Connaught Rangers

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The Connaught Rangers (88th Foot & 94th Foot)
Active 1881–1922
Country  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Branch Army
Type Line Infantry
Size

2 Regular Battalions
2–4 Militia and Special Reserve Battalions

Up to 2 Hostilities-only Battalions
Garrison/HQ RHQ – Renmore Barracks Galway
Nickname The Devil's Own
Motto Quis Separabit (Who will divide us) (Latin)
March

(1) – St. Patricks Day

(2) – The Brian Boru March
Engagements Egypt 1801; India; South America; The Peninsula; The Crimea; Indian Mutiny; South Africa 1877–1882; Egypt 1884–86; South Africa 1899–1902;
The Great War – France & Flanders; Mesopotamia; Macedonia; Gallipoli; Bulgaria

The Connaught Rangers ("The Devil's Own") was an Irish regiment of the British Army originally raised in 1793 as the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers), which gained a reputation both for indiscipline and for its prowess as shock troops and streetfighters with the bayonet while serving under the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular War in Spain.[1]

History[edit]

The 88th Foot or Connaught Rangers were raised in 1793 by the Earl of Clanricarde to help counteract the threat from Napoleonic France. They formed part of the expeditions to Egypt in 1801, South America in 1806 and the short campaign in the Netherlands against France. The 94th, formally known as the Scotch Brigade had fought in India (earning the Army of India Medal with three clasps) prior to joining the 88th in General Picton's, 3rd Light Division in the Peninsular Wars against France. The Duke of Wellington used the 88th as shock troops in Spain where they formed the Forlorn Hope at Cuidad Rodrigo. The men of the 88th earned up to 12 battle clasps to the Military General Service Medal for services in Egypt and the Peninsula and the 94th, 10 clasps. After the Battle of Toulouse, the 88th departed to Canada while the 94th moved to Ireland and became over the next 50 years effectively an Irish Regiment. The 88th fought in the Crimean War of 1854–56 and during the Indian Mutiny of 1857–59. The 94th sent small detachments with the 18th Royal Irish Regiment to the Crimea and to Egypt in 1882 .

The 88th and 94th Foot were both involved in the Zulu War in 1879. The 94th Foot fought at the Battle of Ulundi, the final battle of the war.

In 1881, the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers) (which formed the 1st Battalion) and the 94th Regiment of Foot (which formed the 2nd Battalion) were amalgamated. The amalgamation of the two regiments into one with the title The Connaught Rangers, was part of the United Kingdom government's reorganization of the British army under the Childers Reforms, a continuation of the Cardwell Reforms implemented in 1879.

It was one of eight Irish regiments raised largely in Ireland, with its home depot in Galway.[2] Militarily, the whole of Ireland was administered as a separate command within the United Kingdom with Command Headquarters at Parkgate (Phoenix Park) in Dublin, directly under the War Office in London.[3] The regiment recruited mainly in the province of Connacht.

"The Connaught Rangers" by Richard Simkin (1840–1926)

The 88th were based in Bengal, British India, when they were amalgamated into the new regiment having deployed to India in 1879. The 94th were also abroad when they became the 2nd Battalion. They had deployed from Armagh to South Africa in 1877, where they had taken part in the Zulu War and in 1880 the first Boer War where in January 1881 Lance-Corporal James Murray of the regiment won a Victoria Cross. Private Fitzpatrick and Private Danagher of the 94th also won the VC in South Africa. Major Hans Garret Moore won the VC with the 88th during the Zulu War. In total the Regiment won four Victoria Crosses between 1877 and 1881.

The 2nd Battalion returned home the following year when they were stationed in Ireland and in 1887 moved to England. The new 2nd Battalion sent a small detachment on the Gordon Relief Expedition in 1884 as Camel Mounted Infantry.

In 1889 the 2nd Battalion deployed to Malta. The 1st Battalion departed India in 1890 for Aden and returned home in 1891. In 1892 the 2nd Battalion remained in the Mediterranean and deployed to Cyprus and then in 1895 to Egypt. The following year the 2nd Battalion, as well as the machine-gun section of the 1st Battalion, deployed to the Sudan as part of the Dongola Expeditionary Force under the command of Lord Kitchener as part of the reconquest of the Sudan.

The 2nd Battalion departed for India the following year, while the 1st Battalion deployed to Ireland. In 1899 the 2nd Battalion deployed to Malta.

Boer War[edit]

The 1st Battalion deployed to South Africa as part of 5th (Irish) Brigade which was commanded by Major-General Fitzroy Hart. The Rangers took part in numerous engagements during the Second Boer War.

