At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the 1st Battalion of the Connaught Rangers was in India and the 2nd Battalion was in Aldershot Barracks, Hampshire, England. The 1st Battalion was recalled from India, and joined with the 2nd at Le Touret, near Bethune. These two regular battalions of the Connaught Rangers served together for the entire 1914-1918 War.
During that war, the Rangers strength was supplemented by the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion and the 5th and 6th (Service) Battalions.
After serving on the Western Front in France during 1914 and 1915, the 1st and 2nd Battalions, in December 1915, embarked for the Middle East theatre of war where they saw service in Palestine, Mesopotamia and Turkey. Their place on the Western Front was taken by the 6th Battalion, which fought in France and Flanders (Belgium) until the Armistice in November 1918.
In 1793 new British regiments were raised to face the threat of Revolutionary France. Among the first of the regiments to be raised were DeBurgh’s and the Scotch Brigade. These two regiments became united as the two regular battalions of the Connaught Rangers. As a result, the Connaught Rangers can claim a service record that stretches back to 1572. This book explores the history, organisation, uniforms and equipment of the Connaught Rangers from the Napoleonic Wars to the First World War. The unit,s experience in America and in South Africa in included. The full variety of uniforms are illustrated in a variety of colour plates and several contemporary ohotos and illustrations.
The 6th Connaught Rangers Research Project began its life in April 2006 as the result of a newspaper article and appeal for information, by the An Eochair/Clondra Historical & Cultural Group, on soldiers who enlisted in the regiment at the outbreak of the First World War. Hundreds of the men who joined the 6th Connaught Rangers in August 1914 hailed from the Falls Road area of Belfast. The majority of the men were ardent nationalists and supporters of John Redmond and the Parliamentary Party and their goal was to gain ‘Home Rule for Ireland’.
The main aim of the Connaught Rangers Research Project members, many of whom have direct family connections to those Connaught Rangers volunteers, was to research, examine and gather information about the human experiences and stories of the men, and to document and share these findings with others. Through this research a clearer understanding of the historical realities of Ireland and particularly of Belfast at the time of the First World War is beginning to emerge from the hidden margins of history.
The Battalion’s story from formation in Ireland to active service at Gallipoli and in the Macedonian in 1915.
The 5th Connaught Rangers began life in Galway, the regimental Depot, on the west coast of Ireland, but soon moved to Dublin where the drafts to make up the battalion began to arrive.The battalion officially came into existence as the 5th Battalion on 19 August 1914 under the command of Lt. Col. H. F. N. Jourdain who remained in command throughout the period covered in this book.The first chapter described the build-up in great detail, giving the names of every officer and the date of arrival, and the dates of arrival of each draft and its strength. The battalion was allocated to 29th Brigade, 10th (Irish) Division, the first Irish division in the history of the British Army, composed of battalions of all the Irish line regiments. After preliminary training in Ireland the division moved to England in May 1915, concentrating in the Basingstoke area and in July it embarked for Gallipoli.
The battalion, with 29th Brigade, landed at Anzac Cove on the morning of 6th August, attached to the Anzac Corps, and thereafter took part in several actions, Lone Pine, Chunak Bair and the attack on Hill 60 (27th-29th August) which involved severe, hand-to-hand fighting. At the end of September the 10th Division was withdrawn prior to transfer to the Macedonian front. The battalion left Gallipoli on 29th September some seven weeks after landing, during that period it incurred 684 casualties (220 dead) out of an original embarkation strength of 975. On the 10th October 1915 the battalion arrived at Salonika and about a month later the division advanced into Serbia and Bulgaria. Operations were conducted in rugged, inhospitable country, in freezing cold (on one occasion even the great coats were frozen stiff) and against a tough enemy. Fighting was particularly savage at Kosturino which cost the battalion well over 500 casualties - nearly 150 invalided with frost-bite. By the end of the year the division had fallen back to Salonika. This is a very detailed record of the battalion’s activities with frequent strength states, casualty lists with officers named as well as names of those joining. A table at the end of the book summarises the casualties from July 1915 to January 1916, - they total 1,219.