Center Col: Unset
Col Margin: Unset
Col Status: Unset
Mouse over button or menu: Unset
Home Btn Pos X (Left), Y (bottom): Unset
Mouse X, Y: Unset

Recommend this page to a friend:




On a mobile device? Try our mobile site

Unit History: Royal Irish Rifles

Royal Irish Rifles
The Regiment was officially formed in 1881 when the 83rd and 86th Regiments of Foot were amalgamated however its history can be traced back 88 years prior to this date.
 
Britain and France were rarely ‘not at war’ for 126 years (1689-1815) and in 1793 conflict arose again during the French Revolutionary Wars.  Several additional Regiments were raised to meet the needs of the war; two of these Regiments were the 83rd which was first raised by William Fitch in Dublin as the 83rd (County of Dublin) Regiment of Foot and the 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot.
 
The 83rd was soon deployed to the West Indies to gain ownership of valuable French possessed Islands in the region.  The Regiment remained in the region for three years and was ravaged by yellow fever.  The 83rd returned to Ireland in 1798 and raised a second Battalion which went on to serve during the Peninsula War (1808-1814) fighting at Talavera, Busaco, Fuentes d'Onor, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajos, Salamanca, Vittoria,  Nivelle, Orthes, Toulouse, Peninsula.  The first Battalion sailed to South Africa to secure the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch, which was an important port on the trade route to India.  British troops forced the surrender of the colony after winning the Battle of Blaauwberg in 1806 and the Regiment remained to garrison the Cape of Good Hope until 1818.
 
The Regiment was deployed to Canada for 10 years from 1834 where its main duty was to maintain order during the Upper and Lower Canada rebellions of 1837 and fought at the Battle of the Windmill in 1838. The Regiment was also involved in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the First Anglo-Boer War (1880-1881).
 
The 86th Regiment was originally raised by General Cornelius Cuyler in Shropshire as ‘Cuyler’s Shropshire Volunteers’ but had difficulty recruiting sufficient numbers and moved to Leinster, Ireland and recruited as the ‘Irish Giants’.  During the French Revolutionary Wars the 86th initially served as marines at The Battle of Groix, when elements of the British Channel Fleet defeated the French Atlantic Fleet but an opportunity to destroy the whole fleet was missed.  The Regiment was also part of the 1801 Egypt Campaign which drove Napoleon’s Army out of Egypt and captured the French Island of Bourbon (now Réunion).  The 86th also served in India during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, fighting at the storming of the Jhansi fortress for which four soldiers of the 86th were awarded the Victoria Cross; Lieutenants Cochrane and Jerome and Privates Byrne and Pearson.
 
Both Regiments were amalgamated in 1881 as part of the Childers Reforms which restructured the British army into a network of multi-battalion Regiments to become The Royal Irish Rifles.  The newly formed Regiment went on to serve during the Second Boer War (1899-1902) and two World Wars.  In 1921 the Regiment was renamed as the Royal Ulster Rifles.  In 1968 it was amalgamated with The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and The Royal Irish Fusiliers to form The Royal Irish Rangers.  In 1992 the Regiment was further amalgamated with the Ulster Defence Regiment to form The Royal Irish Regiment.  The Regiment is one of only two Irish Regiments remaining in the British Army along with the Irish Guards.

Royal Irish Rifles 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 rivalling 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's 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 21 Battalions and was awarded 40 Battle honours and 3 Victoria Crosses losing 7,010 men during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Aden, Yemen.
27.09.1914 Embarked for England arriving at Liverpool.
22.10.1914 Moved to Hursley Park, Winchester to join the 25th Brigade of the 8th Division.
06.11.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1915
The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, The Battle of Aubers, The action of Bois Grenier.
1916
The Battle of Albert.
1917
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Pilkem, The Battle of Langemarck.
03.02.1918 Transferred to the 107th Brigade of the 36th 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 Tidworth, Wiltshire as part of the 7th Brigade of the 3rd Division.
14.08.1914 Mobilised for war landing at Rouen and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1914
The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, The Battle of Le Cateau, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battles of La Bassee and Messines 1914, First Battle of Ypres.
1915
Winter Operations 1914-15, The First Attack on Bellewaarde, The Actions of Hooge, The Second Attack on Bellewaarde.
18.10.1915 Transferred to the 7th Brigade of the 25th Division.
26.10.1915 Transferred to the 74th Brigade of the same Division;
1916
German attack on Vimy Ridge, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of the Ancre Heights.
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Pilkem.
13.11.1917 Transferred to the 108th Brigade of the 36th Division absorbing the 7th Battalion at Ypres.
08.02.1918 Transferred to the 107th 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.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Belfast and then moved to Dublin.
May 1916 Returned to Belfast.
April 1918 Moved to England at Larkhill with the Irish Reserve Brigade.
May 1918 Absorbed the 17th 18th 19th & 20th (Reserve) Battalions.

