The Connaught Rangers / Na Connaught Rangers

Originally raised in 1793 as the 88th Regiment of Foot, the Connaught Rangers were important to the economic and social life of the town for over a century. Almost 14,000 men from six battalions of the ‘Connaughts’ fought in the war; over 2,000 of whom lost their lives and are today buried in over twenty different states across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

The 1st Battalion ‘Connaughts’ had been stationed in Karachi before the war erupted and were posted to the Western Front. The 2nd battalion took part in the original British Expeditionary Force (BEF) which arrived at Boulogne in August 1914. Due to heavy losses this battalion was merged with the 1st Battalion in December 1914. The combined battalion participated in a number of high profile battles on the Western Front including the First Battle of Messines in October 1914 and the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915. The 1st Battalion subsequently fought in Egypt and modern-day Iraq, then known as Mesopotamia, against the forces of the Ottoman Empire.

The 5th Battalion Connaughts was stationed in Egypt at the outbreak of the war and participated in the disastrous second offensive on Gallipoli in August 1915. This battalion was mainly composed of new recruits and landed at what became known as Anzac Cove on 5 August. The battalion suffered heavy casualties before being withdrawn in September having sustained almost seven hundred casualties. The battalion subsequently served in the Balkans, on the Salonika Front, where they fought the Bulgarian army in southern Serbia at the battle of Kosturino on 7 December 1915, suffering heavy casualties. From September 1917 to May 1918, the 5th Battalion was stationed in modern-day Israel/Palestine as part of the offensive ‘to capture the Holy Lands’.

The 6th Service Battalion Connaughts fought on the Western Front in France and Flanders from 1916 to the end of the war and participated in a number of campaigns, including the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) in August 1917. The battalion suffered such heavy losses that it had to be disbanded in April 1918.

In the army generally, the vast majority of rank and file soldiers were farmers’ sons from the west of Ireland or the sons of the working poor of the towns who joined the military for economic reasons. Officer rank was held by the overwhelming majority of the University’s students, former students, and staff who served with the British military in the Great War. Students from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds were represented among those who ‘joined the colours’ including several sets of brothers: four members of both Flack and McLoughlin families, and three members of the O’Malley family.

Connaught Rangers

Bunaíodh na Connaught Rangers den chéad uair i 1793 mar an 88ú Reisimint Choise, agus bhí siad tábhachtach i saol eacnamaíoch agus sóisialta an bhaile ar feadh breis is céad bliain. Throid beagnach 14,000 fear as sé chathlán de na ‘Connaughts’ sa chogadh; bhásaigh os cionn 2,000 díobh sin agus inniu tá siad curtha i mbreis is fiche stát éagsúil san Eoraip, sa Mheánoirthear agus san Afraic Thuaidh.

Bhí an Chéad Chathlán ‘Connaughts’ lonnaithe in Karachi sular thosaigh an cogadh agus cuireadh go dtí an Fronta Thiar iad ansin. Ghlac an Dara Cathlán páirt sa chéad Fhórsa Sluaíochta Briotanach (BEF) a tháinig go Boulogne i mí Lúnasa 1914. Mar gheall ar an líon ard daoine a bhásaigh cuireadh an cathlán seo isteach in éineacht leis an gcéad chathlán i mí na Nollag 1914. Thug an cathlán comhtháite seo faoi roinnt cathanna mór le rá ar an bhFronta Thiar, ina measc an Chéad Chath i Messines i mí Dheireadh Fómhair 1914 agus an Dara Cath in Ypres i mí Aibreáin 1915. Ina dhiaidh sin, throid an chéad chathlán san Éigipt agus san Iaráic, an Mheaspatáim mar a thugtaí air ag an am, in aghaidh fhórsaí Impireacht na nOtamánach.

Bhí an cúigiú cathlán Connaughts lonnaithe san Éigipt nuair a bhris an cogadh amach agus bhí siad páirteach sa dara hionsaí ar Gallipoli i mí Lúnasa 1915, ionsaí tubaisteach. Earcaigh nua den chuid is mó a bhí sa chathlán seo agus tháinig siad i dtír gar d’áit ar a dtugtar Anzac Cove anois, ar an 5 Lúnasa. Gortaíodh go dona an cathlán agus tarraingíodh siar iad i Meán Fómhair agus beagnach seacht gcéad taismeach ann. Ina dhiaidh sin, bhí an cathlán lonnaithe sna Balcáin, ar Fhronta Salonika, áit ar throid siad arm na Bulgáire i ndeisceart na Seirbia ag cath Kosturino ar an 7 Nollaig 1915, mar a raibh go leor taismeach. Idir Meán Fómhair 1917 agus Bealtaine 1918, bhí an cúigiú cathlán lonnaithe in Iosrael/sa Phalaistín mar atá inniu air, mar chuid d’ionsaí chun an Talamh Naofa a ghabháil.

Throid an séú cathlán Connaughts ar an bhFronta Thiar sa Fhrainc agus i bhFlóndras ó 1916 go dtí deireadh an chogaidh agus bhí siad páirteach i roinnt feachtas, ina measc an Tríú Cath in Ypres (Passchendaele) i mí Lúnasa 1917. Bhásaigh an oiread saighdiúirí ag an gcath sin gur caitheadh an cathlán a dhíscaoileadh i mí Aibreáin 1918.

San arm i gcoitinne, mic fheirmeoirí ó iarthar na hÉireann nó mic oibrithe bochta na mbailte ab ea formhór na ngnáthshaighdiúirí agus liostáil siad san arm ar chúiseanna eacnamaíochta. Bhí céim oifigigh ag formhór mór lucht na hOllscoile, mic léinn, iarmhic léinn agus an fhoireann a thug seirbhís d’Arm na Breataine sa Chogadh Mór. Bhí idir Chaitlicigh agus Phrotastúnaigh i measc na mac léinn a liostáil, agus roinnt deartháireacha ina measc: ceathrar as teaghlaigh Flack agus McLoughlin faoi seach, agus triúr as teaghlach O’Malley.