The First World War Discover the secrets of your ancestors’ past Brendan Mullins Genealogist Irish Family Research

The Regiment is one of only two Irish Regiments remaining in the British Army along with the Royal Irish Regiment. The Irish Guards Regiment was formed by Royal Warrant of Queen Victoria in 1900 to commemorate the contribution of the Irish soldiers during the Second Boer War. The Regiment was then stationed on ceremonial duties until the outbreak of the First World War.


One of the most famous Officers of the Regiment was Jack Kipling, the only son of Rudyard Kipling, who was initially rejected from service due to his poor eyesight. His father pulled strings in order to allow him to join up with the 2nd Battalion and he was killed in September 1915 at the Battle of Loos. His body was never found and his devastated father wrote the poem ‘My Boy Jack’ which was also dramatised into a play.


It is easy to distinguish between the Regiments of Foot Guards as the buttons on the tunics are spaced to reflect their order of seniority. The Irish Guards have buttons arranged in groups of four.


During the First World War, the Irish Guards were deployed to France and they remained on the Western Front for the duration of the war. During the course of the war, the Regiment was awarded 406 medals 4 of which were Victoria Crosses and lost over 2,300 officers and men.


1st Battalion

04.08.1914 Stationed at Wellington Barracks as part of the 4th (Guards) Brigade of the 2nd Division.

13.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Le Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;

1914   The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, the Battle of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne and the First Battle of Ypres.

1915   Winter Operations 1914-15, The Battle of Festubert.

20.08.1915 Transferred to the 1st (Guards) Brigade.

The Battle of Loos

1916   The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the Battle of Morval,

1917   The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the Battle of Pilkem, the Battle of the Menin Road, the Battle of Poelkapelle, the First Battle of Passchendaele and the Battle of Cambrai 1917.

1918   The Battle of St Quentin, the Battle of Bapaume, the First Battle of Arras 1918, The battles marked, the Battle of Albert, the Second Battle of Bapaume, the Battle of Havrincourt, the Battle of the Canal du Nord, the Battle of Cambrai 1918, the pursuit to the Selle, the Battle of the Selle and the Battle of the Sambre.

11.11.1918 Ended the war in Assevent, N.E. of Maubeuge, France.


2nd Battalion

18.07.1915 Formed at Warley Barracks

17.08.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre, joining the 2nd (Guards) Brigade of the Guards Division.

1915   The Battle of Loos

1916   The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the Battle of Morval,

1917   The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the Battle of Pilkem, the Battle of the Menin Road, the Battle of Poelkapelle, the First Battle of Passchendaele, the Battle of Cambrai 1917.

08.02.1918 Transferred to the 4th (Guards) Brigade of the 31st Division.

1918   The Battle of St Quentin, the Battle of Bapaume, the First Battle of Arras, the Battle of Estaires, the Battle of Hazebrouck and the defence of Nieppe Forest.

20.05.1918 Transferred to the G.H.Q. Reserve

11.11.1918 Ended the war in Criel Plage, S.W. of Le Treport.


3rd (Reserve) Battalion

1914 Formed at Warley Barracks as 2nd Reserve Battalion.

July 1915 Became 3rd (Reserve) Battalion and remained at Warley Barracks.


4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion

04.08.1914 Stationed at Kilkenny and then moved to Queenstown

May 1915 Moved to England at Gosport.

Sept 1915 Returned to Ireland at Fermoy

May 1916 Moved to Queenstown

April 1918 Returned to England as part of the Irish Reserve Brigade at Larkhill.


5th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers)

29.08.1914 Formed at Clonmel as part of the First New Army (K1) in the 29th Brigade of the 10th Division and then moved to Fermoy and Longford.

May 1915 Moved to England based at Basingstoke and then became a Pioneer Battalion of the 10th Division.

07.07.1915 Embarked for Gallipoli from Liverpool via Mudros.

07.08.1915 Landed at Suvla Bay and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army including;   the Battle of Sari Bair, Capture of Chocolate Hill and Hill 60.

30.09.1915 Evacuated from Gallipoli to Mudros due to severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather.

06.10.1915 Deployed to Salonika and engaged in various actions against the Bulgarian Army including;   the Battle of Kosturino, the Retreat from Serbia, capture of the Karajokois, capture of Yenikoi, third Battle of Gaza, capture of the Sheria Position, capture of Jersusalem, defence of Jerusalem and Tell ‘Asure.

01.04.1918 Transferred to the 52nd Division.

10.04.1918 Embarked for France from Alexandria arriving at Marseilles 17.04.1918.

31.05.1918 Transferred to defence the Lines of Communication.

14.07.1918 Transferred to the 50th Division at Arques la Bataille near Martin Eglise S.E. of Dieppe and engaged in various actions on the Western front including;

the Battle of the St Quentin Canal, the Battle of the Beaurevoir Line, the Battle of Cambrai 1918, the pursuit to the Selle, the Battle of the Selle and the Battle of Valenciennes.

11.11.1918 Ended the war at Semousies north of Avesnes.


6th (Service) Battalion

06.09.1914 Formed at Clonmel as part of the Second New Army (K2) in the 16th Division.

Mar 1915 Moved to Fermoy absorbed 250 men of all ranks from one company of the Guernsey Militia.

Sept 1915 Moved to Aldershot.

Dec 1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;

1916   The Battle of Guillemont and the Battle of Ginchy.

1917   The Battle of Messines and the Battle of Langemark.

1918   The Battle of St Quentin and the Battle of Rosieres,

09.02.1918 After heavy losses the Division was return to England to reconstitute but the Battalion was disbanded in France at Saulcourt near Ephey, with the remaining personnel transferred to the 2nd and 7th Battalions.


