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10th (Irish) Division

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 10th (Irish) Division, was one of the first of Kitchener's New Army K1 Army Group divisions (formed from Kitchener's 'first hundred thousand' new volunteers), authorized on 21 August 1914, after the outbreak of the Great War.[1] It included battalions from the various provinces of Ireland.[2] It was led by Irish General Bryan Mahon and fought at Gallipoli, Salonika and Palestine. It was the first of the Irish Divisions to take to the field and was the most travelled of the Irish formations.[3] The division served as a formation of the United Kingdom's British Army during World War I.

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100 years ago this week came Easter 1916, and with it came a bloody uprising in Ireland against British rule, but tensions had been growing for years and the war had helped polarize the situation. Let’s take a look. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to a Great War Special episode about Ireland during the First World War and the Easter Uprising. The First World War was immediately preceded in Ireland by a major political crisis over Home Rule, and the Home Rule Movement sought to reduce British political control over Ireland, although different factions had different concepts of just what Home Rule would involve. The Third Home Rule Bill went on the books in September 1914 and was the first British Parliamentary law to decentralize powers to a part of the UK, but because of the War its implementation was postponed and was never enacted. It was also fiercely resisted by Unionists, concentrated in Ulster, and in 1913 the Ulster Volunteers had formed an armed militia to resist Home Rule. Irish nationalists formed the Irish Volunteers in response “to defend the constitutional rights of the Irish People” and to pressure Britain to allow Home Rule, and conflict between the two groups loomed in early 1914, but the war temporarily defused the crisis. The two groups’ response to the outbreak of the war was as follows. On August 3, 1914, John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, declared in the House of Commons that the British government could withdraw all troops from Ireland and rely on the Irish to defend their island themselves. This initiative was widely acclaimed, though not by all Irish volunteers. Unionist leader Edward Carson urged the Ulster Volunteers to enlist in the new Ulster Division and with the Home Rule Bill passing into law, Redmond found himself under pressure to demonstrate a similar commitment. On September 20th, he called for the Irish Volunteers to enlist in existing Irish regiments in the British army and support the Allied war effort. Redmond believed that having achieved future self-government, it was Ireland’s duty “to go wherever the firing line extends, in defense of right, of freedom, and of religion in this war. It would be a disgrace forever to our country otherwise.” The roughly 180,000 members of the Irish Volunteers were split by Redmond’s call. A large number did follow him and formed the National Volunteers. Of these, around 25,000 served in Irish regiments during the war, including Redmond’s son and his 50+ year old brother Willie; while a further 10,000 under Eoin MacNeill said they’d keep the organization together and in Ireland until Home Rule was enacted. However, the more radical fringe of Irish nationalists, the remaining Irish Volunteers and the underground Irish Republican Brotherhood, opposed enlistment and some of them plotted in secret for an armed insurrection against British rule. Back to the Unionists for a second. Carson saw Unionist support of the Allied cause partly as a means to demonstrate loyalty to the crown, and they were granted their own division – as I mentioned- the 36th Ulster. Redmond requested a separate brigade for the nationalists, but the British government was suspicious after he told the Irish Volunteers that they would return as an armed and trained army to resist Ulster’s opposition to Home Rule. As a gesture he was granted the 16th Irish Division, BUT unlike the Ulster Division, it was led by English officers, with the exception of General Bernhard Hickie. One historian described the situation like this; “Both political camps expected the gratitude of the British Administration for their willingness to sacrifice themselves... Neither foresaw that in the First World War all special interests would be expendable.” In all, about 210,000 Irishmen served in British forces during World War One and some 35,000 died. The first of the Irish New Army Divisions to see action was one I haven’t mentioned, the 10th, which landed at Suvla Bay at Gallipoli in August 1915. The other two Divisions served in France, both at the Battle of the Somme. The Ulster Division went over the top on July 1st, the first day of the battle, and in just the first 48 hours, lost over a third of its 15,000 men. July 1st was also an important anniversary for the Unionists, that of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Now, the calendar was changed in 1752 to that anniversary now fell on the 12th, but the parades were cancelled in 1916 after the losses at the Somme. The 16th Division, the Irish Volunteers, went into action