Last updated: 23 April 2013
The regiment was formed during the 1881 army reforms by merging two former East India Company fusilier regiments, the 101st and 104th Regiments of Foot, each of which formed one of the new unit’s two regular battalions. The reforms also made it the local regiment for Clare, Cork, Kerry and Limerick, four of the counties in the province of Munster in south-west Ireland.
1st Battalion was in Canada at the time of the merger and sailed for Wales two years later, remaining in England and Ireland until sailing for South Africa in 1899. 2nd Battalion was in Ireland, moving on to Malta in 1882 then India in 1884. It remained there until 1901, barring two years in Burma from 1886 onwards.
1st Battalion spent the whole Boer War in South Africa and then began a 12-year term in India and Burma in 1902. The 2nd Battalion was only moved to Natal in December 1901, Ireland in 1902 and England in 1909.
1st Battalion sailed from Burma to Calcutta on the outbreak of war, then marched to Bombay, arriving in England in January 1915. It then sailed again for Gallipoli two months later and landed at Cape Helles on 25 April, suffering such heavy casualties in the fighting that followed that it had to be merged with 1st Battalion The Royal Dublin Fusiliers, to form a composite unit known as the ‘Dubsters’. It was finally evacuated to Egypt in January 1916 and reconstituted before being moved to the Western Front, remaining there until the end of the war.
The 2nd Battalion landed in France 10 days after the declaration of war and stayed on the Western Front throughout the conflict. It suffered heavy casualties at Etreux in September 1914, where all its officers were killed or wounded and its chaplain, Father Gleeson, had to take over command of the battalion. It was badly mauled again during the German Spring Offensive in April 1918, leaving it with so few troops that it had to be absorbed by 1st Battalion for about a month.
Irish regiments were not required to raise Territorial Force battalions, though the regiment did raise nine reserve, service, garrison and home service battalions during the conflict, serving in Britain, Ireland, France, Salonika and Palestine. Both regular battalions moved in 1919, 1st Battalion to occupation duties in Germany and 2nd Battalion to Egypt.
All four of the regiment’s recruiting counties were in southern Ireland so, when the Irish Free State declared independence in 1922, the regiment was disbanded.
|Royal Munster Fusiliers|
|101st Regiment of Foot (Royal Bengal Fusiliers)|
|104th Regiment of Foot (Bengal Fusiliers)|