A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ROYAL MUNSTER FUSILIERS
Motto – ‘Spectamur Agendo’ (Latin ‘Let us be judged by our acts’)
Nickname – The Dirty Shirts
The Royal Munster Fusiliers were formed during the military reforms of 1881 by the joining of the 101st Regiment of Foot, the 104th Regiment of Foot and local Militia units in the province of Munster. The Regimental Depot was located at Ballymullen Barracks, Tralee. The new regiment was comprised of:-
1st Battalion, formerly the 101st Regiment of Foot (Royal Bengal Fusiliers)
2nd Battalion, formerly the 104th Regiment of Foot (Bengal Fusiliers)
Militia (Reserve) Battalions
3rd Battalion, formerly the South Cork Light Infantry (Militia) from 1881 to 1908
3rd Battalion, formerly the Kerry Militia from 1908 to 1922
4th Battalion, formerly the Kerry Militia from 1881 to 1908
4th Battalion, formerly the South Cork Light Infantry from 1908 to 1922
5th Battalion, formerly the Royal Limerick County Militia (Fusiliers)
The 101st Regiment of Foot (Royal Bengal Fusiliers) and the 104th Regiment of Foot (Bengal Fusiliers) can trace their origins back to British India in the 1650s. See:-
In 1873, under the Localization of the Forces scheme, the two Regiments were linked with a Brigade Depot at Tralee and affiliated with the South Cork Light Infantry, the North Cork Rifles and the Royal Limerick County, Kerry, and Clare Militias. Following the formation of the Royal Munster Fusiliers in 1881, the North Cork Rifles became the 9th Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps and the Clare Militia converted to Garrison Artillery.
The 1st (Regular) Battalion 1881-1914
On the formation of the Royal Munster Fusiliers in 1881, the new 1st Battalion was stationed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, since 1878 and remained there until 1883. It returned to the U.K. in 1883 and was stationed at various parts until 1889 when it moved to Ireland and was stationed in Dublin, The Curragh and Fermoy between 1889 and 1899. The 1st Battalion arrived in South Africa in September, 1899, and served throughout the entire Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). It left South Africa in September, 1902, for India. From 1902 until 1911, the Battalion was stationed in the central area of modern-day Pakistan and in 1908, it participated in actions on the North-West Frontier. It moved to Rangoon, in Burma, in 1912 and remained there until the outbreak of the Great War.
The 2nd (Regular) Battalion 1881-1914
The 2nd Battalion was stationed at The Curragh from 1879 until 1881 then at Aldershot before moving to Malta where it was stationed from 1882 to 1884. In 1884-85 the Battalion was stationed at Kamptee in central India and in 1886, following the annexation of Burma by the British, the Battalion moved into Upper Burma and participated in the conquest of that country. It returned to India in 1888 and remained there until 1901 being stationed in various parts of the north-east. The 2nd Battalion arrived in South Africa in December, 1901, though it saw little action as the Anglo-Boer War ended in May, 1902. In October the same year, it arrived in Cork Harbour where it was stationed until 1904 when it moved to Gibraltar. It left Gibraltar in 1907 for Limerick where it remained until leaving for Tidworth in 1909. The Battalion remained at Tidworth until 1912 when it moved to Aldershot from where it left for France in August, 1914.
3rd, 4th and 5th (Militia) Battalions 1881-1914
These were all called out for service in the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) but otherwise remained in Ireland holding their annual summer training camps once a year.
THE GREAT WAR
The 1st (Regular) Battalion 1914-18
The 1st Battalion landed at Gallipoli, Turkey, on the 25th of April, 1915, and remained there until the following January. It arrived on the Western Front in April, 1916, where it remained until the end of the war. The Battalion took part in the Battles of the Somme (1916), Messines (1917), Passchendaele (1917), Cambrai (1917), Somme (1918), and the final advances of 1918.
The 2nd (Regular) Battalion 1914-18
The 2nd Battalion landed in France on the 13th of August, 1914, and remained on the Western Front until the end of the war. In 1914 it took part in the Retreat From Mons, the 1st Battle of Ypres and the Defense of Givenchy. It also took part in the Battles of Aubers Ridge and Loos (1915), the Somme (1916), Passchendaele (1917), Somme (1918) and also in the final advances of 1918.
The 6th and 7th (Service) Battalions 1914-18
These Battalions landed at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli on the 7th of August, 1915. They moved to the Salonika Front in October, 1915, and remained there until September, 1917. In November, 1916, the 7th Battalion was disbanded and absorbed by the 6th. The 6th next saw service in Egypt and Palestine and arrived on the Western Front in June, 1918. On arrival, the Battalion was disbanded and absorbed by the 1st and 2nd Battalions.
The 8th and 9th (Service) Battalions 1914-18
The 8th and 9th Battalions arrived in France in December, 1915. The 9th Battalion was disbanded in May, 1916. The 8th took part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 before it too was disbanded.
The 10th Battalion
This Battalion was privately recruited in Ireland in 1918 but never received official recognition owing to the eccentricity of the chief recruiter and the lack of interest in Ireland itself.
The 3rd, 4th and 5th (Reserve Battalions)
These were primarily training units during the Great War and were mostly based in Ireland until November 1917 when they were moved to the U.K. In May, 1918, the 4th and 5th Battalions were absorbed by the 3rd.
The 1st and 2nd (Garrison Battalions)
These were formed in 1917 and 1918 respectively and saw some service in Italy.
At the end of the war, the 1st Battalion remained in France until June, 1919, when it left for Plymouth where it merged with the 3rd Battalion which was stationed there. It remained at Plymouth until it joined the Inter-Allied Force in Upper Silesia in September, 1921, returning to England in April, 1922. The 2nd Battalion also remained in France until June, 1919, before returning to England. It left for Egypt in November, 1919, where it remained until May, 1922. Following Irish Independence, the Royal Munster Fusiliers was disbanded on the 31st of July, 1922.