The regiment took part in the Battle of Colenso on 15 December, part of the attempt to relieve the town of Ladysmith, besieged by Boer forces. The Rangers and the rest of the 5th (Hart's) Brigade, who were on the left flank, had been forced to perform over 20 minutes of drill before the advance. The Brigade suffered heavily during their participation in the battle, the Boers inflicting heavy casualties. The advance was met with a fire from three sides that forced them to withdraw. The battle ended in defeat for the British. That battle and two previous defeats at Magersfontein and Stormberg became known as 'Black Week'.[4]

The Rangers fought at Spion Kop and the Tugela Heights during further attempts by General Sir Redvers Buller to relieve the besieged town of Ladysmith. In late February the siege of Ladysmith finally came to an end after it was relieved by British forces.[5] The regiment was awarded the battle honour Relief of Ladysmith in addition to South Africa 1899–1902.

The 5th Brigade subsequently deployed to Kimberley and took part in further operations against the Boer guerillas.

The Rangers finally departed South Africa for Ireland after the Boer War ended in 1902, and were also awarded the theatre honour.

In 1908 the 1st Battalion arrived in India while the 2nd Battalion returned home to Ireland. The 1st and 2nd battalions of the regiment were given new Colours by HM King George V in 1911. The 2nd Battalion had left Ireland and was in England when the "war to end all wars", the First World War, began in August 1914.

First World War[edit]

Battle of the Somme. Photo by Ernest Brooks

In August 1914 the 1st Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hurdis Ravenshaw, was stationed in Ferozepore, India. It was part of the Ferozepore Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division of the Indian Army. It arrived in Marseilles, France on 26 September 1914.

The 2nd Battalion was part of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Division which was, in turn, part of the British Expeditionary Force. It arrived in Boulogne in August 1914, the month in which war was declared. Its marching song It's A Long Way To Tipperary became famous. By October, the battalion was involved in the fighting around Ypres. On one occasion Private Grogan rushed seven Germans who had occupied a section of trench. He killed all of them. It cost him a cut forehead and four teeth.[6]

The 3rd (Reserve) Battalion was based in Galway upon the declaration of war and would remain in Ireland until November 1917 when it moved to England. The 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion had been based in Boyle in August and would remain there until November 1917 when it relocated to Scotland. In May 1918 the 4th Battalion was absorbed into the 3rd Battalion. The battalion ended its war at Dover.

The 5th (Service) Battalion was a battalion of Kitchener's Army. The 5th Battalion was part of the K1 Group, the first New Army to be formed, and it was formed in Dublin in August 1914. It subsequently joined the 29th Brigade, 10th (Irish) Division in County Cork and in 1915 it was dispatched to Gallipoli, where it fought alongside the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and the Royal Munster Fusiliers.

The 6th (Service) Battalion was another Connaught battalion of Kitchener's Army. It was part of the K2 Group and was formed at County Cork in September 1914 and joined the 49th Infantry Brigade, 16th (Irish) Division. On 18 December 1915 the battalion landed in Le Havre.

Some 2,500 Connaught Rangers were killed in World War I. Their graves lie in Grangegorman Military Cemetery, France, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Egypt, Palestine, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, and England. In just over a week’s fighting in the Battle of the Somme (September 1916), the 6th Battalion lost 23 officers and 407 other ranks.[7] On 21 March 1918, the same Battalion was “practically annihilated” during the German Spring Offensive breakthrough at St. Emilie in France. In one week the battalion lost “22 officers and 618 other ranks”,[8] the latter figure including the 407 quoted by Denman. On the first day of the Spring Offensive the 6th Battalion found, following the opening bombardment, that the order to withdraw had not reached them so that they were left alone to face the onslaught of two fresh German divisions. Approximately 222 men were left standing after this. The Regiment lost over 300 men killed or wounded in action or missing on that day, following five weeks in the line. As a result of these heavy losses, the survivors were transferred into the 2nd Battalion, The Leinster Regiment, and the 6th Battalion, Connaught Rangers ceased to exist. Private Martin Moffat from Sligo, later a winner of the Victoria Cross, was one of the men transferred.

