1859 - 1899.
Foundation / The Early Years.
The London Irish Volunteers were founded at the Freemasons' Tavern, Great Queen Street on 5th December 1859 during concerns over the threats posed by Napoleon III, and which prompted the rise in the Victorian Volunteer Movement. The Marquess of Donegall presided at the original general meeting.
The formal formation of the Regiment took place in February 1860, and at that time was named the 28th Middlesex (London Irish) Rifle Volunteer Corps. The original maximum establishment was a Captain Commandant, 1 Captain, 2 Lieutenants, 2 Ensigns and 200 men of all ranks. Its first uniform was grey with green facings, and a triple sprig of silver shamrock in metal, together with the old fashioned shako bearing a bunch of cock's feathers. The Regiment's first parade numbered 60, with the Marquess of Donegall as Commandant.
Enrolled members had to pay an entrance fee of 1/2 a guinea, and also an annual subscription of 1 guinea. Honorary members paid 5 guineas, and 1 guinea annual subscription and were allowed to wear the uniform of the corps with the exception of the cross belt.
1900 - 1913.
Boer War/Pre First World War.
At the time of an appeal for volunteers at the outbreak of the Second Boer War, which started in 1899, over 400 (out of 1100) men volunteered for foreign service, and a further 500 were ready for garrison duty. The Battalion ultimately sent 8 officers, and 200 NCOs and private soldiers for active service with either the City Imperial Volunteers (CIV), the Royal Irish Rifles (RIR), the Imperial Yeomanry or with the Middlesex Regiment. During the war, one officer, Captain FG Concannon, was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and twice mentioned in despatches. Captain CG Henty was also mentioned in despatches and another member gained seven bars to his South Africa Medal. In recognition of their service, the London Irish was granted their first Battle Honour of "South Africa, 1900-1902".
1914 - 1919.
The First World War.
At the outbreak of the First World War, the LIR raised three Battalions, one of which was held in reserve throughout the war:
- the 1st Battalion (1 LIR) was sent to France on 9th March 1915, with a strength of 29 officers and 1048 other ranks. In May 1915, due to illness, Lt-Col Concannon handed over command of the Battalion to Major Healy. Soon after, the battalion was sent into its first action at Festubert. At this time, Major Healy also became ill and he was compelled to hand over command to Major Beresford. During this early summer period, three riflemen received DCMs for defending their trenches against strong enemy attacks.
1920 - 1939.
Between the World Wars.
After the cessation of hostilities, the LIR was reduced to cadre strength, before being disbanded in May 1919 at Felixstowe. At that time, it was commanded by Lt-Col GH Neely, DSO MC.
On 16th February 1920, the 18th (County of London) Battalion of the London Regiment (London Irish Rifles) was reconstituted as a component of the 47th (2nd London) Division of the new Territorial Army, and in 1923, the designation of the Regiment was shortened to 18th London Regiment (London Irish Rifles).
1939 - 1946.
The Second World War.
In April 1939, in line with the rest of the Territorial Army, the London Irish had doubled to two Battalions; a third battalion 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion was formed in the autumn of 1940 before being disbanded in April 1943. As the LIR was placed on a common footing, at least for reinforcement purposes, with the RUR, a draft of LIR men joined the 1st Royal Ulster Rifles in Rawalpindi in December 1939.
1947 - 1967.
Post Second World War.
On 1st January 1947, the Territorial Army was reconstituted, and the 1st Battalion, London Irish Rifles was re-formed at the Duke of York's Headquarters as part of the 44th (Home Counties) Division. In November 1949, Field Marshal, The Viscount Alexander of Tunis, under whose command both Battalions has served in North Africa and Italy, was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Regiment.
1967 - 1992.
Part of the Royal Irish Rangers.
In 1968, the three Regular Irish Infantry Regiments (Royal Ulster Rifles, Royal Irish Fusiliers, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers) combined to form The Royal Irish Rangers, and the LIR became D Company (London Irish Rifles), 4th Battalion, the Royal Irish Rangers, and remained in this guise for the next 26 years. The year before, on 31st March 1967, Lt-Col HB Holt TD, the last Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, London Irish Rifles handed over to Major MJ Van Brugen TD, D Company's first OC.
1993 - Present Day.
In 1993, when the The London Regiment was reformed, D Company joined with a company of the London Scottish, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and The Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, and later by two companies of Royal Green Jackets. The London Regiment had been reformed on 20th April 1993 with the merger of 8th Bn Queen's Fusiliers, the London Irish and the London Scottish following the "Options for Change" review of the Army.
Further upheaval occurred in 2000, when the LIR moved from their historic home, the Duke of York's HQ in Chelsea, South West London to Connaught House, Flodden Road, Camberwell, South East London, where they remain to this day.
Between 1st April 1999 and 12th May 2006, the London Regiment gained two Companies of Royal Green Jackets (RGJ) on the disbandment of 4th Bn RGJ, and these Companies formed F and G Companies.
In May 2006, The London Regiment moved from the Queen's Division to become part of the Household Division and became the TA (now Army Reserve) support battalion for the five regiments of Foot Guards, the first time the Guards have ever had an associated Reserve element, and have played a crucial role in supporting the Regular Army when they were deployed on operations. Over the past few years, and due to the Regular Army being overstretched on overseas operations, the London Regiment has been expected to produce Service Companies to carry out overseas infantry duties, and men from the London Irish Rifles have been deployed on numerous operational engagements. D Company is extremely proud to have deployed soldiers across the world in recent years as part of this wider London Regiment role.