A forgotten Battalion in a forgotten Regiment
ROYAL DUBLIN FUSILIERS 4/12/1915 (Kildare Observer Report)- THE "COMMERCIAL" PALS - A NEW BATTALION
A meeting of the committee of the above was held at 85-86 Grafton Street on Friday of last week, Sir. Wm. Fry, J.P., D.L., presiding. There was also present - Messrs. Wm. Crowe, Wm. Sibley, James Clements, John Moran, Edward H. Andrews, J.P.; Major Arthur Whewell, Alderman James Moran, J.P., hon. secretary. Brigadier-General Hammond and Capt. Law were present during the proceedings. The financial statement was submitted, which showed subscriptions to date £503 13s., and the committee approved of placing the sum of £300 on deposit receipt in the Bank of Ireland. General Hammond reported that the "Commercial" Company would be complete and ready for moving to the Curragh Camp in a week's time, and he informed the committee that owing to the great success of the "Commercial" Company movement, due to the interest taken in the matter by the committee, the authorities had decided to form a new "Tenth" Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and he suggested that the committee might ascertain whether the members of the "Commercial" Company, who had already joined, would prefer to remain with the Fifth Battalion or form the nucleus of the proposed new Tenth Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and he was prepared to give effect to the wishes of his men. It was arranged that Sir John Irwin and Alderman Moran should take the necessary steps to ascertain the views of the members of the company, and accordingly a ballot was taken on the morning of the 27th inst., with the result that an overwhelming majority were in favour of joining the new Tenth Battalion, which all concerned are satisfied will be raised very quickly and the "Commercial" Company will therefore, remain for the present at the Royal Barracks, Dublin, and the committee of the club will devote their energies in furtherance of the larger scheme.
To a large extent the 10th Dubliners have been airbrushed out of history - neither the Irish nor the English wanted to know anything about them after they had been disbanded - the whole regiment disappeared on Irish Independence. My grandfather had fought at the Battle of the Ancre with the 10th Dubliners in November 1916. But when I visited the Ancre and read the books on the battle, only the exploits of the Naval regiments of the 63rd division are gone into, the 10th Dubliners, who suffered over 50% casualties are, by and large, ignored. The 1st and 2nd Battalions RDF, being regular battalions, rather than wartime New Army creations, have had more written about them.
The 10th Battalion was formed in Dublin on 11 Feb 1916 - it had previously been called 2nd Reserve Battalion RDF. Its history can be divided into main sections as well as a month by month record of their movements And in the end they were disbanded in Feb 1918, the majority of the men going first into 19th Entrenching Battalion, and eventually to other units.
A Dinner on 5 Jan 1916 in Dublin
In WW1 battalions had long spells "training" when they suffered no casualties, spells holding front line trenches when a battalion could expect 1or 2 men killed each day they were in the trenches, and a small number of big events, either attack or defence, where large numbers of casualties occured. For the 10th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, their major events were. And from the point of view of casualties, the Battle of the Ancre gave them their worst casualties, of the 314 men who died while serving with the 10th Battalion, 81 died on the one day 13th November 1916. Their next worst day for casualties was 15 April 1917, whch saw "only" 14 men die in the attack at Gavrelle.
1916 April Easter Rising in Dublin.
1916 Aug . Off to France
1916 November The Somme, Battle of the Ancre
1917 April Gavrelle assault
1917 November Cambrai
1918 March St Quentin
The logical way to write about them in detail was to write up the events of each month to get a 10th Battalion History, The opening words of the War Diary of 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers (W0 95/3118) state that the battalion was initially `2nd Reserve Battalion RDF, but became the 10th Battalion on 11 February 1916, while it was in Dublin. I started with the War Diaries, and to date this is the only official information that I have found on them. In addition, my grandfather, who served in the 10th Dubliners from Jan 1916 till wounded out in Jan 1917, left an account of that year, including both the Relief of Dublin Castle during the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Ancre.
Before the outbreak of war, there were 20,000 Irish soldiers in the regular British army. Another 30,000 were reservists. Dublin had three recruitment centres and over 200,000 men and women from all over Ireland volunteered (there was no conscription in Ireland) during the Great War of whom at least 35,500 were killed. The total killed in The Royal Dublin Fusiliers Regiment was 4,777. The actual number of Irish deaths in uncertain as Irishmen enlisted in non-Irish regiments as well as Irish regiments. I have transcribed a list of 10th Dublin Fusilier Deaths from CWGC
Originally a typical infantry battalion consisted of 1,000 men. 12 battalions, grouped into 3 brigades made up a division. By the time the 10th Dublins were formed, they were only around 600 men in their battalion. The weapons they had to fight with are given in more detail here, from the Lee Enfield Rifle, to the Lewis Gun, Mills Grenade, Vickers Machine Gun
The British soldiers' uniform was 1902 service dress: gray collar-less undershirt, a 5-button tunic with closable collar, straight trousers held up by braces, leg wraps to be wound from ankle to calf, a trench coat, a trench cap and a leather jerkin for cold weather. Standard issue equipment was a Short Magazine Lee Enfield .303 rifle with a 1907 Wilkinson 17" blade bayonet. The two ammunition pouches soldiers carried could each hold up to 150 rounds and soldiers could carry an extra 100 rounds. Gas masks were also used and a Mark II pattern steel helmet was introduced in 1916.
The 10th Dublins went to France and joined the 63rd (Royal Naval Division) and it was as part of the 63rd Division that they fought in the Battle of the Ancre. There is debate as to whether an Irish battalion like the 10th RDF was deliberately sent to a "non Irish" division to water down the chances of mutiny, or whether at that time Britain was just plugging gaps in its divisions as new battalion were recruited. An Exchange in the London House of Commons on 27 Nov 1916 between Redmond and Lloyd George, shows that the government was certainly not going to admit to that..
10th Bn, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers then joined 48 Brigade 3 June 1917, part of 16th (Irish) Division. It remained with 16th (Irish) Division until 13 February 1918. It disbanded two days later
19th Entrenching Battalion fought in the German push, Operation Michael, then joined 16th Division 4 April 1918, and when that disbanded 5 May 1918, its troops went to 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers
Royal Dublin Fusiliers
While I was reseaching Irish Wills I came accros a few RDF 1O batt who were killed.
Their service numbers are as follows.
25982 P Martin
26319 H P
26901 O Donnell
27282 P Loftus
13524 J Purcell
26105 D White