Private Christopher Byrne

1st Battalion Irish Guards,

Wounded in Action, France 1915,

From Drumcondra, Dublin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christopher from Dublin, enlisted, pre war, with the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards on the 16th of October 1912.

Following the outbreak of the Great War, 1st Battalion, The Irish Guards was deployed to France almost immediately, and they remained on the Western Front for the duration of the war. Christopher, in fact, was one of the first to go, his battalion landing at Le Havre on the 13th of August 1914 as part of the 4th (Guards) Brigade, 2nd Division.

The 1st Battalion was involved in fighting for the duration of ‘First Ypres’, at Langemark, Gheluvelt and Nonne Boschen. The 1st Battalion suffered huge casualties between November 1–8 holding the line against near defeat by German forces, while defending Klein Zillebeck.

In May 1915, the 1st Irish Guards took part in the Battle of Festubert, though did not see much action. Two further battalions were formed for the regiment in July. In September that year, the battalion, as well as the 2nd Irish Guards, who had reached France in August, took part in the Battle of Loos, which lasted from 25 September until early October.It was here I believe where Christopher was wounded in action. Both battalions spent the rest of 1915 in the trenches and did not fight in any major engagements.

This relative quiet period for the regiment was broken on 1 July 1916 when the Battle of the Somme began. The 1st Irish Guards took part in an action at Flers-Courcelette where they suffered severe casualties in the attack in the face of withering fire from the German machine-guns. The battalion also took part in the action at Morval, before they were relieved the by the 2nd Irish Guards.

The Irish Guards going up a communication trench. Elverdinghe, 30 July 1917.
Photo: http://media.iwm.org.uk/iwm/mediaLib//355/media-355114/large.jpg

In 1917 the Irish Guards took part in the Battle of Pilckem which began on the 31 July during the Third Battle of Ypres. The Irish Guards also took part in the Battle of Cambrai in that year, the first large use of the tank in battle took place during the engagement.] In 1918 the regiment fought in a number of engagements during the Second Battle of the Somme, including at Arras and Albert. The regiment then went on to take part in a number of battles during the British offensives against the Hindenburg Line. On 11 November 1918 the Armistice with Germany was signed. 

The sacrifice by the Irish Guards during the First World War, however, was immense. Over 2,300 officers and men had been killed and well over 5,000 wounded. The regiment was awarded 406 medals, including four VCs, during the Great War.

Christopher was discharged & returned to Dublin in February 1919, having served almost 5 years, surviving the savagary & bloodshed of the war in Europe.

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