Connaught Rangers mutineers memorial, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

Mutiny in India, 1920[edit]

On 28 June 1920, five men from C Company of the 1st Battalion at Wellington Barracks, Jalandhar, Punjab decided to protest against the effects of martial law in Ireland by refusing to soldier. They were soon joined in their protest by other Rangers (the protesters included at least one Englishman, John Miranda, from Liverpool)[9] declaring they would not return to duty until British forces left Ireland. Led by Private James Daly (whose brother William took part in the protest at Jalandhar), the protest spread to the Connaught Ranger company at Solon however the Connaught Ranger company at Jutogh hill-station remained loyal to the British crown. A party of men led by Daly made an attempt to recover their arms, storming the armoury. The loyal British guard successfully defended it, and two of Daly's party, Privates Patrick Smythe and Peter Sears, were killed in the firefight.

Within days, both garrisons were occupied by loyal British troops; Daly and his followers surrendered and were taken prisoner. Eighty-eight mutineers were court martialed: nineteen men were sentenced to death (eighteen later had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment), 59 were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, and ten were acquitted. The 21-year-old Daly was shot by a firing squad in Dagshai Prison on 2 November 1920. He was the last member of the British Armed Forces to be executed for mutiny. Pte Sears and Pte Smyth were buried at Solan, while Daly and Miranda (who later died in prison) were buried at the Dagshai graveyard until 1970 (see below). Among those who received life in prison were Val Delaney, J.J. Buckley, and Eugene Egan all from Claremorris, Ireland.[10]

Regimental Colours and other memorabilia[edit]

The regiment was disbanded in 1922 upon the formation of the Irish Free State and the regimental colours were laid up at Windsor Castle. An earlier set of colours can be found in the 14th century Collegiate Church of St Nicholas in Galway city centre along with several stone memorials to fallen members of the regiment. The Regimental HQ was in Renmore Barracks, Galway (now Dún Ui Maoilíosa, Mellows Barracks, an Irish Army base) a few miles from the city centre. The barracks has a small museum of Rangers memorabilia which can be viewed by appointment with the curator.[citation needed]

Disbandment[edit]

Following establishment of the independent Irish Free State in 1922, the five regiments, which included the Connaught Rangers, that had their traditional recruiting grounds in the counties of the new state were disbanded.[11] On 12 June the Rangers Colours, along with those of five other Irish regiments, were laid up in a disbandment ceremony at St. George's Hall, Windsor Castle in Berkshire in the presence of King George V and the five other disbanding regiments.[12] The Rangers detachment included the commanding officers of the 1st and 2nd Rangers, Lieutenant-Colonels W. N. S. Alexander and H. F. N. Jourdain. The regiment was formally disbanded on 31 July, after which there was no regular regiment of rangers in the British Army until 1968 (The Rangers (12th London/9th Kings Royal Rifle Corps) existed as part of the Territorial Army.) The Connaught Rangers name and traditions irrevocably came to an end in 1922 when the colours were laid up.

With the simultaneous outbreak of the Irish Civil War conflict some thousands of the disbanded ex-servicemen and officers contributed to expanding the Free State government's newly formed National Army. They brought considerable combat experience with them and by May 1923 comprised 50 per cent of its 53,000 soldiers and 20 per cent of its officers.[13]

The Rangers after 1922[edit]

In 1936, the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) passed the Connaught Rangers (Pensions) Act, 1936 An Act to provide for the payment of pensions, allowances, and gratuities to or in respect of certain former members of the 1st Battalion, the Connaught Rangers, and to make provision for other matters connected with the matters aforesaid. August 1936. The effect of the Act was to give the Mutineers parity of esteem with veterans of the Irish War of Independence.[citation needed]

In 1970, the remains of Sears, Smyth and Daly were repatriated to Ireland by The National Graves Association and given a military funeral with full honours.[citation needed] A special monument in their honour was erected at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

In 1966 a stained glass memorial window to the Connaught Rangers was included in the new Galway Cathedral, which renders honour to a regiment so long associated with that part of Ireland.[14] The rolls of which bore the names of every family in Connaught.[citation needed] The cost of the window was covered by subscriptions collected by The Connaught Rangers Regimental Association via The Regimental Journal – "The Ranger" which was still being published twice yearly.

