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10th (Irish) Division
10th-irish-div-symbol.gif
Active World War I
August 1914 - January 1919
Country United Kingdom
Branch New Army
Type Infantry
Part of K1 Army Group
Engagements Battle of Gallipoli
 –  Battle of Sari Bair
   –  Battle of Chunuk Bair
Third Battle of Gaza
British Army Infantry Divisions (1914–present)
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9th Infantry Division 11th (Northern) Division

The 10th (Irish) Division, was a New Army division, one of Kitchener's New Army K1 Army Group divisions raised largely in Ireland from the Irish National Volunteers in 1914. It fought at Gallipoli, Salonika and Palestine during the First World War and was the first Irish Division ever to take the field in war.

Contents

Formation

A church service at the 10th (Irish) Division's Basingstoke camp, 1915.

The division comprised the following brigades:

29th Brigade 
30th Brigade 
31st Brigade 
Pioneers 
  • 5th Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment (June 1915 – April 1918, transferred to 52nd Division)

Unit history

Formed in Ireland in August 1914, the 10th Division was sent to Gallipoli where, as part of General Sir Frederick Stopford's IX Corps, at Suvla Bay on August 7 it participated in the disastrous Landing at Cape Helles and the August offensive. Some battalions of the division were landed at Anzac and fought at Chunuk Bair.

In September, 1915, when the Suvla front became a stalemate, the division was moved to Salonika where it remained for two years.

In September 1917 the division moved to Egypt where it joined General Chetwode's XX Corps. The division fought in the Third Battle of Gaza which succeeded in breaking the resistance of the Turkish defenders in southern Palestine.

Heavy losses on the Western Front encountered after the great German Spring Offensive in 1918, resulted in the transfer of 10 battalions from the division to France, their place being taken by Indian Army battalions. This left only one British battalion per brigade.[2] The division remained in Palestine until the end of the war with Turkey on 31 October 1918.

Battles and engagements

Gallipoli

  • The landing at Suvla.
  • Battle of Sari Bair.
  • Capture of Chocolate Hill.
  • Hill 60.

Salonika

  • Kosturino.
  • Retreat from Serbia.
  • Capture of the Karajokois.
  • Capture of Yenikoi.

Palestine

  • Third Battle of Gaza.
  • Capture of the Sheria Position.
  • Capture of Jersusalem.
  • Defence of Jerusalem.
  • Tell ‘Asure.
  • Battle of Nablus.

Unit's experiences

The 10th Division was a Division of the British army. The division mostly fought in the Balkans region between 1915-1917. The Division was part of Kitchener's New Army divisions (largely incorporating Redmond's National Volunteers, a rival force to Carson’s Ulster Volunteers). The 10th Division was a combined force of many Irish regiments consisting; The Connaght Rangers, Inniskilling Fusiliers, Leinster regiments and the Munster Fusiliers. This combination brought Irishmen of many different social classes and religions together. The men trained in Ireland and at Basingstoke and saw their first action at Gallipoli.

The men's first encounter with the enemy, which took place in the Dardanelles, proved disastrous. 2,000 men lost their lives between the spring and summer of 1915. The men died mostly on the beaches of Suvla. This was an easy killing ground for well-equipped Turkish army. The Turks were not the only thing going against the 10th Division: the intense heat, inadequate medical assistance, and poor military strategy all played their part too, and the Division was pulled out of Gallipoli in the summer of 1915 with the men depleted in both numbers and morale. Fresh troops were called in and all that remains of their sacrifice is a forgotten cemetery in Greece.

The Division's next city was Salonica where they fought against Bulgarian troops. More British and French troops joined and together the allies moved out to Kosturino. This was another costly campaign. 300 men died in mostly low level fighting and spent most of their time outside the front line.

The men also faced a different enemy: the weather. According to men’s diary they claimed that "the weather conditions are worse than the enemy itself". During the summer months in the central struma valley men could 25 miles (40 km) in tempters of 114 *F. Things worsened when woolen underwear and sun helmets arrived in winter. The marches were occasionally fatal; in July 1916 men fainted in their scores while marching and one young soldier died on the side of the road. Sometimes the rain too would reduce the ground to "a sea of mud". Thunderstorms also affected the men who weren’t use to them.

In mid winter 1916 the men had to retreat again against superior Bulgarian numbers they lost 300 men and had 800 wounded or captured. The cold would freeze men's jackets. The enemy would use blizzards to attack. On one occasion during a blizzard they shelled a group of Dublin Fusiliers killing 9 of them. The worst attacks according to men's accounts were the bayonet charges; men would bleed to death and would be buried behind the trench line. The ground was rocky and splinters from shells killed many men.

