Unit History: Royal Irish Rangers

Royal Irish Rangers
The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd & 87th)
Active 1 July 1968 - 1992
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Line infantry
Size On disbandment, 2 Regular Battalions & 1 TA Battalion
Garrison/HQ Depot R IRISH, St Patricks Barracks, Ballymena
Nickname "The Irish Rangers"
Motto Faugh A Ballagh (Clear the Way) (Irish)
March Quick - Killaloe
Slow - Eileen Alannagh
Mascot Irish Wolfhound Brian Boru
Anniversaries Barrosa Day, 5th March; Somme Day, Waterloo Day, Rangers Day 1st July
Engagements Barrosa, Waterloo, Somme, Korea
Colonel in Chief Field Marshal His Royal Highness Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster (until 1974); Vacant (1974 - 1988); Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester (1989 - until amalgamation)
Honorary Colonel First - Lieutenant General Sir Ian Harris. At disbandment - Lt-Col. The Rt. Hon. Alan Henry (Brooke), 3rd Viscount Brookeborough, DL
commanders General Sir Roger Neil Wheeler, GCB, CBE. Former CGS; Brigadier MCV McCord MC; The OMorochoe
The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd and 87th) (abbreviated as "R IRISH") was a regular infantry regiment of the British Army.
The Royal Irish Rangers came into being on 1 July 1968 through the amalgamation of the three remaining Irish infantry regiments.
The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
The Royal Ulster Rifles
The Royal Irish Fusiliers
The date was initially known as Vesting Day (and then Rangers Day), emphasising that the traditions of the old regiments were vested in the new "large regiment". 1 July is also Somme Day; a preeminent day in military history for the whole island of Ireland.
Soon after creation in December 1968, and as part of a general reduction in the Army, the 3rd Battalion (former Royal Irish Fusiliers) was disbanded.
The three regiments had old and differing traditions (Rifle & Fusilier) and to avoid favouring one above another, a unique designation Rangers was adopted. The title had not existed in the British Army since 1922. The title is also used by the US Army, Canada, Ireland and Pakistan.
With the creation of the Divisions of Infantry, the Royal Irish Rangers became part of the Kings Division, along with regiments from the north of England. This continued until 1992 and Options for Change. The Ulster Defence Regiment and The Royal Irish Rangers amalgamated to form The Royal Irish Regiment.
Accommodating the traditions of the three regiments required compromise:
Ranger uniformsThe caubeen was adopted as the headdress for the new Regiment as all the former regiments had worn it
The green hackle was formerly worn by the Royal Irish Fusiliers
The Castle collar badges had been worn by the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
The black buttons had been worn by the Royal Ulster Rifles
The brown cross belt was a compromise between the brown Sam Browne belts worn by the Fusiliers and the black cross belt worn in the Rifles
The Great Irish Warpipes carried by the Royal Ulster Rifles pipers and the Brian Boru Pipes carried by the The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers pipers were abandoned in favour of the Great Highland Bagpipe, which thus became standardised throughout the British Army.
The badges of the three regiments were worn on the kilts of the regimental pipers.
The Rangers served in, inter alia, the following places:
Northern Ireland. 1 R IRISH first in 1989 and 2 R IRISH in 1991. This overcame resistance to the Regiment serving in Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles although most officers and many NCOs had traditionally completed operational tours with other regiments.
BAOR. At amalgamation 1 R IRISH was in Osnabruck and 2 R IRISH in Lemgo.
USA. Including a visit in the mid-1970s to Washington DC when one Ranger with a knowledge of military history recalled the last visit in 1812 when Irish ancestors had burned the White House down.
Bosnia and Herzegovina. As part of the first UK deployment and as reinforcements to the Cheshire Regiment.
The Falkland Islands. Immediately after the 1982 war; no line infantry regiments fought in the conflict.
Options for Change
Under this reorganisation, the Royal Irish Rangers were amalgamated with the Ulster Defence Regiment to form the new The Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment).
