With the daily Roll today, there is a short account of the events which led to the Royal Irish Regiment being awarded a Battle Honour for their action in Gaza. Photo – The Ploegsteert Memorial which commemorates many men who died in the Battle of Lys.
Representing their comrades who died on this day
+TOHILL, John Patrick
Army Service Corps, attd. 179th Tunnelling Coy. Royal Engineers. Private. M1/08974. Died 26/01/1916. Aged 40. Eldest son of George and Jane Tohill. Born 01/06/1875 in Belfast. He was the eldest of at least six children. By 1881, the family had moved to Cookstown where John grew up. In January 1906, John was married. He and Henrietta had two children. He was in business with his brother-in-law in the motor and cycle trade. At the outbreak of war, he offered his services as a despatch rider but was not accepted. John then volunteered for motor transport work with the Royal Army Service Corps. Husband to Henrietta M. Tohill, of 67, Hollybank Rd., Drumcondra, Dublin. Albert Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France. Cookstown WM
RAF. Sergeant. 509519. Died 26/01/1942. Aged 33. He served as an instrument maker with No. 151 Maintenance Unit, RAF, based at Java. He died from natural causes and was reported buried in Singapore Cemetery. All burial records were lost during the Japanese invasion and because it was impossible to identify his grave, he is commemorated on Singapore Memorial. Son of Samuel Reid and Elizabeth Ann Anderson. Singapore Memorial, Kranji, Johor Bahru, Column 414
+GOODWIN, Samuel Busby
RAF. Aircraftman 1st Class. 618214. Died 26/01/1942. Aged 20. 34 Sqdn. Son of William T. and Gertrude Goodwin, of Belfast. Singapore Memorial, Column 418
+MILEY, Frederick James
RAFVR. Leading Aircraftman.1056802.Died 26/01/1942. Aged 28 He contracted an illness while serving in the Middle East with the RAF. He was born in Athy, Co. Kildare but grew up in Bangor, Co. Down. Both he and his younger brother were students at Bangor Grammar School. Before enlisting, he was a junior representative in Belfast of Messrs RS Hudson Ltd. He was an active member of Bangor Parish Church, teaching in the Sunday School and singing in the choir. He was also a popular sportsman in the Bangor area. Frederick, son of Robert and Margaret Mansfield Miley died at home at “Risdale”, Donaghadee Road, Bangor. Bangor New Cemetery. Bangor Parish WM
+IRVINE, Robert Stanley
RN. AB. D/JX 303814. Died 28/01/1945. Age 21. HMS Quilliam. Died as a result of an accident at sea. A former member of the 80thCompany, Boys’ Brigade (Donegall Pass Presbyterian Church). Son of Mr. and Mrs. R Irvine and grandson of Mr. R Rolleston, both of Rutland St., Belfast. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 06//04/1945). Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 94
+TAYLOR, Frank Walter
RAFVR. Flight Lieutenant. 175222. Died 26/01/1947. Age 26. Son of William Thompson Taylor and Margaret Ann Taylor, of Belfast. Udine War Cemetery, Italy
The Battle Honour GAZA is emblazoned on the Queen’s Colours of The Royal Irish Regiment.
GAZA was granted for actions over the period 26 March -7 November 1917. One such action was the battle for Beersheba on 31 October 1917. The reserve brigade in the 10th (Irish) Division for the initial attacks was 31 Brigade.* As part of the final phase, 31 Brigade had the task of attacking the Turks over the Wadi esh Sheria to cut their defensive line across the Gaza-Beersheba road.
The Turks held a well-defended stretch of high ground called the Hureira Redoubt. The 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers (2nd Faughs), together with two companies of the 5/6th Faughs, was ordered to capture the redoubt while the 6th Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was given a subsidiary role on the right flank. The attack was hurriedly staged and began at 0700 hours on 7 November. There was insufficient time to prepare artillery support in any detail but, in the absence of the artillery’s horses being watered elsewhere, the pack mules of the 5/6th Faughs galloped forward towing a supporting battery of howitzers.
Enemy machine guns caused many casualties among the troops advancing across the open ground, but when the Faughs were within 300 yards of the enemy, the attack faltered. When the Inniskillings on the right and a Faugh company on the left simultaneously outflanked the Turkish position, the Turkish fire slackened. The Faughs rose and charged the hill and overran the Turkish defenders who had not abandoned their positions. The fighting had lasted three hours and the Faughs casualties were 29 killed and 137 wounded.
General Allenby’s Egyptian Expeditionary Force broke through the enemy positions at Beersheba and Gaza, and went on to pursue both the retreating Ottoman Seventh and the Eighth Army before capturing Jerusalem on 9 December 1917 and then advancing into Syria.
*The 31 Brigade infantry included:
5th Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers , 6th Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers, 5th/6th Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers
The 6th Battalion The Royal Irish Rifles were in 10th (Irish) Division’s 29 Brigade.
Courtesy The Royal Irish Regiment
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