16 January 1939: The Irish Republican Army, led by Sean Russell, declared War on Britain on this day. Russell had already sent a formal letter of intent to the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain stating that:
I have the honour to inform you that the government of the Irish Republic, having as its first duty towards the people the establishment and maintenance of peace and order, herewith demand the withdrawal of all British armed forces stationed in Ireland.
The IRA man had given the British Leader 96 hours to reply before the DOW would take effect.
Copies were also dispatched to Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Lord Brookborough in the North. Soon afterwards IRA bombs started to go off in England and eventually about 200 devices exploded causing limited material damage, many injuries and a few deaths. The worst such incident occurred in the City of Coventry in August 1939 when seven innocent people were killed and nearly a 100 injured in a no warning attack.
The Bombing Campaign though eventually petered out. The IRA never really had sufficient numbers of Volunteers nor enough trained personnel to conduct a sustained campaign in Britain to other than annoy the British. Nothing they could realistically achieve would have made them change their minds over their presence in Ireland.
Ironically when Britain declared War on Germany in September 1939 the Ultimatum presented by Neville Chamberlain to the German Chancellor bore more than a few passing echoes to the one Sean Russell had sent to the very same British Prime Minister at the beginning of that fateful year. At least Russell had given Britain 96 hours grace to end their Occupation but Chamberlain had in effect given Hitler less than 48 hours in which to end his one!