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The Royal Irish Rifles
The Royal Irish Rifles was formed in 1881 by redesignation of 83rd (County of Dublin) Regiment of Foot and of 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot. In 1921 they became the The Royal Ulster Rifles.
Battalions during the Great War 1914-1918:
- 1st Battalion
- 2nd Battalion
- 5th Battalion (Royal South Down Light Infantry)
- 6th (Service) Battalion
- 7th (Service) Battalion
- 8th (East Belfast) Battalion
- 9th (West Belfast) Battalion
- 10th (South Belfast) Battalion
- 11th (South Antrim) Battalion
- 12th (Central Antrim) Battalion
- 13th (1st County Down) Battalion
- 14th (Young Citizens) Battalion
- 15th (North Belfast) Battalion
- 16th (2nd County Down) Battalion (Pioneers)
- 17th (Reserve) Battalion
- 18th (Reserve) Battalion
- 19th (Local Irish) Battalion
- 20th (Reserve) Battalion
- 1st Garrison Battalion
Can you add to this factual information? Do you know the whereabouts of this unit on a particular day? Which battles they took part in? Or any other interesting snipts?
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Please note we currently have a backlog of submitted material, our volunteers are working through this as quickly as possible and all names, stories and photos will be added to the site.
Those known to have served with The Royal Irish Rifles during the Great War 1914-1918.
Select a story link or scroll down to browse those stories hosted on this site.
- Rfm. Dickson Adams (d.7th Sep 1916)
- Rfm. George Robert Aggas (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Capt. B. Allgood
- Rfm. Stanley Orme Anderson (d.7th Jun 1917)
- W. G. Ashe (d.1st Jul 1916)
- Rfm. W. J. Baker (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Rfm. Robert Henry Barnett (d.7th Jun 1917)
- L. S. Barrington
- Capt. L. M. Bayly
- Rfm. Robert William Bennett (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Rfm. Alfred Thomas Bird (d.7th Jun 1917)
- A. G. Blair (d.1st Jul 1916)
- T. Blair (d.1st Jul 1916)
- Rfm. Arthur Henry Bloomfield (d.7th Jun 1917)
- 2nd Lt. T. M. Bond
- R. Bothwell (d.1st Jul 1917)
- Rfm. Frank Thomas Boulding (d.7th Jun 1917)
- L/Cpl. Harold Bowler (d.28th Jul 1917) Read their Story.
- Rfm. Thomas Hutchinson Brians (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Rfm. Patrick Brooks (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Lance Sjt. John Brown (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Rfm. James Bruce (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Lt. W. A. Burges
- L/Cpl. Corry Burnett (d.7th Jun 1917)
- W. E. Bustard (d.1st Jul 1916)
- Rfm. John Campbell (d.14th Jul 1917) Read their Story.
- Lt. Charles John Casey Read their Story.
- Rfm. Herbert Cathcart (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Pte. Herbert Cathcart (d.7th June 1917) Read their Story.
- Lt -Col. O. Clinton-Baker
- Walter Collins
- Rfm. Robert Colvin (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Sjt Mjr. A Copeland
- Rfm. Thomas Craig (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Pte. Samuel Crawford Read their Story.
- Pte. Robert Crilly
- Rfm. David Currie (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Lt. W. O. F. Darling
- J. H. Davison (d.1st Jul 1916)
- R. Deane (d.1st Jul 1916)
- J. Dobbin (d.1st Jul 1917)
- Rfm. Jeremiah Donovan (d.27th Oct 1914) Read their Story.
- H. Dowds (d.1st Jul 1916)
- 2nd Lt. Sydney James Livingston Downey (d.7th Jun 1917) Read their Story.
- Capt. C. F. K. Ewart
- J. F. Fitzsimons (d.1st Jul 1916)
- CSM. William Foster Read their Story.
- James E Furniss (d.30th July 1917) Read their Story.
- W. N. Givens
- G. A. Hawthorne (d.1st Jul 1916)
- 2nd Lt. A G.A. Hellmers
- J. Henderson (d.1st Jul 1916)
- G. A. Hoy (d.1st Jul 1916)
- W/O William Jamison Read their Story.
- L/Cpl. J. Kane (d.21st Mar 1917)
- Rfm. David Fergus Ferguson "Dan" Kelly MM. Read their Story.
- Rifleman. Andrew William Kennedy (d.7th May 1915) Read their Story.
- L/Cpl. A G. Kerr (d.1st Jul 1916)
- W. Latimer (d.1st Jul 1916)
- David James Laverty Read their Story.
