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Ivor Anderson

Royal Irish Fusiliers Training Battalions WW1

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Ivor Anderson

The first 2 photos are of an unknown Royal Irish Fusiliers training battalion taken in Ireland during WW1. The company quartermaster sergeant to our right of the officers in the front row is my great grandfather, Robert John Sproule 7398. He joined the 2nd Battalion RIF in India in 1902 and made corporal 1904 and sergeant in 1910. He trained new recruits for most of WW1 but was drafted out in August 1917 to join a badly depleted 7/8 RIF east of Ypres. He returned home wounded (shrapnel wound in left leg) in late October 1917 and resumed training troops after his partial recovery. He was with 4th RIF in Ballincolly, Cork in early 1918. He was then with 3rd and then 11th RIF at Rugeley May-July 1918. He retired from the army in 1923 and died in 1956. The third photo is of 20th officer cadet battalion at Bawdsly in September 1918. He is again seated to our right of the officers. These may photos may be of interest to others trying to identify relatives. I copied them from the originals in my possession.

DSC_0182.JPG

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Clive's canon   oct 112.jpg

Edited by Ivor Anderson
typo correction

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Charles Fair

Thank you Ivor, very interested to see the 20 OCB photo as I'm researching the OCB system.

Charles

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FROGSMILE

Great photos, thank you for posting them.  Interesting to make out the cap badges and overseas service stripes among the 20th OCB sitters.  Also the ‘boy bandsman’ laying front right in the battalion photo.  You can just about see the regimental badge on his bandsman’s music pouch.  Very typically, seated centrally are the RSM (with a single row of medal ribbons), Adjutant and Commanding Officer (with General List cap badge).  Going by the youth of the rear two rows it might be a ‘young soldier’, or ‘graduated’ battalion formed from the earlier, Training Reserve.

Edited by FROGSMILE

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Ivor Anderson

Robert John Sproule (b. Dublin 1877 - d. Belfast 1956) was in action outside Ypres on 16th August 1917 and was wounded near Fontaine, S.E. of Arras, on 5th October 1917 with the 7/8th Royal Irish Fusiliers. I have recently cross-referenced his service record with the War Diary of the 7/8th RIF for August-October 1917:

 

Ypres Sector - August 1917 The Battle of Langemark. 

12-14 August 17 Battalion in Brigade Reserve - working parties near YPRES.

13 August 1917 Robert John Sproule posted to 7/8th RIF (harr. France 9/8/17)

15 August 1917 - 7/8th Battalion moved to assembly position - HQ at SQUARE FARM. Motor lorries took them as far as the Square in Ypres.

 

In Battle in Front Line East of YPRES - 16 August 1917 

16 August 1917 All companies in front line position by 3am. 

Attacked enemy positions a 4.45am. ‘BECK Ho.’ captured by D co. 

Heavy enemy sniping & machine-gun fire held up the advance. 

‘BORRY FARM’ taken & held despite heavy counter-attack. 

German counter-attack advance prevented. 

Battalion signal officer 2/Lt. Forbes captured IBERIAN with only 4 men left. 

      At end of day - 3 officers & 21 other ranks killed. 

      7 officers & 105 ORs wounded. 3 officers and 90 ORs missing.

Evacuations carried on throughout the day from SQUARE to BAVARIA Ho..

Company stretcher bearers carrying wounded from front line to the dressing station. Battalion’s October War Diary records 3 MCs, 1 DCM and 12 MMs were awarded for ‘bravery in action in the face of the enemy’ for this day (listed in London Gazette Nov. 1917).

Battalion relieved by 6th Connaught Rangers at 12 midnight. 

 

17 August 1917 Battalion moved into British support line on Cambridge Road. At 9.30pm moved off westward via YPRES.

18 August 1917 left YPRES sector - (heading to SOMME sector south of ARRAS). Embarked VLAMERTINGE 6pm to WATOU (both W of Ypres).

20 August 1917 Battalion marched south to EECKE.

22 August 1917 March from EECKE to Bavinchove Station (via St Sylvestre & Cassel). Took train south to Miraumont left 12.30pm, arrived. 8.15pm. Marched to camp at Achiet-le-Petit for 9pm.

22 to 28 August 1917 Training & parades at Achiet-le-Petit 

28th Left HENHAM CAMP, Achiet-le-Petit at 10.20am marched to Hamelincourt for 12.30pm.

29-31 August at Hamelincourt

4th October 1917 moved into front line at Fontaine-les-Croisilles (near LUMP LANE trench) S.E. of Arras.

5 October 1917 ‘Gas shell attack on enemy at 7pm. Enemy retaliated with ‘many aerial darts on LUMP LANE and shelled the right company’s HQ with heavies’. 

                            Service record states that Robert John Sproule was wounded and evacuated on 5-10-17. Aged 40!

9th October ‘Enemy shelling LUMP LANE & HIND SUPPORT. Getting some direct hits.

10th October Artillery in action against German lines. RIF working on drainage & improving trenches under RE supervision.

Battalion relieved by 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Moved to ‘Armagh Camp’.

11 - 22 October in ‘ARMAGH CAMP’ for training & parades

 

Another late WW1 photo of him (front right) with other RIF NCOs is attached. 

Sproule R.J. front right.jpg

Edited by Ivor Anderson
Correction

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FROGSMILE

A very evocative photo, I think it reads “what remains of B Coy, 4th RIF.  Among them are two CSMs (one with the beginning of a 2nd full row of medal ribbons) and two CQMS.  A few are quite elderly and so typical of a Reserve Battalion.

Thank you for posting.

 

NB.  The positioning of Fire Buckets to ‘frame’ the photo made me smile as it is a typical thing for a regular reserve unit to do (put there by the photographer to mark the limits of his frame and make sure everyone is in shot).

Edited by FROGSMILE

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Ivor Anderson

Thanks Frogsmile. These are my GGF's (Robert John Sproule's) medals. He completed his 21 years in 1923. He was in ARP/Harbour Police in Belfast Harbour (H&W) during WW2:

DSC_0863.JPG

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FROGSMILE

They would make a very fine display in a case on the wall, perhaps with his cap badge and shoulder titles (‘Quails’).

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Ivor Anderson
Posted (edited)

CQMS Robert John Sproule 7398 (front centre) with Royal Irish Fusilier soldiers c.1918 - somewhere in Ireland.

 

Clive's canon   oct 130.jpg

Edited by Ivor Anderson

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