Originally posted 2016-11-16 14:57:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
24th – 27th Battalions Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Irish Brigade)
This also followed Lord Kitcheners appeal for volunteers at the start of WW1, local dignitaries with Irish connections began to raise battalions of the Tyneside Irish. Over 7,000 men were to answer the call and an impressive 5 battalions including reserves were eventually raised.
John Sheen’s fine book on this battalion shows that though most had connections to Tyneside and Ireland not all recruits were Irish and not all were from Tyneside.
Field training took place beside Alnwick Castle with further training taking place on Salisbury Plain. By Januray 1916 they were ready for France and mid February saw them in the front line near Armentieres where they suffered their first fatality.
Although they went on to distinguish themselves later in the war the defining moment for the Tyneside Irish came at 7.30am on July 1st 1916 the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Facing La Boisselle they rose from their trenches to a hail of murderous machine gun fire that drastically depleted their ranks more than 80% were killed or wounded.
As the men went over the top Irish pipes were heard to play the ‘Minstrel Boy’
The words say “The minstrel boy to the war has gone. In the ranks of death you will find him. His fathers sword he has girded on and his wild harp slung behind him “