7th (South Irish Horse) Battalion

01.09.1917 Formed in France from the dismounted 1st and 2nd South Irish Horse.

14.10.1917 Transferred to the 49th Brigade of the 16th Division.

1918   The Battle of St Quentin and the Battle of Rosieres,

18.04.1918 Reduced to cadre.

26.06.1918 Reformed with 500 men of all ranks from the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 250 men from the Royal Munster Fusiliers and 85 men from the Royal Irish Regiment.

04.07.1918 Transferred to the 21st Brigade of the 30th Division.

1918   The Battle of St Quentin, the actions at the Somme Crossings, the Battle of Rosieres, the Battle of Kemmel Ridge, the Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge, the Battle of the Scherpenberg, the capture of Neuve Eglise, the capture of Wulverghem, the Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Courtrai.

11.11.1918 Ended the war at Ellezelles east of Renaix, Belgium.


8th (Service) Battalion

25.05.1918 Formed in France from the 2nd Garrison Guard Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment as part of the 178th Brigade of the 59th Division.

20.06.1918 Transferred to the 121st Brigade of the 40th Division.

13.07.1918 The title of ‘Garrison’ dropped and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;   the Final Advance in Flanders and the Battle of Ypres.

11.11.1918 Ended the war at Lannoy south of Roubaix, France.


1st Garrison Battalion

02.08.1915 Formed at Dublin and then moved to Holyhead.

06.09.1915 Embarked for Egypt from Devonport, Plymouth arriving at Mudros.

Oct 1915 Supplied working parties to be sent to Suvla Bay.

05.02.1916 Deployed to Egypt where it remained.


2nd (Home Service) Garrison Battalion

Mar 1916 Formed at Dublin.

April 1918 Became 2nd Garrison Guard Battalion.

18.04.1918 Went to France joining the 178th Brigade of the 59th Division.

25.05.1918 Became the 8th Garrison (and then Service) Battalion and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including;

The Battle of Albert, the general final advance in Artois and Flanders.

Websites http://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/Unit-Info/171 http://www.irishguards.org.uk/pages/history/ww1.html http://www.army.mod.uk/infantry/regiments/24589.aspx http://www.ww1photos.com/IrishGuards.html http://homepage.tinet.ie/~tipperaryfame/irguards.htm http://www.1914-1918.net/gdiv.htm http://www.ballingearyhs.com/journal1999/irishguards1.html http://baseportal.com/baseportal/research/WW1?Unit==Irish+Guards Books

‘The Irish Guards 1918’

By Rudyard Kipling


We’re not so old in the Army List,

  But we’re not so young at our trade,

For we had the honour at Fontenoy

  Of meeting the Guards’ Brigade ...


The fashion’s all for khaki now,

  But once through France we went

Full-dressed in scarlet Army cloth

  The English – left at Ghent!

They’re fighting on our side today,

  But, before they changed their clothes,

The half of Europe knew our fame,

  As all of Ireland knows!

http://www.telelib.com/authors/K/KiplingRudyard/prose/IrishGuardsv1/

A regimental history and official account of the Irish Guards in World War I, written by Rudyard Kipling in honour of his son, John, who served in the Irish Guards and was killed in his first action at the battle of Loos.

This book also contains a listing of the battle rolls of honour and casualty lists of all officers and men who served with the First and Second Battalion. This is the forgotten masterpiece of Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling. It is the result of five and a half years' detailed research. It was out of print for many years. "This will be my great work . . . It is done with agony and bloody sweat." First published in 1923, Kipling's little-known masterpiece is an utterly individual contribution to the art of regimental history. In August 1914 Kipling's son John, not yet 17, volunteered for a commission in the army, but being under age and with poor sight, was initially refused. His father's friendship with Lord Roberts was used to gain him a commission in the Irish Guards. John Kipling's battalion, the 2nd, was at once deployed in the costly battle of Loos, where he was among the earliest casualties. Kipling was devastated, and set about writing a regimental history as a monument to his son's service. The result of five years of laborious research, it is both a military and a literary masterpiece. Kipling employed his exceptional descriptive powers, his empathy with fighting men, and his habitual passion for detail,to wonderful effect.

Long out of print, the two volumes of The Irish Guards in the Great War, are republished in lavish, illustrated editions complete with the original maps and appendices.

The Irish Guards in the Great War Vol. 1 - The First Battalion Vol. 2 - The Second Battalion by Rudyard Kipling Published by Spellmount Ltd., England Volume 1 available online, for free, at:- Volume 2 available online, for free, at:- http://www.di2.nu/files/kipling/IrishGuardsv2.html Available in the National Library of Ireland Main Reading Room NLI Call No.  2B 265  (Volume 1) NLI Call No.  2B 266  (Volume 2)

"Have you news of my boy Jack?"

Not this tide.

"When d'you think that he'll come back?"

Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.


"Has anyone else had word of him?"

Not this tide.

For what is sunk will hardly swim,

Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.


"Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?"

None this tide,

Nor any tide,

Except he did not shame his kind -

Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.


Then hold your head up all the more,

This tide,

And every tide;

Because he was the son you bore,

And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

‘My Boy Jack’  1914-1918 By Rudyard Kipling Jack Kipling (Recruited all over Ireland.  Depot: Chelsea Barracks, London) http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=cn53NEEDnX4 Gravestone of  John ‘Jack’ Kipling Motto: ‘Quis Separabis’ ‘Who shall separate us’

The records for soldiers who served in the Irish, Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots or Welsh Guards are available by applying to the relevant Regimental Headquarters at:  


Wellington Barracks,  Birdcage Walk,  London SW1E 6HQ,  England.

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