The four front-line battalions of the Tyneside Irish Brigade were amongst the many units raised by voluntary enlistment in the early days of the First World War and were based around an Irish core recruited from Newcastle and the mining communities of County Durham. Part of Kitchener's 'New Army', the Tyneside Irish moved to France at the start of 1916. Over the next two and a half years the battalions took part in the battle of the Somme of 1916, the battle of Arras of 1917 and were in the way of the German offensives of 1918.
Sheen's very detailed history followed the Tyneside Irish on this entire journey, starting with the first suggestions that an Irish battalion could be raised in the north-east of England. After training throughout 1915 the Tyneside Irish moved to France early in 1916, and eventually found themselves on the Somme front. On 1 July 1916 all four battalions were involved, acting as the third line of the 34th Division. During that division's disastrous attack the Irish lost nearly 600 dead and just over 1,500 wounded. Here we are given a very detailed examination of one brigade's experience during the most costly day in British military history. This brings home the true horror of the battle far better than more general accounts.
After the Somme the four battalions were involved in the battle of Arras of 1917, and made a brief move to the Flanders front. In 1918 a manpower crisis hit the British army. The original four battalions had already been reduced to three, and now were reduced to a single battalion, a poignant reminder of the heavy losses suffered by the brigade over the last two years. This single battalion then found itself in the way of the great German offensive of 1918, and was forced into a series of retreats. They missed the victorious advance of 1918, spending the last months of the war training new American units.
Sheen supports his text with an appendix that looks at the gallantry awards won by members of the brigade and with six appendices that provide complete lists of the officers and men of the Brigade, something that will be of great use to any family historian looking to trace family members who served with the Tyneside Irish. Overall this is an impressively detailed volume that provides a very valuable history of a unit that took part in some of the most important battles on the Western Front.
1 - The Irish Come to the North East
2 - Raising the Tyneside Irish Brigade
3 - Training in England
4 - Embarkation and the Early Days in France
5 - The Somme Front and Trench Raiding
6 - The 1st of July 1916
7 - The Remainder of 1916
8 - 1917 The Battle of Arras
9 - 1917 Hagricourt and Poelcapelle
10 - 1918 The Disbandments and the German Advance
11 - The Last Act, Laying up the Colours 1919
12 - The Bands of the Tyneside Irish & The Reserve Battalions
13 - Absenteeism, Desertion and Execution
1 - Gallantry Awards to members of the Tyneside Irish Brigade
2 - Nominal roll of Officers
3 - Alphabetical Nominal roll of Other Ranks 24th Battalion
4 - Alphabetical Nominal roll of Other Ranks 25th Battalion
5 - Alphabetical Nominal roll of Other Ranks 26th Battalion
6 - Alphabetical Nominal roll of Other Ranks 27th Battalion
7 - Alphabetical Nominal roll of Other Ranks 28th Battalion
Author: John Sheen
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military