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Unit History: Irish Guards

Irish Guards The Regiment is one of only two Irish Regiments remaining in the British Army along with the Royal Irish Regiment. The Irish Guards Regiment was formed by Royal Warrant of Queen Victoria in 1900 to commemorate the contribution of the Irish soldiers during the Second Boer War. The Regiment was then stationed on ceremonial duties until the outbreak of the First World War.

One of the most famous Officers of the Regiment was Jack Kipling, the only son of Rudyard Kipling, who was initially rejected from service due to his poor eyesight. His father pulled strings in order to allow him to join up with the 2nd Battalion and he was killed in September 1915 at the Battle of Loos. His body was never found and his devastated father wrote the poem ‘My Boy Jack’ which was also dramatised into a play.

It is easy to distinguish between the Regiments of Foot Guards as the buttons on the tunics are spaced to reflect their order of seniority. The Irish Guards have buttons arranged in groups of four.

Irish Guards during WW1

During the First World War, the Irish Guards were deployed to France and they remained on the Western Front for the duration of the war. During the course of the war, the Regiment was awarded 406 medals 4 of which were Victoria Crosses and lost over 2,300 officers and men.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Wellington Barracks as part of the 4th (Guards) Brigade of the 2nd Division.
13.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
1914
The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, First Battle of Ypres.
1915
Winter Operations 1914-15, The Battle of Festubert.
20.08.1915 Transferred to the 1st (Guards) Brigade.
1915
The Battle of Loos
1916
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval,
1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Pilkem, The Battle of the Menin Road, The Battle of Poelkapelle, The First Battle of Passchendaele, The Battle of Cambrai 1917.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras 1918, The battles marked, The Battle of Albert, The Second Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Havrincourt, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Assevent, N.E. of Maubeuge, France.

2nd Battalion
18.07.1915 Formed at Warley Barracks
17.08.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre, joining the 2nd (Guards) Brigade of the Guards Division.
1915
The Battle of Loos
1916
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval,
1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Pilkem, The Battle of the Menin Road, The Battle of Poelkapelle, The First Battle of Passchendaele, The Battle of Cambrai 1917.
08.02.1918 Transferred to the 4th (Guards) Brigade of the 31st Division.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras, The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Defence of Nieppe Forest.
20.05.1918 Transferred to the G.H.Q. Reserve
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Criel Plage, S.W. of Le Treport.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
1914 Formed at Warley Barracks as 2nd Reserve Battalion.
July 1915 Became 3rd (Reserve) Battalion and remained at Warley Barracks.

4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Kilkenny and then moved to Queenstown
May 1915 Moved to England at Gosport.
Sept 1915 Returned to Ireland at Fermoy
May 1916 Moved to Queenstown
April 1918 Returned to England as part of the Irish Reserve Brigade at Larkhill.

5th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers)
29.08.1914 Formed at Clonmel as part of the First New Army (K1) in the 29th Brigade of the 10th Division and then moved to Fermoy and Longford.
May 1915 Moved to England based at Basingstoke and then became a Pioneer Battalion of the 10th Division.
07.07.1915 Embarked for Gallipoli from Liverpool via Mudros.
07.08.1915 Landed at Suvla Bay and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army including;
The Battle of Sari Bair, Capture of Chocolate Hill, Hill 60.
30.09.1915 Evacuated from Gallipoli to Mudros due to severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather.
06.10.1915 Deployed to Salonika and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including;
The Battle of Kosturino, The Retreat from Serbia, Capture of the Karajokois, Capture of Yenikoi, Third Battle of Gaza, Capture of the Sheria Position, Capture of Jersusalem, Defence of Jerusalem, Tell ‘Asure.
01.04.1918 Transferred to the 52nd Division.
10.04.1918 Embarked for France from Alexandria arriving at Marseilles 17.04.1918.
31.05.1918 Transferred to defence the Lines of Communication.
14.07.1918 Transferred to the 50th Division at Arques la Bataille near Martin Eglise S.E. of Dieppe and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;
The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, The Battle of the Beaurevoir Line, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of Valenciennes.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Semousies north of Avesnes.

