Men of the London Irish Rifles commenced their long journey towards front line service in August 1942 when the 1st Battalion (1 LIR) sailed from Liverpool as part of the 56th (London) Infantry Division to join the PAI (Persia and Iraq) Force in protecting the oil fields of Iran and Iraq and the supply route from the Persian Gulf to the Soviet Union. They eventually arrived in Basra at the end of October 1942, and the battalion remained in Iraq until April 1943.
The 2nd Battalion (2 LIR) continued to prepare in Scotland for their part in the imminent invasion of North Africa, taking part in Operation Dryshod during August 1942, before journeying to Algeria in early November 1942.
The 1 LIR’s full roll of officers in August 1942 was:
Lieut-Colonel IH Good, Commanding Officer.
Major the Viscount Stopford, Second-in-Command.
Captain MD Ryan, Adjutant.
Mr J Cairns, RSM.
Major PM Mahon, Officer Commanding.
Captain JG Adams, Carrier Platoon.
Captain PJ Toal, Quartermaster.
Lieutenant DA Gibson, Mortar Platoon.
Lieutenant H St G Gallaher, Carrier Platoon.
2nd Lieutenant A Mace, Transport Officer.
2nd Lieutenant S Sharp, Intelligence Officer.
2nd Lieutenant D McVitty, Anti-tank Platoon.
2nd Lieutenant J Gates, Pioneer Platoon.
2nd Lieutenant H Miller, Signals Platoon.
Major J Cantopher, GM, Officer Commanding.
Captain A Palmer.
Lieutenant GE Buss.
Lieutenant ALF Orr.
Lieutenant JV Reynolds.
Captain HCS Lofting, Officer Commanding.
Captain M Bonham-Carter.
Lieutenant CA Croft.
Lieutenant SW McCabe.
2nd Lieutenant T Barry.
Captain WE Brooks, Officer Commanding.
Lieutenant WK Byrne.
2nd Lieutenant TW Coghlin.
2nd Lieutenant PC Isitt.
Captain Sir James Henry, Bt., Officer Commanding.
Captain JR Strick.
Lieutenant EM Grace.
Lieutenant M Power.
2nd Lieutenant T J Sweeney.
Captain RA O’Brien, Officer Commanding.
Lieutenant JA Boddam-Whetham.
Lieutenant AG Hamer.
2nd Lieutenant DA Hardy.
2nd Lieutenant RA Wigger.
2nd Lieutenant J Grennan.
The Rev. T Flynn (RC).
Lieutenant C Byrne (RAMC).
2 LIR had joined the newly formed 38 (Irish) Brigade in January 1942 and spent the first six months of the year undertaking training in Norfolk, before travelling to Cumnock in Scotland where the brigade formed the Lorried Infantry Brigade of the 6th Armoured Division. 2 LIR, along with the rest of the Irish Brigade, spent the next four months preparing to take part in 1st Army’s (initially called Amphibious Force 110) invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch) during November 1942. During August, the battalion took part in Operation Dryshod, an “amphibious” warfare training exercise across the hills of Ayrshire.
In June 1942, Lt-Col JB Jeffreys, transferred from 1 Royal Ulster Rifles (1 RUR), and took over command of 2 LIR replacing Lt-Colonel Starkey, who had completed three years’ leadership of the battalion.
1st to 10th August – 2 LIR take part in Operation Dryshod in Scotland.
27th August – 1 LIR sail from Liverpool on HMT Ortuna.
9th September – 1 LIR arrive in Freetown, Sierre Leone.
12th September – 1 LIR depart Freetown.
25th September – 1 LIR arrive in Cape Town.
29th September – 1 LIR depart Cape Town on HMT California.
15th October – 2 LIR inspected by King George VI in Scotland.
17th October – 1 LIR arrive in Bombay.
25th October – 1 LIR depart Bombay on SS Melchior Treub.
31st October – 1 LIR arrive in Basra, Iraq.
Roll of Honour 1942: