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The London Irish Rifles (LIR) is now known more formally known as "D (London Irish Rifles) Company, London Regiment" and is a volunteer Rifle Regiment with a distinguished history. They are based on Flodden Road in Camberwell, and on Hammersmith Road in Hammersmith.

Victorian Era

The London Irish Rifles were originally formed in 1859 during the Victorian Volunteer Movement as the "28th Middlesex (London Irish) Rifle Volunteer Corps".

During the Second Boer War, the Battalion sent 8 officers and 200 private soldiers for active service. One officer won the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and another member gained seven bars to his South Africa Medal. In recognition of their service, the London Irish were granted their first Battle Honour of "South Africa, 1900-1902".

In 1908, the London Irish were transferred to the Territorial Force and renamed the "18th (County of London) Battalion, the London Regiment (London Irish Rifles)".

First World War

During the First World War, the LIR raised 3 Battalions, and the first Battalion to be sent to France in 1915 was sent into action at Festubert in May.

In the Battle of Loos, the 1st Battalion LIR once again distinguished themselves. While storming across No-Man's Land to capture the enemy trenches, Sgt. Edwards, the Captain of the football team, kicked a football along in front of the troops. This earned the LIR their second Battle Honour—"Loos, 1915" and the football is still preserved in the Regimental Museum. To this day, the memory of Sgt. Frank Edwards is commemorated on Loos Sunday.

Inter War

In 1937, the London Regiment was disbanded and the LIR became known as "London Irish Rifles, The Royal Ulster Rifles".

Second World War

In 1939, in response to the requirements of Second World War, the London Irish were raised as two Battalions, the 1st leaving England in 1942 to serve in Iraqmarker and Italymarker, the 2nd serving later in North Africa and Italy.

Post War

After the war, the Battalion re-formed as a Battalion of the Royal Ulster Rifles. In 1967, with the disbanding of the London Regiment, The three Irish Regular Infantry Regiments had combined to form The Royal Irish Rangers, and the LIR became D Company (London Irish Rifles), 4th Battalion The Royal Irish Rangers, remaining so until the re-formation of The London Regiment. The Royal Irish Rangers later amalgamated with the Ulster Defence Regiment to form the Royal Irish Regiment, with the Northern Irish Territorial Army (TA) company remaining as Rangers.

The LIR moved from their historic home, Duke of York's Barracks, Chelsea to Flodden Road, Camberwellmarker in 2000. In 2007 they opened a detachment for 13 Platoon at the TA Centre on Hammersmith Road in Hammersmith.

Today

The serving TA soldiers are reserve volunteers who train evenings and weekends and for a two week Battle Camp each year. They are proud to have sent soldiers to the Balkans, and also during the early stages of the Iraq (Second Gulf War) in the spring of 2003. They contributed troops to the wider London Regiment deployment of two composite companies (Cambrai and Messines) in Iraq in 2004, and also to Somme Company, which participated on operations in the Afghanistan as part of wider NATO operations in that country.

The LIR train on Tuesday evenings at the TA Center on Flodden Road in Camberwell, and at the TA Centre on Hammersmith Road in Hammersmith.

On 4 October 2008, the LIR were given the freedom of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelseamarker in a ceremony at the Town Hall Kensington. This followed a march, with bayonets fixed, and review along Kensington High Streetmarker.

Dress

Their distinctive piper-green head-dress, the Caubeen (which was worn by all Irish regiments later, although the LIR were the first to adopt it) was characterised by being sloped to the left instead of the right—a distinction maintained today between the Royal Irish Regiment (the sponsor Regiment of the LIR) being sloped on the right and the LIR and Liverpool Irish being sloped on the left.

The "sloping" difference was because the bonnets, which were based on the Balmoral of the time, were so big, and sloping fashions of the time were so "rakish", that Riflemen needed to slope to the left in order to see down the sights of the rifle.

2RUR (Royal Ulster Rifles) also sloped to the left.

The LIR sloped to the right whilst part of the Royal Irish Rangers, but reverted to type after the amalgamation or the RIR and the UDR. They are also unique in being the only British Army unit to wear their headdress with the cap badge positioned over the right eye - all other units wear theirs with their insignia over the left.

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