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6 Royal Irish Fusiliers in Salonika


old sparky
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I'm struggling with the National Archives catalogue. I'm looking for the war diaries of 6 RIF in Salonika but can only find those up to Sept 1915, Are the later diaries not available or am I just having a bad day?

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I'm struggling with the National Archives catalogue. I'm looking for the war diaries of 6 RIF in Salonika but can only find those up to Sept 1915, Are the later diaries not available or am I just having a bad day?

I am looking as well. In vain alas.

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Just spent another fruitless hour looking for 10(Irish) Div after Sept 1915. Must be something somewhere!

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I think it has been incorrectly recorded in the catalogue index. In WO 95/4838 there is a "6th Bn Royal Irish".... This can only be one of three units; the 6th Royal Irish Regiment, 6th Bn Royal Irish Rifles or the 6th Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers. Given the 6th Royal Irish Regiment was about 2,000 1,000 miles from Salonika in France at the time and the 6th Bn Royal Irish Rifles war diary is in WO 95/4835 it is almost a certainty that "6th Bn Royal Irish" is in fact the 6th Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers and is your battalion.

National Archives WO 95/4838. By way of reassurance the 5th Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers war diary is in the same bundle.

MG

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Martin G you may have just made my day. Many thanks.

Peter B

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I think it has been incorrectly recorded in the catalogue index. In WO 95/4838 there is a "6th Bn Royal Irish".... This can only be one of three units; the 6th Royal Irish Regiment, 6th Bn Royal Irish Rifles or the 6th Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers. Given the 6th Royal Irish Regiment was about 2,000 miles from Salonika in France at the time and the 6th Bn Royal Irish Rifles war diary is in WO 95/4835 it is almost a certainty that "6th Bn Royal Irish" is in fact the 6th Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers and is your battalion.

National Archives WO 95/4838. By way of reassurance the 5th Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers war diary is in the same bundle.

MG

Ummm weren't the 6th Royal Irish Regt with the 5th at Gallipoli then Salonica?

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Ummm weren't the 6th Royal Irish Regt with the 5th at Gallipoli then Salonica?

I am afraid that is not the case.....as LLT will confirm here . I believe the LLT information is based on Brig James' tome which has slightly more detail...

"Formed at Clonmel 6.9.14 - K2 - 47th Bde. 16th Div Mar 1915 joined by one coy. (250 all ranks) from the Guernsey Militia. At Fermoy till Sept 1915 and then to Aldershot. Dec 1915 landed at Havre. 9.2.18 disbanded in France at Saucourt, near Epehy. Personnel to 2nd and 7th Bns."

Source: British Regiments 1914-18 by Brig E A James

Also the "Royal Irish Regiment 1900-22" by Brig Gen Geoghegan CB : Chapter XXI "The Sixth (Service) Battalion" confirms it only served in France.

I did make one mistake...Salonika is 1,000 miles from the area of operation in France not 2,000 miles.

MG

Edit. William Redmond MP was in the 6th Bn Royal Irish Regiment, which is why it was part of the so-called 'political' 16th Div. The formation of this Division was a thorny issue for the British and some units were transferred from the 10th (Irish) Div which served in Gallipoli and later in Macedonia (Salonika) which might be the cause for some confusion, although I don't believe the 6th R Irish Regt was one of these. I will check and revert if this was the case.

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I am afraid that is not the case.....as LLT will confirm here . I believe the LLT information is based on Brig James' tome which has slightly more detail...

"Formed at Clonmel 6.9.14 - K2 - 47th Bde. 16th Div Mar 1915 joined by one coy. (250 all ranks) from the Guernsey Militia. At Fermoy till Sept 1915 and then to Aldershot. Dec 1915 landed at Havre. 9.2.18 disbanded in France at Saucourt, near Epehy. Personnel to 2nd and 7th Bns."

Source: British Regiments 1914-18 by Brig E A James

Also the "Royal Irish Regiment 1900-22" by Brig Gen Geoghegan CB : Chapter XXI "The Sixth (Service) Battalion" confirms it only served in France.

I did make one mistake...Salonika is 1,000 miles from the area of operation in France not 2,000 miles.

MG

Edit. William Redmond MP was in the 6th Bn Royal Irish Regiment, which is why it was part of the so-called 'political' 16th Div. The formation of this Division was a thorny issue for the British and some units were transferred from the 10th (Irish) Div which served in Gallipoli and later in Macedonia (Salonika) which might be the cause for some confusion, although I don't believe the 6th R Irish Regt was one of these. I will check and revert if this was the case.

I queried it as my paternal Grandfather was with the 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers (later 5/6th) and originally had been with the 5th Royal Irish Regt. After Gallipoli they were sent to Salonica then by 1917 to Palestine (?)

