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The 9th (Service) Battalion (County Tyrone), Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

The 9th (Service) Battalion (County Tyrone), The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was formed at Omagh, in September 1914, from the Tyrone Volunteers they were attached to 3rd Brigade, Ulster Division. On the 2nd November 1914 the formation was renamed 109th Brigade, 36th Division.

The men trained at Dufferin and Ava Estate at Clandeboye, County Down and in July 1915, the Division moved to Seaford, in Sussex, England and then to France in early October 1915.

The 36th Ulster Division are most famous for thier action on the 1st of July 1916, when they were one of the few Divisions to reach thier objective. The front lines were at the edge of Thiepval Wood, troops crossed about 400 yards of No Man's Land, entering the Schwaben Redoubt, (close to where the Ulster Tower stands today) then advancing on towards Stuff Redoubt. The men held out for the day but as their stocks of bombs and ammunition dwindled, they were forced to fall back. The casualties suffered by the 36th Division on the 1st of July were over 5,000 in total. Nine men of the 36th Division were awarded the Victoria Cross on the 1st of July 1916.
In 1917 they were in action at The Battle of Messines, capturing Wytschaete and in the The Battle of Langemarck during the Third Battles of Ypres and the The Cambrai Operations where the Division captured Bourlon Wood. In 1918 they were in action the Somme in the Battles of the Lys and the Final Advance in Flanders. At the Armistice they were at Mouscron, north east of Tourcoing, where the Division remained throughout demobilization which was complete by June 1919.

The Ulster Tower, at Theipval is a memorial to the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, built as a copy of Helen's Tower at Clandeboye, County Down, where men of the 36th Division trained. There is a small visitor centre with a cafe behind the tower which is staffed by members of the Somme Association. Inside the tower is a small chapel with a number of paintings and plaques from Northern Ireland.

Today Theipval Wood is owned by The Somme Association and guided tours are available of a section of recently excavated trenches.

Please note that Theipval Wood is not open the public, it is used by French huntsmen who use live ammunition and who will shoot, you are putting yourself at risk by entering without permission. Please go to the visitor centre at the Ulster Tower to arrange a guided tour.

A DVD is now available, released for the official opening of the wood for guided tours on the 1st of July 2006, follows the Community Archeology Project, undertaken by The Somme Association and No Man's Land, The European Group for Great War Archaeology.

You can order a copy on-line by clicking the image below:

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Did you know? We also have a section on World War Two. and a Timecapsule to preserve stories from other conflicts for future generations.

Those known to have served with The 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers during the Great War 1914-1918.

Select a story link or scroll down to browse those stories hosted on this site.

  • Pte. Wellington L Allen (d.22nd Aug 1917) Read their Story.
  • L/Cpl. William E. Barrett (d.7th June 1917) Read their Story.
  • Capt. Eric Norman Frankland Bell VC (d.1st July 1916) Read their Story.
  • Pte. R. R. Bellis (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. Thomas Bethune (d.1st Mar 1915) Read their Story.
  • Pte. John Charles Bishop (d.21st Nov 1916) Read their Story.
  • L/Cpl. William James Boal DCM.
  • Sgt. John Brangam MM. (d.29th Mar 1918) Read their Story.
  • Lt. Frederick George Brien (d.20th April 1918) Read their Story.
  • Pte. Robert William Brown (d.1st Jul 1916) Read their Story.
  • Pte. A. Bryans (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. R. Bryans (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. Michael Mitchell Cairns (d.1st Jul 1916) Read their Story.
  • Pte. D. Caldwell (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. J. Cathergood (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. W. Christie (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. Hugh Curry (d.8th Sept. 1916)
  • Pte. John Dolan (d.16th Aug 1917) Read their Story.
  • 2nd Lt. James Samuel Emerson VC. (d.6th Dec 1917) Read their Story.
  • L/Sgt. Frank Fawkes MM. (d.15th Oct 1918) Read their Story.
  • Pte. W. Flemming (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. Richard Fowler (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. W. Gates (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. James Gilmour (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. J. Greer (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. J. Hammond (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. T. Hunter (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Private William Hunter (d.4th Feb 1918) Read their Story.
  • Pte. Peter Samuel Hutchings (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. J. Kerr (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. G. H. Ledson (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • CSM. Thomas McClay DCM MM.
  • Pte. T. McCurry (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. W. McKinley (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. David Menarry (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. H. Mills (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. J. Mitchell (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. J. Mitchell (d.7th Jun 1917)
  • Pte. H. Moffett (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. Samuel Mulligan (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. J. Neely (d.7th Jun 1917)
  • Pte. A. Noble (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. M. Noble (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. W. Quinn (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Cpl. Robert Boyd Rainey (d.7th Jun 1917)
  • Pte. John Roulston (d.24th Jun 1916)
  • Pte. W. J. Smylie (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. Francis Patrick Spencer Read their Story.
  • Pte. J. Vincent (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. Robert Wallace (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Pte. C. Wasson (d.1st Jul 1916)
  • Sjt. Edward John Young (d.1st July 1916) Read their Story.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add,, or any recollections or photos of those listed, please get in touch.


