The Connaught Rangers - formerly 88th Regiment of Foot and 94th Regiment of Foot ( View The Cap Badge Of The Connaught Rangers )
Three regiments have, ranked successively as the 88th Foot, the later numerical designation of the 1st Battalion The Connaught Rangers.
1. The 88th (Royal Highland Volunteers) of 1760-63. This was a corps of Highlanders, raised under an order dated 1st January 1760, by Major John Campbell of Dunoon. It served in the campaigns in Germany as a linked battalion with the old 87th Highlanders, and like that corps, won fame on many fields. It was disbanded at 17th July 1763.
2. The 88th Foot of 1779-83. This corps was raised under an order dated 19th October 1779, and was numbered as the 88th Foot. It was, disbanded at the peace of 1783.
3. The 88th or Connaught Rangers. This corps was raised under an order dated 25th September 1793, by Colonel the Hon De Burgh afterwards Earl of Clanricarde. It was chiefly recruited in Connaught, and was therefore styled "The Connaught Rangers". When the newly-levied regiments were numbered shortly afterwards it took rank as the 88th Foot. The facings were yellow, and the Irish Harp and "Quis separabit" motto were adopted as the regimental device, although direct authority to bear them does not seem to have been given until. twenty-seven years later, by a Horse Guards Order dated 30th December 1830.
With other new regiments the Connaught Rangers embarked under Lord Moira, and subsequently joined the Duke of York's army in Flanders. It was first under fire at Alost. After serving at Bergen-op-Zoom and Nimegen, it joined the army on the Waal, and made the winter retreat from Deventer to Bremen. Under the command of Colonel William Carr Beresford, afterwards Viscount Beresford, the regiment embarked in Admiral fleet for the West Indies late in 1795, but was dispersed by the memorable December storm. Running before the gale, the headquarters' ship was blown through the Straits as far as Carthagena, but afterwards put back into Gibraltar, where the troops were landed. Two companies only reached the West Indies, saw much hard service in Grenada and St Lucia, and were subsequently drafted.
The 88th was afterwards re-formed in Jersey, and embarked in 1799 for India, reaching Bombay early in 1800, except two companies landed at Madras. The regiment was for a time in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), awaiting embarkation for Java, but, instead, it went up the Red Sea with Baird, and crossed the Desert and descended the Nile, remaining in Egypt until 1802, when it returned home, and was stationed for nearly three years on the Kentish and Sussex coast, then in danger of invasion.
During this period the 88th raised a second battalion in Ireland. To find out more about the 88th Regt. at this time and to get an idea of uniform worn etc. you should visit the excellent site created by the 88th Regiment Re-enactment Group.
The first battalion went to the Cape in November 1806, and thence to South America, where it took part in Whitelock's unsuccessful attempt on Buenos Aires. Having returned home in November 1808, it was sent to Cadiz in December 1808. But the Spaniards refusing to admit British troops into that garrison, it was brought back to Lisbon, and subsequently joined the army under Sir Arthur Wellesley, and fought in the campaigns of 1809-10, including the battles of Talavera and Busaco, and the defence of Torres Vedras.
The second battalion had also its share of Peninsular service. It was sent from Lisbon to Gibraltar in 1809, and from Gibraltar to Cadiz the year after, serving in that city during the attack on Fort Matagorda. But the battalion returned to Lisbon before Graham's victory at Barossa. Joining Wellington's army, it was present at the combat of Sabugal, and in subsequent operations down to the capture of Badajos, after which it transferred its effectives to the first battalion and returned home, and continued as a home battalion until disbanded at Clare Castle in January 1816.
Meanwhile the first battalion remained in the peninsula, most of the time in Picton's division, and won high distinction in many fields. It was at Fuentes d'Onor, at the capture of Ciudad Rodrigo, at the successive sieges of Badajos, where at the final assault it was engaged, by a curious coincidence, with the French 88th of the Line in the desperate conflict in the Castle. The 1st battalion was at the battle of Salamanca, at the siege of Burgos and the subsequent retreat, at Vittoria, in various, actions in the Pyrenees (which name, by some official misconception, has been omitted from the regimental honours), in the battles on the -Nivelle, at Orthes, and Toulouse.
