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Royal Irish Rifles

Great War - Inter-war


The Great War

The Royal Irish Rifles consisted of Infantry Battalions that would have had an MG Section as part of its Battalion Headquarters. These weapons would have been brigaded when the Machine Gun Corps was formed in 1915. The guns, and crews, would have been formed into a Machine Gun Company.

During the Great War, the Battalions were distributed as follows:

1st

The 1st Battalion started the Great War as a member of the 25th Brigade, 8th Infantry Division.

As a unit of the 8th Infantry Division, its MG Section will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.

1914
The division had no existence before the outbreak of War. The first units to arrive (from Malta) assembled on Baddesley Common (near Southampton), and on 2nd October, 1914, Divisional H.Q. and available units moved to Hursley Park (near Winchester), where concentration ws effected. The arrival of the 2/E. Lanc. R. on the 30th October completed the division. The 12 infantry battalions had all been brought back from various overseas stations, viz: - India (3), S. Africa (1), Aden (1), Egypt (3), Malta (3), and Bermuda (1). The mounted troops included an existing yeomanry regiment and a cyclist company, which was formed on mobilization. The Field Artillery was made up by one Horse Artillery Bde. (3 batteries), and the two Field Artillery Bdes., which still remained at home. The two Heavy Batteries were new units formed at Woolwich after the outbreak of War, and the Field Companies came from Cairo and Gibraltar. The three Field Ambulances of the Wessex Division (T.F.) were used; and of the four A.S.C. Companies, one (41) came from Cairo and the other three were new formations.

The division embarked at Southampton on the 4th and 5th November, and disembarked at Havre on the 6th and 7th; it began entraining for the Front on the 8th November, and completed its assembly around Merville by the 12th.

Throughout the remainder of the War the 8th Division served on the Western Front in France and Belgium, and was engaged in the following operations:-

18 DecemberNeuve Chapelle (Moated Grange Attack) [IV. Corps].
1915
10 to 13 MarchBattle of Neuve Chapelle [IV. Corps, First Army].
09 MayBATTLE OF AUBERS RIDGE
Attack at Fromelles [IV. Corps, First Army].

25 SeptemberBois Grenier [III. Corps, First Army].

Its MG Section was transferred on 15 January 1916 to form the 23rd Bde. MG Coy..

6th

The 6th Battalion was part of the 29th Brigade, attached to the 10th (Irish) Division.

As a unit of the 10th (Irish) Infantry Division during that period, it will have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

A proclamation was issued on the 11th August 1914, asking for an immediate addition of 100,000 men to the Regular Army (see Appendix). Army Order 324 of the 21st August (amended by Army Order 382 of the 11th September) authorized the addition of six divisions (9th to 14th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army. This augmentation formed the First New Army, and late in August 1914, the 10th (Irish) Division began to assemble in IReland. The infantry of the Division was composed of Battalions of all the Irish line regiments, the men were of all classes, creeds, and political opinions, and in August 1915, when the 10th Division went into action in Gallipoli, it had the honour of being the first Irish Division to take the field in War.

At first there was a shortage of arms and equipment. Rifles (of various marks) and bayonets were soon obtained, but the artillery had to undertake most of the preliminary training with "quaker guns" and very few horses. In 1915 the Division moved to the Curragh, Newbridge, and Kildare; brigade training was then undertaken. In May the Division crossed over to England, concentrated around Basingstoke, and began its final training. On the 28th and 29th May, H.M. the King saw the 10th Division, and on the 1st June Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener inspected the Division in Hackwood Park.

On the 27th June the Division was ordered to prepare for service in Gallipoli; divisional headquarters embarked at Liverpool on the 9th July, and by the end of the month the bulk of the division had collected on the Island of Lemnos. On the 6th August the troops embarked at Mudros, and on the 6th and 7th the Division (less the 29th Brigade, which was operating with the Anzac Corps) landed at Suvla and assaulted the Turkish position.

