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Royal Irish Fusiliers in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

Royal Irish Fusiliers

29th Feb 1940 Defence Work

5th March 1940 Helping Hands

If you can provide any additional information, especially on actions and locations at specific dates, please add it here.

Those known to have served with

Royal Irish Fusiliers

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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There are 1 pages in our library tagged Royal Irish Fusiliers  These include information on officers service records, letters, diaries, personal accounts and information about actions during the Second World War.

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Sgt. William McLaughlin 2nd Btn. Royal Irish Fusiliers

My Grandfather was held in 3 POW camps. I have obtained this information and associated dates from the MOD records, so they are as accurate as they can be. His details are as follows:

6976070 Sergeant William McLaughlin, Army Catering Corps.

He was posted to 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers on 19th August 1943 and was reported missing, prisoner of war, Leros, Aegean on 16th November 1943. Records show that on 6th January 1944 he was in STALAG 11A Aletbgrabow. By 19th April 1944 he was in STALAG 357 Orbke and by 2nd June 1944 he was in STALAG 3A, Luckenwalde, Germany.

He was repatriated to the UK on 26th May 1945.

Paul McLaughlin

John Carroll 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers

My father, John Carroll, died in 1977. I recently started to research his WW2 history. He enlisted with the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, No. 6978725, on 29/7/37. After training at home he was sent to Malta for a short period before heading off to Palestine. After Palestine he then returned to Malta before the war broke out and remained here for the entire siege. After victory, he then went on to Leros, where he was captured by the Germans, 15th Nov 1943, and taken POW to Stalag IVB at Muhlberg, Germany, POW No. 267891. He was here until its liberation, then returned to Perth, Scotland to Military Hospital for some time, before ceasing his military career on 29/5/46

He died when I was 5 years old so I never got to hear his story first hand. I have spent a great deal of time researching his story, but as yet I have not found one photograph. Does anyone out there have even a Battalion photo that he may be in?

Peter Carroll

Laurance John Burtenshaw 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers

My dear late father, Laurance John Burtenshaw, of the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers was a POW at Stalag 11a.

Pete Burtenshaw

Sergeant Henry Leo Friel (d.12th Feb 1941)

My Grandfather Henry Friel died in Newry Northern Ireland on the day his son (my Father) was baptised. Harry was killed whilst riding his army motorbike, my Grandmother and Great-Grandmother heard the crash but did not know that it was Harry who was killed. I love would to know more about the man, he was very young when he died, only 23yrs old.

Deana Friel

Patrick " " Campbell

Stephen Campbell

Fus. Edward Graham 1st Btn. Royal Irish Fusiliers (d.13th Aug 1943)

My late Father, Edward Graham, joined the Territorial Army, aged 23, in 1935 and served with the Durham Light Infantry and was called up on the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. In 1940, after the retreat from Dunkirk, he was transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers and sent to Ballykinlar, County Down for training.

In early 1943 the regiment embarked for North Africa and after action there took part in the Allied landings in Sicily. My Father was posted missing on 13th. August 1943 after heavy fighting near Matello, Sicily.

He is recorded on the War Memorial at Cassino, Italy ( Panel 11 )

Edward Graham

Fus. Herbert Dawson 2nd Btn. Royal Irish Fusiliers

My father, Herbert Dawson, served in Malta and Leros. He was taken prisoner on Leros and was transported to prison camp in Germany. He was in Stalag XIA. But he was in an out for station work camp in Elbigerode. He was able to visit Elbingerode a few years before he passed away. "Faugh-a-Ballagh" - battle cry of Irish origin, meaning "clear the way".

Michael Dawson

Fus. Edward Graham 1st.Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers (d.13th Aug 1943)

My Father, Fuslier Edward Graham, originally from Chopwell, County Durham, joined the Territorial Army in 1935 and served for four years, being conscripted into the regular Army in 1939. He was transferred into the Royal Irish Fusiliers, who had suffered grievous losses at Dunkirk and sent to training camp at Ballykinler, County Down.

In 1942 the regiment sailed to North Africa to bolster Montgomery's 8th Army and then took part in the Allied landings in Sicily as a prelude to the Italian campaign. This was a very bloody and vicious battle, the Germans put up ferocious resistance and the Allie's losses were heavy. My father was posted missing in action on 13th August 1943 as the Battalion was advancing on the town of Maletto, he was never found. He is commemorated on the panels in the Allied War Cemetery at Cassino, Italy; on the WW2 Memorial in St. John's Parish Church, Chopwell and on the WW2 Memorial in Ballyphilip Parish Church, Portaferry, County Down, where he had married my Mother in 1941.

