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The Connaught Rangers ("The Devil's Own") was an Irish regiment of the British Army originally raised in 1793 as the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers), which gained a reputation both for indiscipline and for its prowess as shock troops and streetfighters with the bayonet while serving under the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular War in Spain.

During the Great War the regiment saw service on the Western Front, in the Balkans, at Gallipoli, in Palestine and in

Indian Expeditionary Force arrived in Europe in 1914 and took part in the battles on the Western Front. It is to one of these battles the events recounted in the poem, The Connaughts to the Rescue, refer.

The Connaught Rangers poem of April also refers to the same campaign but this time it is a Scottish regiment which is assisted by the Connaughts.

The Song for the Connaught Rangers refers to the campaign against the Turks at Gallipoli. When t
he Gallipoli campaign turned into a disaster in August 1915 a second offensive began in an attempt to break the stalemate. The Connaught Rangers landed at Anzac Cove on the Peninsula on 6 August and for the next seven weeks took part in many actions including two all out attacks on Turkish strong points which resulted in very heavy casualties for the battalion. On 29 September 29, 1915 they were withdrawn to the Island of Lemnos in Greece.

Following establishment of the independent Irish Free State in 1922, the five regiments, which included the Connaught Rangers, that had their traditional recruiting grounds in the counties of the new state were disbanded.

Another Irish regiment which attracted recruits from the north west was the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, ("The Skins")
formed in 1881. It saw service in the South African War, the First World War and the Second World War, before being amalgamated into the Royal Irish Rangers in 1968.

Charge of the Innskillings at Richebourg, May, 1915 took place during the Battle of Festubert which was an attack by the British army in the Artois region of France on the western front which resulted the capture of Festubert and a 3 Km advance.

Sligo Nationalist 2 January 1915
 The Connaughts to the Rescue.

The dawn just tinged the Eastern sky
     With a faint but roseate hue
Lighting up that battle field
     Where dead lay thick as due.
Peace, a moment, reigned around,
     No warlike sounds arose
To point to where lay waiting
     The hosts of sworn foes.

The reign of peace was brief, alas!
     Up from their trenches came
Hosts of dusky warriors
     Swarming o’er the plain,
To drive the foe by quick surprise
     From the ground whereon he lay;
And make themselves the victors
     Ere morn had passed away.

Before their journey was half sped,
     The red artillery flashed;
And swarms of furious Germans
     Down upon them crashed.
With rifle butt and bayonet
     The deadly strife went on;
And soon remained a blood-red field
     To greet the rising dawn.

The fight waged fast and furious—
     The Indians backwards fell;
Huge rushes on their weakened ranks
     At last began to tell.
Artillery rages around them
     And rifle bullets flew,
As downward in their trenches
     The Indian fighters drew.

Dark now was the prospect
     For the dusky warrior band,
Huge masses of the foemen
     Swarmed up on every hand.
But rising all over the din
     There broke upon their ears;
A ringing "fag-an-bealach" —
     The Connaught Rangers cheers.

Down upon the enemy
     The Irish bayonets bore,
And many a gallant soldier
     Fell to rise no more.
The German now pushed up his men
     The Irishmen to meet,
And by sheer weight of numbers
     Forced them to retreat.

It was only to reform,
     The Rangers backwards drew—
To come again, determined then,
     To either die or do.
Thick as falling rain—
And o’er that field where bullets flew,
     Thick as falling rain—
The gallant Connaught Rangers
     Charged and charged again.

Yet still those close-massed columns,
     Stout a iron wall, [as an iron wall?]
Caused the hard-pressed Irishmen
     Once more to rearward fall;
But not until in thousands
     The enemy lay dead,
And birds of prey, expectant,
     Were circling over head.

Tho’ twice they failed to conquer
     No fear was in their hearts—
Those soldiers true once more lined up,
     The Indians taking part,
And o’er that blood-stained field they rushed,
     A wave of bristling steel,
That caused the stubborn enemy
     At last to backward reel.

Three cheers the fearless Rangers gave;
     At length they won the day,
Tho’ many a well-loved comrade
     Had fallen in the fray.
But yet it was a victory
     Which shall live in martial story—
How the Connaught Rangers fought and won
     That fight for country’s glory!
                  .    .    .

Here’s to the Connaught Rangers
     Who’ve fought with might and main!
May they keep their old flag flying
     Free from dishonour’s stain;
May each heart true to Ireland,
     While sharing Britain’s danger—
May Ireland’s three-leaved shamrock be
     The badge of each Connaught Ranger.


                 Sligo Nationalist 24 April 1915
                         Connaught Rangers.

On the 27th December the Germans, several thousand strong, attacked the Gordon Highlanders in their trench at —, who would have been annihilated but for the Connaught Rangers
about 500 in numberdashing to their rescue cheering and singing “God Save Ireland.”

