August 1914 : in Gravesend, part of 10th Brigade in 4th Division. Moved to Harrow.
22 August 1914 : landed at Boulogne.
15 November 1916 : transferred to 48th Brigade in 16th (Irish) Division.
10 February 1918 : absorbed 200 men from disbanded 8/9th Bn.
14 April 1918 : amalgamated with 1st Bn. 2nd Bn reduced to cadre strength.
1 June 1918 : cadre transferred to 94th Brigade in 31st Division.
6 June 1918 : reconstituted by absorbing troops from the 7th Bn.
16 June 1918 : transferred as Army Troops to Lines of Communication.
15 July 1918 : transferred to 149th Brigade in 50th (Northumbrian) Division
This initial expeditionary force sent to France contained every Irish regiment of the British Army other than the Dublin Fusiliers. The Dublin Fusiliers had two regular battalions at the outbreak of the Great War. The 1st Battalion (nicknamed ‘The Blue Caps’) was in Fort St George in Madras in India. The 2nd Battalion (nicknamed ‘The Old Toughs’) was at home, and home for the 2nd Dublin Fusiliers was in Bordon Barracks in Gravesend – it’s now a supermarket. They were kept at home because the British War Office feared that there would be a German invasion of Britain, so they were kept at home to defend Britain. For fear of being over-run by superior German firepower and infantry, the French 5th Army began to withdraw and for the same reasons on 24 August, the BEF began to retreat from the Belgian City of Mons. It was during this retreat that the 2nd Dublin Fusiliers, as part of the 4th Infantry Division, were brought over from England and placed around the town of Le Cateau. Their objective was to provide a rear guard force that would cover the retreating BEF.
24 May 1915 645 men were lost out of 666. The Royal Dublin Fusiliers started the day at Ypes on 24th May, 1915 with 666 men - by the end of the day they had lost 645 men, of whom 149 were listed dead. The battle at Mouse Trap Farm is famous one in the history of the RDF, the CWGC describes it as "Located half-a-mile north of Wieltje, originally a moated farm with outbuildings. It was first given the name 'Shell Trap Farm' by the British. The unhappy associations of this designation were held to be detrimental to the garrison's morale and the position was subsequently re-named by the Staff as 'Mouse Trap Farm'. On the morning of the attack on 24 May 1915 what was left of the farm after the bombardment ('a mere heap of mud and rubbish') was defended by two platoons of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers; being a mere 30 yards from the enemy trenches the rapid occupation of the farm by the quick-moving German infantry was little short of inevitable"
At 2:45 am on the 24th of May, the Germans launched a gas attack on the Allied lines which was the first time that the Germans had used poison gas on a large scale on the Western Front. The German poison gas came ‘drifting down wind in a solid bank some three miles in length and forty feet in depth, bleaching the grass, blighting the trees and leaving a broad scar of destruction behind it.’ By 9:30 pm, out of a battalion strength of 666 men, all that remained when the battalion ‘retired’ was one officer and twenty other ranks. For the record, in just eighteen and three quarter hours, the Dublin Fusiliers had suffered a loss of 645 men who were blown to bits, gassed, or driven insane by the effects of poisonous gas. The British at that time had no defences against gas attack, indeed the large-scale use of gas by the Germans on the Western Front had begun at Second Ypres. The 2nd Dublins Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Loveband of Naas, died the following day. The Battalion did not take part in any more major battles for the rest of the year.
Engraved on Menin Gate Memorial are the names of 461 Royal Dublin Fusiliers killed during the Battles of Ypres. 143 of them are the names of Dublin Fusiliers belonging to the 2nd Battalion who died on the 24th of May 1915. There are 54,000 names engraved into the stone from which the Arch is constructed. Every evening since 1928 at 8pm the last post - the traditional salute to the fallen warrior has been played under the Menin Gate Memorial in Leper, Belgium.