The division then moved out to Greece. When they arrived hardly any artillery came with them. The heat added to this by rendering ammunitions useless. Tents would arrive without any poles, ambulances were often damaged as they were driven by inexperienced drivers. Once the logistical problems had been sorted out the men had to fortify Slaovia. They built trenches; quarried and built roads which men found "tedious and unrewarding" they also faced long hours of guard duty.

The division participated on the onslaught of three key Macedonian villages held by the Bulgarians in autumn 1916. After the battle the men faced stress and boredom as they had little to do. Some of the soldiers took comfort in the arrival of mail from home. Others watched modern warfare unfold before their eyes; regular dog fights between British and German planes as well as the occasional Zeppelin filled with gas light up the night sky.

One doctor pondered on the waste of life. (Entries from his diary)- "One man was killed in a bombing practice another man mistaken for a Bulgarian and I have a young soldier who has a 3 inch wound in diameter in his back. What a useless sacrifice of poor young men’s lives".

For some men the horrors of war were too much and alcohol was an easy escape. One Munster fusilier died of alcohol poisoning and on St. Patrick’s Day 1917 it was said that "not a dozen sober men in the camp could be seen" some of the men also had their first intimate experiences with the local girls.

There are plenty of records of the men’s opinions of the political policy of Europe but far less is known of their opinion of the Easter rising back home in Ireland. The news was often censored in order to keep up moral. Men had no home leave and what little news did come through from home went to officers and correspondents. One correspondent said, "I am far too disgusted to even think about it, never mind write about it". The one record that did survive from a soldier was a poem called "Home thoughts from abroad".

In all about half a million Irish men and women fought in World War I. This figure takes into account men and women from north and south of the border as well as born in Ireland but served in other Irish regiments in England & Scotland as well other Commenwealth countries.

When the men returned home they didn’t get a heroes welcome. 20,000 of them joined the re-organized British army but a few hundred joined the Irish Republican Army in the fight for Irish independence. Some of the former British soldiers were assassinated for allegedly being "British spies". Tens of thousands also helped to man the new Free State Force at the onset of the Irish Civil War in 1922.

Great War Memorials

See also

Notes

  1. ^ From August 1914 was attached to the division but was unbrigaded
  2. ^ Chappell, P (2009). "The Regimental Warpath 1914–1918 10th (Irish) Division". warpath.orbat.com. Archived from the original on 2009-08-05. http://www.webcitation.org/5io4yUr0A. Retrieved 3 August 2009.  

External links

Further reading

  • Nigel Steel and Peter Hart: Defeat at Gallipoli, PAN Books (1994) ISBN 0-330-49058-3, pp 91–96 slaughter of the Dubliners and Munsters.
  • Thomas P. Dooley: Irishmen or English Soldiers? : the Times of a Southern Catholic Irish Man (1876–1916), Liverpool Press (1995), ISBN 0-85323-600-3.
  • Myles Dungan: They Shall not Grow Old: Irish Soldiers in the Great War, Four Courts Press (1997), ISBN 1-85182-347-6.
  • Keith Jeffery: Ireland and the Great War, Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge (2000), ISBN 0-521-77323-7.
  • Bryan Cooper (1918): The 10th (Irish) Division in Gallipoli, Irish Academic Press (1993), (2003). ISBN 0-7165-2517-8.
  • Terence Denman: Ireland's unknown Soldiers: the 16th (Irish) Division in the Great War, Irish Academic Press (1992), (2003) ISBN 0-7165-2495-3.
  • Desmond & Jean Bowen: Heroic Option: The Irish in the British Army, Pen & Sword Books (2005), ISBN 1-84415-152-2.
  • Steven Moore: The Irish on the Somme (2005), ISBN 0-9549715-1-5.
  • Thomas Bartlett & Keith Jeffery: A Military History of Ireland, Cambridge University Press (1996) (2006), ISBN 0-521-62989-6
  • David Murphy: Irish Regiments in the World Wars, OSprey Publishing (2007), ISBN 978-1-84603-015-4
  • David Murphy: The Irish Brigades, 1685-2006, A gazatteer of Irish Military Service past and present, Four Courts Press (2007)
    The Military Heritage of Ireland Trust. ISBN 978-1-84682-080-9
  • Stephen Walker: Forgotten Soldiers; The Irishmen shot at dawn Gill & Nacmillan (2007), ISBN 978-07171-4182-1
  • John Horne ed.: Our War 'Ireland and the Great War': The Thomas Davis Lectures, The Royal Irish Academy, Dublin (2008) ISBN 978-1-904890-50-8
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