- Pte. James William Leary Read their Story.
- Cpl. Samuel Macaulay (d.7th Jun 1917) Read their Story.
- Rfm. Robert Magee (d.22nd Mar 1917)
- Pte. James Maher Read their Story.
- Rfm. James Mcannally Read their Story.
- Sergeant R J McCleary (d.22nd July 1915) Read their Story.
- A. McCleery (d.1st Jul 1916)
- J. McCoy (d.1st Jul 1916)
- Rfm. James Morrison McCready (d.25th Aug 1918) Read their Story.
- Samuel McIlroy (d.1st Jul 1916)
- Cpl. John Hill McKibben (d.9th May 1915) Read their Story.
- Pte. William James McKibben Read their Story.
- Rfm. F. McNally (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Rfm. J. Mills (d.21st Jun 1917)
- John Trid Moore (d.1st Jul 1916)
- Arthur Galway Morrow (d.1st Jul 1916)
- Cpl. Fred Mortimer Read their Story.
- CSM. William George Motum (d.10th Mar 1915) Read their Story.
- Pte. Alexander Mulholland Read their Story.
- M. Murphy (d.1st Jul 1916)
- Capt. A. M. O'Sullivan
- J. Palmer (d.1st Jul 1916)
- T. J. Patton (d.1st Jul 1916)
- Pte. Thomas Penston Read their Story.
- Lt -Col. A. D. Reid
- I. Richardson (d.1st Jul 1916)
- L/Cpl. W. J. Robinson
- Pte. Peter Rooney (d.1st Jul 1916) Read their Story.
- L/Cpl. Charles Owen Slacke (d.1st Jul 1916)
- Rfm. Samuel Sloan (d.7th Jun 1917) Read their Story.
- Rifleman Samuel Sloan
- Mjr. E. F Smyth MC.
- Rifleman George Smyth (d.30th Dec 1914) Read their Story.
- Rfm. George Smyth (d.30th Dec 1914) Read their Story.
- Pte. Bernard Sullivan (d.26th Oct 1914) Read their Story.
- 2nd Lt. J. C. Thompson
- Pte. Samuel Tyndall Read their Story.
- Rfm. David Watson Read their Story.
- J. Watson (d.1st Jul 1916)
- Joseph Watson (d.1st Jul 1916)
- O. B. Webb
- W. Webster (d.1st Jul 1916)
- A. O. Wright
- Sgt. A. Wright
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.
Rifleman. Andrew William Kennedy 2nd Btn. Royal Irish Rifles (d.7th May 1915)My Granddad was one of the fallen heroes. He was killed in Action in France on 7 May 1915 and is remembered forever with honour on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. I am sorry that I have no photograpth and will never know what he looked - but I think he was beautiful.
Rifleman George Smyth 1st Batallion Royal Irish Rifles (d.30th Dec 1914)I know he sailed to France aboard the S.S. Anglo Canadian, and I have tried everywhere to locate a picture of this troop carrier. I am trying to put together a scrapbook for my grandchildren to let them know about their great-grandfather's efforts in W.W.1. Thank you very much for all help.
Sergeant R J McCleary 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (d.22nd July 1915)This is a photo of my great-grandad, Sgt R J McCleary, Service No 4775 of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. He was the son of Robert McCleary of Tonaghmore,Banbridge and husband of Amy McCleary, of Saul St., Down Patrick, County Down. He died on Thursday 22nd July 1915 at the age of 27, and is buried at Merville Communal Cemetry, Nord, France.
I am visiting his grave in August as my Nana (who sadly has died) always wanted to visit her father's grave but never got the chance.
2nd Lt. Sydney James Livingston Downey 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (d.7th Jun 1917)Sydney Downey was the second son of James Livingston Downey JP. and his wife Marion, he was the grandson of Rev George Cron. Sydney was born in Belfast and was educated at the Methodist College. He served in France with the BEF from the 15th of June 1916, having been commissioned in January 1916. Sydney was killed in action on the 7th of June 1915 and is laid to rest at Spanbrokmolen close to where he fell. He was 21 years old and was an employee of The Northern Assurance Company Ltd in Belfast, today the company is owned by Aviva and Sydney is amongst those remembered on the Roll of Honour on the company website.
Pte. William James McKibben Royal Irish RiflesWilliam McKibben and his brother John, both served with the Royal Irish Rifles.