At the peace the 88th proceeded to Quebec, and served in the unsuccessful expedition against Plattsburg, on Lake Erie. Returning to Europe, it landed at Ostend just a month after the battle of Waterloo had been Fought, and marched to join the army at Paris. It remained with the Army of Occupation in France - most of the time in garrison at Valenciennes - until 1817.
The regiment served in the Ionian Islands from 1825 to 1836. It again served in the Mediterranean, West Indies, and North America (Canada) from 1841 to 1851. It was amongst the first regiments to leave England for the East in 1854, and landing with the army in the Crimea, fought at the Alma and at Inkerman, and served throughout the siege of Sevastopol. It went to India in 1857, and was actively employed in Central India during the Mutiny. It remained in India until 1870, when it returned home.
The 88th went out to the Cape in 1877, and served in the Kaffir War of 1877-8, and in the Zulu War of 1879. From South Africa it went on to India in 1880, and returned home in 1891.
After the 1881 Cardwell territorial reforms of the British Amy, the battalion was entitled The 1st Battalion The Connaught Rangers, with the former 94th Foot providing the 2nd Battalion.
94th Regiment of Foot
Numerous regiments, of diverse nationalities, have ranked in succession as the 94th Regiment of Foot in the British Army; the last of which following the 1881 Territorial organisation was assigned the place of Second Battalion of the Connaught Rangers. The following is a list of these earlier corps:
1. The 94th (Royal Welsh Volunteers) Regiment of Foot of 1760-63, was raised in Wales by Colonel the Hon. John Vaughan. It served in America and the West Indies, and was disbanded after the peace of 1763. It wore "royal" facings.
2. The 94th Foot of 1779-83 was apparently an English regiment, the place of formation being Colchester, Essex. It went out to Jamaica with other reinforcements when the island was in danger of invasion in 1780 and was brought home and disbanded in 1783.
3. The 94th Regiment of 1793-5, presumed to be an all-Irish corps, was raised by Colonel the Hon Hely Hutchinson, afterwards Earl of Donoughmore. It joined the Duke of York's army when retreating into Germany late in 1794, and was afterwards drafted.
4. The 94th (or Scotch Brigade) Regiment of Foot of 1803-18, was raised in 1793-4 as an unnumbered corps, under the name and style of' "The Scotch Brigade". It was numbered as the 94th Foot in 1803. After winning many laurels in India, and the Peninsula, this regiment was disbanded in 1818.
5. The 94th Regiment of Foot raised in 1823, and now the 2nd Connaught Rangers. Of the two last-named corps - the traditions of which have now become associated, through territorial arrangements, with the Connaught Rangers - it is necessary to cover in some detail.
The 94th (The Scotch Brigade)
In 1685 certain Scottish and British regiments then in the pay of Holland were brought over by King James VII and II and placed on the English establishment. A letter addressed to Monk, Duke of Albemarle, dated Whitehall 4th July 1685, thus refers to them: "This day the three Scots regiments of Foot, consisting of about 1,500 men, marched through the city on their way to Hounslow Heath, where they are to encamp. They are the best men, and the best prepared for service that ever were seen, having their tents and all other necessaries of their own with them. To-morrow the three English regiments are expected from Holland."
The "three English" regiments in question were retained on the English establishment, and now survive in the Northumberland Fusiliers, late 5th Foot, originally all Irish corps; and the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, lately 6th Foot. [The older corps of English mercenaries in the pay of Holland are represented by the Buffs, which, "the Holland Regiment was placed on the English establishment by Charles I.] The Scots regiments went back to Holland, and under the name of the Scots Brigade, remained in Dutch pay, subject to certain obligations of fealty to the British Crown, down to the eve of the French Revolution, winning, meanwhile, much renown at Steinkirk, Bergen-op-Zoom, and elsewhere. When differences arose between Great Britain and Holland at the time of the American War of Independence, in attempt was made by the Dutch Government to change the conditions of service of the famous "Scots Brigade"; the scarlet uniforms, were to be changed to blue, the words of command were to be given in Dutch instead of English, and the drums were to beat the Dutch instead of the old Scots "duty"; the time-honoured blazon on the colours was to be replaced by the arms of the Dutch province from which the battalion - there were three regiments, each of one battalion - drew its pay. A large number of officers, rather than submit to the altered conditions, threw up their commissions.
