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Remembered Today:

George Somerville (Summerville) Royal Irish Rifles


Guest nelliebag
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Guest nelliebag

While completing a Human Rights course late 2006 I visited Ypres and discovered that my grandfather's brother, George, was listed on the Menin Gate. I have been able to find the following details:

He was born in 1897 -parents William & Margaret

He was recruited in Ballymaccaret in East Belfast (I think he was a member of the UVF)

His service number was 7087

He was a member of D Coy, 2nd Bn, Royal Irish Rifles

He died on 25 September 1915

I would be interested if anyone can advise me where to go from here - living family members do not know anything of his existence. I would like to find out about all aspects of his recruitment, training and Army service, also where and how he died. Is it possible that I could locate his War record or any record of D Coy.

I would appreciate any help.

Thank you.

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1. The best book is Jimmy Taylor's 2nd Royal Irish Rifles in Great War.

Basically, the rifles were in a diversionary attack in the Ypres Salient which was aimed at aiding the 'big push' at Loos on that date.

See text below .. feel free to visit my Ballymena website (link below) go to Weekly War 1915 and scroll down to the relevant period.

Also check for his details on PRONI Ulster Covenant.

Army Corps Commander’s Praise

Ballymena men killed and wounded as Rifles make history

The following text is of Major General Haldane’s farewell to the 2nd Btn. Royal Irish Rifles on the occasion of their

removal from his command:-

Reference is made in it to the recent advance and the part taken in it by the 2nd Rifles. It was during this glorious

action that 2nd Lt. Gordon Caruth was killed and Lt. S. A. Bell was wounded.

General Haldane said: “I have just got the opportunity to saw a few words to you before leaving. You are going to a

more quiet part of the line and you will be under an Irish General there and perhaps he will understand you better

than I do.

“You have a splendid fighting record throughout the campaign, being complimented by Sir John French and General

Smith Dorrien in corps orders. The fighting in this part of the line during the last few months has been very severe

and this battalion has made history.

“When the history of this campaign is written the name of the 2nd RIR will be written in large print. Your

commanding officer, Colonel Weir, has been promoted to a brigade, due largely to the conduct of the battalion on

25th September. Your brigadier was ordered to hold the Germans in the Ypres Salient while the other corps made the

attack further south. You attacked the strongest position in the enemy’s line.

“We had not enough artillery ammunition in our line to give you more support. The result was that the Germans’

hidden machine guns and cleverly laid barbed wire traps were not demolished entirely. All the big gun ammunition

was required further south.

“Your clever demonstration in front of this part of the line brought all the enemy’s reserves to this point, thereby

facilitating the offensive towards Loos. In fact, the enemy were prepared to attack but were half an hour too late. On

reading the report, I found that the Royal Irish Rifles notwithstanding the enemy’s preparation, not only pierced the

German lines but actually held their first line trenches for 24 hours, but on account of the corps on their flanks failing

to achieve their object, the battalion was unfortunately obliged to retire to their own lines, having no one in support

on their flanks.

“It was a splendid bit of work and proves that Irishmen will always get to the front no matter what obstacles are in

their way. On that day you filled the German trenches with dead with that little weapon, the bayonet, which, when in

an Irishman’s hand is filled with life itself.

“I am sorry to lose you but one has to bow to higher authority. I suppose you are sorry to say goodbye to this spot?

(laughter) The heaviest fighting has always been here so if I ever find myself in difficulties I will always count on the

help of your battalion.”

In this fighting the 2nd Btn RIR lost 15 officers killed, wounded and missing with a large number of the men

suffering similarly.

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