BOER-WAR-L ArchivesArchiver > BOER-WAR > 2001-05 > 0991113309
From: Iain Kerr <>
Subject: Re: [BOER-WAR] Irish Brigade name lists
Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 06:15:09 +0100
At 18:26 28/05/01 -0600, Pat Crotty wrote:
>Family lore has it that my grandfather, Bartholomew Crotty, born October
>1880 in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland; left Midleton in April 1899 and
>joined the British Army (BA). It is further told he was subsequently put
>on a troop ship and sent to the Boer War. I presume if this story is true,
>he joined some Irish Brigade that was part of the British Army. So I have
>a number of questions. (1) Is there any list out on the Internet that
>would have the names of men who served in the BA during the Boer War? (2)
>What Irish Brigades if any did serve in the Boer War? (3) How does one
>contact an Irish Brigade from the Boer War if it still exists, or some
>military historical society to deal with disbanded units? (4) Were there
>any money inducements, like an enlistment bonus, to get young Irishman to
>sign up in the British Army during those times? (5) Was there conscription
>into the BA in Ireland during those times? Any help or leads would be
>appreciated. Sincerely, Patrick B. Crotty
before answering your specific questions, a few general points about the
a. The British Army is not usually abbreviated and BA = the British
Association for the Advancement of Science.
b. The British Army has always recruited from the whole of the United
Kingdom that included the whole of Ireland until 1922. Indeed Irish men
provided a significant proportion of British Army manpower over the
centuries, in both regiments with Irish names and Irish territorial
affiliations, and in all other regiments and corps. At the time of the
South African War of 1899-1902, the British Army included the following
Cavalry: 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards; 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers; 6th
(Inniskilling) Dragoons; 8th (The King's Royal Irish) Hussars, 13th Hussars
(King's Royal Irish).
Infantry: The Irish Guards (formed 1900); The Royal Irish Regiment
disbanded 1922; The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; The Royal Irish Rifles
redesignated 1922 Royal Ulster Rifles; The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess
Victoria's); The Connaught Rangers disbanded 1922; The Prince of Wales's
Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) disbanded 1922; The Royal Munster
Fusiliers disbanded 1922; The Royal Dublin Fusiliers disbanded 1922.
c. Men enlisted into regiments, not brigades. A brigade is a tactical or
operational formation, usually of three combat units (infantry battalions
in an infantry brigade) and is commanded by a Brigadier general (later
Brigadier). Units were assigned to a brigade for an operation or campaign
and could be transferred to other formations.
d. A typical infantry regiment in 1899 consisted of two regular
battalions, some 1,000 men strong, a reserve (militia) battalion and two or
more volunteer (part-time) battalions. However, the Irish Infantry
regiments did not have any volunteer battalions.
e. The Second Boer War (South African War) was a major operational
commitment involving elements of practically every regiment and corps in
the period between 12 October 1899 to the Treaty of Vereeniging ending the
war on 31 May 1902.
f. Men were not "put onto a troop ship" but moved as part of a unit or a
reinforcement draft under military orders and a complex transport organisation.
1. No. There are no such lists. The British Army personnel records
system from the 1880s abandoned the retention and subsequent archiving of
muster rolls and adopted personal service records retained at regimental
records offices. It is those records that form the main part of the War
Office archives WO 97 at the Public Record Office, Kew.
WO 97 Soldiers' Documents (Attestation and Discharge Papers) is the main
series of personnel records for long service soldiers. These survive for
most men who served between 1750 and 1882 and who did not die in service
and were discharged to pension (that is to say either those who completed
full service, say 20+ years, or were discharged medically). However, for
those discharged between the years 1882-1913, the documents were listed
alphabetically for all soldiers who had survived an Army career, and not
just those discharged to pension. These documents are a wonderful supply
of information about the soldier and contain a mass of detail on his career.
2. Substituting regiment for your "Brigade", the following Irish
regiments participated in the Second Boer war:
Cavalry: 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers; 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons; 8th (The
King's Royal Irish) Hussars; 13th Hussars (King's Royal Irish).
Infantry: The Royal Irish Regiment (1st Battalion); The Royal Inniskilling
Fusiliers (1st and 2nd Battalions); The Royal Irish Rifles (2nd Battalion);
The Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria's) (2nd Battalion); The
Connaught Rangers disbanded 1922; The Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment
(Royal Canadians) ; The Royal Munster Fusiliers (2nd Battalion); The Royal
3. Again, substituting regiment for your "Brigade", as is clear from the
notes above, a number of the southern Irish regiments were disbanded in
1922. Since then, in common with most other regiments in the British Army,
the surviving regiments have undergone a number of amalgamations and name
changes at different times in the 20th century. You need to identify the
regiment the man served in order to contact its modern successor and their
4. The only inducement to persuade any British citizen to enlist were the
pay, the uniform, the prospects of travel and for many, the opportunity to
improve oneself. There were different pay rates for different ranks and at
times a bounty system, where men who extended their engagement were paid a
sum. The final inducement was the pension paid to men who served for 22+
5. Definitely No. The British Army relied on volunteer enlistment for
both the regular and territorial components. The British Army did not
introduce conscription until 1916, after some 16 months of general
war. Even then, political considerations ruled out conscription in
Ireland. The Irish men and women who served in the Great War, from all
parts of the island, were all volunteers.
Iain Kerr in Windsor, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Web Page at: http://home.clara.net/iainkerr/index.htm
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