In 1793, after war had been declared with the French Republic, three of the officers referred to [Colonels Hay Ferrier, Cunynghame, and Halkett] who had been battalion commanders in the Scots Brigade, were authorised to raise battalions of foot in Scotland. These were regimented in the British Line as an unnumbered corps under the title of "The Scotch Brigade." The facings at first were yellow. A fourth battalion was added, but soon after the four battalions were formed into two, one of which was stationed at Gibraltar in 1796. In 1797 the regiment went to the Cape, where the two battalions were amalgamated into a single battalion.
After serving at Cape Town in 1797-8, the Scotch Brigade went on to India with General Baird, and fought at Malavelly and the storming and capture of Seringapatam in 1799. It was employed under Colonels Stevenson and Wellesley against Dhoondiah Waugh and other free-booters in 1800. In 1803 the regiment was formally numbered as the 94th Regiment of Foot. It went through much arduous service in the campaigns of 1803-5 under Sir Arthur Wellesley, but was not present at the Battle of Assaye. The Indian services of the regiment were recognised by "Seringapatam" being inscribed on the colours, and the grant of the "Elephant", now one of the badges of the Connaught Rangers. It is distinguishable from other like badges by the purple-and-gold housings of the castle-less elephant. Reduced to 130 men, the regiment came home in April 1808, and was sent to Scotland to recruit. It was included among the regiments that were directed in an order of the following year to discontinue the use of Scottish clothing.
After serving in Jersey, the 94th went to Lisbon and from there to Cadiz, and was distinguished at the sanguinary defence of Fort Matagorda in 1810. It left Cadiz for Portugal before Graham's victory at Barossa. Joining Lord Wellington's army in the lines of Torres Vedras, the 94th made the subsequent campaigns with Picton's Division, where, side by side with the 88th (later 1st Connaught Rangers) and the 5th Foot, it won fresh laurels at Ciudad Rodrio, Badajos, Salamanca, Vittoria, the battles on the Nivelle, at Orthes and Toulouse.
When the troops withdrew from the South of France, after the peace of 1814, the 94th went to Ireland, where it was stationed during the Waterloo Campaign, and where it was disbanded on 24th December 1818. The old colours were originally lodged in Edinburgh Castle, and are now in St. Giles's Cathedral, Edinburgh. The regimental colour is dark green - the regimental facings had been changed from yellow to green - and bears the Scottish thistle on a crimson centre surmounted by the Crown together with the Elephant badge and Seringapatam and Peninsula honours, which descended to its successor.
The 94th Foot, now The 2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers
In December 1823, the 94th Regiment of Foot was again revived. The recruiting rendezvous was at Glasgow, and the officers were taken chiefly from the half-pay list of the old 94th Scotch Brigade. The new battalion embarked for Gibraltar soon after its formation, and there received its first colours. It served at Gibraltar and Malta until 1834, when it returned home. In 1838 it embarked for Ceylon to relieve the 58th Regiment, but was transferred to Madras the year after, and served in that Presidency for fifteen years, during which time it had some sharp work with the Moplah fanatics in 1849.
Returning home from Madras in 1854, the 94th was placed under orders for the Baltic, but the order was countermanded. The regiment supplied some volunteers to certain corps in the Crimea, and the service companies did duty at Gibraltar from September 1855, to June 1856. In October, 1857, the 94th was ordered to Karachi, whence it was afterwards transferred to Peshawar, and did duty on the North-West Frontier, and in other parts of India and in Aden until 1868, when it returned home.
In 1875 the 94th adopted the diced band to the shako, the distinguishing mark of Lowland Scottish regiments, and was allowed to revive the Elephant and the Indian and Peninsular honours of the old Scotch Brigade.
In 1879 the 94th went out to Zululand and served in the Zulu War of that Year, and in the operations against Sekukuni in the Transvaal. It subsequently served in the Boer War of 1880-1881. The battalion (after the 1881 Cardwell territorial reforms of the British Amy entitled the 2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers) came home from Natal in 1882. In 1889 it went to Malta, in 1892 to Cyprus, and then proceeded to Egypt in 1895. The following year it formed part of the Dongola Expeditionary Force under Sir Herbert Kitchener. It subsequently proceeded to India where it was still serving in 1899.