Cpl. John Hill McKibben 1st Btn. Royal Irish Rifles (d.9th May 1915)I have only just discovered my long lost relative, John McKibben. At the moment all I know is that he was 22 when he died, and his name is on panel 9 Ploegsteert Memorial. His parents were James and Mary of 47 Robert Street Newtownards.
Pte. James Maher Royal Irish RiflesMy grandfather, James Maher was in the Royal Irish Rifles between 1915 and 1919. He was born in Dublin in 1898. I am researching him for my mother as she now 83 and she never met her father and knows very little about him, so any info would make her very happy.
Rfm. James Mcannally 15th (N. Belfast) Battalion Royal Irish RiflesJames was my grandfather, I have a war photo, a leave pass from a hospital in England for Nov 1918 and also his wallet, which he carried through the war with some items still in it. I think it is great what you are doing with this website,keeping the memory alive of so many brave men.
Rfm. John Campbell 14th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles (d.14th Jul 1917)John Campbell died at Richmond Hospital, Dublin, on the 14th of July, 1917, of wounds received in action at the Battle of Messines, leaving his wife Nora and young son Wellington.
Pte. Samuel Tyndall Royal Irish RiflesI am researching a friend's family and we came across a WW1 medal card for a family member Samuel Tyndall. The card is marked KIA with no date. I have searched CWGC Debt of Honour, trying out variations of spelling all to no avail. An expert friend of mine says this is almost unheard so I am exploring all possibilities.
Due to the vast numbers lost in the Great War and the loss of paper records in the 1940 Blitz, there do remain a few who are still not recorded by the CWGC. If you visit their website, there is a procedure where by you can submit evidence of Samuel's death with a request that he be added to their records.
Rfm. David Watson 12th Btn. Royal Irish RiflesMy grandfather, David Watson, told me he was a stretcher bearer and that he remembers seeing a hill in flames and because he came from farming background he said he walked through "acres and acres of wounded". He had already fought at the Somme, in 1917 he was 33yrs old, he went on to live to the ripe old age of 99.
Rfm. Samuel Sloan 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (d.7th Jun 1917)He was the youngest son of Robert and Mary Sloan of Whiteabbey, Co.Antrim, Northern ireland he previously served with the 6th Btn of the Royal Irish Rifles
Rfm. George Smyth 1st Btn. Royal Irish Rifles (d.30th Dec 1914)My Great Grandfather served with the Royal Irish Rifles, 1st Bn. He was Rifleman George Smyth, Service No. 9001. he was killed on December 30th 1914 in Flanders and was buried at Laventie Cemetery. He was born in Shankill, County Antrim and enlisted in Belfast
Cpl. Fred Mortimer Royal Irish RiflesIn 1914 my grandfather, Fred Mortimer, was the bandmaster of Luton Red Cross Band. When war was declared he and the other eight bandsmen of military age volunteered for France, expecting to work as military bandsmen.
Once in France, though, they were employed as stretcher-bearers. Fred thought this was because of the "Red Cross" in the band's name. As bandmaster he was told he could either be a sergeant unpaid, with the privileges of the rank,or a corporal unpaid. Living in Luton he might be, but Fred was a Yorkshireman, from Hebden Bridge, with a wife and six young children to support. He chose to be paid.
As the war dragged on the powers that be decided that morale needed lifting and so the band members were given back their instruments. However,because he was only a corporal Fred could not now lead the band. He had to take his orders from an unpaid sergeant, a well-meaning vicar who played the organ and had no experience of brass bands whatsoever. Fred said that the first parade they did was a shambles because the vicar insisted on putting the trombones at the back, giving the horns in front of them a very uncomfortable time indeed.
Fred survived to become the most successful band conductor of the 1930's leading Foden's Motorworks band to victory at the Brass Band Championships no less than seven times.
James E Furniss 4th Bn Royal Irish Rifles (d.30th July 1917)I am looking for information about a British Officer from World War 1. The reason is that I have bought an officers sword M/1897 with the owner's name engraved and I want to know more about this officer and the unit he belonged to: James E Furniss Second Lieutenant Royal Irish Rifles 4th Bn. Killed in action 31/07/1917 Age 29 Memorial: Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial Son of John E, and Ellen Furniss, of Straid, Ballynure, Co. Antrim I would appreciate if anyone could help me with any information about this officer, his background, his career, his units, were he fought and were he died and a picture of him and about the Royal Irish Rifles 4th Bn. I visited the Somme-area this summer including the Ulster Tower and Thiepval and my interest increased when I recently bought the sword
Pte. James William Leary Royal Irish RiflesMy Grandfather James (William ) Leary enlisted under age in WW1 into the Royal Irish Rifles,Regiment (Unknown ). He fought in France on 22nd December 1915 and was wounded . He was awarded the Victory/British/Star.1914-1918 Any Information I would be greatful to receive.