Territorial Army
The name of the Royal Irish Rangers was maintained through the Territorial Army battalion in Northern Ireland, which nominally exists to augment the Royal Irish Regiments ORBAT, but can be deployed in support of any regular unit. In 2007, following the disbanding of the Home Service Battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, the Royal Irish Rangers TA were renamed as the new 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment.
Roll of honour
Post 1968
1972. Ranger William J Best – 1 R IRISH. A 19 year old on leave from Germany, abducted from his mothers home in the Creggan, Derry and killed by the OIRA.
19 July 1972. Staff Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba BEM, MID – 2 R IRISH (attached 22 SAS). During Battle of Mirbat.
Major D P Farrell MBE – 1 R IRISH (Retired). Shot dead by the OIRA when he was walking his dog near his home in Tyrone.
12 April 1974. Captain S Garthwaite MID - attached 22 SAS. Oman.
6 December 1977. Ranger Charles George McLaughlin and Ranger Hugh Thompson - 1 R IRISH. Died on Fire Fighting duties in Manchester during the firemens strike (Operation BURBERRY).
28 December 1980. Warrant Officer Class 2 Hugh McGinn – 5 (V) R IRISH. Shot by the Irish National Liberation Army at the door of his home in Armagh.
Sergeant Trevor A Elliot - 5(V) R IRISH. Shot by Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) in Keady
9 May 1984. Corporal Trevor May - 4(V) R IRISH. Killed in Newry when an Improvised explosive device placed under a car exploded.
9 October 1989. Lance Corporal Tommy Gibson – 4(V) R IRISH. Killed by PIRA in Kilrea.
24 October 1990. Ranger Cyril J Smith QGM - 2 R IRISH. Killed when attempting to release a man tied to a proxy bomb - his car - driven into a Border checkpoint at Killeen near Newry. The mans family were held hostage in their home.
17 January 1992. Ranger Robert Dunseath – 4 R IRISH. Killed in a land mine attack at Teebane Crossroads, near Cookstown, County Tyrone.
Victoria Cross (pre-1968 Regiments)
Recipients of the Victoria Cross:
Victoria Cross medal, ribbon, and bar.Lieutenant Hugh Stewart Cochrane. 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot. 1858. Jhansi (Indian Mutiny).
Captain H E Jerome. 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot. 1858. Jhansi (Indian Mutiny).
Private James Byrne. 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot. 1858. Jhansi (Indian Mutiny).
Private James Pearson. 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot. 1858. Jhansi (Indian Mutiny).
Private Robert Morrow. 1st Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers. 1915. Messines.
Captain Gerald Robert OSullivan. 1st Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1915 Gallipoli.
Sergeant James Somers. 1st Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1915 Gallipoli.
Captain Edward William Derrington Bell. 1st Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1916 Thiepval.
Rifleman William McFadzean. 1st Bn Royal Irish Rifles. 1916. Thiepval.
Rifleman Robert Quigg. 12th Bn Royal Irish Rifles. 1916. Hamel, Somme.
Lieutenant Geoffrey St George Shillington Cather. 9th Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers. 1916. Hamel, Somme.
Lieutenant Colonel John Sherwood-Kelly CMG DSO. 1st Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1917. Marcoing, Cambrai.
Second Lieutenant J S Emerson. 9th Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1917. Cambrai.
Private James Duffy. 6th Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1917. Kareina Peak.
Second Lieutenant Edmund De Wind. 15th Bn Royal Irish Rifles. 1918. Grugies, France.
Lance Corporal Ernest Seaman. 2nd Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1918. Terhand, Belgium.
Private Norman Harvey. 1st Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1918. Ingoyghem Belgium.
Music of the Regiment
Regimental Quick March
The Regimental Quick March is Killaloe. It was written around 1887 by an Irish composer, Robert Martin, for the London Musical "Miss Esmeralda". The lyrics relate the story of a French teacher attempting to make himself understood to a difficult Killaloe class. Originally in 2/4 time, it was made well known in military circles by a cousin of the composer - Lt. Charles Martin of the 88th Connaught Rangers (The Devils Own). He composed new lyrics, in 6/8 time, celebrating his Regiments fame. No mention is made of the tune in the Regimental history, but there is an explanation that may account for the shout or yell in the military version of Killaloe.