6th (Service) Battalion
06.09.1914 Formed at Clonmel as part of the Second New Army (K2) in the 16th Division.
Mar 1915 Moved to Fermoy absorbed 250 men of all ranks from one company of the Guernsey Militia.
Sept 1915 Moved to Aldershot.
Dec 1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1916
The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Ginchy.
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Langemark.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Rosieres,
09.02.1918 After heavy losses the Division was return to England to reconstitute but the Battalion was disbanded in France at Saulcourt near Ephey, with the remaining personnel transferred to the 2nd and 7th Battalions.

7th (South Irish Horse) Battalion
01.09.1917 Formed in France from the dismounted 1st and 2nd South Irish Horse.
14.10.1917 Transferred to the 49th Brigade of the 16th Division.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Rosieres,
18.04.1918 Reduced to cadre.
26.06.1918 Reformed with 500 men of all ranks from the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 250 men from the Royal Munster Fusiliers and 85 men from the Royal Irish Regiment.
04.07.1918 Transferred to the 21st Brigade of the 30th Division.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The actions at the Somme Crossings, The Battle of Rosieres, The Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Battle of the Scherpenberg, The capture of Neuve Eglise, The capture of Wulverghem, The Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Courtrai.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Ellezelles east of Renaix, Belgium.

8th (Service) Battalion
25.05.1918 Formed in France from the 2nd Garrison Guard Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment as part of the 178th Brigade of the 59th Division.
20.06.1918 Transferred to the 121st Brigade of the 40th Division.
13.07.1918 The title of ‘Garrison’ dropped and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Final Advance in Flanders, The Battle of Ypres.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Lannoy south of Roubaix, France.

1st Garrison Battalion
02.08.1915 Formed at Dublin and then moved to Holyhead.
06.09.1915 Embarked for Egypt from Devonport, Plymouth arriving at Mudros.
Oct 1915 Supplied working parties to be sent to Suvla Bay.
05.02.1916 Deployed to Egypt where it remained.

2nd (Home Service) Garrison Battalion
Mar 1916 Formed at Dublin.
April 1918 Became 2nd Garrison Guard Battalion.
18.04.1918 Went to France joining the 178th Brigade of the 59th Division.
25.05.1918 Became the 8th Garrison (and then Service) Battalion and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of Albert, The general final advance in Artois and Flanders.

Forces Reunited Gallery Images Matching Irish Guards

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Memories of Irish Guards

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

Irish Guards, Dusseldorf in 1963

Written by John Tooke

While serving in Germany, myself,Joe Williamson, Jimmy (Benny) Hill, formed a ’Group’ and we played for various ’Messes’, clubs and civilian bars..Good times!

Forces Reunited Forum Posts Involving Irish Guards

"1ST BATTALION IRISH GUARDS "
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" are you looking for me, KEVIN TREACY late IRISH GUARDS, SINCE 1977. "
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"...case involves four servicemen, and relates to the alleged killing of Ahmed Kareem, an Iraqi civilian, in Basra on May 8 2003. :: Sergeant Carle Selman, 38, of the Scots Guards: Unlawful killing of Mr Kareem. :: Guardsman Martin McGing, 21, of the Irish Guards: Unlawful killing of Mr Kareem. :: Guardsman Joseph McCleary, 23, of the Irish Guards: Unlawful killing of Mr Kareem. :: A 21-year-old Lance Corporal with the Irish Guards has also been charged with the unlawful killing of Mr Kareem,..."
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"...case involves four servicemen, and relates to the alleged killing of Ahmed Kareem, an Iraqi civilian, in Basra on May 8 2003. :: Sergeant Carle Selman, 38, of the Scots Guards: Unlawful killing of Mr Kareem. :: Guardsman Martin McGing, 21, of the Irish Guards: Unlawful killing of Mr Kareem. :: Guardsman Joseph McCleary, 23, of the Irish Guards: Unlawful killing of Mr Kareem. :: A 21-year-old Lance Corporal with the Irish Guards has also been charged with the unlawful killing of Mr Kareem,..."
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"...on condition of anonymity - they are forbidden from talking to the press by Queen’s Regulations - said they had been disgusted to learn that more fellow soldiers face prison as a result of their actions in Iraq. One soldier, who served with the Irish Guards in Iraq during the conflict in 2003 and knows the three soldiers charged on Tuesday with war crimes, said: "It’s going to put all the other lads in a horrible position. Everyone is going to be scared to do anything. If they get fired upon,..."
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