CSM. William George Motum 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (d.10th Mar 1915)My great grandfather was William George Motum. The war graves commission which is the only place I can find information on him, shows that he was Company Sgt Major with the 1st Battallion Royal Irish Rifles and died aged 31 on 10 march 1915. He was the husband of Hannah Motum from Caledon Rd Aughnacloy Co Tyrone, N Ireland. I know that from my grandfather he served in India and returned to Aden possibly in the early part of 1914.
When war broke out the Bn was shipped to France. Aden was not an accompanied tour so on return from India the family returned to their home in Aughnacloy. My mother is the only one of the family still residing there. The recent death of my father Malvern Wiggam has prompted me to try and trace down the ancestral line.
Although he was in the Royal Irish Rifles my GG was actually English and met his wife Hannah in Dublin. My grandfather William Robert Motum was born in Ireland but his three siblings were born out in India. I would really like to know more about his service record but was told by the museum in Belfast that records were destroyed during the 2nd World War bombing of London.
I always thought he had been killed at the Somme but this did not take place until 1916. I am now researching battles that took place prior to his death. By the wording it implies that he may have been wounded prior to his date of death. Anyone with any ideas or information would be greatly appreciated
Lt. Charles John Casey 15th Btn. Royal Irish RiflesCharles John Casey was my Grandfather. He was an Officer cadet and then a Lieutenant in the 15th Battalion RIR from early 1916 until at least July 1918. My research into his army days has so far revealed the at he was a school teacher by profession and enlisted initially as a Private in the 18th Btn Royal Fusiliers (1st Public Schools) at Epsom, Surrey on the 11/09/1914, age 26.
They landed in France on the 14/11/1915, and he fought there with the Fusiliers until the 24/04/16 when the battalion was disbanded owing to 'many men having gone to take commissions'. My Grandfather left the Fusiliers as a Corporal, presumably on that date.
The next we hear of him is in the London Gazette on the 7th July 1916, as 'Cadet Charles John Casey made temp 2nd Lt.' This is in reference to the RIR, and his 14-15 Star medal card confirms the 15th Battalion. There is a final mention in the Gazette for him on the 7th January 1918, which reads 'C.J.Casey temp 2nd Lt. to Lieut.'
I currently have the 15th battalions War diary on order from the National Archives, so will be interested to see if there are any first hand accounts of things he actually did in France. Obviously both I and his son, my Father, have the greatest of admiration for his wartime service and so are very interested to find out as much as we can. My Grandfather died in 1967.
Cpl. Samuel Macaulay 14th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles (d.7th Jun 1917)Samuel Macaulay was engaged to my grandmother but was killed in the war and his brother, my grandfather, who was a sergeant in the R.A.M.C. married her instead. Samuel is buried at Spanbroekmolen British Cemetery.
In Memory of Corporal Samuel Macaulay
14/16726, 14th Bn., Royal Irish Rifles who died age 24 on 07 June 1917. Son of Susan Macaulay, of 14, Mount Collyer Avenue, York Rd., Belfast, and the late Samuel Macaulay.
Remembered with honour at Spanbroekmolen British Cemetery. Commemorated in perpetuity by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Pte. Samuel Crawford Royal Irish FusiliersSamuel was my great uncle and he died in a sanitorium at the age of 21 on the 2nd of November. He left behind a wife,Margaret,and a baby daughter,Annie, another child,a 10 week old called Samuel,had died on 13/1/1920. Samuel senior was buried in the military wing of Belfast City Cemetery. His wife never remarried and still lived at their old address until she died in 1978. She was buried with Samuel 58 years after his death. The house they had lived in was demolished soon after Margaret's death as she had refused to leave the area which was to be re-developed. I would appreciate any information about Samuel who may also have served with the Royal Irish Regiment. I'm not sure but I think he may have died because of a war wound.
Rfm. James Morrison McCready 12th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles (d.25th Aug 1918)James McCready was my grandmother's brother who served with teh Royal Irish Rifles and died of his wounds. He is buried in Arneke cemetery, but don't know how or where he was wounded.