4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Newtownards, County Down and then moved to Holywood as part of the coast defences.
April 1915 Moved to Carrickfergus, County Antrim.
Nov 1917 Moved to Newry, Northern Ireland.
April 1918 Moved to England at Larkhill with the Irish Reserve Brigade.

5th (Extra Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Downpatrick, County Down and then moved to Belfast.
April 1915 Moved to Holywood.
Mar 1918 Moved to Ballykinlar, County Down.
April 1918 Moved to England at Larkhill with the Irish Reserve Brigade.

6th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Dublin as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Fermoy, County Cork to join the 29th Brigade of the 10th Division and then moved back to Dublin.
Feb 1915 Moved to The Curragh, County Kildare.
May 1915 Moved to England at Hackwood Park, Basingstoke.
07.07.1915 Embarked for Mudros from Liverpool via Alexandria.
05.08.1915 Landed at Anzac Cove and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army including;
The landing at Suvla, Battle of Sari Bair, Capture of Chocolate Hill, Hill 60.

29.09.1915 Deployed to Mudros.
05.10.1915 Deployed to Salonika and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including;
The Battle of Kosturino, Retreat from Serbia, Capture of the Karajokois, Capture of Yenikoi.

Sept 1917 Deployed to Egypt and Palestine arriving at Alexandria and engaged in the Palestine Campaign including;
Third Battle of Gaza, Capture of the Sheria Position, Capture of Jerusalem, Defence of Jerusalem, Tell ‘Asure, Battle of Nablus.
15.05.1918 Disbanded at Deir en Nidham E.N.E. of Ludd.

7th (Service) Battalion
Sept 1914 Formed at Belfast as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Mallow to join the 48th Brigade of the 16th Division.
Jan 1915 Moved to Ballyvonare, Battevant.
05.03.1915 Absorbed one company of the Royal Jerset Militia consisting of 6 officers and 224 men.
June 1915 Moved to Ballyhooly, Fermoy.
Sept 1915 Moved to England at Aldershot.
20.12.1915 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.
23.08.1917 Transferred to the 49th Brigade of the 16th Division.
14.10.1917 Transferred to the 108th Brigade of the 36th Division.
14.11.1917 absorbed into the 2nd Battalion.

8th (Service) Battalion (East Belfast) & 9th (Service) Battalion (West Belfast)
Sept 1914 formed at Belfast from the Belfast Volunteers and then moved to Ballykinlar as part of the 107th Brigade of the 36th Division.
July 1915 Moved to Seaford, Sussex.
Oct 1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and then 107th Brigade transferred to the 4th Division
03.02.1916 The 107th Brigade returned to the 36th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1916
The Battle of Albert (the Division suffered heavy casualties and took the rest of the year to rebuild).
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Langemarck, The Cambrai Operations, The capture of Bourlon Wood.
29.08.1917 Amalgamated with the 9th Battalion forming the 8/9th battalion.
07.02.1918 Disbanded in France.

10th (Service) Battalion (South Belfast)
Sept 1914 Formed in Belfast from the Belfast Volunteers and then moved to Newcastle as part of the 107th Brigade of the 36th Division.
Jan 1915 Moved to Ballykinlar, County Down.
July 1915 Moved to Seaford, Sussex.
Oct 1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and then 107th Brigade transferred to the 4th Division.
03.02.1916 The 107th Brigade returned to the 36th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
1916
The Battle of Albert (the Division suffered heavy casualties and took the rest of the year to rebuild).
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Langemarck, The Cambrai Operations, The capture of Bourlon Wood.
20.02.1918 Disbanded in France.

