38th (Irish) Brigade

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For the First World War formation, see 38th Brigade (United Kingdom).
38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade
38 (Irish) Brigade
38 (Irish) Brigade.jpg
Insignia of 38 (Irish) Brigade
Active 1942–1947
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Type Territorial Army
Size Brigade
Part of 1st (United Kingdom) Division
Garrison/HQ Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn
Motto(s) Ubique et Semper Fidelis
Brigadier The O'Donovan
Insignia of the 78th Battleaxe Division

The 38 (Irish) Brigade, is a infantry brigade formation of the British Army that served in World War II. It was composed of Irish line infantry regiments and served with distinction in the Tunisian and Italian campaigns. A similar formation, the 38th Brigade had served in the First World War, but contained no Irish connection.


See main article 210th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home)

In the Second World War the 38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade came into existence on 13 January 1942 by the redesignation of the 210th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home), a Home Defence formation organised in October 1940. The 210th Brigade had been serving in Dorset County Division. When that division was disbanded on 24 November 1941, 210 Brigade transferred to 1st Infantry Division. By then all of 210 Brigade's English home defence battalions had been posted away and were being replaced by frontline Irish battalions.[1] They were 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, 6th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles. Of the three battalions, only the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers had already seen active service nearly two years prior, fighting in the Battle of France where they were forced to retreat to Dunkirk where they were subsequently evacuated to England. With this combination, it therefore had pre-war Regular Army, Territorial Army and war-time raised units within its structure. On 16 July 1944, however, while resting in Palestine the 6th Inniskillings was disbanded and the men transferred to the 2nd Battalion, another Regular Army unit, which had arrived from 13th Brigade of the 5th Division, and the surplus men were transferred to fill gaps in the other battalions of the brigade.[2]

In June 1942 the 38th (Irish) Brigade was transferred to the 6th Armoured Division and it landed in North Africa, shortly after Operation Torch, with the division on 22 November 1942. In March 1943 it exchanged with 1st (Guards) Brigade joined 78th Battleaxe Infantry Division and fought with distinction in the Tunisia Campaign, the invasion of Sicily (in particular the capture of Centuripe), and in the Italian Campaign, at Monte Cassino and the Gothic Line, followed later by Operation Grapeshot, as part of this highly regarded division until the end of Second World War. During May 1945, however, it was detached to both 46th Infantry Division and 6th Armoured Division. The brigade then was allotted occupation duties in Carinthia in southern Austria, and was eventually formally disbanded in April 1947.[3][4]

Carriers and troops of the 6th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, move up to Catenanuova, Sicily, August 1943.

Order of battle[edit]

38th (Irish) Brigade was constituted as follows during the war: [5]


The following officers commanded 38th (Irish) Brigade during the war:[6]

Formations Served Under[edit]

Formations that the brigade served under included:[7]

  • 1st Infantry Division 25 Nov 41 – 7 Jun 42
  • 6th Armoured Division 9 Jun 42 – 16 Feb 43
  • 'Y" Division 16 Feb 43 – 15 Mar 43
  • 78th Infantry Division 15 Mar 43 – 28 Mar 43
  • 46th Infantry Division 29 Mar 43 – 6 Apr 43
  • 78th Infantry Division 7 Apr 43 – 10 May 45
  • 6th Armoured Division 10 May 45 – 13 May 45
  • 46th Infantry Division 13 May 45 – 18 May 45
  • 78th Infantry Division 18 May 45 – 31 Aug 45

21st century[edit]

38 (Irish) Brigade reformed on 1 August 2007, as part of a new combined divisional / brigade structure called HQ Northern Ireland and 38 (Irish) Brigade after the disbandment of HQ Northern Ireland and has its Headquarters at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn.[8]

The 38 Brigade subsequently came under command of the 2nd Division, the regional division for Scotland, the North of England and Northern Ireland, on 1 January 2009. It is now the Regional Brigade responsible for administering the Territorial Army within Northern Ireland. This was the culmination of a drawdown of military headquarters in Northern Ireland, which had seen the disbandment of 3 Infantry Brigade, 8 Infantry Brigade, 39 Infantry Brigade and 107 (Ulster) Brigade.

Today the Territorial soldiers from the brigade have served on operations supporting the Regular Army in the Balkans, on Operation TOSCA in Cyprus, on Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan and Operation TELIC in Iraq. At home the Brigade has the key role of providing the Civil Contingency Reaction Force for Northern Ireland.

Current formation[edit]

Following implementation of the Army 2020 structure the brigade currently includes the following units:[9]


The current Brigade insignia is a green shamrock on a circular, sand-coloured, background. This insignia was adopted to differentiate it from the Second World War design which is now too similar to the design of the tactical recognition flash (TRF) worn by the Royal Irish Regiment


  1. ^ Joslen, p. 373.
  2. ^ Ford pp. 242-243
  3. ^ The Irish Brigade
  4. ^ Joslen, p. 373.
  5. ^ Joslen, p. 373.
  6. ^ Joslen, p. 373.
  7. ^ "38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade". Orders of Battle.com. 
  8. ^ Hansard, proceedings of the British Parliament
  9. ^ "Army 2020 Report" (PDF). Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  10. ^ The Red Hackle November 2012


  • Ford, Ken (2003) [1999]. Battleaxe Division. Stroud, UK: Sutton Publishing. p. 273 pages. ISBN 0-7509-3199-X. 
  • Doherty, Richard (1994) [1993]. Clear The Way! History of the 38th (Irish) Brigade. Dublin, Ireland: Irish Academic Press. p. 336 pages. ISBN 0-7165-2542-9. 
  • O'Sullivan, Edmund (2007) [2007]. All My Brothers. Slough, UK: Edmund O'Sullivan & Family. p. 232 Contains an eyewitness account of serving in the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles from October 1939 March 1946 including O'Sullivan's involvement in Irish Brigade battles in Tunisia, Sicily and Italy, including at the Battle of Cassino in May 1944. 
  • Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (2003) [1960]. Orders of Battle: Second World War, 1939–1945. Uckfield: Naval and Military Press. ISBN 978-1-84342-474-1. 

External links[edit]