Royal Irish Rangers
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|Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd & 87th)|
|Active||1 July 1968-1992|
|Size||On disbandment, 2 Regular battalions & 1 TA Battalion|
|Garrison/HQ||Depot R IRISH, St Patrick's Barracks, Ballymena|
|Nickname(s)||"The Irish Rangers"|
|Motto||Faugh A Ballagh (Clear the Way) (Irish)|
|March||Quick - Killaloe
Slow - Eileen Alannagh
|Mascot||Irish Wolfhound Brian Boru|
|Anniversaries||Barrosa Day, 5 March; Somme Day, Waterloo Day, Rangers Day 1 July|
|Engagements||Barrosa, Waterloo, Somme, Korea|
|Colonel in Chief||The Duchess of Gloucester (1989 - until amalgamation)|
|Honorary Colonel||First - Lieutenant General Sir Ian Harris.
Last - Lt-Col. The Rt. Hon. Alan Henry (Brooke), 3rd Viscount Brookeborough, DL
|General Sir Roger Wheeler, GCB, CBE. Former CGS; Brigadier MCV McCord MC; The O'Morochoe|
The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling), 83rd and 87th) was a regular infantry regiment of the British Army with a relatively short existence, formed in 1968 and later merged with several other Irish regiments in 1992 to form the Royal Irish Regiment.
The date was initially known as "Vesting Day" (and then "Rangers Day"), emphasising that the traditions of the old regiments were "vested" in the new large regiment.
Soon after creation in December 1968, and as part of a general reduction in the Army, the 3rd Battalion (former Royal Irish Fusiliers) was disbanded.
The three regiments had old and differing traditions (Rifle and Fusilier) and to avoid favouring one above another, the unique designation "Rangers" was adopted. The title had not existed in the British Army since 1922. The title is also used by the US Army, Canadian, Irish Army and Pakistan Rangers.
With the creation of the "Divisions of Infantry", the Royal Irish Rangers became part of the King's Division, along with regiments from the north of England. This continued until 1992 and Options for Change. The Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Irish Rangers amalgamated to form the Royal Irish Regiment.
Accommodating the traditions of the three regiments required compromise:
- The caubeen was adopted as the headdress for the new Regiment as all the former regiments had worn it
- The green hackle was formerly worn by the Royal Irish Fusiliers
- The Castle collar badges had been worn by the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
- The black buttons had been worn by the Royal Ulster Rifles
- The brown cross belt was a compromise between the brown Sam Browne belts worn by the Fusiliers and the black cross belt worn in the Rifles
- The Great Irish Warpipes carried by the Royal Ulster Rifles pipers and the Brian Boru Pipes carried by the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers pipers were abandoned in favour of the Great Highland Bagpipe, which thus became standardised throughout the British Army.
- The badges of the three regiments were worn on the kilts of the regimental pipers.
The Rangers served in, inter alia, the following places:
- Northern Ireland. 1 R IRISH first in 1989 and 2 R IRISH in 1991. This overcame resistance to the Regiment serving in Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles although most officers and many NCOs had traditionally completed operational tours with other regiments.
- BAOR. At amalgamation 1 R IRISH was in Osnabrück and 2 R IRISH in Lemgo.
- USA. Including a visit in the mid-1970s to Washington, D.C. when one Ranger with a knowledge of military history recalled the last visit in 1812 when Irish ancestors had burned the White House down. (The white house was burned down 24 Aug 1814 during the War of 1812 no Irish Regiments were part of the Battle of Bladensburg however many Irish would have been in the English Regiments present at the battle including the 85th, 4th, 44th 21st and Royal Marines)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina. As part of the first UK deployment and as reinforcements to the Cheshire Regiment.
- The Falkland Islands. Immediately after the 1982 war; no line infantry regiments fought in the conflict.
Options for change
Under this reorganisation, the Royal Irish Rangers were amalgamated with the Ulster Defence Regiment to form the new Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment).
"The Territorial battalions did likewise to form the 4th Battalion Royal Irish Rangers (North Irish Militia) which also included the sole London Irish Rifles company and the 5th Battalion Royal Irish Rangers. The two TA battalions trained as units until 1993 when following the Options for Change White Paper, they were merged to form the 4/5th Battalion Royal Irish Rangers (Volunteers) or 4/5 RANGERS. In 1998, the Government conducted a Strategic Defence Review which concluded that the Territorial Army needed to be restructured to meet the new defence posture. As part of that plan, 4/5 RANGERS reduced to a small battalion headquarters plus administrative element, two rifle companies, the North Irish Horse squadron, a machine gun platoon and an assault pioneer platoon. The new structure which was effective from 1 July 1999 is now called The Royal Irish Rangers." (Palace Barracks Memorial Garden
The name of the Royal Irish Rangers was maintained through the Territorial Army battalion in Northern Ireland, which nominally exists to augment the Royal Irish Regiment's ORBAT, but can be deployed in support of any regular unit. In 2007, following the disbanding of the Home Service Battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, the Royal Irish Rangers TA were renamed as the new 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment.
Roll of honour
- 1972. Ranger William J Best – 1 R IRISH. A 19-year-old on leave from Germany, abducted from his mother's home in Derry and killed by the IRA.
- 19 July 1972. Staff Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba BEM, MID – 2 R IRISH (attached 22 SAS). During Battle of Mirbat.
