunteer for service to help his comrades in the field, and let him say, “In the winning of this war I am prepared to fulfil any requirements the Government may call upon me to fulfil.”
R.A.F. recruitment poster.
In conclusion the speaker said that though he came to Belfast a stranger he had been welcomed by Sir James Johnston and those connected with him in that warm-hearted spirit shared by Irish people whether they sprung from the North or from the South.
The Lord Mayor, in opening the depot said it was a great pleasure for him to be present and to associate himself with the recruiting campaign now being initiated in Ulster by Capt. Irvin. Commanding the Royal Air Force, Captain Irvin had devoted a great deal of time and energy to that branch of the service, and he well merited the success which he so sanguinely anticipated.
It was their duty to cooperate in every way with the authorities, who were anxious that voluntary effort should be the medium of securing recruits rather than that  
conscription should be enforced. (Applause.)
Therefore, he hoped sincerely that as many as possible would go to the help of the Royal Air Service. The captain, whom he had pleasure in introducing, would explain the mode of procedure to be followed by prospective volunteers. “If I were a young man,” declared Sir James, “I would join up without a moment’s delay.” (Applause.) “I am sure the Air Ministry will not appeal to Belfast citizens I vain. We would be remiss if we did not help them in the part they are playing in this great war for humanity.”
For more stories from 1918 click on the link below.