The 7th (Service ) Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers was formed at Naas in August 1914 as part of Kitchener's First New Army and attached to 30th Brigade in 10th (Irish) Division. Whilst the battalion was being formed, one company, D Company, was filled by men of professional backgrounds, and many from a rugby playing background. D Company tends to have been recorded more historically than any otther company in the RDF, more because of its composition than its exploits.
The 7th Battalion has the same record as 6th Battalion except that it arrived at Marseilles 1 June 1918 (the 6th Battalion arrived back in Europe on 8th July). On 6 June 1918 the 7th Battalion was reduced to cadre strength, with troops going to 2nd Battalion. Four days later the cadre returned to England and was absorbed into 11th Royal Irish Fusiliers.
The 6th and 7th Dublins were stationed at the Curragh and later at The Royal (Collins) Barracks in Dublin. They trained in trench warfare in the Phoenix Park. Today, there is an outline of one of the trenches in the Park, as a dip in the land running east/west in front of the Papal Cross. They trained in musketry at Dollymount beach. The Battalion moved to the Royal Barracks, Dublin 2 Feb 1915.
Then the Battalion moved to Basingstoke, Hampshire. May 1915. Their departure to England through the streets of Dublin was captured by the Irish Times in the 1st of May 1915 edition.
'Led by the band of the 12th Lancers and the pipers of the Trinity College Officer Training Corps, they marched off from the Royal Barracks. Along the Liffey quays, crowds on the pavements and spectators in the windows cheered and waved. Outside the Four Courts , a large group of barristers, solicitors, officials and judges shouted good-bye to their friends. Little boys strutted along side the marching column, chanting their street songs,
“Left, right; left right; here's the way we go,
Marching with fixed bayonets, the terror of every foe,
A credit to the nation ,a thousand buccaneers,
A terror to creation, are the Dublin Fusiliers.”
Not for them the direct route along the Liffey quays to the ships. Diverting across Essex Bridge, they marched through the commercial centre of Dame Street, then College Green, passing the Bank of Ireland and Trinity College where many of the Battalion had been students and one a Professor. Spectators became dense as the marching column crossed O'Connell Bridge and right wheeled onto the quays skirting the statue of O'Connell the liberator. Emotion rose when well dressed ladies from the fashionable Georgian and Regency squares of south Dublin mingled with their poorer sisters in shawls from the Liberties and lesser squares of north Dublin. Together they joined their husbands and sweethearts in the ranks to keep step with them the last few hundred yards'.
When they reached camp in the Basingstoke area, they underwent training for the next 3 months. During that time the Division was inspected by King George V on 28 May 1915 at Hackwood Park and by Field Marshal, Lord Kitchener on 1 June 1915.
The divisional order to to bein readiness for Gallipoli arrived on 27 June 1915.
The 7th Battalion embarked on the 'Alaunia' at Devonport at about 7am on Saturday 10th July 1915 They sailed for Gallipoli. They were in up-beat mood aboard the Alaunia. Good food, salt water baths and the sea air combined to make them feel fit. Each day began with a run round the deck. They had the luxury of ice cold oranges from the refrigerator
Off the Gallipoli coast they could hear the sound and see the flash from the Turkish guns, shells bursting, men landing from the lighters and stretcher bearers bringing down and collecting wounded on the beach. The whole bay was quivering with the vibration. They arrived in Gallipoli without any maps and any orders. They were without artillery as the 10th (Irish) Division's artillery pieces had been sent to France instead of Gallipoli. Water was in very short supply. When the fight did begin, they even ran out of ammunition and resorted to throwing stones at the Turks.
On landing they had to get past the stretcher bearers, wounded, dying and dead. They took cover under the cliff mixed in with the Inniskilling’s Some respite came at nightfall, as the Turks were, for the moment, driven back over the summit. They were immediately involved in the attack on Chocolate Hill on 7 Aug 1915. They occupied Chocolate Hill from 8-12 Aug 1915. Then they were involved in the battle for Kizlar Dagh 13-15 Aug 1915 and were in the Kizlar Dagh until their withdrawal 29 Sept 1915
In his book "The Tenth Division in Gallipoli" Major Bryan Cooper, who served with the Division, estimates that by the end of the Gallipoli campaign, the Tenth Division had lost 75% of its original strength killed or wounded. In his book "Ireland's Forgotten 10th" Capt. Jeremy Stanley states 3,000 men were killed or died from wounds, 25% of the Division's strength. Heroism was rarely recorded because most of their officers were killed. Only a third of casualties at Gallipoli were due to injuries, most were due to illnesses caused by the extremes of heat and cold, the plagues of flies and the lack of clean water.
On the withdrawl they embarked on SS ‘Abbasieh’ 30 Sept 1915 and disembarked at Mudros on the Island of Lemnos on 1 Oct 1915. And from Lemnos on to Salonika where they disembarked at Salonika 11 Oct 1915. The British Camp was located 3 miles north of Salonika. The Irish 10th Division after Gallipoli, were reorganized at Salonika and sent into the Serbian mountains to try and stem a Bulgarian advance. They travelled by train to Gjevgjeli. Then marched to Bogdanci 29 Oct 1915 and marched on to Gerniste and relieved the French in the Hasanti-Gojceli-Bala-Causli line.