- 23 March 1974. Major D P Farrell MBE – 1 R IRISH (Retired). Shot dead by the OIRA when he was walking his dog near his home in Mountfield, near Omagh, County Tyrone.
- 12 April 1974. Captain S Garthwaite MID - attached 22 SAS. Oman.
- 6 December 1977. Ranger Charles George McLaughlin and Ranger Hugh Thompson - 1 R IRISH. Died on Fire Fighting duties in Manchester during the firemen's strike (Operation BURBERRY).
- 28 December 1980. Warrant Officer Class 2 Hugh McGinn – 5 (V) R IRISH. Shot by the Irish National Liberation Army at the door of his home in Armagh.
- Sergeant Trevor A Elliot - 5(V) R IRISH. Shot by Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) in Keady
- 9 May 1984. Corporal Trevor May - 4(V) R IRISH. Killed in Newry when an Improvised explosive device placed under a car exploded.
- 9 October 1989. Lance Corporal Tommy Gibson – 4(V) R IRISH. Killed by PIRA in Kilrea.
- 24 October 1990. Ranger Cyril J Smith QGM - 2 R IRISH. Killed when attempting to release a man tied to a proxy bomb - his car - driven into a Border checkpoint at Killeen near Newry. The man's family were held hostage in their home.
- 17 January 1992. Ranger Robert Dunseath – 4 R IRISH. Killed in a land mine attack at Teebane Crossroads, near Cookstown, County Tyrone, while on a civilian bus carrying workers from Lisanelly army barracks at Omagh.
Victoria Cross (pre-1968 Regiments)
Recipients of the Victoria Cross:
- Lieutenant Hugh Stewart Cochrane. 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot. 1858. Jhansi (Indian Mutiny).
- Captain H E Jerome. 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot. 1858. Jhansi (Indian Mutiny).
- Private James Byrne. 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot. 1858. Jhansi (Indian Mutiny).
- Private James Pearson. 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot. 1858. Jhansi (Indian Mutiny).
- Private Robert Morrow. 1st Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers. 1915. Messines.
- Captain Gerald Robert O'Sullivan. 1st Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1915 Gallipoli.
- Sergeant James Somers. 1st Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1915 Gallipoli.
- Captain Edward William Derrington Bell. 1st Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1916 Thiepval.
- Rifleman William McFadzean. 1st Bn Royal Irish Rifles. 1916. Thiepval.
- Rifleman Robert Quigg. 12th Bn Royal Irish Rifles. 1916. Hamel, Somme.
- Lieutenant Geoffrey St George Shillington Cather. 9th Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers. 1916. Hamel, Somme.
- Lieutenant Colonel John Sherwood-Kelly CMG DSO. 1st Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1917. Marcoing, Cambrai.
- Second Lieutenant J S Emerson. 9th Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1917. Cambrai.
- Private James Duffy. 6th Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1917. Kareina Peak.
- Second Lieutenant Edmund De Wind. 15th Bn Royal Irish Rifles. 1918. Grugies, France.
- Lance Corporal Ernest Seaman. 2nd Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1918. Terhand, Belgium.
- Private Norman Harvey. 1st Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 1918. Ingoyghem Belgium.
Music of the regiment
Regimental Quick March
The Regimental Quick March is Killaloe. It was written around 1887 by an Irish composer, Robert Martin, for the London Musical "Miss Esmeralda". The lyrics relate the story of a French teacher attempting to make himself understood to a difficult Killaloe class. Originally in 2/4 time, it was made well known in military circles by a cousin of the composer - Lt. Charles Martin of the 88th Connaught Rangers (The Devil's Own). He composed new lyrics, in 6/8 time, celebrating his Regiment's fame. No mention is made of the tune in the Regimental history, but there is an explanation that may account for the shout or yell in the military version of Killaloe.
Historically, in the lst. Battalion (Connaught Rangers), formerly the 88th, a favourite march tune was "Brian Boru" played when marching through a town - often after a hot and heavy march. On such occasions, and at a time given by the Sergeant Major, the Band would pause and all ranks would give a "Connaught Yell". The march became popular among the other Irish Regiments and various other sets of lyrics were devised. On parade, soldiers of the Royal Irish Rangers gave a spine-tingling "Ranger Yell"; this continues with the Royal Irish Regiment.
The first known recording of Killaloe was made by Richard Dimbleby when serving as a BBC war correspondent in Northern France shortly before Dunkirk. The "Famous Irish Regiment" Dimbleby reports playing as they march past is not named, but would have been either the Royal Irish Fusiliers or the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Again in 1944, the BBC recorded The 1st. Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Pipes & Drums playing Killaloe, by then adopted unofficially as the march of the 38th (Irish) Brigade, during the approach to Monte Cassino. Killaloe was adopted by The Royal Irish Rangers on its formation and again later by the Royal Irish Regiment on its amalgamation in 1992.
The soldiers had their own words to the tune which would be sung, sotto voce, as they marched:
We're the Irish Rangers,
Regimental Slow March
Previously the March of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was Eileen Alannah, an Irish ballad.
|The Royal Irish Rangers (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th)||The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers||The 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot|
|The 108th Regiment of Foot (Madras Infantry)|
|The Royal Ulster Rifles||The 83rd (County of Dublin) Regiment of Foot|
|The 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot|
|The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria's)||The 87th (Royal Irish Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot|
|The 89th (The Princess Victoria's) Regiment of Foot|