Historically, in the lst. Battalion (Connaught Rangers), formerly the 88th, a favourite march tune was "Brian Boru" played when marching through a town - often after a hot and heavy march. On such occasions, and at a time given by the Sergeant Major, the Band would pause and all ranks would give a "Connaught Yell". The march became popular among the other Irish Regiments and various other sets of lyrics were devised (see Killaloe page) Killaloe is unique. It is the only march the soldiers join in with. On parade they give a spine-tingling "Ranger Yell"; this continues with the Royal Irish Regiment.
The first known recording of Killaloe was made by Richard Dimbleby when serving as a BBC war correspondent in Northern France shortly before Dunkirk. The "Famous Irish Regiment" Dimbleby reports playing as they march past is not named, but would have been either the Royal Irish Fusiliers or the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Again in 1944, the BBC recorded The 1st. Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Pipes & Drums playing Killaloe, by then adopted unofficially as the march of the 38th (Irish) Brigade, during the approach to Monte Cassino. Killaloe was adopted by The Royal Irish Rangers on its formation and again later by the Royal Irish Regiment on its amalgamation in 1992.
The soldiers had their own words to the tune which would be sung, sotto voce, as they marched:
“ Were the Irish Rangers,
The boys who fear no danger,
Were the boys from paddys land
Shut up you buggers and fight

To hear the tune visit: Ranger website
Regimental Slow March
Previously the March of the Royal Innskilling Fusiliers, Eileen Alannah is an Irish ballad. It is available as sheet-music. The lyrics.:
“ Eileen Alannah, Eileen Asthore
Light of my soul and its Queen evermore
It seems years have lingered since last we did part
Eileen Alannah, the pride of my heart
Oh, darling loved one your dear smile I miss
My lips seem to cling to that sweet parting kiss
Mavourneen thy dear face I see at the door
Eileen Alannah, Augus Asthore
Faithful Ill be to the colleen I adore
Eileen Alannah, Augus Asthore
Faithful Ill be to the colleen I adore
Eileen Alannah, Augus Asthore
Eileen Alannah, Eileen Asthore
The oceans blue waters wash by the shore
Of that dear land of shamrock, where thou doth abide
Waiting the day when Ill call thee my bride
God bless you darling I know you are true
True to the boy who would die now for you
My heart is now bleeding to its innermost core
Eileen Alannah, Augus Asthore
Soon Ill be back to the colleen I adore
Eileen Alannah, Augus Asthore
Soon Ill be back to the colleen I adore
Eileen Alannah, Augus Asthore

The song uses anglicised versions of Irish words
For example the first line should read
"Eileen a leanbh, Eileen a stór"
"a leanbh" and "a stór" in the songs context, are Irish phrases for "my love" or "my dear".
Similarily the line "Eileen Alannah, Augus Asthore" is the anglicised version of
"Eileen a leanbh agus a stór"
"Agus" is the Irish word for "and".
"Mavourneen" is an anglicised spelling of "mo mhuirnín" which in Irish means "my darling", and "colleen" is the anglicised word for "cailín", which is Irish for "girl".
At the Tercentenary parade celebrated in Osnabruck in 1989, the Irish Rangers were able to parade a combined band from 1 & 2 R IRISH together with the Bugles, Pipers & Drums from both.
Recorded music
The Band, Bugles, Pipes & Drums have released CDs including Pipes & Drums of Ireland and Heritage Of Ireland
The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th) The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers The 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot
The 108th Regiment of Foot (Madras Infantry)
The Royal Ulster Rifles 83rd (County of Dublin) Regiment of Foot
The 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot
The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victorias) The 87th (Royal Irish Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot
The 89th (The Princess Victorias) Regiment of Foot

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