At the forefront of the battle sons of Scotland bar the way,
Beating back each fierce attack—fighting often night and day,
Weary, war-worn, and wounded in that trench they hold so well,
Still the Gordons bid defiance to the German shot and shell.

For that grand old Highland regiment, to its great traditions true,
Still unyielding, still unconquered—fighting as they always do,
Though the tide of war rolls o’er them—though their ranks are thinning fast-
Never will the Scot turn backwards —all are heroes to the last!

As the Scottish fought at Flodden when they made that deadly ring,
Selling all their lives so dearly, gathered round their dying king,
So to-day in modern warfare, Scotland’s sons are just as brave,
Though the paths of glory leads then to destruction and the grave.

When it seems they all muct perish, foes around them everywhere,
Borne above the sound of conflict comes that well-known Irish air;
Singing, cheering, to the rescue o’er that shell-swept place between,
Come the gallant Connaught Rangers, first upon the battle scene.

In vain the Germans mass their columns, mass them several thousand strong.
Undismayed, the Irish charge them, sweeping all their lines along;
Shattered, beaten, backwards driven, column after column reel,
Crashing through them like a whirlwind goes that hurricane of steel.

Since three hundred Spartan warriors held the Persian arms at bay,
Since six hundred British horsemen through the Russians cut their way,
Has there been such feat of arms, brilliant and successful, too,
Filling all the world with wonder, thrilling all the Empire through.

Proudly in each Irish bosom will the memory ever dwell,
Of that deed and of those Rangers who for King and Empire fell;
To their regiment and their country they have left a deathless name
That will blaze undimmed forever in the “firmament of fame.”

Proudly in each Irish bosom will that song for ever ring,
That the gallant Connaught Rangers marching into battle sing;
Oft ’twill cheer the wounded soldier and his wounds will cease to pain,
When it steals upon his senses, wafted o’er the battle plain.

Oft the smiling Irish valleys listened to that martial strain,
Now, the bloody fields of Flanders echo back the old refrain;
And ’twill echo down the centuries, and in tones triumphant swell,
when the Connaughts march to victory to the song they love so well!

                                                                                             J G


Sligo Nationalist 16 October 1915
A Song for the Connaught Rangers.

(By One of their Officers.)

In the West is a misty Island
Where the sky is cool and grey,
And where the rain of Heaven
Drips softly day by day:
But here the sun strikes fiercely
And the sky is hard as a stone,
And the men from the misty Island
Are faring forth alone.

Men of the Claddagh,
Men of Connemara,
Men of Roscommon, Leitrim, Ballaghaderreen:
Sligo men, Mayo men,
Marching to war again,
Fight for old Ireland! up with the green!

The foe is a man of valour,
And Europe has feared his name
Since the day when the conquering Prophet
Loosed on it his creed of flame;
From the days of Barbarassa
And of England’s lion sword,
Till the day Don John of Austria
Led the Legions of the Lord.

Men of the Claddagh,
Men of Connemara,
March to the battle undaunted and serene:
Sligo men, Mayo men,
Stiffen your ranks again,
Victory for old Ireland; up with the green!

And now in his last entrenchment
In Europe he stands at bay;
And there men have won much honour,
But there’s more to be won today:
Oh! men of the misty Island,
Remember your glorious past,
Up with St Patrick’s banner;
We are faced by the foe at last.

Men of the Claddagh,
Men of Connemara,
Fight till the dawn of your triumph is seen:
Sligo men, Mayo men,
Lead in the charge again,
Glory to Ireland! up with the green!

                                               B R C.


Sligo Nationalist 20 November 1915
Charge of the Innskillings at Richebourg, May, 1915.

With timid heart I take my pen
     To tell that story grand—
Oh, would that story had been writ
     By some more worthy hand!
Had I the style of Tennyson,
     Or yet the skill of Burns,
I’d make that story live as long
     As man on Earth sojourns.

The bravest of the brave had tried
     To take that trench in vain,
And hundreds of their noble dead
     Lay scattered o’er the plain,
The lion-hearted British lads
     Were outmatched by the Huns
With clouds of poison gases
     And countless machine guns.

They charged the trench at midnight,
     The flare-light did reveal
A thin, grim line advancing
     With the bright and naked steel.
Oh, lion-hearts and "Bulldog" grit,
     But one thing you desire,
And that one thing was there that night—
     "A spark of Irish fire."

Then with a ringing cheer they charged,
     The Prussians heard, and fled,
And only left behind them
     The wounded and the dead.
And when the Dawn came to the East
     The "Skins" had broke the line,
And the Huns were sent another mile
     On their journey to the Rhine.

                                    John M Bonar.

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