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Unit History: Royal Irish Regiment

Royal Irish Regiment
The Regiment was first formed in 1684 by Arthur Forbes the 1st Earl of Granard as the Irish Regiment of Foot, from a number of independent Irish garrison companies.  Unfortunately within a year of its formation King Charles II was dead and succeeded by his unpopular Catholic brother James II and the new King set about replacing Protestant officers with ones of Catholic faith.  In protest the Earl of Granard resigned his commission as Colonel of the Regiment in favour of his son Arthur Lord Forbes.
In 1688 Prince William of Orange was invited to take the throne by the English Lords and upon his arrival in England James II abdicated.  However James II remained popular in Catholic Ireland which continued to recognize him as their true King, with the exception of the English Protestant towns of Enniskillen and Derry.  In 1689 James II landed in Kinsale supported by King Louis XIV and a French Army, in an attempt to reclaim his lost throne.  The Regiment were part of King William’s force which expelled James II and secured the throne for King William III fighting at Battle of the Boyne and then at the failed siege of Limerick, the siege of Ballymore and the assault on Athlone, the Battle of Aughrim and the successful sieges of Galway and Limerick.
The Regiment went on to serve King William III, during the Nine Years War fighting at the Siege of Namur (1695).  The King singled out the Regiment for special reward following the successful siege, bestowing on it the Royal title to become The Royal Regiment of Ireland.  The Regiment spent several years on garrison duties in Gibraltar until 1767 when it was ordered to America.  The main body of the Regiment remained in Philadelphia however; a small detachment was present at the Battles of Lexington Concord and Bunker Hill.
The Royal Irish returned to Gibraltar in 1783, where they remained until the Siege of Toulon in 1793.   From 1863 the Regiment went on to serve during the New Zealand Wars fighting during the Waikato and Taranaki campaigns it was the last Imperial Army unit to leave New Zealand in February 1870.
In 1881 Childers Reforms restructured the British army infantry Regiments into a network of multi-battalion Regiments of two regular and two militia battalions.  The Regiment managed to avoid amalgamation and was renamed as the Royal Irish Regiment.  The Regiment went on to served during the Boer War and the First World War.
The Regiment was disbanded in 1922 once the Irish Free State was established following the Irish War of Independence (1919-1922) along with all five British Regiments recruiting from the Irish Free States.

Royal Irish Regiment during WW1

Since 1815 the balance of power in Europe had been maintained by a series of treaties. In 1888 Wilhelm II was crowned ‘German Emperor and King of Prussia’ and moved from a policy of maintaining the status quo to a more aggressive position. He did not renew a treaty with Russia, aligned Germany with the declining Austro-Hungarian Empire and started to build a Navy to rival that of Britain. These actions greatly concerned Germany’s neighbours, who quickly forged new treaties and alliances in the event of war. On 28th June 1914 Franz Ferdinand the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated by the Bosnian-Serb nationalist group Young Bosnia who wanted pan-Serbian independence. Franz Joseph the Austro-Hungarian Emperor (with the backing of Germany) responded aggressively, presenting Serbia with an intentionally unacceptable ultimatum, to provoke Serbia into war. Serbia agreed to 8 of the 10 terms and on the 28th July 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, producing a cascade effect across Europe. Russia bound by treaty to Serbia declared war with Austro-Hungary, Germany declared war with Russia and France declared war with Germany. Germany’s army crossed into neutral Belgium in order to reach Paris, forcing Britain to declare war with Germany (due to the Treaty of London (1839) whereby Britain agreed to defend Belgium in the event of invasion). By the 4th August 1914 Britain and much of Europe were pulled into a war which would last 1,566 days, cost 8,528,831 lives and 28,938,073 casualties or missing on both sides.

The Regiment raised 3 Battalions and gained 47 battle honors during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Nasirabad, India.
13.10.1914 Embarked for England from Bombay arriving at Devonport, Plymouth and then moved to Winchester as part of the 82nd Brigade of the 27th Division.
20.12.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The action of St Eloi, The Second Battle of Ypres.
28.11.1915 Embarked for Salonika from Marseilles arriving 05.12.1915 and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including;
The capture of Karajakois, The capture of Yenikoi.
03.11.1916 Transferred to the 30th Brigade of the 10th Division;
Kosturino, Retreat from Serbia, Capture of the Karajokois, Capture of Yenikoi.
02.09.1917 Sailed to Egypt arriving 06.09.1917 and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army including;
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 Burka N.W. of Nablus, Palestine.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Devonport as part of the 8th Brigade of the 3rd Division
14.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne.
24.10.1914 Transferred to Army troops to defence the Lines of Communication.
14.03.1915 Transferred to the 12th Brigade of the 4th Division at Le Bizet.
26.07.1915 Transferred to the 11th Brigade of the 4th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Le Transloy.
22.05.1916 Transferred to the 22nd Brigade of the 7th Division.
14.10.1916 Transferred to the 49th Brigade of the 16th Division at Kemmel;
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Langemark.
23.04.1918 Transferred the 188th Brigade of the 63rd Division;
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Drocourt-Queant, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The passage of the Grand Honelle, The Final Advance in Picardy.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Spiennes south of Mons, France.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Clonmel and the moved to Dublin.
Sept 1916 Moved to Templemore Co. Tipperary.
End o f 1917 Moved back to Dublin.
April 1918 Moved to England as part of the Irish Reserve Brigade at Larkhill.
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Active From: 1684 - 1922

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