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Remembered Today:

5th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers


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My grandfather John Henry Davis served with 5th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, number 30247. He was born in Peckham - then Surrey, now SE London - and grew up in that area. I don't think he had any Irish connections and I am puzzled as to why he served in an Irish regiment. His medal card does not show a transfer from another regiment.

Calling up medal cards of men with similar numbers and checking their names on the 1911 census I've come across others from the area. For example:

30248 James Gwinnell lived in Camberwell;

30243 Henry J Canvin lived in Southwark;

30233 Robert W Repper lived in Lambeth.

Presumably I have to conclude that 5th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers recruited in SE London. Why would they have done this? And why would a Londoner such as my grandfather volunteer to join an Irish regiment when there were London regiments also recruiting?

Is it possible to deduce from his number a date for enlistment? I think it should be 1914 (aged 18). My grandfather was in Salonica, Bulgaria, Egypt, Palestine and on the Western Front. I understand he had no home leave during the war, and was quarantined in France at the end because he had had malaria which was then believed to be contagious - he returned 1919. Any thoughts on 5th Bat Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers would be welcome.

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Hello Graeme and Welcome to the Great War Forum

I don't think your Grand father enlisted in the R.I.F, because men were sent where required!!!! that needed reniforcement due casualties. I am researching My greatGrand father in 2nd Bn Black watch , there are English,Welsh Irish and a Amercian in this scottish Battalion and the rest being scottish accounted for 67% of this Battlion. I hope this answer your question

Best regards


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Thanks for your thoughts Ianander.

I've looked at my grandfather and 20 other men with similar numbers, some of whom are certainly from SE London (and quite possibly all are from this area). I can't find an earlier regiment for any of them - though a few are later transferred to other regiments. Maybe this is something to do with the way the medal cards record (or don't record) information. 5th RIF had not seen active service when these men joined so I don't think there would have been gaps because of casualties - but I understand many Irish regiments had difficulty recruiting so perhaps was under-strength for this reason.

5th battalion RIF seems to include many London and Glasgow men. I see that being moved from another regiment to an under-strength Irish regiment would make sense and therefore explain this mix, but I cannot find evidence for this.

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Medal Index Cards tend to show only those units that a soldier served overseas with, what they don't show are the unit(s) a soldier possibly served with prior to him proceeding overseas.

It is often a useful exercise to see if any service/pension details survive of men with similar numbers to the man you're looking at. Now they're available on Ancestry this makes the task relatively simple.

Anyway, a quick search of the records finds two men with Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers service numbers close to those you've shown in your original post, namely #30228 James William John Bourne and #30229 Henry Arthur Kiss. Both records show that they initially enlisted in London and were posted to the 15th Bn. King's Royal Rifle Corps. The 15th Bn. later became the 18th Training Reserve Battalion and again both records reflect this change. They were then both posted to the 5th Bn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Both men embarked at Southampton on 18th December 1916 and disembarked at Salonica on 29th December. Whilst it is not guaranteed, there is a distinct possibility that John Henry Davis followed the same route to the 5th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as these two men.

Hope this helps.


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Just to reinforce Steve's post, these men have close Reg't Nos:-


Regiment/Service: Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Unit Text: 5th Bn.

Age: 24. Date of Death: 07/11/1917. Service No: 5/30230

Additional information: Son of William Gregory Milner and Sarah Janette Milner; husband of Alice (Olga) Milner, of 6, Victoria Rd., Stroud Green, London. A Civil Servant (Inland Revenue). Born in London.

Grave/Memorial Reference: VIII. D. 13. Cemetery: GAZA WAR CEMETERY

Name: BARBER, GEORGE HENRY. Rank: Private

Regiment/Service: Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Unit Text: 5th Bn.

Age: 33. Date of Death: 08/10/1918. Service No: 30220

Additional information: Son of Mrs. Amelia Barber; husband of Eliza Barber, of 50, Neptune St., Rotherhithe, London. Born at Rotherhithe.

Grave/Memorial Reference: D. 20. Cemetery: BEAUREVOIR BRITISH CEMETERY

Name: MOSES, GEORGE. Rank: Lance Corporal

Regiment/Service: Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Unit Text: 5th Bn.

Age: 38. Date of Death: 16/10/1918. Service No: 30218

Additional information: Husband of Mrs. E. M. Moses, of 104, Markham Avenue, Harehills, Leeds.

Grave/Memorial Reference: VII. K. 11B. Cemetery: MONT HUON MILITARY CEMETERY, LE TREPORT

I just idly wonder how these mixed with what I would imagine would be fairly broad Irish accents. It must have been hard going initially, for them to understand each others colloquialisms!

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Hi Graeme.

Not very scientific - but the other day I did a search on Soldiers Died using 5th R.Inns. Fus and 302* number (wildcard) as the search criteria.

iirc, about 34 names came up of which about 30 had been in previous regiments. By coincidence also, all had died in late 1917 or 1918.

Of course, that doesn't proove anything but it might suggest that the 302**** numbered men didn't transfer to the 5th Inns until 1917.

I wonder if your GF has another mic in the system somewhere?

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Many thanks for the ideas above. Very interesting!

Enlistment October 1914 with 15th Bn. King's Royal Rifle Corps seems plausible - and therefore to Salonica with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in December 1916. Ulsterlad2's observation of deaths of men with close numbers in 1917 and 1918 (but not before) also looks right.

Is it possible to say whether the photograph (attached) of my grandfather John Henry Davis (with his future wife, Emma Eliza Martin) is in the uniform of the King's Royal Rifle Corps or of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers? I think the photograph is 1919 so the latter - but I'm not certain.



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I agree with Ken that the photograph shows the badge of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Further to Kevin's post, the three men identified have interesting additional details in SDGW.

William Foster Milner #30230 RIF, formerly R/23090 KRRC.

George Henry Barber #30220 RIF, formerly 25595 KRRC.

George Moses #30218 RIF, formerly R/25547 KRRC.

Reinforces the idea that John Henry possibly followed the same route.


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Thanks, Steve for that additional SDGW info, guess I should have thought to do that myself!! Doh!

Certainly seems to be a clear link.

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