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Unit History: Royal Irish Fusiliers

Royal Irish Fusiliers
The Regiment was officially formed in 1881 when the 87th (Prince of Wales's Irish) Regiment of Foot and the 89th (The Princess Victoria's) Regiment of Foot were amalgamated as part of the Childers Reforms and titled the Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers).  However the Regiment can trace its history back further than this date.
 
The 87th was first formed in 1793 by John Doyle (a Dublin-born Veteran of the American Revolutionary War) and was named after the Prince of Wales as the 87th (The Prince of Wales's Irish) Regiment of Foot and later the 87th (The Prince of Wales's Own Irish) Regiment of Foot.  In 1809 the Regiment went to serve during the Peninsular War (1808-1815) and was the first Regiment to capture a French eagle standard at the Battle of Barrosa, which was added to the Regimental badge.  The Regiment also took part in the Capture of Mauritius in 1810 from the French as part of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815).  In 1815 the 87th was deployed to India and remained there for 12 years fighting in Nepal and Burma during the Gurkha War (1814–1816).
 
In 1827 the Regiment added the titles of Fusilier and Royal to its name when its namesake the Prince of Wales acceded to the throne as King George IV and became the 87th (or Royal Irish Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot.  The Regiment went on to serve during the Burmese War of 1824-26 and returned to India in 1849 during the Indian Mutiny (1857-1859) fighting on the North West Frontier.
 
The 89th was first formed in 1793, nicknamed ‘Blayney’s Bloodhounds’ after the commander; Lieutenant General Andrew Thomas Blayney, 11th Baron Blayney, who was famed for hunting down Irish Rebels during Irish Rebellion of 1798.  The Regiment went on to fight at the Battle of Fuengirola during the Peninsular War (1808-1815) and distinguished itself at the Battle of Crysler’s Farm during the Anglo-American War of 1812 and also served during the Crimean War (1854) and the Indian Mutiny (1857).  In 1866 the title of ‘Princess Victoria’, (possibly after the first daughter of Queen Victoria), was added to the regimental designation becoming the 89th (The Princess Victoria's) Regiment.
 
In 1881 the two Regiments were amalgamated as part of the Childers Reforms, which aimed to restructure the British army infantry regiments, to create a network of multi-battalion regiments each consisting of; two regular and two militia battalions.  The Regiment became The Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers) and went on to served during the Boer War (1899-1902) and two World Wars.
 
In 1920 the Regiment changed its designation once again to The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria's).  It was one of the few Irish Regiments that retained its identity within the British army after Irish Independence in 1922, because one of its traditional recruiting grounds remained in part of Northern Ireland.  However in 1968 the Regiment was amalgamated with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the Royal Ulster Rifles to become the Royal Irish Rangers.  Under the Options for Change reorganisation in 1992, the Royal Irish Rangers were amalgamated with the Ulster Defence Regiment to form The Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment).  However it escaped further restructuring in 2004 because of its unique status as the only remaining Irish line Infantry Regiment and providing the home defence for Northern Ireland.

Royal Irish Fusiliers during WW1

The Regiment raised a total of 14 Battalions and was awarded 40 Battle Honours and 2 Victoria Crosses, losing 3,330 men during the course of the First World War.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Shorncliffe as part of the 10th Brigade of the 4th Division and then moved to York and then Harrow.
23.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1914
The Battle of Le Cateau, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battle of Messines 1914.
1915
The Second Battle of Ypres.
1916
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Le Transloy.
1917
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Third Battle of the Scarpe.
03.08.1917 Transferred to the 107th Brigade of the 36th Division.
08.02.1918 Transferred to the 108th Brigade of the same Division.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Actions at the Somme Crossings, The Battle of Rosieres, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Bailleul, The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Courtrai, The action of Ooteghem.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Mouscron N.E. of Tourcoing, Belgium.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Quetta, India.
Oct 1914 Returned to England arriving at Winchester to join the 82nd Brigade of the 27th Division.
19.12.1914 Mobilised for war and landed in France and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The action of St Eloi, The Second Battle of Ypres.
Nov 1915 Deployed to Salonika and engaged in actions against the Bulgarian Army including;
1916
The capture of Karajakois, The capture of Yenikoi.
02.11.1916 Transferred to the 31st Brigade of the 10th Division.
Sept 1917 Deployed to Egypt and Palestine as part of the Palestine campaign.
Third Battle of Gaza, Capture of the Sheria Position, Capture of Jerusalem, Defence of Jerusalem, Tell ‘Asure, Battle of Nablus.
31.10.1918 Ended the war at Masudiye N.W. of Nablus, Palestine.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Armagh and then moved to Lough Swilly and then Londonderry.
April 1915 Moved to Buncrana, County Donegal.
Nov 1916 Moved to Clonmany Co. Donegal.
April 1918 Moved to England stationed at Rugeley, Cannock Chase and absorbed the 4th Battalion.
July 1918 Moved to Bawdsey, Suffolk as part of the West Riding Reserve Brigade.
Oct 1918 Moved to Southend.

4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Cavan and then moved to Belfast and Carrickfergus, County Antrim.
Mar 1915 Moved to Buncrana, County Donegal and then Belfast.
April 1916 Moved to Dublin.
Nov 1917 Moved to Ballincollig, Cork as part of the 25th Reserve Brigade.
April 1918 England stationed at Rugeley, Cannock Chase and absorbed by the 3rd Battalion.

