The 16th (Irish) Division in 1914-1918

The history of 16th (Irish) Division

This Division was established by the Irish Command in September 1914, as part of the Army Orders authorising Kitchener's Second New Army, K2. Early days were somewhat chaotic, the new volunteers having very few trained officers and NCOs to command them, no organised billets or equipment. The Division moved to England and into barracks in Aldershot by the end of the month.

The training and preparation of the Division was slowed by the loss of many of its units to the 37th and Guards Divisions when they were created in 1915.

December 1915 : the Division finally moved to France and concentrated in the Bethune area. It served on the Western Front with distinction throughout the war, taking part in the following enagements:

1916
The Battle of Guillemont* in which the Division captured the village
The Battle of Ginchy*
The battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916

1917
The Battle of Messines
The Battle of Langemark, a phase of the Third Battles of Ypres

1918
The Battle of St Quentin+
The Battle of Rosieres+
The battles marked + are phases of the First Battles of the Somme 1918

18 June 1918 : After suffering very heavy casualties a decision was taken to return the Deivision to England for refit and it was then significantly reconstituted. The Division lost virtually all of its remaining Irish units at this point.

1 August 1918 : returned to France.

The Final Advance in Artois.

The Division suffered the loss of more than 28,000 casualties during the war.

The order of battle of the 16th (Irish) Division

47th Brigade  
6th Bn, the Royal Irish Regiment disbanded 9 February 1918. Troops were redeployed to 2nd and 7th Royal Irish Regiment
6th Bn, the Connaught Rangers reduced to cadre 13 April 1918. Troops were redeployed to 2nd Leinster, left June 1918
7th Bn, the Leinster Regiment disbanded 14 February 1918. Troops went to 2nd Bn and to 19th Entrenching Bn,
8th Bn, the Royal Munster Fusiliers absorbed by 1st Bn of the regiment on 23 November 1916
47th Machine Gun Company MGC joined 28 April 1916, moved to 16th Battalion MGC 9 March 1918
47th Trench Mortar Battery formed by 16 June 1916, reformed in England 1918
1st Bn, the Royal Munster Fusiliers joined 22 November 1916, left 20 April 1918
2nd Bn, the Leinster Regiment joined 2 February 1918, left 23 April 1918
14th Bn, the Leicestershire Regiment joined 26 June 1918, after absorbing 2/4th Bn of the regiment
6/7th Bn, the Royal Scots Fusiliers joined as a cadre June 1918, left July 1918
9th Bn, the Black Watch joined 2 July 1918 after absorbing 15th Bn of the regiment
18th Bn, the Welsh Regiment joined 7 July 1918 after absorbing 25th Bn of the regiment
   
48th Brigade  
7th Bn, the Royal Irish Rifles left 23 August 1917
9th Bn, the Royal Munster Fusiliers disbanded 30 May 1916. Troops deployed to 1st, 2nd and 8th Bns of the regiment
8th Bn, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers merged and became 8/9th Bn 24 October 1917. Surplus troops went to 10th Bn. Disbanded 10 February 1918, troops went to 1st Bn
9th Bn, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers amalgamated into 8/9 Bn 24 October 1917
48th Machine Gun Company MGC joined 28 April 1916, moved to 16th Battalion MGC 9 March 1918
1st Bn, the Royal Munster Fusiliers joined 28 May 1916, left 22 November 1916
48th Trench Mortar Battery formed by 24 June 1916, reformed in England 1918
2nd Bn, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers joined 16 November 1916, amalgamated with 1st Bn 14 April 1918. 2nd Bn was then reformed as a training cadre. Left 1 June 1918
1st Bn, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers joined 19 October 1917, amalgamated with 2nd Bn 14 April 1918. Left 26 April 1918
2nd Bn, the Royal Munster Fusiliers joined 3 February 1918, left as cadre 19 May 1918, surplus troops going to 1st Bn. Left 31 May 1918
22nd Bn, the Northumberland Fusiliers joined 2 July 1918, after absorbing 38th Bn of the regiment
18th Bn, the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) joined 2 July 1918
11th Bn, the Royal Irish Fusiliers joined 10 June 1918, absorbed by 5th Bn 29 August 1918
5th Bn, the Royal Irish Fusiliers joined 24 August 1918
10th Bn, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers joined 23 June 1917, left 13 February 1918. Disbanded two days later and troops went to 19th Entrenching Bn
   
