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History of Major Fred Crawford

Short bio thanks to:
Major Fred Crawford Memorial Flute Band



Major Crawford’s main objective was to complete the arming of the Volunteers, for though the Volunteers had been smuggling guns and ammunition for years, the quantities so far imported where relatively small and only a minority of the force was fully equipped.
Much of this smuggling had been organised by Major F. H. Crawford, who was a wealthy Belfast business man with 20 years service in the militia artillery and a taste for adventure, but early in 1914 he was to embark on a much larger project which he brought to a successful conclusion on the night of 24/25th April 1914 when 25,000 rifles and 3,000,000 rounds of ammunition where landed most of them at Larne & Donaghadee.

So effective was the entire operation that it had been completed before police or military could interfere. The project, which was given Sir Edward Carson’s backing during a private meeting in London, involved Crawford purchasing a small Danish vessel and traveling to Austria to purchase the remainder of the firearms. This project was not without its adversity so much so that the whole operation was almost aborted. Crawford felt that this would be disastrous and have major consequences for Ulster so he battled bravely through ill health and danger from attack (as the British Navy had by now been made aware of the plans) to successfully complete his mission by bringing the Mountjoy II (previously named the Clydevalley) back to Ulster’s shores complete with its cargo.

Many historians have described Major Fredrick Hugh Crawford as a remarkable character who was also said to be an enthusiastic Ulsterman with a passionate knowledge of all firearms. His loyalty to Ulster was never in doubt after famously being the only person to have signed the Ulster Covenant in his own blood.
Murals featuring his portrait ensure that Maj. Crawford name will never be forgotten and with 2004 marking the 90th anniversary of one mans supreme act of loyalty, bravery and commitment it is unlikely this will be the last time you will have heard his story.


“It is for Ulster and her freedom I am working,
and for this alone”


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