5th & 6th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Armagh as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Dublin to join the 31st Brigade of the 10th Division.
April 1915 Moved to Basingstoke.
July 1915 Embarked for Gallipoli from Liverpool.
07.08.1915 Landed at Suvla Bay and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army including;
Battle of Sari Bair, Capture of Chocolate Hill, Hill 60.
Oct 1915 Deployed to Salonika and engaged in actions against the Bulgarian Army including;
The Battle of Kosturino, Retreat from Serbia, Capture of the Karajakois, Capture of Yenikoi.
02.11.1916 Absorbed the 6th Battalion.
Sept 1917 Deployed to Egypt and Palestine as part of the Palestine Campaign.
30.04.1918 Deployed to France, embarking at Port Said leaving the 10th Division arriving at Marseilles.
23.07.1918 Transferred to the 66th Division.
24.08.1918 Transferred to the 48th Brigade of the 16th Division absorbing the 11th Battalion;
The Final Advance in Artois.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Antoing south of Tournai, Belgium.

7th & 8th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Armagh as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Tipperary to join the 49th Brigade of the 16th Division.
Sept 1915 Moved to Pirbright.
Feb 1916 Mobilised for war and landed in France and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1916
The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Ginchy.
15.10.1916 Amalgamated with the 8th Battalion to form the 7/8th Battalion.
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Langemark.
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Rosieres.
10.02.1918 Disbanded in France.

9th (Service) Battalion (Co. Armagh)
Sept 1914 Formed from volunteers of the Armagh, Monaghan and Cavan regions and joined the 2nd Brigade of the Ulster Division.
02.11.1914 Formation became the 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division.
Nov 1914 Moved to Belfast.
Feb 1915 Moved to Newtownards and then Seaford, Essex.
Oct 1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
Division initially concentrated around Flesselles, while groups of men attached to the 4th Division for trench familiarisation and training.
1916
Took over a complete section of the front line between the River Ancre and the Mailly-Maillet to Serre road.
The Battle of Albert (the Division suffered 5,104 casualties during this action).
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Langemarck, The Cambrai Operations, The capture of Bourlon Wood.
25.09.1917 Absorbed the B & C squadrons (304 men) of the dismounted Irish Horse to become the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion
1918
The Battle of St Quentin, The Actions at the Somme Crossings, The Battle of Rosieres, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Bailleul, The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge, The Battle of Ypres, The Battle of Courtrai, The action of Ooteghem.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Mouscron N.E. of Tourcoing, Belgium.

10th (Reserve) Battalion
Sept 1915 Formed at Lurgan, County Armagh from the depot companies of the 9th Battalion as a local reserve Battalion.
Jan 1916 Moved to Newtownards as part of the 15th (Ulster) Reserve Brigade.
Aug 1917 Move to Armagh.
April 1918 Moved to England at Rugeley.
Amy 1918 Absorbed by the 3rd Battalion.

11st (Service) Battalion
01.06.1918 Formed at Greatham, West Hartlepool.
18.06.1918 Absorbed the cadre of the 7th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
28.06.1918 Moved to Aldershot and transferred to the 48th Brigade of the 16th Division.
July 1918 Mobilised for war and landed in France and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Final Advance in Artois.
29.08.1918 Absorbed into the 5th Battalion.

1st Garrison Battalion
Sept 1915 Formed at Dublin.
Feb 1916 Deployed to India.
May 1917 Deployed to Burma.

2nd Garrison Battalion
April 1916 Formed at Dublin and then moved to Templemore Co. Tipperary.
Aug 1916 Deployed to Salonika and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army.
01.03.1917 Transferred to the 228th Brigade of the 28th Division and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including;
1917
The capture of Ferdie and Essex Trenches.
06.08.1917 Transferred to defend the Lines of Communication.
30.09.1918 Ended the war in Macedonia.

3rd (Reserve) Garrison Battalion
Dec 1916 Formed at Dublin.
April 1917 Moved to Bere Island, Bantry Bay.
May 1918 Moved to Seaton Carew, Hartlepool and then Greatham.
Oct 1918 Moved to Castle Eden, west Hartlepool.

Memories of Royal Irish Fusiliers

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

Royal Irish Fusiliers in 1951

Written by DVR.FRANK COUPAR

FROM 1951/52,I WAS A N/S DVR(OF T.C.V,S) IN 54 COMPANY,R.A.S.C HILDESHEIM AND MY PLATOON,"A" PLT. CARRIED THE FIRST BATTALION,R.I.F,S TO THE HARZ MT,S TO PATROL THE BORDER WITH EAST GERMANY
HAVE YOU ANY INFORMATION AS TO THE SUBSEQUENT HISTORY OF BOTH THE IST BATT.THE R.I.F,S AND 54 COMPANY RASC.
MY "A" PLATOON TRANSPORTED THE IST BATT. ON MANY MANOUVRES,SPEARHEAD I&2 COMES TO MIND,ALSO "FROZEN FINGER" AND ALSO A WHOLE DIVISION PARADE ON LUNEBURG HEATH FOR MANNY SHINWELL THE MINISTER FOR WAR.
I SEEM TO RECOLLECT THAT THERE WAS QUITE A FEW "LONDON"BOYS IN THE BATTALION AND FUSILIER"CHARLIE KINGSBURY"(?)COMES TO MIND,ANY RECORDS?
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Active From: 1881 - 1968

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