49th Brigade  
7th Bn, the Royal Irish Fusiliers amalgamated with 8th Bn 15 October 1916 and became 7/8th Bn. Disbanded 10 February 1918, troops going to 1st and 9th Bns
8th Bn, the Royal Irish Fusiliers amalgamated with 8th Bn 15 October 1916 and became 7/8th Bn
7th Bn, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers amalgamated with 8th Bn 23 August 1917 and became 7/8th Bn. Reduced to cadre 22 April 1918, surplus troops to 2nd Royal Irish Regiment. Cadre left 17 June 1918
8th Bn, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers joined October 1914, amalgamated with 7th Bn 23 August 1917
49th Machine Gun Company MGC joined 29 April 1916, moved to 16th Battalion MGC 9 March 1918
49th Trench Mortar Battery formed by 16 June 1916, reformed in England 1918
2nd Bn, the Royal Irish Regiment joined 14 October 1916, left 23 April 1918
7th Bn, the Royal Irish Regiment joined 14 October 1917, reduced to cadre 18 April 1918. Left 17 June 1918
34th Bn, the London Regiment joined 27 June 1918
7th Bn, the King's Royal Rifle Corps joined as a cadre June 1918, absorbed by 34th London Regiment in same month
5th Bn, the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry joined as a cadre June 1918, absorbed by 18th Gloucesters in same month
13th Bn, the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry joined as a cadre June 1918, absorbed by 6th Somersets in same month
7th Bn, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers joined as a cadre June 1918, absorbed by 11th Royal Irish Fusiliers in same month
6/7th Bn, the Royal Scots Fusiliers joined as a cadre June 1918, absorbed by 18th Scottish Rifles in same month
18th Bn, the Gloucestershire Regiment joined 2 July 1918
6th Bn, the Somerset Light Infantry joined 4 July 1918
   
Divisional Troops  
11th Bn, the Hampshire Regiment joined 20 September 1914. Absorbed many troops of 13th Bn, Border Regiment in June 1918
269th Machine Gun Company MGC joined 18 January 1918, moved to 16th Battalion MGC 9 March 1918
16th Machine Gun Battalion MGC formed 9 March 1918. Broken up at Camiers on 8 May 1918 and troops transferred to infantry. A new Bn was formed at Grantham on 18 June 1918 and joined the Division at Samer on 2 August 1918
19th Entrenching Battalion joined 4 April 1918, disbanded 5 May 1918. Troops went to 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers
   
Divisional Mounted Troops  
16th Divisional Cyclist Company joined 11 December 1914, disbanded 1 June 1916. Troops redeployed to the infantry
C Squadron, the South Irish Horse joined January 1915, left 17 May 1916
   
Divisional Artillery  
LXXIV Brigade RFA left in July 1915 to join Guards Division
LXXV Brigade RFA ditto
LXXVI Brigade RFA ditto
LXXVII (H) Brigade RFA left in July 1915 but rejoined in France 22 February 1916, left 22 February 1917
CLXXVII Brigade RFA joined in France 22 February 1916
CLXXX Brigade RFA ditto
CLXXXII Brigade RFA ditto. Broken up 27 August 1916
16th Divisional Ammunition Column RFA the original DAC left in August 1915 to join Guards Division. A new DAC joined Division in France on 22 February 1916
16th Heavy Battery RGA raised for the Division but moved independently to France in July 1915
X.16, Y.16 and Z.16 Medium Trench Mortar Batteries RFA joined by June 1916. Z.16 broken up 27 February 1918. X.16 and Y.16 broken up 20 April 1918, troops being absorbed by other units
V.16 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery RFA joined by 5 September 1916, left February 1918
   
Royal Engineers  
75th Field Company left 13 August 1915 to join Guards Division
76th Field Company ditto
16th Divisional Signal Company ditto. A new Company joined in September 1915
95th Field Company joined 30 January 1915 from 26th Division, left 17 August 1915 to join 7th Division
155th Field Company joined August 1915
156th Field Company ditto
157th Field Company ditto
   
Royal Army Medical Corps  
48th Field Ambulance left June 1915 and joined 37th Division
49th Field Ambulance ditto
50th Field Ambulance ditto
111th Field Ambulance joined September 1915
112th Field Ambulance ditto
113th Field Ambulance ditto
81st Sanitary Section joined before embarkation, left for IX Corps in April 1917
   
Other Divisional Troops  
16th Divisional Train ASC 142, 143, 144 and 145 Companies
16th Divisional Motor Ambulance Workshop joined 25 December 1915 from Lahore Division. Absorbed into Divisional Train by 9 April 1916
217th Divisional Employment Company formed by 30 June 1917
47th Mobile Veterinary Section AVC  

Memorial

This page is dedicated to the memory of men like
John O'Flynn, who served with the 8th Royal Munster Fusiliers and was wounded at Hulluch on 27 April 1916; William Barr of 7th Royal Irish Rifles, who gained a Divisional commendation for the same action; and
Martin Byrne of the 7th Leinsters, who died of wounds on 24 November 1917.
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