two months later, still at the Somme, and eight months later at Messines, the 16th and 36th fought alongside each other, causing some to hope that serving together at the front might help reconciliation at home. Remember, the Somme was months after the Easter Uprising and Messines a year after it. Right now, I’m gonna give you some really general background info that led to the Irish political situation during the war. During the Great Famine of the 1840s tens of thousands of Irish immigrated to the US to avoid starvation and by the turn of the 20th century there were well over 1.5 million people of Irish birth there. In many ways they created a new Irish nation within America. Many of these supported the Republican cause in Ireland by giving money and weapons. The Irish Republican Brotherhood was formed in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day 1858. Now, popular opinion did not support the IRB, nor did the Church, and mainstream support came most often from the poorer classes, but still, it soon had tens of thousands of supporters and in 1867, Clan na Gael was founded in the US to aid the IRB and to help secure an independent Ireland. Leaving out loads of stuff I’m gonna fast forward 40 years. In 1909 Thomas Clarke became a member of the Supreme Council of the IRB and helped found the revolutionary paper “Irish Freedom”. He was the link between the IRB and Clan na Gael. In 1913 the Irish Volunteers were formed and in 1914 Padraig Pearse, another big figure, began looking for rifles, convinced that the time was at hand for revolution. By 1916 there WERE guns, though just before Easter the Republican Cause was dealt a blow when Sir Roger Casement’s cargo, 20,000 rifles, ten machine guns, and a million rounds of ammo from Germany didn’t make it to Ireland and Casement was captured and eventually executed. Anyhow, Thomas Clarke was the main instigator of the Uprising, supported by Pearse and many others and the Irish Volunteers were training throughout the land awaiting the call. Now, the capture of Casement was a setback, as was the fact that plans for an uprising were discovered in New York in a raid on German officials, but it was to proceed anyhow, now set for Easter Monday. On April 24, 1916 revolutionary forces occupied the General Post Office in Dublin, the headquarters of the Irish Post Office. Padraig Pearse read a proclamation of a new provisional Irish government, the full text of which you can read in the comments section. It was signed by seven men, Clarke, Pearse, Sean Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, Eammonn Ceannt, James Connolly, and Joseph Plunkett. The volunteers seized six positions in Dublin, though they failed to take the castle and Trinity College, which restricted their communications with each other. The country did not rise up, though, and by Wednesday English reinforcements outnumbered the revolutionaries 20-1 and closed in on the city, concentrating their attack on the GPO from field guns mounted at Trinity College once the rebel’s headquarters at Liberty Hall had been destroyed. The shelling destroyed O’Connell Street and the surroundings and by Friday the GPO was in flames, and Pearse gave the order to surrender. By this time 450 people, many of them civilians, were dead and over 2,500 wounded. Dublin was in ruins. 3,500 people were arrested across Ireland, 1,841 of these were interned without trial in England. Of 171 who were court-martialed, 170 were convicted and 90 sentenced to death though 75 of those sentences were commuted to life in prison. 15 rebel leaders were executed, including all seven signatories of the proclamation; they were executed within days to the outrage of the Irish public, much of who now saw those men as heroes. But what happened afterward? Well, the Rising was critical in terms of the fight for independence. Nationalism swept the land in the aftermath and for the first time the masses wanted an end to English rule, and the War of Independence in 1919, the subsequent Civil War in 1922, and the creation of the Irish Free State can all be traced directly to those events of Easter 1916. Those postwar events, though, are beyond the scope of this channel, but I encourage you all to look it up yourselves to get a better idea of how it all went down and how Irish nationalism, through all the blood and all the years, finally turned became Home Rule. We want to thank our countless Irish viewers who sent in materials and helped us with the research for this topic. Couldn’t have done so without you. A lot of Irishmen died on several fronts during the war. One of their first encounters was the disaster at Gallipoli. If you want to find out more about the Battle of Suvla Bay, click right here. And our Patreon supporter of this episode is Colin O'Hara who sounds suspiciously Irish too. See you next time.



Formed in Ireland on 21 August 1914,[2] the 10th Division was sent to Gallipoli where, as part of General Sir Frederick Stopford's IX Corps, at Suvla Bay on 7 August it participated in the Landing at Suvla Bay and the August offensive. Some battalions of the division were landed at Anzac and fought at Chunuk Bair.

In September 1915, when the Suvla front became a stalemate, the division was moved to Salonika where it remained for two years and fought the Battle of Kosturino.