World War I
During WWI, the Connaught Rangers raised a total of 6 battalions from the pre-war establishment of two regular and one reserve battalions. The regiment won a total of 42 battle honours and one Victoria Cross at the cost of 2,050 casualties.
The 1st Battalion was in Ferozepore, India at the outbreak of war as part of the Ferozepore Brigade in 3rd (Lahore) Division. On 28 Aug 1914 it embarked at Karachi for Europe and arrived at Marseilles on 26 Sep 1914. On 5 Dec 1914 the 1st and 2nd Battalions were amalgamated at Le Touret, north-east of Bethune. On 11 Dec 1915 the 1st Battalion sailed from Marseilles for Mesopotamia, arriving at Basra on 10 Jan 1916. There it was temporarily attached to the 9th Indian Brigade in 3rd Indian Division. In February it returned to the 7th Indian Brigade. On 3 Apr 1918, the battalion sailed from Kuwait for Egypt landing at Port Suez on 15 Apr 1918. It ended the war in the 7th Indian Brigade in 3rd Indian Division in Nazareth, Palestine.
The 2nd Battalion began the war at Barossa Barracks, Aldershot, Hampshire in 5th Brigade of 2nd Division and it embarked as part of the original British Expeditionary Force on 114 Aug 1914, landing at Boulogne. On 26 Nov 1914 it was transferred to Ferozepore Brigade in 3rd (Lahore) Division and on 5 December amalgamated with the 1st Battalion.
The 3rd (Reserve) Battalion and 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalions were mobilised on 4 Aug 1914 at Galway and Boyle respectively. After service in Ireland and England they were merged into the 3rd Battalion in Dover, Kent and ended the war in Dover Garrison.
The 5th (Service) Battalion was formed at Dublin in Aug 1914 as part of Kitchener's First New Army. In Sep 1914 the battalion was assigned to 29th Brigade in 10th Division at Kilworth, Co Cork. In Oct 1914 it moved to Dublin and in Jan 1915 to The Curragh. In May 1915 the battalion embarked for England and was based at Hackworth park, Basingstoke, Hampshire. On 9 Jul 1915 it embarked at Devonport and sailed with the Gallipoli Expedition, arriving at Mudros, Greece about 25 July. The battalion landed at Anzac Beach, the 29th Brigade being attached to the Australian and New Zealand Corps. On 30 Sep 1915, having withdrawn from Gallipoli the battalion was again at Mudros. On 5 Oct 1915 it embarked for Salonika. In September 1917 it was relocated to Egypt. In Apr 1918 the battalion left 10th Division and went to France, arriving at Marseilles on 1 June. It spent time in the 14th and 66th Divisions and ended the war at Sivry, east of Avesnes, France.
The 6th (Service) Battalion was formed at Kilworth, Co Cork in Sep 1914 as part of Kitchener's Second New Army. It was assigned to 47th Brigade in 16th Division. In Sep 1915 it embarked for England and was based at Blackdown, Hampshire. On 18 Dec 1915 it landed in France at Le Havre. On 13 Apr 1918 the battalion was reduced to a training cadre with 5 Officers and 282 men transferred to the 2nd Battalion, The Leinster Regiment. The cadre was transferred to two other formations before being disbanded on 3 Aug 1918.
The Connaught Rangers won the following battle honours during World War I:
France and Flanders: Mons; Retreat from Mons; Marne 1914, Aisne 1914; Messines 1917; Armentieres 1914; Ypres 1914; Langemarck 1917; Gheluvelt; Nonne Boschen; Givenchy 1914; Neuve Chapelle; Ypres 1915; St Julien; Auber; Somme 1918; St Quentin; Bapaume 1918; Hindenburg Line; Cambrai 1918; Selle; France and Flanders 1914-1918.
Salonika - Macedonia: Struma; Macedonia 1915-1918.
The Dardanelles: Suvla; Sari Bair; Scimitar Hill; Gallipoli 1915-1916.
Palestine: Gaza; Jerusalem; Tell 'Asur; Megiddo; Sharon; Palestine 1917-1918.
Mesopotamia: Tigris 1916; Kut al Amara 1917.
In common with other Irish regiments of the British Army, the Connaught Rangers was disbanded in 1922 with the creation of the Irish Free State.
Text on this page © Iain Kerr. The Society would like to thank Iain Kerr, Phil Curme and James F. O' Sullivan for their invaluable help with this project.