For the remainder of the Great War the 10th (Irish) Division served in Gallipoli, Macedonia, Egypt, Palestine and was engaged in the following operations:

1915
06 to 10 AugustBattle of Sari Bair (29th Bde.) [Godley's Force, A. & N.Z. A.C.].
06 to 15 AugustThe Landing at Suvla [IX Corps].
Night, 7/8 AugustCapture of Chocolate Hill (31st Bde. and 7/R.D.F., 30th Bde.) [Hill's Force, IX Corps].
21; and 27 and 28 AugustHill 60 [10/Hants. and 5/Conn. Rang., 29th Bde.) [Cox's Force, A & N.Z.A.C.].
On the 29th September the 10th Division (less part of its artillery which had disembarked at Suvla) was ordered to prepare to move from Suvla. On the 30th the divisional headquarters, the three infantry brigades, field companies, pioneers, cyclist company, and field ambulances embarked and reached Mudros on the 1st October. By the 2nd the Division had collected in camps near Mudros and was engaged in making up deficiences. On the 4th October 29th Inf. Bde. began to embark for Macedonia; the Brigade disembarked at Salonika between the 5th-10th October, and it was followed by the rest of the division. By the 24th October the bulk of the division (400 officers and 13,000 men) had landed at Salonika, and 13th Division Arillery Headquarters and two 18-pdr. brigades joined to replace the 10th Division Artillery, which had been left in action at Suvla. On the 29th Octoner a mobile force under Br.-Gen. Nicol (30th Inf. Bde.) left by train for the interior and detrained at Gevgeli and Bogdanci (west of Lake Dojran).
RETREAT FROM SERBIA
08 and 08 DecemberKosturino.

The MG Section was likely to have been transferred into the 29th MG Coy. which was was formed on the 10 May 1916.

7th

The 7th Battalion was part of the 48th Brigade, attached to the 16th (Irish) Division.

As a unit of the 16th (Irish) Infantry Division during that period, its MG Section may have taken part in the following battles and engagements.
This New Army Division had no existence before the outbreak of the Great War.

Army Order No. 382 of the 11th Septemner 1914 authorized the further addition of six divisions (15th to 20th) and Army Troops to the Regular Army (see Appendix I). This augmentation formed the Second New Army, and during September 1914 the 16th (Irish) Division began to assemble in Ireland.

Divisional headquarters formed in Dublin, and the infantry brigades at Fermoy, Buttevant, and Tipperary. The artillery was at Cahir, Fermoy, and Kilkenny; the engineers at Moore Park, Kilworth; the army troops battalion (which became the divisional pioneer battalion) at Mullingar. On the 8th October divisional headquarters moved to Mallow. OIn the 8th March 1915 the pioneer battalion went to Kilworth, on the 19th June the 48th Brigade moved from Buttevant to Mallow, and on the 21st June divisional headquarters was transferred to Fermoy.

Meanwhile the training of the Division had progressed slowly, hampered by lack of equipment and materiel and by other difficulties. In the artillery it was some time before the batteries were able to option even 15 horses each for training purposes; and up to February 1915 the howitzer brigade had only managed to collect an old 12-pdr. B.L. gun to use for drill. Thus the Division gradually fell behind the time-table. In August it was decided to transfer three of the artillery brigades (18-pdrs.), the D.A.C., twi if the field companies, and the divisional signal company to the Guards Division which was then forming in France. At the same time the third field company was sent to France to join the 7th Division. The three field ambulances had already been transferred to the 37th Division, and they reached France by the beginning of August.

It was September 1915 before the remainder of the 16th Division left Ireland wand moved to Aldershot for its final intensive training. At last on the 10th December the Division was notified that embarkation would begin on the 17th. Even then the Division left for France without the divisional artillery, motor-machine-gun battery, one section signal company, one field ambulance, and one company of the Train. The 16th Division began disembarkation at le Havre on the 18th, and by the 22nd December had completed its concentration south of Bethune in the area of IV Corps, First Army. On the 22nd February 1916 the new divisional artillery joined the Division in France and on the 24th February the 49th Brigade arrived. The Division was now complete.

It's MG Section will have been disbanded on the attachment of 48th MG Company, which took place on 28 April 1916, Machine Gunners may have been absorbed by the 48th MG Company, or trained on the Lewis Gun, which now equipped the Infantry Battalion.


Inter-war Period

From 01 January, 1921, the Regiment became known as the Royal Ulster Rifles.


Sources

  • Becke, 1934
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