Rfm. David Fergus Ferguson "Dan" Kelly MM. 9th then 15th Battalion Royal Irish RiflesI am proud to have known my Godfather, David Fegus Ferguson Kelly who served in the 36th (Ulster) Division throughout the 1st World War and was gassed in 1917. A brave man amongst many.
Pte. Herbert Cathcart 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (d.7th June 1917)I am called after Herbert Cathcart and he was always held up as an example to me by my Grandmother (his sister). I have just come back after making a long promised pilgrimage to his grave in the Wulverghem-Lindenhoch Road Military Cemetery near Ieper in Belgium. Although he died 94 years ago, 30 years before I was born, I found it a very moving and tearful experience. I have lead a good, successful and enjoyable life, something he was unable to do, and I hope I have lived a life that he would have been proud to live.
Pte. Bernard Sullivan 2nd Btn. Royal Irish Rifles (d.26th Oct 1914)Bernard Sullivan served with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in Burma in 1911. He was later transferred to the 2nd Battalion. He died near Neuve Chapelle, companies B & D encountered the enemy when they broke through the line. There was a lot of hand to hand fighting and all of the officers and men were missing presumed killed. Bernard's date of death was therefore recorded as the 26th October. He left a wife and son. His son Dennis Bernard Sullivan died on HMS Prince of Wales, when she was torpedoed by the Japanese during the Second World War.
CSM. William Foster 10th Btn. B Coy. Royal Irish RiflesWilliam Foster was the Company Serjeant Major of B Company 10th Royal Irish Rifles whilst they were in France and became an active member of the Memorial Association.
Pte. Peter Rooney 14th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles (d.1st Jul 1916)My Great Uncle, Pte. Peter Rooney of the 14th battalion RIR was killed on the 1st of July 1916.
W/O William Jamison Royal Irish RiflesMy great grandfather, William Jamison, served with The Royal Irish Rifles as a Warrant Officer. I would like to get more information on where his unit or battalion served during the Great War and want to learn about this man that I didn't have a chance to meet. He passed away in 1958.
Pte. Alexander Mulholland Royal Irish RiflesAlexander Mulholland was born in December 1891, the second son of Gawn Alexander and Agnes (nee Morrow) Mulholland in Belfast, Ireland. Until the outbreak of war, he lived at home at 30 Frankfort Street, Belfast and worked as a machinist - presumably in one of the many Belfast linen mills.
He served as as Private in the Royal Irish Rifles and qualified for a medal on 5th October 1915, having served in France. One can only guess at the horrors he witnessed during the War which led him, on 2nd October 1919, to take his own life. His death certificate indicates that he died in a War Hospital, but not in Purdysburn, Belfast as there is no record of his admission there. Perhaps he was a patient at Richmond Hospital in Dublin? He was buried on 6th October 1919 in Public Ground at Belfast City Cemetery. As his grave is unmarked, his details are engraved on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial Screen Wall in Section H 444 of the Cemetery.
Pte. Thomas Penston 2nd Btn. Royal Irish RiflesMy Great Grandfather, Thomas Penston, served in the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles and later in the Royal Irish Regt. He arrived in France in August 1914, he was discharged due to wounds under Kings Regs 392 in 1916 and received a Silver War Badge upon discharge. I have his medal card, discharge papers and medal/SWB roll entries but do not have any photographs, if anyone has photos of 2nd Bn R.I.R circa 1914 I would be extremely grateful if you could contact me.
Rfm. Jeremiah Donovan 2nd Btn. C Coy. Royal Irish Rifles (d.27th Oct 1914)My great uncle, Jeremiah Donovan died in France at the age of 19 yrs and his body, like thousands of others, was never found. It is only through resourses like this one can his heroic deeds be rightly recorded. May he rest in peace.
Available at discounted prices.
Ireland's Unknown Soldiers: The 16th (Irish) Division in the Great War
The Great War of 1914-18 saw the Irish soldier make his greatest sacrifice on Britain's behalf. Nearly 135,000 Irishmen volunteered (conscription was never applied in Ireland) in addition to the 50,000 Irish who were serving with the regular army and the reserves on 4 August 1914. Within a few weeks of the outbreak of the war no less than three Irish divisions - the 10th (Irish), 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) - were formed from Irishmen, Catholic and Protestant, who responded to Lord Kitchener's call to arms. An estimated 35,000 Irish-born soldiers were killed before the armistice came in November 1918. Over 4,000 of those who died were with the 16th (Irish) Division.More information on:
Ireland's Unknown Soldiers: The 16th (Irish) Division in the Great War
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