Local links to ‘The Devil’s Own’ marked by visit to Roscommon
The connections between a long-disbanded Irish regiment of the British army and the Ballymena area were commemorated recently when members of the Friends of the Somme Association (Mid Antrim Branch) visited The Connaught Rangers Museum in Boyle, County Roscommon.
Following a tour of the Museum, led by Paul Malpas of the Connaught Rangers Association, the Friends of the Somme laid a Poppy Wreath in memory of those Connaught Rangers who gave their lives during WW1.
This was carried out in conjunction with five members of The Connaught Rangers Association including flag bearer, bugler and attendants.
Paul Malpas presented Kenny Allen of the Mid-Antrim visitors with a beautiful bronze plaque to mark the visit.
Members of The Connaught Rangers Association are expected to visit Ballymena in early 2018.
The Connaught Rangers (‘The Devil’s Own’) were an Irish line infantry regiment of the British Army formed by the amalgamation of the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers) (which formed the 1st Battalion) and the 94th Regiment of Foot (which formed the 2nd Battalion) in July 1881.
Between the time of its formation and Irish independence, it was one of eight Irish regiments raised largely in Ireland.
It was disbanded following the establishment of the independent Irish Free State in 1922, along with the other five regiments that had their traditional recruiting grounds in the counties of the new state.
During the Great War, many men from the northern part of Ireland, including many from Co. Antrim, served with The 6th (Service) Battalion, which was formed in County Cork in September 1914, landed at Le Havre as part of the 47th Brigade in the 16th (Irish) Division in December 1915 for service on the Western Front.
In just over a week’s fighting in the Battle of the Somme in September 1916, the 6th Battalion lost 23 officers and 407 other ranks.
On March 21, 1918, the same Battalion was “practically annihilated” during the German Spring Offensive breakthrough.
In one week the battalion lost ‘22 officers and 618 other ranks’.As a result of these heavy losses, the survivors were transferred into the 2nd Battalion, the Leinster Regiment.