The survivors of the Gallipoli campaign were hastily reinforced with raw recruits shipped out from the United Kingdom and Egypt but 10th division was short of equipment, supplies and one battalion, 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers were still dressed in shorts with pith helmets, and no winter clothing. These shortcomings were exacerbated by the weather and the attitude of the local Greek population at Salonika, which were respectively bitterly cold and hostile. Nevertheless, November found the division in Serbia, holding the front line between Kosturino and Lake Doiran, awaiting a preliminary assault by the Bulgarian Army. They were in a desperate plight: ‘The line of 10th Division was in savage hill-top country broken by deep gullies, barren rock and scree, its only vegetation scant grass, scrub and scarce stunted oak. There was a sudden change in weather conditions when a cold rain then a raging blizzard struck the Balkans… The exposed infantrymen, their health already undermined by privations on the peninsula, deteriorated. Hundreds suffered frostbite and exposure, hundreds more collapsed with aliments associated with debilitation, cold and under-nourishment.’ The Official History insists that in spite of these privations, the men remained cheerful – but when the weather eased at the end of November 1656men had to be evacuated, of these 998 were hospitalised with frostbite
On the 3rd October, the Royal Dublin and Munster Fusiliers were at the front line and were ordered to take the village of Jenikoj which is now in Macedonia. In the attack, they lost 385 men killed, wounded or missing.
Into the summer of 1916 their main enemy was the dreadful swarms of mosquitoes and consequent malaria.
There is a granite Celtic cross to commemorate the 10th (Irish) Division near the village of Robrovo in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. This complements the ones at Wijtschate in Flanders and Guillemont in France.
After almost 2 years here, the Division sailed for Alexandria in September 1917 for Egypt and the allied offensive against the Turks in Palestine. A further 8 months later in April 1918, the 6th Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers and the 7th Battalion R. D Fus had left the 30th Brigade, 10th Division and returned to Egypt in order to join units in France fighting the German advance.
On 23 May 1918, the 7th Battalion left Alexandria and landed at Marsailles, France on 31 May. On 6 June the Battalion was reduced to a Cadre. Surplus personnel were absorbed by the 2nd Battalion R. D Fus. Many were suffering from Malaria contracted in the Struma Valley in Thessalonica. The battalion was given a week by the sea at Rouxmesnil, near Dieppe, to recuperate, before joining the 2nd Battalion.
As with the other Royal Dublin Fusilier Service Battalions, the 7th Battalion faded away as its soldiers were absorbed into other units.
All Royal Dublin Fusiliers Battalions
Until the end of 1914, the bulk of the work done by the Infantry consisted of elementary drill, platoon and company training and lectures, with a route march once or twice a week. A recruits' musketry course was also fired. Plenty of night operations were carried out, two evenings a week as a rule being devoted to this form of work. The six battalions in Dublin were somewhat handicapped by lack of training ground, as the Phoenix Park became very congested. This deficiency was later re- medied to a certain extent by certain landowners who allowed troops to manoeuvre in their demesnes ; but considerations of distance and lack of transport made this concession less valuable than it would have been had it been possible to disregard the men's dinner hour. Side by side with this strenuous work the education of the officers and N.C.O.'s was carried on. The juniors had everything to learn, and little bv little the news that filtered THE TENTH (IRISH) DIVISION 19 through from France convinced the seniors that many long-cherished theories would have to be reconsidered. It gradually became clear that the experience of South Africa and Man- churia had not fully enlightened us as to the power of modern heavy artillery and high explosives, and that many established tactical methods would have to be varied. We learnt to dig trenches behind the crest of a hill instead of on the top of it ; to seek for cover from observation rather than a good field of fire ; to dread damp trenches more than hostile bullets. We began, too, to hear rumours of a return to mediaeval methods of warfare and became curious as to steel helmets and hand grenades. Had these been the only rumours that we heard, we should have counted ourselves fortunate. Unhappily, however, in modern war there is nothing so persistent as the absolutely unfounded rumour, and in K.i they raged like a pestilence. We were all eager to get the training finished and settle to real work, and our hope's gave rise to the most fantastic collection of legends. The most prevalent one, of course, was that we were going to France in ten days* time, usually assisted by the corroborative detail that our billets had already been prepared, but this was run close by the equally confident assertion on the authority of a clerk in the Brigade Office, '' that we were destined for 20 THE TENTH (IRISH) DIVISION Egypt in a week." It is to be hoped that after the War, some folk-lore expert will investigate legends of the New Armies. If he does so, he will be interested to find that France and Egypt were almost the only two seats of War which the Division as a whole never visited. In the New Year, battalion training began, carried out on the occasional bright days that redeemed an abominable winter. At the beginning of February it was proposed to start brigade training, and in order to enable the 29th Brigade to concentrate for this purpose, various changes of station were necessary. Accordingly, the whole 29th Brigade moved to the Curragh, where one battalion was accommodated in barracks and the other three in huts. In order to allow this move to be carried out the 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the Reserve Park Army Service Corps and the Divisional Cyclist Company were transferred to Dublin where they were quartered in the Royal Barracks. Brigade field days, brigade route marches and brigade night operations were the order of the day throughout February, and a second course of musketry was also fired. Early in March the Divisional Commander decided to employ the troops at the Curragh in a series of combined operations. For this purpose he could dispose of two infantry brigades (less one battalion), three brigades of Royal Field Artillery, the heavy battery (which joined the Division