“The following appeared in the “Irish Times” of Wednesday 15 May 1915 last:
An officer of the 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers has sent home the following vivid account of the regiment’s important share in the recent fighting in Flanders:-
4th May – My birthday, and a very noisy one but I don’t know what it
is all about as we came out of trenches early this morning after a pretty
severe time- viz., a pitched battle. We were nine days on the ground where we dug but we got a bit of our own back on Sunday. At about 5 p.m. the Germans bombarded us with gunfire and poisonous gas, a thick, yellow-greenish vapour, and then rattled the top of the parapet with machine gun fire. The gas was pretty awful, but in our most important front trench we were able to stick it. All the officers shouted along the line to stick handkerchiefs and rags in water and put them over the mouth and nose. The whole thing came absolutely suddenly, and, as the Germans could not advance for five or ten minutes in fear of their own poisonous gas, we were able to pull ourselves together, although it was pretty awful, and fairly got into one’s lungs. When the Germans did advance we were ready for them with machine guns and rifle fire, and they suffered heavily. About midnight they came forward again, and we had great shooting at close range. At first I would not believe that there was an attack, but a flare went up, and I saw bodies within twenty or thirty yards of us. We considered that where there were dead men there must be live ones, so we blazed away. We counted nine bodies just in front, and brought in two wounded who were yelling on the ground: how many there were further off we could not tell.
There is a man with us - one Corporal Cook, from Kilcullen -an absolute marvel when any fighting is on; he is all over the place, and will patrol anywhere. During the fight on Sunday he made off to an old building, and got upstairs and reported movements of the Germans - and got about 12 himself. They advanced in file up a ditch straight at him; so he took the furthest first, and did for about the lot in turn. Then he came running back to me more or less in the open, and it was the only time I have seen him excited. He was beaming all over, and described the affair and said: “I fairly cut the legs off them.” Then back with him, and in about 15 minutes he returned with a German officer as prisoner. He spotted him from upstairs hiding in a ditch, came down and got round to the back of him, and gave the “Hands up!” I took his bayonet from him, which I am sending to_____, with three helmets. If you do not want them all, you could send it to Kilcullen. The men got a lot of things, one man an Iron Cross.
It was a hot shop out there. We had one death from the gas, chiefly, I think, because some men lie down when anything goes wrong. The gas is far worse near the ground, and if you stand up, you get a bit of fresh air over the parapet.
Sergeant Burke is all right - pretty lucky, I fancy, as his company suffered a good bit. Our casualties throughout the whole nine days are, I think, eight officers killed and ten officers wounded or about 100 NC. officers and men, or more. We treat our prisoners very well; brutes as the Germans are, one is sorry for them. In a way they are only sheep - the bosses are ones to get hold of.
Horrible as it may sound, one could not help laughing at a description Cook gave of his patrolling. He has a sort of stammer, and he said - “You see, when I am out in front and I have any signs of the Germans, I take cover behind a body. But these young fellows won‘t do it- say it makes them sick.”
Private James Rogers, 2nd Battalion I listened to the tale of horror, of valour and of suffering, told in simple yet vivid language with Private James Rogers, of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, unfolded to me. Private Rogers, who is yet little more than a boy, thought he has experienced more of the stern realities of life than fall to the lot of even the most adventurous amongst us in a long lifetime during the "piping time of peace", is son of Mr. John Rogers, Millbrook, Naas, and has seen five and a half years' service with the "Dubs", four and a half with the third battalion since mobilisation in August last. He looks none the worse for his six months in the firing line. Private Rogers has been on a short furlough with his parents in Millbrook after his recovery from the effects of the wound for which he was sent from the front. He has now gone to join his regiment with the prospect of further thrills before him, from which, let us hope, he will return unscathed.