Edward Graham

Fus. John Gorbutt 2nd btn Royal Irish Fusiliers

I joined RAF June 8th 1944, transferred to Army August 1944. Trained in Ireland, different Infantry units. I was sent to the UK and Wales 8th Manchesters from Malta, transferred to Irish Fusiliers, Swansea and to the Middle East. I was with the last troops in Alexandria, went to Fayid then to Palestine-Jerusalem-Tel-E-Viv-Amman Trans-Jordan -and demobbed. Trained in Signals, also Despatch rider in Palestine.

Jack Gorbutt

Sgt. Victor Ronald "Taffy" Kenchington 2nd Btn. Band Royal Irish Fusiliers

I joined the Band of the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 12th April 1937 as a Band Boy, as there was no vacancies in any Welsh Regiment at that time. I hated working in the Pit, I played the Cornet.

The first Barracks I went to was Gaudaloupe in Borden, Hants, then onto Aldershot. We then Trooped the Colour in London, and sailed to Malta in January 1938. We had a trip to Palestine in late 1938 and back to Malta in 1939, where we did all sorts of work being infantry men during the War, filling in bomb holes on the Airfield, Takali was our Drome. Or, we may be unloading ships in Valetta, we had about 4000 air raids whilst we were there, having more bombs in a month than England had during the Blitz.

On the outbreak of War our Band was disbanded and we became Stretcher Bearers. Our food at sometimes was very small, and we had 15 Cigarettes a week during the Siege. We left Malta in June 1943, sailed to Egypt and went on double rations to get some of our weight back. We trained for a while doing L.C.A. Work, then moved to Syria and Lebanon more training.

Then a quick move to Leros in the Aegean in September on Destroyers as the Italians had packed in. We stayed on the Island until we were overwhelmed by large German Forces of sea and Air forces, and with no Aircraft to protect us the only planes being German, being bombed daily just like Malta. The Brigadier surrendered the Island so we were all made P.O.Ws.

I stayed for 36 hours and the chance came for me to leave along with 3 other soldiers, we found a decent boat with oars, left about 7 or 8 pm. We rowed for 22 hours and were able to get to Turkey and were interned. We were released by British Consul and taken to Bodrum and put aboard a Royal Navy Ship. Then after several days we sailed along the coast at night and got back to Palestine, then onto Egypt Transit Camp, total number of unit 27 only, these brought the name of the 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers back to England in 1944 to be reformed as a unit again

Victor Kenchington

Mark Murphy Royal Irish Fusiliers

My late uncle Mark Murphy was born in Wexford Ireland in 1918 and joined the Royal Irish Fusiliers around 1938. He was posted to Malta and Palestine and was captured on Leros in November 1943, he escaped from a POW camp but I'm not sure which one and was picked up by Allied forces in late 44 or early 45

Declan Murphy

Fus. Richard Hulme MID. 1st Bn. Royal Irish Fusiliers

My Dad was Fusilier Richard Hulme of the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria's). He was in the rear guard at Dunkirk and was captured on the 15th June 1940 at Routot east of Le Havre and imprisoned in a chateau. On the 21st June 1940 he escaped and made his way to Hauville where he was sheltered for 6 weeks on a farm before going on to Romorantin in November where he lived for 6 weeks in a house in the woods. On the 24th December 1940 he reached a village near the Demarcation line where a farmer sheltered him for the night and drove him across the DML. He was soon arrested again and taken to Chatearoux then on to Marseilles. On the 1st January 1941 he arrived at Fort St Jean. On the 8th January 1941 he was transferred to St Hippolyte.

On the 13th April 1941 my father escaped France with the help of the Rev Donald Caskie from the Fisherman's Mission in Marsailles with 3 other soldiers; Pte H. Southern, Pte E S Whitley, and Pte H Croft. They walked to Ganges, took a bus to Montpellier and a train to Argles-sur-Mer where they crossed the border to Spain. They were then captured at Espola near Figueras and spend the next 8 weeks in Cervera and Miranda. On the 8th of June my Dad was released for repatriation with the other 3 soldiers and on the 4th July left Gibraltar by sea for Glasgow. In all this time my Dad was missing presumed dead. My grandfather John received telegrams from my Dad that said only “Safe and Well”. These were sent by the Reverend Caskie to the Church of Scotland.