11th (Service) Battalion (South Antrim)
Sept 1914 Formed at County Antrim from the Antrim Volunteers as part of the 108th Brigade of the 36th Division and then moved to Clandeboye.
July 1915 Moved to Seaford, Sussex.
Oct 1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various action 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
The Battle of Albert. (The Division suffered heavy casualties and took the rest of the year to rebuild).
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Langemarck, The Cambrai Operations, The capture of Bourlon Wood.
13.11.1917 Amalgamated with the 13th Battalion to form the 11/13th Battalion.
18.02.1918 Disbanded in France.

12th (Service) Battalion (Central Antrim)
Sept 1914 Formed in County Antrim from the Antrim Volunteers and then moved to Newtownards as part of the 108th Brigade of the 36th Division.
July 1915 Moved to Seaford, Sussex.
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 heavy casualties and took the rest of the year to rebuild).
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Langemarck, The Cambrai Operations, The capture of Bourlon Wood.
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.

13th (Service) Battalion (1st Co. Down)
Sept 1914 Formed at County Down from the County Down Volunteers as part of the 108th brigade of the 36th division and then moved to Clandeboye.
July 1915 Moved to Seaford, Sussex.
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 heavy casualties and took the rest of the year to rebuild).
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Langemarck, The Cambrai Operations, The capture of Bourlon Wood.
13.11.1917 Amalgamated with the 13th Battalion to form the 11/13th Battalion.
18.02.1918 Disbanded in France.

14th (Service) Battalion (Young Citizens)
Sept 1914 Formed at Belfast from the Belfast Volunteers as part of the 109th Brigade of the 36th Division and then moved to Bundoran County Donegal.
Jan 1915 Moved to Randalstown and then Seaford, Sussex.
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 heavy casualties and took the rest of the year to rebuild).
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Langemarck, The Cambrai Operations, The capture of Bourlon Wood.
18.02.1918 Disbanded in France.

15th (Service) Battalion (North Belfast)
Sept 1914 Formed at Belfast from the Belfast Volunteers as part of the 107th Brigade of the 36th Division and then moved to Ballykinlar.
July 1915 Moved to Seaford, Sussex.
Oct 1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and then the 107th Brigade joined the 4th Division.
03.02.1916 The 107th Brigade again attached to the 36th Division which engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
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 heavy casualties and took the rest of the year to rebuild).
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Langemarck, The Cambrai Operations, The capture of Bourlon Wood.
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.

16th (Service) Battalion (2nd Co. Down) (Pioneers)
Sept 1914 Formed at County Down from the County Down Volunteers and then moved to Lurgan.
Jan 1915 Became Pioneer Battalion of the 36th Division and then moved to Seaford, Sussex.
Oct 1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;
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 heavy casualties and took the rest of the year to rebuild).
1917
The Battle of Messines, The Battle of Langemarck, The Cambrai Operations, The capture of Bourlon Wood.
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.

17th (Reserve) Battalions
Mar 1915 Formed at Newcastle from the depot companies of the 8th 9th & 10th Battalion as a local reserve battalion.
Oct 1915 Moved to Ballykinlar as part of the 15th (Ulster) Reserve Brigade.
Aug 1917 Moved to Dundalk.
April 1918 Moved to England.
May 1918 Absorbed the 3rd Battalion at Larkhill.

18th (Reserve) Battalions
April 1915 Formed at Holywood from the depot companies of the 11th & 12th Battalion as a local reserve battalion.
July 1915 Moved to Clandeboye as part of the 15th (Ulster) Reserve Brigade.
April 1918 Moved to England at Larkhill and absorbed into the 3rd Battalion.

19th (Reserve) Battalion
Oct 1915 Formed at Newcastle from the depot companies of the 14th & 15th Battalions as a local reserve battalion.
End 1915 Moved to Newtownards.
1916 Moved back to Newtownards as part of the 15th (Ulster) Reserve Brigade.
April 1918 Moved to England at Larkhill and absorbed into the 3rd Battalion.