"I arrived in France on the 10th December last", he told me, "and we were at once sent to the trenches, where we had a pretty rough time, I can tell you. There was plenty of snow, which made our life anything but a pleasant one, particularly as we were frequently nearly waist deep in water. Our first really lively time came at St. Julien, where We got a bad cutting up. We got orders to take the town - St. Julien - and we did it, only to find that we were too far advanced from the main body, and so we had to fall back a bit and occupy a position outside the village. We got the order from the Warwicks to retire. We had then only six officers and about fifty men. We got a sort of cover in a ditch and we held it, repulsing the enemy several times. When they could not get us out of it they started to shell us, and we had no cover from shells. We were ordered to move to a house which we had taken that morning, and which was only a short distance away. While getting into the house Col Loveband was wounded in the hip. That was the first wound and it knocked him up, though he tried to hang on for a while. He had to give up however and told Major Banks to take charge. The enemy made no attack on the house when we reached it, and we started to prepare for what we expected would come very soon. We knocked a portion of the side out of the house to allow us to use two machine guns we had pulled with us. Soon they came for use, and I can tell you we fairly cut the ears off them with two machine guns when they did come. We repulsed them, and they left us alone for the rest of the day.
"Next day they started to fire what we call "plug" shells at us - they are used for breaking in a house. They blew away the barn in the yard, which had prevented them from getting at the house before that. When they got the barn away they started at the house with the plug shells and knocked away one of the gables. Then they started to try and gas us out of the house, but did not succeed.
"The following day the Northumberland Fusiliers came to relieve us. They lost heavily in trying to reach us, as the approach to the house was terribly exposed. However, they drove the Germans back, and we left the house and started to dig ourselves in. We entrenched and remained near the farmhouse for six or seven days until we were relieved.
"When the Northumberlands were coming up to us the Germans were hammering away at them. In the confusion some of them mistook us for Germans, and the first one to get shot was Major Banks who was shot through the stomach by mistake. "We were next moved to reinforce the Cheshires in the trenches. There we remained for about ten days, after which we were shifted to St. John. That was on Whit Monday and here the toughest time began. About 5 o'clock we were saluted with gas from the Germans. The first thing I have any clear recollection of in the excitement was a shout of The Gas! The Gas! and it was upon us. A lot of our fellows got badly choked by it, but I was not much affected by it at all. After giving up the gas they began to shell us with high explosives. Part of our fellows on our right had retired, thus leaving our right flank exposed. Most of our officers had been knocked over by the gas and shells and either killed or wounded. A Scottish regiment came up to reinforce us about 8 o'clock, but they were gassed and had to retire. All our officers and non-commissioned officers had been knocked over except Lieut. Shanks, who was in charge of what was left of us. We held the position until about 11 o'clock, where there were only six or seven of us left.. The remainder had all been killed or wounded. When the "Jocks" (as we call the Scottish regiments out there) retired it was a matter of looking out for ourselves. Our right and left flanks were gone. We were told that reinforcements were coming up to us, and I said to the few that was left that we should try and hold on until they arrived. A little later four of the six left stole away to look out for themselves, and they got away. There were then only two of us left, myself and a fellow named Andrews, a Dublin chap. We though we had better try to make a rush to get back to headquarters. The very minute we got out of the trench they turned a machine gun on us, but we managed to cover a bit of ground unhurt, and got to about 100 yards behind the reserve trenches, which were unoccupied at this time. The bullets were flying all about us. They tore through my coat and shirt just under the left arm. I had this (producing a Queen Mary Xmas present box) in the pocket on the left side of my tunic, and that must have saved my life. It was full of fags at the time. A bullet struck it, and going through the cover, glanced off the bottom of the box. (The box itself bore evidence of the valuable service it had done Pte. Rogers). The bullets kept on flying and whistling around us, and then I found myself hit in the left arm. I felt the blood running down my sleeve, but in the excitement I did not mind much. Just then Andrews got shot in the wrist and I went to bandage him. We lay down in a ditch, which gave us a bit of cover and every time we tried to get up the machine gun opened fire on us. We thought our best chance was to lie there for a while. We lay down in the ditch for a while, but the other fellow could not "stick" it any longer, and said he would have to go to headquarters. He stood up and made a run for it. I waited, lying down, until he had time to get clear (and I found he got safely to headquarters) and then I made a bolt for it. I saw there was a little more cover in a ditch on the other side of the road and thought I would make for that side. They cut the ground from under my feet.as I crossed the road, but I got into the drain all right, and crept back to headquarters. The first men I saw when I got there were Captain Leahy and Captain Magan.
