Publisher: Colourpoint Books
The Chocolate Soldiers
The Story of the Young Citizen Volunteers and 14th Royal Irish Rifles during the Great War
By Steven Moore
Born in the politically charged atmosphere of 1911–14 Ireland, and with the support of some of the most influential figures in Belfast, the Young Citizen Volunteers was founded with vision and ambition.
Conceived as non-sectarian and non-political, the YCV was at various times a youth movement with national and even international aspirations; a paramilitary body prepared to take up arms to prove its loyalty; and the core of a battalion of the British Army that fought in all the major battles on the Western Front during 1916 and 1917, and helped halt the German advances of 1918.
Seen as an elite unit, due to their standard of training, the YCV was given a favoured status when it eventually merged with the more working-class Ulster Volunteer Force. Although enlisting with enthusiasm at the outbreak of war and forming the core of the 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, the YCVs were unkindly dubbed ‘The Chocolate Soldiers’ and remained the ‘odd men out’ throughout the Great War, and beyond.
From naïve young men who paraded Belfast in their signature grey uniforms to the karki-clad battle-hardened troops of the Western Front, this is the story of the YCV and 14th Royal Irish Rifles told largely through the words of the soldiers themselves.
Sparked by family connections to the Young Citizen Volunteers, author Steven Moore brings their fascinating history to life in this frank and honest account.