19 December 2012

Royal Irish Rifles - 1st & 2nd Battalions

Here's a snapshot of Royal Irish Rifles enlistments from 1881. The Royal Irish Rifles was formed on 1st July 1881; the 1st Battalion from the 83rd (County of Dublin) Regiment of Foot, and the 2nd Battalion from the 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot.

The newly formed regiment was established as the county regiment for Antrim, Down and Louth and started numbering from 1 in 1881.

There are over 28,000 RoyalIrish Rifles pension and service records (for this regiment - and its antecedents) in various War Office series held at the National Archives. Clicking on the link will take you to the results on Findmypast but you will need a subscription or Pay-Per-View credits to actually view the records. Some of these records can also be viewed on-line on Ancestry although Findmypast has by far the most comprehensive service record collection.

Use the regimental numbers and dates on which these were issued, below, to determine parameters for when your own Royal Irish Rifles ancestor would have joined up. Note though that these numbers are only for regular enlistments. Special Reserve and Extra Reserve battalions operated completely separate regimental number sequences.

51 joined on 27th July 1881
207 joined on 3rd May 1882
319 joined on 9th May 1883
627 joined on 7th February 1884
1071 joined on 29th January 1885
1537 joined on 4th January 1886
1904 joined on 8th January 1887
2282 joined on 6th January 1888
2450 joined on 4th February 1889
2638 joined on 18th February 1890
2914 joined on 20th January 1891
3350 joined on 16th March 1892
3812 joined on 21st January 1893
4059 joined on 13th January 1894
4541 joined on 4th February 1895
4700 joined on 2nd January 1896
4992 joined on 15th January 1897
5422 joined on 3rd January 1898
5810 joined on 14th February 1899
6049 joined on 22nd January 1900

During the South African War, 17 officers and 400 other ranks of the London Irish volunteered to serve in South Africa. Of these, eight officers and 200 NCOs and men were selected for the City Imperial Volunteers and the volunteer service companies of the Royal Irish Rifles. The latter was commanded by Captain Charles Gerald Henty, son of the popular author (and Crimean War veteran) George Alfred Henry.

Men serving in the Royal Irish Rifles VSC were issued with numbers between 7131 and 7233.

6284 joined on 4th March 1901
6710 joined on 18th March 1902
7122 joined on 21st August 1903
7411 joined on 12th January 1904
7870 joined on 24th February 1905
8185 joined on 18th June 1906
8456 joined on 5th January 1907
8906 joined on 24th January 1908
9239 joined on 2nd January 1909
9377 joined on 24th January 1910
9559 joined on 16th January 1911
9910 joined on 15th January 1912
10133 joined on 5th June 1913
10353 joined on 19th March 1914

The First World War

When Britain went to war in August 1914, men joining the new service battalions of the Royal Irish Rifles for war-time service only were at first issued with numbers from the same number series above. This system appears to have been discontinued by October 1914 however, each service battalion having been allocated individual number series beginning at 1. Some of these new series commenced as early as September 1914.

Numbers up until around 20000 appear to be a combination of service battalion (mostly) and regular enlistments. Numbers over 20000 appear to be mostly (but not exclusively) regular enlistments.

Recruitment rates 1881-1911

Between 1st July 1881 and 20th January 1891, the Royal Irish Rifles recruited 2,914 men, an annual rate of just 304 men and the fifty-ninth most effective regiment out of sixty-nine. The years to 1891 saw a turnaround however with the regiment recruiting nearly 3,400 men and raising its annual recruitment rate to 331 men each year.

In the final decade to 1911, recruiting in the regiment slowed slightly but nevertheless the regiment improved its standing slightly overall, finishing midway in the ‘league table’ of infantry recruiting regiments in the British Army.

1st Battalion stations 1881-1914

1881 South Africa
1882 Guernsey
1889 Mullingar
1892 Fermoy
1894 Newry
1895 Aldershot
1897 Natal
1899 Dehra Dun
1903 Fyzabad
1906 Meerut
1909 Burma
1911 Kemptee
1913 Aden
1914 France & Flanders (from November)

2nd Battalions stations 1881-1914

1881 Bermuda
1883 Halifax, Nova Scotia
1886 Gibraltar
1887 Egypt
1888 Sudan
1891 Malta
1897 Poona
1899 South Africa
1903 Dublin
1906 Aldershot
1910 Dover
1912 Tidworth
1914 France & Flanders (from August)

Also see this Royal Irish Rifles case study.