Sjt. Edward John Young 9th Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (d.1st July 1916)

My Great Uncle, Serjeant Edward John Young, died on July 1, 1916 aged 35, at the Battle of the Somme fighting for freedom with the 9th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers with the 36th Ulster Division of the British Empire trying to take the Thiepval Plateau.

He died with his men, and his family would like his name to be forever remembered as a proud Irish farmer that fought for freedom. He is buried in the Bray Vale British Cemetery, in the village of Bray-Sur-Somme, France, having been moved there in 1923 from the Fields of Thiepval where he fell in defense of freedom.

I visited his grave, the first member of my family to do so on September 13, 2010, and it was one of the most moving experiences of my life.

Dennis G. Bellingtier


Private William Hunter 9th Btn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (d.4th Feb 1918)

My uncle William died in St Steeven's Hospital in Dublin "as a result of wounds" according to the official War Office notification. I have no information on where he served or was wounded.

A Hunter


Pte. Michael Mitchell Cairns 9th. Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (d.1st Jul 1916)

A memorial stone to Michael Mitchell Cairns is in the church yard of St. Canice's Church in Eglinton, Co. Derry, where I now reside, This man was my grand father's elder brother. I have in the past researched my family and I had a printout of the 1911 Ireland census. My grandfather, William Cairns, is on the family list as is an older brother of his entered as Mitcheal Cairns, who was 18 in 1911. On the headstone he was in the 9th. Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, number 26700. He enlisted in Londonderry and was 24 years old when he was killed at the Somme on the first day of the Battle, 1st. July. He is also named on the Thiepval Memorial as one of the missing. I have been trying to find out his enlistment date and hopefully a picture of him.

Mitchell Michael Thomas Cairns


Sgt. John Brangam MM. 9th Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (d.29th Mar 1918)

John Brangam was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery on the 20th of November 1917 during the Battle of Cambrai. His battalion had reached the front line trenches with little opposition, but then encountered intense fire from German machine guns. Sergeant Brangam crept around the right flank of the German line and managed to get close enough to bomb a machine gun post, killing two enemy and taking two prisoners. This action allowed his company to resume the advance and take the German line. On the third day of the battle the Germans launched a strong counter-attack, all the other officers in the 9th Battalion fell and Sergeant Brangam assumed the command and forced back the German offensive. John Brangam was killed in action on 29th of March 1918, he has no known grave, but is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial.

S. Flynn


L/Sgt. Frank Fawkes MM. 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (d.15th Oct 1918)

Frank Fawkes was the youngest son of John and the late Elizabeth Ann Fawkes (nee Chambers) and husband of Jane Fawkes (nee Pirie) of 12 Jutland Avenue Hebburn. He was born in Jarrow and enlisted in Newcastle.

Frank died aged 25 on the 15th of October 1918, and was buried in Dadizeele New British Cemetery, Belgium. The Military Medal was awarded to Frank Fawkes for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire or for individual or associated acts of bravery which were insufficient to merit the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Conferment of the medal was announced in the London Gazette and Frank Fawkes earned the right to add the letters M.M. to his name.

In the 1911 Census for 58 Jervis Street Hebburn, his family is recorded as: John Fawkes age 47 Coal Trimmer at Staithes born Walbottle, Northumberland. (married 14 years, children born 6, children living 5, children died 1) Isabella Fawkes wife age 47 born Bedlington, Northumberland. John William Fawkes son age 25 Coal Teemer at Staithes born Jarrow. Alice Maud Fawkes daughter age 23 born Jarrow. Joseph Anthony Fawkes son age 20 Shunter at Staithes born Jarrow. Frank Fawkes son age 18 Shunter at Staithes born Jarrow.

Vin Mullen


Pte. John Dolan 9th Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (d.16th Aug 1917)

John Dolan was born in Jarrow and lived in Gateshead. He enlisted at Newcastle. He is remembered on Tyne Cot Memorial.

Vin Mullen


Pte. Wellington L Allen 44th Coy. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) (d.22nd Aug 1917)

Private Allen, son of Walter and Margaret Allen, of North Croft, Bowness-on-Solway, Carlisle, was born in St. Columbus, Dublin, and later enlisted there. Before joining the Machine Gun Corps he was a member of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers 9th Battalion. He landed at le Havre in February 1916, and was killed in action aged 21 whilst in Flanders fighting The Battle of Passchendaele. Private Allen is buried at Dochy Farm New British Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

S Flynn


Pte. Thomas Bethune 9th Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (d.1st Mar 1915)

Thomas Bethune served with the Royal Iniskilling Fusiliers and died of wounds at home in Dublin in March 1915. His twin brother, Douglas also served.

s flynn


Pte. John Charles Bishop 9th Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (d.21st Nov 1916)

John Charles Bishop was the son of Mrs. F. Bishop, of 2, Anglesea Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

s flynn


L/Cpl. William E. Barrett 9th Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (d.7th June 1917)

