The Great War, which started in August 1914, found the 1st Battalion in India and the 2nd in Dover, -the latter going to France in the 4th Division, which was amongst those to be heavily engaged at the Battle of Le Cateau.
The 1st Battalion was part of the ‘Incoparable’ 29th Division which won undying fame at the landing at Helles on the Gallipoli peninsula in April 1915, and later on the Western Front.
Nine new Army battalions were raised during the war, all of which took part in the great battles in France and Flanders between 1915 and 1918, while two of them saw mouc service in Gallipoli, Macedonia and Palestine as well.
During those eventful years the Regiment was awarded eight Victoria Crosses.
The New Army battalions were disbanded after the war, a like fate overtaking the 2nd Battalion in 1922.
This book is subtitled ‘A Record of the War as seen by The Royal Inniskilling Regiment of Fusiliers’, thirteen battalions of which served, and of these ten saw active service abroad. Total deaths numbered just over 5,500, seven Victoria Crosses were awarded and46 Battle Honours. An eight Victoria Cross was awarded to Lt. Col. John Sherwood-Kelly of the Norfolks who was commanding the 1st Battalion, Royay Inniskilling Fusiliers when he won the award.
At the end of the book there is a most useful summarised, chronological record of each battalion showing theatre of operations in which they served and battles in which they were involved together with a list of their Cos. Two appendices provide the Roll of Honour with the officers grouped together in alphabetical order and the other ranks alphabetically by battalions, and the list of Honours and Awards. These are headed by the Victoria Crosses with citations and the others are grouped according to the award - in all cases the names are in alphabetical order.
Battalions of the regiment served on the Western Front, in Gallipoli, Salonika and Palestine; two of them were with the 10th Division, two with the 16th (Irish) Division - the North and the South. The book is arranged in three parts: the first provides the background to the war and that of the Inniskillings, and the type of man who served in the regiment; the second, which takes up most of the book, is about the war on the Western Front and the part played by the battalions; the third deals with the Eastern theatres - Gallipoli, Salonika and Palestine. It is a well written and descriptive account by one who has a number of books to his credit, including ‘G.H.Q. Montreuil sur Mer’ written under the pseudonym ‘G.S.O.’
The 7th Battalion’s experiences from formation in October 1914 to August 1917, when it amalgamated with the 8th Battalion during the Third battle of Ypres.
In September 1914 the 16th (Irish) Division was formed, comprised of the 47th, 48th, and 49th Brigades, and among the infantry battalions allocated to the 49th Brigade was the 7th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, formed on 2nd October 1914. In the initial stages, recruiting was difficult but a gradual improvement received an almighty set-back when in June 1915 the battalion was required to send a draft of 300 men to the 10th Irish Division, then in England, getting ready to embark for Gallipoli.
This nearly resulted in the disbandment of the battalion, which had to start all over again, but by the time the battalion began its move to England in September 1915, the battalion was about 700 strong. After final training the division embarked for France in December, less the artillery and 49th Brigade, which eventually crossed in February 1916. All this is recounted in Part1 of the history.
Part 2 is the story of the Battalion on the Western Front where it served until August 1917 when, on the 23rd, during the Third battle of Ypres, heavy losses resulted in amalgamation with the 8th Battalion and henceforth it was the 7th/8th Battalion. At this point the story ends.
The Battalion’s introduction to trench warfare was in the Loos Salient where it spent six months, and the memorial to this period is the plot in Philosophe Cemetery where 115 officers and men lie side by side in five rows; at the end of the book there is a plan of the cemetery showing the graves and who is buried in them. The battalion also fought on the Somme, notably at Ginchy and Guillemont. The 7th Inniskillings were to the fore in the assault on Messines Ridge on 7th June 1917; in this major attackthe battalion lost only 22 killed and died of wounds. It was after this assault that the feature known as ‘Un-named Wood’ became ‘Inniskilling Wood’.
The battalion’s final action before amalgamating with the 8th Battalion was at Langemarck during the Third battle of Ypres. Almost the last photo in the book is one of the survivors of the original ‘Seventh’ taken in March 1918 - they number twenty two. At the end is the Roll of Honour. This is a competent and well written account, based on the War Diary, Battalion orders, records and personal memoirs. The Author, who served as Signal Officer in the battalion for nearly two and a half years, stresses that he took special care to avoid matters which might have led to political, military, or religious controversy.