My Dad didn’t talk much of his experiences through the war. I know through my own investigations of where he served. He served at Casino in Italy and on the 2nd December was Mentioned in Despatch for distinguished service. Sadly my Dad passed away some 10 years ago, a frail but very proud man. I look back and find it hard to believe the bravery of thousands of men just like my dad. Now, they have lived a life and always remembered comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Colin Hulme

Christopher Thomas "Christy" Daly 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling and Royal Irish Fusiliers

Christopher Thomas Daly, my father, was born in County of Offaly, Ireland in 1914. He joined the Royal Inniskilling Royal Irish Fusiliers at Armagh on 11/11/1937 and was at home till 28/4/1938.

He was in Malta from 29/4/38 till 8/10/38. He was in Palestine from 9/10/38 to 29/3/39. He went back to Malta where he stayed from 30/3/39 to18/6/43. He was then sent to the Middle East from 19/6/43 to the 15/11/43 where he was sent to Germany and stayed as a prisoner of war till 24/5/45 then he went home on 25/5/45 and was discharged on 4/3/46.

This information I have taken from my father's war records which I am fortunate to have. My father never talked about his past. He passed away on the 13/4/1973 in Australia where he immigrated to with his Maltese wife Carmela (Debattista) in 1961 and had 12 children of which I am one.

I would love to hear from anyone who may have a similar story that connects with my fathers.

Bill Daly

Cpl. William John McFarland Royal Irish Fusiliers

William McFarland was my father, who I know nothing about, as he died one month before I was born in 1946, but was buried with a Union Jack covering his coffin. He was a Prisoner of War, in Stalag Moosburg (Isar). Could anyone tell me anything about him, or even have a photo, as I don't know what he looked like.

John McFarland

Pte. Daniel Teahan 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers

My oldest uncle Daniel Teahan was a real character, hard as nails but a gentle soul and generous to a fault, we loved listening to his 'war stories' as children of which he had an endless supply. He joined the Royal Irish Fusiliers in 1939, he lived in the Irish Republic in county Kerry but wanted to fight and joined the Fusiliers because 'it was the right thing to do' He underwent rigorous training and his unit - the 1st battalion - was sent to France as part of the BEF, his battalion took part in the rearguard actions that formed part of the fighting retreat to Dunkirk, he said that the Fusiliers were a regular army unit and gave the Germans a 'right seeing to', including holding up a panzer division for 3 days (which to my amazement we later found out was true) eventually getting off from the beaches of Dunkirk with the whole unit intact in orderly fashion and with all their small arms on board, something he was very proud of, as he said despite some heavy casualties they never once lost their discipline and that the Germans had never broken through their line

He was then sent to N Africa fought with the desert rats, an odd aside is how often he mentioned the artillery, he hated the enemy artillery but loved his own, he said that many a time in North Africa when the enemy was attacking in numbers they would have all the infantry divisions guns open up on them completely stopping their attack before they even reached their trenches Then on into Italy with hard fighting, he said in fact that Italy was where they lost most men with his company being especially hard hit, and eventually ended up in Austria after they had taken part in the surrender of German forces, where as we understand he stayed for some years on garrison duty, we think in Austria but maybe Germany too It was only later that we realised the true scale of his service, he had fought through the entire war in a famous frontline fighting unit that probably took part in as many battles as any unit throughout the war He was wounded twice, once from shell splinters by being mortared but returned to his unit both times, he said the worst part of the war was the dread of not being returned to the Fusiliers but to a different battalion

After the war he joined London Transport as a bus conductor and worked at Chalk Farm garage right up until his retirement, he never married having become too set in ways he claimed during his long military service He had a long happy retirement dying at the ripe old age of 90, his body was taken back to Ireland and he was buried in the Teahan family plot, the coffin carried to his grave by his nephews - including yours truly We were very proud of him and that pride has only increased as I have taken the time to read what he really underwent, the battles and casualties suffered by his unit, something he never once complained about he always said they had to accept casualties 'and just get on with it', in fact most of his stories were of a humorous nature recalling the various escapades he and his pals got into, it would take up too much space to recount them all, so I will tell just one