"We had sent word down for reinforcements and a message came back from Col. Loveband to hold on a little longer, that the reinforcements were coming. The Colonel was in a "dug out" near headquarters. The "Jocks" told us the Warwicks were coming to our aid, and to try and hold out. That was the last message we had from Colonel Loveband, and it was at about 8 o'clock in the morning, as I came back to headquarters past the "dug out" I saw a man lying near the trench. I thought I knew the boots - a sort of highlaced boots. I went over and found there was a coat over the man's face. I lifted it off and saw it was the body of Colonel Loveband. He had, as far as I could make out, been shot through the lip, just at the bottom of the nose. I looked at the wound and saw the bullet had gone through the back of his head. He was evidently anxious about us - to see how we were getting on without the reinforcements and wanted to have a look. He came out of the trench and was evidently got by a sniper. His face when I saw him dead seemed as if he was laughing - a sort of smile on his features. "When I got to hospital I was like a ragman - my clothes flittered by bullets".
"Do you know anything about the other Naas boys who were in the 'Dublins' out there"? I queried. "Yes", he said, "I know about some of them. There was Mick Keogh, of Kill. He was killed going into action at St. Julien. Sergt. Halloran, who was in the Depot, had his two legs blown off by a shell at St. Julien. Michael Lewis, of Naas, was wounded in the leg twice, but when he heard the cheers of our fellows nothing would do him but to put his head out of the trench. I checked him for this, but he would do it and he was killed. I helped bury himself and Mick Keogh that night". "Oh, yes", he said, in reply to my question, "you see plenty of plucky things done out there. You could have no pluckier man than Colonel Loveband. He was everywhere and always anxious to be "in it" himself. After him I think the pluckiest young officer I saw out there was Lieut. White, of Dublin. He was the best man I saw and he was killed at St. Julien. He was in charge of my platoon and the way he led us at St. Julien was fine".
"I had one narrow squeak", said Private Rogers in the course of further conversation, "and it was due to our own foolishness". At St. Julien, when things were quiet for a bit, a fellow named Moore, of Ballyhook, Grangecon, and myself went into a farmhouse close to our lines. We wanted to "wet" a drop of tea. We could not make a fire in the house - which was wrecked - because the smoke would give us away, so we went down into the cellar and lit a bit of a fire to boil the water. We managed that all right, but nothing would do Moore but to boil some "spuds" we found in the place and that "did it". You know the way "spuds" boil over? Well, we had them in a tin and didn't he let the water boil over. Up went a gush of smoke from the fire when the water went on it and nearly being the end of us. There was a hole in the top of the cellar, the smoke went out through it in a rush and that gave us away. The Germans started shelling the d------ house and we could not get away, as it was too bright. They kept pounding away at us and it was awful. Next thing down comes part of the roof on us and nearly smothered us. Moore had a German's watch, which he had fixed upon his rifle swivel. I got a whack of something on the back of the head and I thought I was done for, but I wasn't hurt at all. It was getting darker at this time. "Come on", said I to Moore, "we'll make a shot to get away now". "Wait a minute", said he. "What's the matter"? I said. "My watch", he said, "I'm looking for it", and he was groping about the place. Well, he spent half an hour dead looking for the watch and he found it in the finish buried in the stuff that had fallen down and we got away. I was glad to be out of that fix".
According to "Crown & Company", on 6th July, the British guns opened up on the German lines which the 11th Brigade were about to assault. The 2nd Batt. had removed lengths of barbed wire and showed bayonets at intervals to give the impression they were about to attack. They were hit with a heavy artillery reply at the Battalion's front and in the communication trenches. The 2nd Batt. lost 2nd Lt Conroy and 4 men killed while 2nd Lt. Tittle and 33 other ranks were wounded. On the 7th July a 5.9 fell into a C Company dugout killing 4 more men and wounding two. The battalion left the line on the 9th July. From 4th-8th July, 1 Officer and 9 men killed, 2 Officers and 53 men wounded.
|2nd Bn, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers||joined 48 Brigade on 16 November 1916, amalgamated with 1st Bn 14 April 1918. 2nd Bn was then reformed as a training cadre. Left 1 June 1918|