William E. Barrett was the son of Elizabeth Barrett, of 48, Killeen Rd., Rathmines, Dublin, and the late C. E. Barrett. He was killed in action in Flanders age 26 and is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

s flynn


Lt. Frederick George Brien att. "Y" Trench Mortar Battery Royal Field Artillery (d.20th April 1918)

Frederick Brien was the son of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Brien, of Wilton House, Wilton Place, Dublin. He joined up 4th August, 1914, obtaining a commission in 9th Battalion, Inniskilling Fusiliers, and was wounded on 28th June, 1916. He transferred in 1917, to Royal Field Artillery. He died of wounds, received at Merville age 34 and is buried in Tannay British Cemetery, Thiennes, France.

s flynn


Pte. Robert William Brown 9th Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (d.1st Jul 1916)

Robert William Brown was born in Dublin and enlisted in Belfast. He served with the 9th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and was killed in action in July 1916.

s flynn


2nd Lt. James Samuel Emerson VC. 9th Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (d.6th Dec 1917)

James Emerson was killed in action on the 6th of December 1917, aged 22 and is commemorated on The Cambrai Memorial, France. He was the son of John and Ellen Emerson, of Collon, Drogheda, Co. Louth.

An extract from The London Gazette, dated 12th Feb., 1918, records the following:- "For repeated acts of most conspicuous bravery. He led his company in an attack and cleared 400 yards of trench. Though wounded, when the enemy attacked in superior numbers, he sprang out of the trench with eight men and met the attack in the open, killing many and taking six prisoners. For three hours after this, all other Officers having become casualties, he remained with his company, refusing to go to the dressing station, and repeatedly repelled bombing attacks. Later, when the enemy again attacked in superior numbers, he led his men to repel the attack and was mortally wounded. His heroism, when worn out and exhausted from loss of blood, inspired his men to hold out, though almost surrounded, till reinforcements arrived and dislodged the enemy.

s flynn


Capt. Eric Norman Frankland Bell VC 9th Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (d.1st July 1916)

Eric Bell was killed in action 1st July 1916, aged 20 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France. He was the son of Capt. E. H. Bell, of 22 University Rd., Bootle, Liverpool. Native of Enniskillen, Ireland.

An extract from The London Gazette, dated 26th Sept. 1916, records the following: "For most conspicuous bravery. He was in command of a Trench Mortar Battery, and advanced with the Infantry in the attack. When our front line was hung up by enfilading machine gun fire Captain Bell crept forward and shot the machine gunner. Later, on no less than three occasions, when our bombing parties, which were clearing the enemy's trenches, were unable to advance, he went forward alone and threw Trench Mortar bombs among the enemy. When he had no more bombs available he stood on the parapet, under intense fire, and used a rifle with great coolness and effect on the enemy advancing to counter-attack. Finally he was killed rallying and reorganising infantry parties which had lost their officers. All this was outside the scope of his normal duties with his battery. He gave his life in his supreme devotion to duty."



Pte. Francis Patrick Spencer 2nd Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Pte Francis Patrick Spencer. (Centre) Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, First World War.

When the UK declared war on Germany on 4th of August 1914, Francis Spencer was stationed, with the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, at Dover. Ten months had elapsed since he had enlisted as a professional soldier. He had walked from his home in Bradford, to the recruiting office in Halifax, with two mates, to escape the drudgery and low wages of the textile mills. Now at the age of 19 he was on the brink of being sent to war.

However, fearing a possible invasion, the 2nd Inniskillings along with 12th Brigade, 4th Division were sent to Norfolk. The main B.E.F had landed at Boulogne on August 18. As it became clear a German invasion was not imminent the 4th Division was also sent to France, landing at Le Havre on August 22nd, just in time to bolster the British Army who were now retreating from Mons. Francis and the 2nd Inniskillings would get their first taste of action on August 26 at the Battle of Le Cateau where they were protecting the II Corps extreme left flank in the village of Esne.

As the retreat continued, the 2nd Inniskillings provided rearguard cover for II Corps when required. Then they were involved in the Battles of The Marne and Aisne. October saw the 2nd Inniskillings moved to Flanders and Armentieres where they saw action at Le Gheer, Pont Rouge on the Lys Canal, Messines, Douve Farm and Ploegsteert Wood before moving to HQ in December 1914. The battalion had lost about 240 men killed and numerous others wounded and was in bad need of new soldiers to make up the battalions strength. With the new Service Battalions starting to come over to France and other campaigns opening up, Francis Spencer was transferred to the 6th Battalion Royal Inniskillings and saw action at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli. He became ill with Malaria and was evacuated to hospital. His Battalion went on to Salonika without him and once he was sufficiently recovered, Francis was once again transferred to the 9th Battalion and saw action at the Somme and again in the Ypres Salient.

He ended his war with the 'Fighting 9th' and, after a spell in Canada, lived in Bradford until his death in the late 1960s.

Pvt Francis Patrick Spencer's uniform buttons. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. First World War

Steven Spencer

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