I also offer a comprehensive, fast and cost-effective military history research service. Follow the link for more information.


Cathy said...

What a fascinating website, thank you. Just wondering if you have any info on 10th Royal Irish Rifles which could help pinpoint a possible enlistment date for 4 of my great uncles, all in the 10th together:

David S Kenolty 10/15063
Edward C Kenolty 10/15065
Tommy Robinson 10/15862
David Carlisle whom I believe may be the 'missing number 10/15064 as he joined up with the Kenolty boys. This David was gassed at some point, but survived.

Anything you can shed light on in terms of enlistment would be amazing. Thanks very much indeed

Cathy said...

What a fascinating website! I wonder if you would have information indicating when my great uncles may have joined the 10th Royal Irish Rifles.

David Kenolty 10/15063
Edward Kenolty 10/15065
Tommy Robinson 10/15862
David Carlisle - may have been 10/15064 as he joined up the same day as the Kenolty boys.

Any information at all would be fantastic. Thanks very much.

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks Cathy, sorry for the delay.

I'd suggest they're all September 1914 enlistments.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Nixon said...

Jeff, have you tried to find him on the PoW database? See here: http://grandeguerre.icrc.org/

For all other research enquiries. Please follow the instructions on the RESEARCH tab on this blog.

Martin Gillott said...

Paul I have done a small amount of research on the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion trawling surviving Service Records and Pension Records. The following (all attestation forms with 4th Bn clearly marked on them) might be of some use:

6132 attested on 28th Jun 1908
6320 attested on 14th Jun 1910
6519 attested on 5th Jun 1912
6626 attested on 3rd Apr 1913
6821 attested on 12th Aug 1913
6861 attested on 18th Aug 1914
6865 attested on 18th Aug 1914
6983 attested on 24th Aug 1914
7028 attested on 23rd Aug 1914 - note one day before 6983 suggesting batches of numbers were used at different recruiting stations.
7070 attested on 26th Aug 1914
7207 attested on 26th Aug 1914
7262 attested on 25th Aug 1914 - note one day before 7207 suggesting batches of numbers were used at different recruiting stations.

Note the Special Reserve and Extra Reserve battalions all became simply 'Reserve' Battalions in late Sep 1915 and the numbering system stopped.

The 6XXX series was used by the Regulars as you know between 1900 and 1902 so it is easy to get these mixed up. Also the 5th (Extra Reserve) Bn kept a separate series which lagged the 4th Bn series by a few hundred more risk for confusion) and in early 1915 the Kitchener Battalions has reached 6,000 recruits, so again more scope for a lot of confusion. The numbers above all come from documents clearly marked 4th Bn and most have a 4/prefix on the attestation as well.



Paul Nixon said...

Martin, thank you. Worthy of a separate post in its own right. I'll create one now. Trust all well with you. Best regards. Paul

AHJ said...

Paul, you're probably well aware of this, but a snippet which may be of interest - I was researching 1/10871 G Williams RIR and was a little puzzled to note that he had two RIR numbers on his MIC and roll, 1/10871 and 1/26229. I inferred that the first one was possibly a very early wartime enlistment. I noticed that men with the service numbers 10872, 10874, 10876, 10877 and 10880 all enlisted into the first of the Service battalions (the 6th) on or around 24 August 1914 at Belfast, being medically inspected and
joining at the Royal Irish Regiment Depot in Belfast the following day and being posted to the 6th shortly thereafter, on or about 29 August. (Interestingly, all of those
cited were discharged on medical grounds by December 1914). I thought that the second one might be a postwar re-enlistment on regular terms and so searched for close service numbers in that sequence. The nearest I could find was 26219 Fred Lawrence, who enlisted at Winchester on 26 February 1920, so I tentatively propose that George Williams re-enlisted in early March 1920.

Paul Nixon said...

Your theory appears sound, AHJ. It probabl;y means that he has a surviving service record with the MoD: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records. Thanks for posting.

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