Roll Call: SA Irish Regiment

Programme Notes: CTMT 2008

img_7991“The South African Irish Regiment from Johannesburg taps into a narrow but deep root of Irish military tradition in South Africa, which goes back to the first British invasion of the Cape in 1795.

Its own history dates back to 1914, when three officers of Irish descent raised it for service in World War I. The SA Irish saw action in South West Africa in 1915 and then in East Africa before being deactivated at the end of the war. At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the regiment was reactivated and saw action in East Africa during the Abyssinian Campaign before moving to the Western Desert as part of 5th South African Brigade.

The brigade was nearly destroyed at Sidi Rezegh in November 1941 by an overwhelming German force, the SA Irish losing more than 400 men dead, wounded or captured.

The regiment was deactivated again and its survivors fought on as artillerymen. In 1946 it was reactivated as an artillery regiment. During 1960, the unit reverted to its traditional light infantry role and has since seen both active and training service. The motto of the SA Irish is ‘Faugh a Ballaugh!’ Gaelic for ‘Clear the Way!’

The regimental pipe band performed at the prestigious Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2005.” (CTMT 2008)