Battle honours[edit]

The regiment was awarded the following battle honours:

  • From the 88th Regiment of Foot: Egypt, Talavera, Busaco, Fuentes d'Onoro, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, Nivelle, Orthes, Toulouse, Peninsula, Alma, Inkerman, Sevastopol, Central India
  • From the 94th Regiment of Foot: Seringapatam, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, Nivelle, Orthes, Toulouse, Peninsula
  • Pyrenees, South Africa 1877-78-79, Relief of Ladysmith, South Africa 1899-1902
  • The Great War (6 battalions): Mons, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, Messines 1914 '17, Armentières 1914, Ypres 1914 '15 '17, Langemarck 1914 '17, Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, Festubert 1914, Givenchy 1914, Neuve Chapelle, St. Julien, Aubers, Somme, 1916 '18, Guillemont, Ginchy, St. Quentin, Bapaume 1918, Rosières, Hindenburg Line, Cambrai 1918, Selle, France and Flanders 1914-1918, Kosturino, Struma, Macedonia 1915-17, Suvla, Sari Bair, Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli 1915, Gaza, Jerusalem, Tell 'Asur, Megiddo, Sharon, Palestine 1917-18, Tigris 1916, Kut al Amara 1917, Baghdad, Mespotamia 1916-18

References[edit]

  1. ^ Murphy, David: Irish Regiments in the World Wars p.30 quote: "Following the treaty that established the independent Irish Free State in 1922, it was decided to disband the regiments that had their traditional recruiting grounds in southern Ireland: The Royal Irish Regiment; The Connaught Rangers; The Prince of Wales' Leinster Regiment; The Royal Munster Fusiliers; The Royal Dublin Fusiliers; The South Irish Horse" Osprey Publishing (2007) ISBN 978-1-84603-015-4
  2. ^ Harris, Major Henry E. D.: The Irish Regiments in the First World War, Mercer Press Cork (1968): Appendix II pp.216-217: Table listing the eight Irish Regiments of the British Army July 1914, their Depots, Reserve Bns., and local Militia.: Royal Irish Regiment Depot Clonmel, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Depot Omagh, Royal Irish Rifles Depot Belfast, Royal Irish Fusiliers Depot Armagh, Connaught Rangers Depot Galway, Leinster Regiment Depot Birr, Royal Munster Fusiliers Depot Tralee, Royal Dublin Fusiliers Depot Naas.
  3. ^ Harris, Major Henry E. D.: The Irish Regiments in the First World War Mercer Press Cork (1968) pp. 2–3
  4. ^ Kruger, Rayne (1960). Good-bye Dolly Grey: The story of the Boer War. Lippincott. OCLC 220929457. 
  5. ^ Churchill, W.S. London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, London: Longmans, Green & Co. 1900, p. 208-10
  6. ^ Reagan, Geoffrey. Military Anecdotes (1992) p. 179, Guiness Publishing ISBN 0-85112-519-0
  7. ^ Denman, Terence: Ireland's unknown soldiers: the 16th (Irish) Division in the Great War, 1914–1918 (1992) p. 101
  8. ^ Jourdain, 1999, Vol. 3, p. 273
  9. ^ Casualty Details
  10. ^ http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS1678.pdf#page=16
  11. ^ Murphy, David: Irish Regiments in the World Wars p.30 (see lead).
  12. ^ Harris, Major H. E. D.: p.209
  13. ^ Cottrell, Peter: The Irish Civil War 1922-23, Saorstát Éireann Forces, p.23, Osprey Publishing Ltd. (2008) ISBN 978-1-84603-270-7
  14. ^ For King and Country

Further reading[edit]

  • Grattan, William: Adventures With the Connaught Rangers 1809–1814 (London: Greenhill Books 1989) (edited by Charles Oman – a reprint of the first edition). A subaltern's account of life in this unit in the Peninsular War.
  • Jourdain, Lieutenant-Colonel H. F. N. CMG: The Connaught Rangers – 1st Battalion, Formerly 88th Foot (London, Royal United Service Institution, 1926) 3-volume regimental history. Vol.1 = 1st Battalion, 1793–1922; Vol.2 = 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions, 1793–1922; Vol.3 = 5th and 6th (Service) Battalions, 1914–18. Includes detailed records of war service, uniforms and badges. 1,160 pages.
  • Kilfeather, T. P.: The Connaught Rangers. (Tralee: Anvil Books, 1969)
  • Maxwell C.B., Gen E. H.: With the Connaught Rangers in Quarters, Camp and on Leave (Hurst & Blackett, London 1883). Entering the army as an ensign in the Connaught Rangers in 1839, the author traces his career over 30 years, including the Crimea but principally in India, to 1870 when he sailed for home from Bombay, into retirement. 325 pp
  • Babington, Anthony: The Devil to Pay: The Mutiny of the Connaught Rangers, India, July 1920 ISBN 0-85052-327-3
  • Pollock, Sam: Mutiny for the Cause, Lee Cooper, London, 1969.

Great War Memorials[edit]

External links[edit]