The division moved to Egypt in September 1917 where it joined General Chetwode's XX Corps. It fought in the Third Battle of Gaza which succeeded in breaking the resistance of the Turkish defenders in southern Palestine.

Heavy losses on the Western Front following Operation Michael, the great German Spring Offensive in 1918, resulted in the transfer of ten of the division's battalions from Palestine to France, their place being taken by Indian Army units. This left only one British battalion per brigade.[4] The remainder of the division remained in Palestine until the end of the war with Turkey on 31 October 1918.

On 12 November 1918 the Division concentrated at Sarafand, ready for moving back to Egypt. By 1 December it had returned to Cairo.

Order of battle

A church service at the 10th (Irish) Division's Basingstoke camp, 1915
A church service at the 10th (Irish) Division's Basingstoke camp, 1915

The division comprised the following brigades:[5]

29th Brigade

The brigade was reorganised with Indian Army units from April to June 1918

30th Brigade 
  • 6th (Service) Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers (left 30 April 1918)
  • 7th (Service) Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers (absorbed by the 6th Battalion 3 November 1916)
  • 6th (Service) Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers (left 27 May 1918)
  • 7th (Service) Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers (left 30 April 1918)
  • 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment (joined 3 November 1916)
  • 30th Machine Gun Company (formed 10 May 1916, left to move into 10th Battalion M.G.C. 7 May 1918)
  • 30th Trench Mortar Battery (joined 28 September 1916 as No 8 Stokes Mortar Battery, transferred to Divisional TMB 17 October 1917)

The brigade was reorganised with Indian Army units from April to June 1918

31st Brigade 
  • 5th (Service) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (left 28 May 1918)
  • 6th (Service) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (left 2 May 1918)
  • 5th (Service) Battalion, Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers) (left 30 April 1918)
  • 6th (Service) Battalion, Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers) (absorbed by the 5th Battalion 2 November 1916, )
  • 2nd Battalion, Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers) (joined 2 November 1916)
  • 31st Machine Gun Company (formed 11 May 1916, left to move into 10th Battalion M.G.C. 7 May 1918)
  • 31st Trench Mortar Battery (joined 17 October 1916, transferred to Divisional TMB 17 October 1917)

The brigade was reorganised with Indian Army units from April to June 1918

  • 6th (Service) Battalion, Princess Victoria's (Royal Irish Fusiliers)
  • 74th Punjabis (joined 29 April 1918)
  • 2nd Battalion, 101st Grenadiers (joined 1 May 1918)
  • 38th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (attached 11 June – 17 July 1918)
  • 2nd Battalion, 42nd Deoli Regiment (joined 18 July 1918); Pioneers :

Divisional Troops

  • 5th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment (joined as Divisional Pioneer Battalion June 1915, left April 1918)
  • 2nd Battalion, 155th Pioneers (Indian pioneers)(from July 1918)
  • Divisional Trench Mortar Battery (formed 17 October 1917, broken up 9 June 1918)
  • Divisional Mounted Troops
  • 10th Divisional Train Army Service Corps
    • 108th, 109th, 110th and 111th Companies (left October 1915)
    • 471st, 472nd, 473rd and 474th Companies (joined October 1915 from 52nd Division)
  • 25th Mobile Veterinary Section Army Veterinary Corps
  • 212th Divisional Employment Company (formed by 23 June 1917)

Royal Artillery

  • LIV Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (R.F.A.) (left 29 August 1917)
  • LV Brigade, R.F.A. (left January 1916)
  • LVI Brigade, R.F.A. (left January 1916)
  • LVII (Howitzer) Brigade, R.F.A. (left 28 August 1917)
  • 10th Divisional Ammunition Column R.F.A. (the original column did not go overseas with the Division. The 29th Divisional Ammunition Column joined in Egypt in October 1915. Suffered losses when transport “Marquette” torpedoed off Salonika on 23 October. Numbers were made up by men, horses and equipment from 42nd Division Ammunition Column. Formally renumbered 10th DAC on 4 March 1916)
  • LXVII Brigade, R.F.A. (joined October 1915)
  • LXVIII Brigade, R.F.A. (joined October 1915)
  • 10th Heavy Battery Royal Garrison Artillery (R.G.A.) (joined March 1915, left by 10 August 1915)
  • 15th Heavy Battery R.G.A. (joined 10 August 1915, left by 19 December 1915)
  • IV Highland (Mountain) Brigade, R.G.A. (joined 13 August 1915)
  • 2nd Mountain Battery R.G.A. (joined 30 December 1915, left 27 February 1916)
  • CXXXII (Howitzer) Brigade, R.F.A. (joined 26 April 1916, broken up 25 January 1917)
  • Hong Kong & Singapore Mountain Battery R.G.A. (joined 1 September 1918, left 26 October 1918)

