Royal Ulster Rifles & London Irish Rifles

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by dbf, May 17, 2009.

  1. Only just found this post referring to my Grandfarther, WO1(RSM) John Cairns. I do have some photo’s of him serving in both the Army and in the Police. Looking at some of the responses on here about him, there appears to be some confusion about him. I do have lots of information about him and his wife Mima. Regards David Robinson
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  2. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    If you can, please let us know what is right/wrong in the previous postings so it's clear.

    best wishes
  3. My Grandfather was RSM John Edward Cairns, I don’t know where the Patrick has come from. His family originally came from Lisbellaw Co Fermanagh. His farther was also John Cairns who served in the Great War. I am not sure where my grandfather was born but he spoke many times of his childhood in Fermanagh. I was not aware that he was born in England, futher investigation may be required on this. The facts about his military service are accurate. He joined the army in 1926. He was a small arms instructor as a Sargent with the London Irish as the war broke out. During the war he servered in North Africa, Scilly and Italy and was wounded at Anzio. After the war he served in Italy. On leaving the Army he joined the RUC and trained many of its ranks in small arms. He retired in the late 70’s his passions were always shooting and fishing and he was the finest marksman I have ever seen. He never talked much about anything else except his 22 years of service with the rifles, of which he was very proud.

    The photo is RSM John Cairns taken in 1946, in Aiden I believe but it may have been taken in Italy. 8A08860B-F4BD-49C7-973D-5595B56C610F.jpeg

    If you require further information just let me know.

    David Robinson
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  4. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    Brilliant - so the photo has him in an LIR caubeen..the 1st Bn were near Trieste/Pola areas in '45 and '46...haven't got the exact dates. No doubt, he could march at a fair pace...

    At the end of '45/start of '46, my Dad was RQMS with the 2nd Bn in Austria as it was being disbanded.

    Quis Separabit.
  5. F9438004-A73B-4A7A-9B2F-44DBB0F6E86C.jpeg He matched until the day he died. He was in a nursing home at the end. They brought him his breakfast, when they went back to get the tray, he had finished The breakfast, neatly placed the cuttlery on the side, finished his cup of tea and had left us for the long march. There is no way he would have ever missed breakfast and would ever have gone on a long March on an empty stomach. John Cairns is on the left side of the photo, it was taken in early 1942 when he was a CSM. Not sure where it was taken.
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  6. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Marvellous story. Photo above probably taken when he was an instructor at the Duke of York'sbut not taken at the Dukes.

    I attach a photo of the Sgts and others of 1 LIR, probably taken at Tivoli in Aug '44 - perhaps you can spot you grandfather.

    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
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  7. Many thanks for posting the photo. I had not seen this one before, I think ( but not 100% sure) my grandfather is on the left (as you look at the photo) of the Commanding Officer, (on the row 2nd from the bottom) which would be the traditional place for the RSM to be this type of picture.
  8. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Yes looks about right . the CO by then was Lt-Col Baucher.
  9. rodbender

    rodbender Junior Member

  10. Quis Separabit

    Quis Separabit Junior Member

    Better late than never....

    Photos of all RUR (1st and 2nd Battalion) headstones at La Delivrande, Hermanville and Cambes taken on 6 June this year now shown on website at 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles in WW2: 2RUR Headstones


    Quis Separabit

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  11. Seamus M

    Seamus M Member

    Hi, I know these graves very well since my grandparents are buried very close by coincidentally Granddad was in London Irish Rifles (born and raised in Tipperary, enlisted 1940 Royal Artillery, transferred LIR 1944). My other grandfather enlisted June 1940 Royal Ulster Rifles - on his wedding day!
    Many interesting military graves there including two Great War graves of note: Edward Foster VC and Gilbert Mapplebeck RFC (flew first bombing mission WW1).

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  12. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Would you be able to tell us your grandfather's name and do you know where he served ? As you can tell my own dad served with the LIR from 1939 to 1946.
  13. Seamus M

    Seamus M Member

    Hi there,
    James Joseph O'Brien (known to all as Jim). I don't yet have his service record (am in process of applying for it along with my other grandfather's) and all I know so far about his LIR service was that he was transferred to them in late 1944 and was in Cairo. My mother has some photos from his time there of him in uniform and with comrades.
    This is his address from a letter his mother wrote to him to let him know his brother was missing in action in Germany posted 30/4/45.
    I'm not sure what those initials are showing where he was attached?

    Attached Files:

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  14. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    ok.. nice...seems like he was then in a training unit...many AA men were taken on infantry strength in '44... perhaps he made it to Italy in early/spring '45 to join the final batte period at Argenta etc.. both LIR battalions were involved..

    By the way, he wasn't the only Jim O'Brien in the LIR in Italy.

    good luck with the research - come back to the LIRAssn or here with any questions in the future.

    best wishes
    Richard O'S
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  15. Seamus M

    Seamus M Member

    Thanks Richard,

    I have both my GF's medals and unlike my paternal GF he didn't receive the Italy Star so I think he stayed in Egypt. In fact I do know that he suffered from a type of shell-shock at some stage before his discharge and this continued postwar - Mum tells me even into the 1950/60s he would react badly to a car backfiring etc.

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  16. Seamus M

    Seamus M Member

    Quick update after call with parents - Jim's release book states he was discharged 3/3/46 as a L/Cpl London Irish Rifles, 2Coy GHQ, MEF so I guess that means General Head Quarters? Would again imply he stayed in Cairo?
    Dad's father went into 8th Bn, RUR in 1940 and was transferred to 117 LAA Regt in 1942 where he was a despatch rider; thereafter transferred to Shermans in 1944 with Queen's Bays. I remember him telling me that when he was being first kitted out for R. Ulster Rifles (in Ballymena?) he asked what all the stains were on the webbing etc and was told rather sharply it was blood and to shut up.
  17. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    ok...seems like he might have transferred to LIR on the basis that he was "fully fit".. the 1st Bn were in Egypt from April to July '44 and the 2nd Bn from July to September '44.and they needed people. If he wasn't fitness enough to join them when they left for Italy, then he might still have retained the caubeen etc and stayed in Alex or wherever..once you missed the boat back to Italy, then it was pretty tough to get back to your home unit in all in all probably a lucky break and especially given what he had already gone through... my own Dad took 2 months from the time he was discharged from hospital in Alex to get back to 2 LIR who were then in the snow drifts in northern Italy... that MEF/CEF distinction was starting to cause transfer issues.
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  18. Following on from last year, and the interest shown on here about my Grandfather WO1 (RSM) John Cairns. During a recent rummage about I found some notes he wrote about his military service. I have copied the notes onto here and hopefully it may be of interest to some of the members on here. The writing is a bit shaken in parts but he was in his 90’s when he wrote the notes. There may be some bits in his notes that may be of use to some members conducting their own research concerning the rifles or family members.

    Attached Files:

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  19. Part 2

    Attached Files:

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  20. Part3

    Attached Files:

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