In North Africa when his unit was in close proximity to the enemy, they used to undertake nightly patrols, he was out on one with some other soldiers including an officer, they had rifles and the officer a pistol which was tied to his wrist by a piece of rope. As luck would have it they ran straight into an enemy patrol with shots being fired and the officer telling them to get behind a wall about a hundred yards away, they got behind that but there was no sign of the officer and it being pitch black with no sign of movement or the enemy they thought he had copped it, only for him to come crawling up behind the wall a few minutes later It seems he had dropped his pistol and the rope had got tangled between his legs sending him sprawling, they all thought this incredibly funny apparently, and having had quite a laugh about it went on their way without further trouble. RIP Uncle Dan

David Teahan

Pte. James Gallagher Royal Irish Fusiliers

My uncle James Gallagher was in the Royal Irish Fusiliers from 1939-1945. After James was de-mobbed he worked in Birmingham until 1949-1950. I would like to hear from anyone who might of served with him .

Eileen Gallagher

L/Cpl. Frederick Charles Sipson 2nd Battalion, B Company. Royal Irish Fusiliers

L/Cpl. Charles Frederick Sipson

Fred Sipson & friends

Fred Sipson arriving in Malta

Parade through Malta

My Grandfather, Fred Sipson, transferred from the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment to the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers on the 17/9/36 to the rank of fusilier serving with B Company and within 6 months earned the rank of L/Cpl. On the 3/1/38 he left the UK with the 2nd battalion to serve in Malta for 278 days and then on to Palestine in 9/10/38-29/3/39 for a total of 172 days.

He served a further 4 years 73 days during the Siege of Malta until 10/6/43 where the Battalion was then relieved and sent to Egypt to recover from malnutrition and their ordeal. Fortunately my Grandfather was not chosen to go to Leros and was sent home from Egypt to the UK on the 30/5/44 in the wake of that fateful day that saw the decimation of the Battalion as POW's to Axis forces. Back in the UK the 2nd Battalion was reformed from elements of the Territorial Army battalion of the regiment who had not already seen service however never again during the war was the Battalion to see action and spent the remainder of the time at home.

My Grandfather was then posted to the Infantry Training Centre in N.Ireland as permanent staff and spent many years as a training instructor, however my grandfather at the end of his posting had a growing family of his own and was requested to move back to the mainland UK, with the strain this would place on his family he decided to finish his full time service on the 17/9/59 having served 23 years and reaching the rank of Sergeant as the Army was his life he transferred to the Territorial Army the 5th Battalion Royal Irish fusiliers and continued training and administrating soldiers in the Banbridge Co Down branch until where he finally retired the Army on the 31/3/67 as a Colour Sergeant.

Steven Sipson

Fusilier James Joseph Henderson 1st Btn. Royal Irish Fusiliers

My Uncle James Henderson, died in Italy at the very young age of 19. Sadly I know very little about him.

Patricia O'Neill

Fus. Jack C. Tilley 2nd Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

On 28th January 1944 at the Orvieto North railway bridge at Allerona, Italy, a train full of Allied prisoners, most of whom had come from Camp P.G. 54, Fara in Sabina, north of Rome, was hit by friendly fire from the American 320th Bombardment Group. U.S. Army member Richard Morris was on the train and wrote that the journey was stopped on the bridge over the river, and that the German guards fled as soon as the bombs struck. The prisoners were left locked inside the carriages. Many, including Jack Tilley, managed to escape through holes in the boxcars caused by the bombing, and jumped into the river below. It was a great tragedy of the war resulting in the deaths of hundreds of men.

Jack had survived the train wreck with a possible forearm fracture, yet was captured at Garigliano and sent to POW camp Stalag 344 Lamsdorf, Poland.

S Flynn

Robert Henry Ward Royal Irish Fusiliers

My Grandfather, Robert Henry Ward who lived in Paddington and Ealing. All I know is that he was very proud to be in the Royal Irish Fusiliers and went to Egypt during WW2. He never spoke about his time so I have no clues as to other men he was with. I am hoping for any information on him.