20th (Reserve) Battalions
Nov 1915 Formed at Holywood from the depot companies of the 13th & 16th Battalions as a local reserve battalion and then moved to Dublin.
Feb 1915 Moved to Newtownards as part of the 15th (Ulster) Reserve Brigade.
April 1918 Moved to England at Larkhill and absorbed into the 3rd Battalion.

1st Garrison Battalions
Nov 1915 Formed in Dublin and then went to India.
Down arrow Up arrow 295 people in our Victorian Conflicts records
Filter by Surname:
Down arrow Up arrow 1191 people in our Boer War records
Filter by Surname:
Down arrow Up arrow 24372 people in our WW1 records
Filter by Surname:
Down arrow Up arrow 38 people in our WW2 records
Filter by Surname:
Down arrow Up arrow 17 people in our Post WW2 records
Filter by Surname:
Down arrow Up arrow 11 people in our Forces Reunited records
Filter by Surname:

Battles / Campaigns

Marne (1914) WW1

2nd Royal Irish Rifles were attached to 7th Infantry Brigade 3rd Division and was part of the British Expeditionary Force (John French, serving as the first Commander-in-Chief of the BEF)

The First Battle of the Marne fought between 5 and 12 September 1914 marked the end of the German sweep into France and the beginning of the trench warfare that was to characterise World War One.
It was also one of the first major battles in which reconnaissance planes played a decisive role, by discovering weak points in the German lines and allowing the allies to take advantage of them.

Germany's grand Schlieffen Plan to conquer France entailed a wheeling movement of the northern wing of its armies through central Belgium to enter France near Lille. It would turn west near the English Channel and then south to cut off the French retreat. If the plan succeeded, Germany's armies would simultaneously encircle the French Army from the north and capture Paris.

A French offensive in Lorraine prompted German counter-attacks that threw the French back onto a fortified barrier. Their defence strengthened, they could send troops to reinforce their left flank - a redistribution of strength that would prove vital in the Battle of the Marne. The German northern wing was weakened further by the removal of 11 divisions to fight in Belgium and East Prussia. The German 1st Army, under Kluck, then swung north of Paris, rather than south west, as intended. This required them to pass into the valley of the River Marne across the Paris defences, exposing them to a flank attack and a possible counter-envelopment.

On 3 September, Joffre ordered a halt to the French retreat and three days later his reinforced left flank began a general offensive. Kluck was forced to halt his advance prematurely in order to support his flank: he was still no further up the Marne Valley than Meaux.

On 9 September Bülow learned that the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was advancing into the gap between his 2nd Army and Kluck. He ordered a retreat, obliging Kluck to do the same. The counterattack of the French 5th and 6th Armies and the BEF developed into the First Battle of the Marne, a general counter-attack by the French Army. By 11 September the Germans were in full retreat.

This remarkable change in fortunes was caused partially by the exhaustion of many of the German forces: some had marched more than 240km (150 miles), fighting frequently. The German advance was also hampered by demolished bridges and railways, constricting their supply lines, and they had underestimated the resilience of the French.

The Germans withdrew northward from the Marne and made a firm defensive stand along the Lower Aisne River. Here the benefits of defence over attack became clear as the Germans repelled successive Allied attacks from the shelter of trenches: the First Battle of the Aisne marked the real beginning of trench warfare on the Western Front.

In saving Paris from capture by pushing the Germans back some 72km (45 miles), the First Battle of the Marne was a great strategic victory, as it enabled the French to continue the war. However, the Germans succeeded in capturing a large part of the industrial north east of France, a serious blow. Furthermore, the rest of 1914 bred the geographic and tactical deadlock that would take another three years and countless lives to break.

The Battle of Marne was also one of the first major battles in which reconnaissance planes played a decisive role, by discovering weak points in the German lines and allowing the allies to take advantage of them. The mobility and destructive power of the numerous French 75 batteries engaged in the Battle of the Marne played a key role in slowing down and then halting German progress everywhere.

Over two million men fought in the First Battle of the Marne, of whom more than 500,000 were killed or wounded. French casualties totalled 250,000, 80,000 of them dead, while British casualties were 13,000, 1,700 of them dead. The Germans suffered 220,000 casualties.

1

Active From: 1793 - 1921

One moment...