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I queried it as my paternal Grandfather was with the 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers (later 5/6th) and originally had been with the 5th Royal Irish Regt. After Gallipoli they were sent to Salonica then by 1917 to Palestine (?)

The 5th and 6th Bns Royal Irish Fusiliers had identical histories until 2nd Nov 1916 when the 6th Bn was absorbed by the 5th Bn. they key dates for the 5th and 6th Bns R Irish Fus are:

7th Aug 1915 - landed at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli (10th Div)

October 1915 - Salonika

November 1916 - 5th Bn absorbs the 6th Bn

Sept 1917 to Egypt and Palestine

20th April 1918 leaves for France arriving at Marseilles on 27th May 1918. To 66th Div

24th Aug 1918 to 48th Bde 16th Div, absorbs 11th Bn.

11th Nov 1918 to 48th Bde. Ends the War in Antoing, south of Tournai.

5th Royal Irish Regt was originally in 29th Bde, 10th (Irish) Div but in June 1915 was re-roled as the pioneer Bn to 10th (Irish) Div. The 10th Hampshire Regt which had been divisional Troops took the place of the 5th Royal Irish Regt in 29th Bde. The 5th Royal Irish Regt went to Gallipoli as the divisional Pioneers and later went to Salonika, then Egypt then France (April 1918) and ended up as a Pioneer Bn with 50th Div.

Put simply, the 5th and 6th Bns of the Royal Irish Regt had completely different Wars, whereas the 5th and 6th Bns Royal Irish Fusiliers had parallel experiences and merged in Nov 1916.

As you are no doubt aware, the lack of broad based enthusiasm to enlist at the beginning due to political issues and (later) the lack of conscription in Ireland meant that the Irish battalions struggled to maintain sufficient numbers. As the war progress the 'Irishness' of these battalions gradually became diluted and battalions were merged/amalgamated/taken over to sustain at least some for of regimental and national characteristics. this explains why some Irish units and many Irishmen served in a multitude of units as battalions were disbanded or absorbed and the few surplus men redeployed.

Eventually the 10th (Irish) Div lost its Irish title and ended the War with just one Irish battalion. Similarly the units of the 16th (Irish) Div were diluted and suffered similar fates. The 'Irishness' of the 10th Div has been exaggerated by its two most prominent historians. A number of battalions had whole companies of non-Irish right from the start viz 6th Royal Irish Regt and its D Coy of Guernsey Militia. Another battalion had similar numbers of Jersey Light Infantry, another had 600 men from Bristol etc etc. and of course the 10th (Irish ) Div was nearly pushed out of K1 by Kitchener because recruiting was so slow. When the Northern, Western, Light, Scottish and Eastern Divisions' battalions had raised over 1,000 men each and four of the six regional commands had also filled K2 (the rural Eastern command was slower due to the harvest), the Irish command had filled K1 with the help of English recruits, but were struggling to fill K2. It was only because of the English drafts that the 10th (Irish) Div could make up the numbers in time to avoid being shunted back into K2. The correspondence on this period is interesting.

K2 designated battalions for 26th Sep 1914...Strengths

6th Royal Irish Regt...........................0

7th Royal Inniskilling Fus...................0

8th R Inniskilling Fus.........................0

7th Royal Irish Rifles.......................974

7th Royal Irish Fus.........................550

8th Royal Irish Fus.........................125

6th Connaught Rangers...............1,091 ... noted for its recruiting in England.

7th Leinsters.....................................0

8th Royal Munster Fus......................0

9th Royal Munster Fus......................0

8th Royal Dublin Fus........................0

9th Royal Dublin Fus........................0

Average strength of 12 Bns...........228

By way of a random comparison, the average strength of the first 12 non-Irish battalions of K2 on the same date was 1,036 a figure which is slightly weighed down by the 799 men in the 11th Royal Scots.

The National Archives has fabulous weekly data on each Kitchener battalion's strength from August to December 1914 which shows quite graphically how recruiting in Ireland lagged the other five commands (Scottish, Northern, Western, Eastern and Light) by a considerable margin. It is not a subject that is readily acknowledged in the numerous books on the Irish in the Great War (I have recently waded through most of them), although Falls does address it with a certain degree of honesty in his history of the Royal Irish Rifles. The same can not be said of the historians of the 10th (Irish) Div.

MG

A few pictures tell the story: The official returns of the Second New Army battalions on 26th Sep 1914. The Irish battalions' recruiting challenges are fairly stark. MG

post-55873-0-96131800-1384102588_thumb.j

post-55873-0-68384600-1384102596_thumb.j

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..

You are right, I am wrong! I am trying to trace what happened to my Grandfather. He was 5th R.I.R until right before Gallipoli, transferred to 5th R.I.F. Thence to Salonica but at some stage (1916?) he was sent back to Britain. By late `16 early 17 he must have transferred again to 7/8th R.I.F.

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