Clare Manley

Cpl. Victor "Taffy" Kenchington 2nd Btn. Royal Irish Fusiliers

I served all through WW2, as I joined the Royal Irish Fusiliers in 1937. I served in Malta from January 1938 until 1943. I have a lot of poems and stories of that period, but the story I want to tell is this:

I was a medical orderly and stretcher bearer in Leros, we were invaded by the German Brandeburgers and other units on the 12th of November 1943. One of my unit got injured and was left for 36 hours before we found him We were told where he was and I went out to pick him up with two other stretcher bearers. He was really badly injured, as he had been hit in the buttocks and legs, on seeing him, he kept asking 'could I please give him something to put him to sleep', all I could give him was 5 minims of morphine, I cut his clothes away, and the buttock wound was just a mass of maggots, he also had a compound fracture of his femur, I left the maggots and dressed his buttock wound with two shell dressings, put a dressing on his thigh, put him on the stretcher, tied a rifle sling on his ankle and to the handle of the stretcher. I gave him another shot of morphine, as we had a long walk back to the, as we were behind enemy lines, and had to make a devious route back. We surrendered the island to the Germans to save lives, as we had no supplies, and everyone was made p.o.w.s. I was lucky as I was able to escape to Yatikavak in Turkey after rowing a boat 22 hours along with 3 others.

In 1946 when the war had finished I was stationed in Ballymena in Northern Ireland when a chap came to my room to say a chap wanted to see me at the guard room, on getting there this chap said "Hello Taffy", and burst out crying, he said his prayers were now answered, as he wanted to thank me for picking him up, but he had lost his leg. To me this was better than winning any medal, I was almost in tears myself.

Victor Kenchington

Fus. John Leathem 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers

Taken in Stalag VII-A

My father John Leathem enlisted on 19th of June 1941 with the Royal Irish Fusiliers at Ballykilner Camp in Co. Down, Northern Ireland. On 15th of November 1943 he was posted to the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers joining them at San Salvo in Italy. He fought with his regiment until 18th of June 1944 while advancing with the 56 Recce Group advance heading North of Orvieto towards Lake Trasimene. Withdrawn from the front he would spend the summer recuperating in Southern Italy before rejoining his regiment on 16th September 1944 while they were preparing in Taranto to rejoin the battle front. The unit then saw action starting in Castel Del Rio. My father's company was one of two companies that took part in the ill fated initial attack on Monte Spaduro. After a relatively unopposed advance onto Monte Spaduro the Germans counter attacked strongly on October 20th, 1944 and and completely overran the positions of A and B companies 1st Battalion RIrF after they had ran out of ammunition. My father was one of some 40 men taken prisoner. Many of his unit did not survive the counter attack. He was transported to Stalag VII-A and held POW until liberated by the Americans on 29th of April 1945. He seldom talked about his experiences in the trenches and in the POW camp. He lived a long life after the war although sometimes in pain from his war wounds. He died peacefully of natural causes on St. Patricks Day 1994 at the age of 84.

Trevor Leathem

Cpl. William Booth Merryfield 1st Btn. Royal Irish Fusiliers (d.6th October 1943)

My father's cousin Will was killed in action at Termoli, Italy on 6th October 1943. Will served as a corporal with the Royal Irish Fusiliers and was mentoned in the book `Clear the Way!, a history of the 38th (Irish) Brigade 1941-47' by Richard Doherty, which described how he met his end. His remains lie in the Sangro River War Cemetery, Italy, Grave VII.C.33. Does anyone remember Will?


Fus. Anthony Addis 1st Btn. Royal Irish Fusiliers (d.26th October 1943)

My wife's uncle was wounded at the river Trigno on 21st October 1943 and died on 26th October 1943. He is buried at Bari. He is mentioned in the book `Clear the Way!

William Best

Fus. Cyril Dean Royal Irish Fusiliers

My father Cyril Dean was in the Royal Irish Fusiliers, he was in Palestine during the second world war. He received the war medal and the Palestine campaign medal. He never talked about the war, so we know very little about him during this period.

Pauline Hodgson

Fus. Thomas Entwistle Royal Irish Fusiliers

My father Thomas Entwistle did not speak much about his service. I have some of his Medals including the Africa Star and other Star Medals. His POW No was 267902 from Stalag IV, Oschatz, Saxony. I am not sure if these details are correct.


Fus. George Watt 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers (d.6th Aug 1943)

George Watt served with the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers

Brendan Hawkins

Fusilier Andrew Quinn 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers

Andrew Quinn was taken as a POW on November 1943 in the Aegean and held at Stalag 11a at Altengrabow.

Dennis Boyd

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