Royal Engineers

  • 65th Field Company (left 14 July 1918)
  • 66th Field Company
  • 85th Field Company (joined January 1915)
  • 10th Divisional Signals Company
  • 18/3 Sappers & Miners (joined by 17 July 1918)

Royal Army Medical Corps

  • 30th, 31st and 32nd Field Ambulances (left 20 May 1918)
  • 154th, 165th and 166th Camel Field Ambulances (joined 20 May 1918)
  • 21st Sanitary Section (left 31 July 1915, rejoined October 1915, left again 22 October 1917)
  • 18th Sanitary Section (joined 22 October 1917)

Battles and engagements

Gallipoli Campaign

Salonika Front

Sinai and Palestine Campaign

General Officers Commanding

Commanders included:[7]

Great War Memorials

Guildhall Derry stained-glass window which commemorates the Three Irish Divisions, left the 36th, right the 10th and 16th
Guildhall Derry stained-glass window which commemorates
the Three Irish Divisions, left the 36th, right the 10th and 16th

See also


  1. ^ Murphy, 2007, Irish Regiments in the World Wars, The Irish Divisions, 1914–18,
    The 10th (Irish) Division: p.10, Osprey Publishing (2007) ISBN 978-1-84603-015-4
  2. ^ a b Murphy, 2007, p.10
  3. ^ Murphy, 2007, p.11
  4. ^ Chappell, P (2009). "The Regimental Warpath 1914–1918 10th (Irish) Division". Archived from the original on 1 October 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  5. ^ Baker, Chris. "10th (Irish) Division". The Long Long Trail. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  6. ^ Baker, Chris. "Royal  Irish Regiment". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  7. ^ Army Commands Archived 5 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

  • Peter Hart: Gallipoli Oxford University Press (2011), ISBN 978-1-84668-159-2
  • Nigel Steel and Peter Hart: Defeat at Gallipoli, PAN Books (1994) ISBN 0-330-49058-3, pp 91–96 slaughter of the Dubliners and Munsters.
  • Thomas P. Dooley: Irishmen or English Soldiers? : the Times of a Southern Catholic Irish Man (1876–1916), Liverpool Press (1995), ISBN 0-85323-600-3.
  • Myles Dungan: They Shall not Grow Old: Irish Soldiers in the Great War, Four Courts Press (1997), ISBN 1-85182-347-6.
  • Keith Jeffery: Ireland and the Great War, Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge (2000), ISBN 0-521-77323-7.
  • Cooper, B. (1918). The 10th (Irish) Division in Gallipoli (2003 ed.). Irish Academic Press (1993). ISBN 0-7165-2517-8. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  • Terence Denman: Ireland's unknown Soldiers: The 16th (Irish) Division in the Great War, Irish Academic Press (1992), (2003) ISBN 0-7165-2495-3.
  • Desmond & Jean Bowen: Heroic Option: The Irish in the British Army, Pen & Sword Books (2005), ISBN 1-84415-152-2.
  • Steven Moore: The Irish on the Somme (2005), ISBN 0-9549715-1-5.
  • Thomas Bartlett & Keith Jeffery: A Military History of Ireland, Cambridge University Press (1996) (2006), ISBN 0-521-62989-6
  • David Murphy: Irish Regiments in the World Wars, Osprey (2007), ISBN 978-1-84603-015-4
  • David Murphy: The Irish Brigades, 1685–2006, A gazetteer of Irish Military Service past and present, Four Courts Press (2007)
    The Military Heritage of Ireland Trust. ISBN 978-1-84682-080-9
  • Stephen Walker: Forgotten Soldiers; The Irishmen shot at dawn Gill & Macmillan (2007), ISBN 978-0-7171-4182-1
  • John Horne ed.: Our War 'Ireland and the Great War': The Thomas Davis Lectures, The Royal Irish Academy, Dublin (2008) ISBN 978-1-904890-50-8

External links

This page was last edited on 8 September 2019, at 20:30
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