Category Archives: Royal Irish Fusiliers

Blacker’s Letters – May 1916

The letters written by Lieutenant Colonel Blacker in May 1916 have now been published and you can read them all on the project’s website. The 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers is just about to move out of the line with the other battalions of 108th and 109th Brigades, 36th (Ulster) Division, to train and prepare for the forthcoming attack. The letters that will follow in June are hopeful of success…

Blacker's Letters

Blacker’s Letters

Blacker’s Letters – April 1916

The letters written by Lieutenant Colonel Blacker in April 1916 have now been published. The Battalion is now established in the line at Hamel engaged in the routine of trench life. This month’s letters also reveal some of Blacker’s thoughts on the Easter Rising.

The letters from April can be found by clicking on the linked image below:

Sergeant William Neill DCM

Sergeant William Neill DCM

Blacker’s Letters – January 1916

The letters written by Lieutenant Colonel Blacker throughout January 1916 have now been published. This was the last month before the Battalion entered the line at Hamel, north of the River Ancre, where it would remain until after the attack on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

The letters from January can be found by clicking on the linked image below:

Blacker's Letters

Blacker’s Letters

The North Irish Horse in the Great War by Phillip Tardif

A number of years ago, when I was putting together Blacker’s Boys, I began to share information with Phillip Tardif, an Australian whose grandfather, Frank McMahon, and my great-grandfather, William Neill, served together during the First World War. No-one knows more about the actions of the North Irish Horse or the men who served in its ranks and I am very pleased that Phillip has written this unique history of the Regiment. This short essay by Phillip is a super introduction to an excellent piece of work that will contribute much to the bibliography of work about Ireland in the Great War.

North Irish Horse Private, at Ballyshannon

North Irish Horse Private, at Ballyshannon

In his account of the British Army’s role in the first months of the Great War, Sir John French, its former Commander-in-Chief, praised ‘the fine work done by the Oxfordshire Hussars and the London Scottish‘ as the first non-regular army units ‘to enter the line of battle‘ in the Great War. He added, by way of a footnote: ‘The North and South Irish Horse went to France much earlier than these troops but were employed as special escort to GHQ.’ In other words, these Irish units could not claim the distinction of being the first non-regulars involved in the fighting in the First World War. That would have been news to the families of North Irish Horsemen Private William Moore of Balteagh, County Londonderry, Private Henry St George Scott of Carndonagh, County Donegal, and Lieutenant Samuel Barbour Combe of Donaghcloney, County Down, whose deaths in September and October of 1914 were so far into the ‘line of battle’ that their bodies were never recovered. Continue reading

The Evolution of the Regular and Service Battalions of Princess Victoria’s (Royal Irish Fusiliers) 1914-1918 – Part 4, The 5th, 6th, 5th/6th & 11th (Service) Battalions

Here may be found the background to this work and links to similar studies of the other Battalions of the Regiment.

Colour Sergeant James Sergeant, Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers)

Colour Sergeant James Sergeant, 5th (Service) Battalion, Princess Victoria’s (Royal Irish Fusiliers)

5th & 6th (Service) Battalions

For a brief history of the 5th (Service) Battalion and the amalgamated Battalion in the First World War see: Johnson, F W E (Foreword). (1919). A Short Record of the Services and Experiences of the 5th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers in the Great War. Naval & Military Press Reprint, 2009.

The has been no history written about the early years of the 6th (Service) Battalion. For a general history of the Regiment see: Cunliffe, M. (1952). The Royal Irish Fusiliers 1793-1950. London: Oxford University Press.

Immediately on becoming Minister of War, Lord Kitchener proposed that the British Army be expanded by recruiting wartime volunteers, rather than building upon the Territorial Force. These men would sign up for three years or the duration of the war, whichever was longer. On 6 August Parliament authorised the expansion of the Army by 500,000 men[1] and recruiting began immediately.

The first New Army battalion of the Regiment was raised on 10 August 1914 in Armagh. On 21 August 1914, Army Order 324 authorised the formation of the first six new divisions, which included the 10th (Irish) Division.[2] The nomenclature specified by the order meant that the new battalion of the Regiment was to be the 5th (Service) Battalion, Princess Victoria’s (Royal Irish Fusiliers). Continue reading

The Evolution of the Regular and Service Battalions of Princess Victoria’s (Royal Irish Fusiliers) 1914-1918 – Part 6, The 9th (Service) Battalion (County Armagh)/9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion.

Here may be found the background to this work and links to similar studies of the other Battalions of the Regiment.

This material is taken, from Blacker’s Boys Appendix 6; it has been summarised and is updated here based on new information received since publication.

'B' Company, 9th (Service) Battalion, Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers) (County Armagh) in early-1915

‘B’ Company, 9th (Service) Battalion, Princess Victoria’s (Royal Irish Fusiliers) (County Armagh) in early-1915

The First to Enlist

The first men to enlist into the County Armagh Battalion of the 2nd Brigade of the Ulster Division did so over six days beginning on 15 September 1914. Continue reading

The Evolution of the Regular and Service Battalions of Princess Victoria’s (Royal Irish Fusiliers) 1914-1918 – Part 2, The 1st Battalion

Here may be found the background to this work and links to similar studies of the other Battalions of the Regiment.

Pioneer Sergeant A L W Steele and his sons

Pioneer Sergeant A L W Steele and his sons

For a history of the 1st Battalion during the First World War see: Burrowes, A R. (1926). The 1st Battalion Faugh-a-Ballaghs in the Great War. Aldershot: Gale & Polden.

For a general history of the Regiment see: Cunliffe, M. (1952). The Royal Irish Fusiliers 1793-1950. London: Oxford University Press.

When war broke out the 1st Battalion was stationed at Shorncliffe in Kent. The Army Reserve (those who had finished their period of regular service) had been mobilised by Royal Proclamation on 4 August 1914 and the men were ordered to report directly to the 1st Battalion or to the depot in Armagh.[1] The 1st Battalion was part of 10th Brigade, 4th Division, which had not deployed with the British Expeditionary Force in case of a German landing in Great Britain. It was dispatched in early August and the 1st Battalion landed in France on 23 August 1914. Continue reading