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The London Irish at War 1939-45

IN the years before the 1939‑45 War, the London Irish Rifles was recruited from Irishmen or men of Irish descent living in London. When war came, many men from London, from Northern Ireland, and from Eire joined the Regiment voluntarily, but as the war went on Army Class men were drafted into the two battalions from all parts of the British Isles.

War took its toll, and although both battalions received men from Irish regiments as reinforcements, most of the recruits came from a great diversity of English county regiments, and also regiments in Scotland and Wales. Men of all ranks banded together smoothly and admirably. They took a pride in their Regiment. They became imbued with its spirit; they admired its past accomplishments and cherished its traditions. They were all ordinary men of the town and of the country; they had no claim to fame or high ambition. In peace they bore no hate, in war they knew no fear.

This is their story. It has been compiled by a former member of the 1st Battalion, and has been drawn from official records and other sources. It is an unembellished and simple story of men in battle; of brilliant success and also of gallant failure.

Many survivors of the war have given their aid in preparing the history, and I wish to acknowledge in particular the help and assistance I have received from: Brigadier IH Good, DSO, formerly Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion; Brigadier Nelson Russell, DSO, MC; and Brigadier TPD Scott, CBE, DSO, both formerly

Commanding the 38th (Irish) Brigade; Lieut.‑Colonel the Viscount Stopford, MBE, Commanding Officer of the London Irish Rifles as it exists today; Colonel TL Laister, formerly Adjutant of the 2nd Battalion; Major Colin Gibbs, MC, now Second‑in‑Command of the 1st Battalion; Captain Alan Mace, MC; Captain S Sharp; Captain JD O’Rourke, MBE; and all the officers, warrant officers, non‑commissioned officers, and men of both battalions who have placed information at my disposal.

Published on behalf of the London Irish Rifles Old Comrades’ Association, Duke of Yorks’ Headquarters, Chelsea, 1948.

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