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38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade

Insignia of 38 (Irish) Brigade
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Service history
Active 1942 – 1947
2007 –
Part of 2nd Division
Motto Ubique et Semper Fidelis
Commanders Brigadier The O'Donovan

The 38th Brigade, now 38 (Irish) Brigade, was organised as a British Army formation during World War II. It was composed of Irish battalions and served with distinction in the Tunisian and Italian campaigns.


The original 38th Brigade, formed in 1914, was one of the brigades of 13th (Western) Division, one of the volunteer formations raised as part of Kitchener's Army. It was composed of Lancashire battalions and fought in the Gallipoli and Mesopotamian campaigns. It was disbanded in 1919.[1]

38 Brigade was reformed as 38th (Irish) Brigade on 13 January 1942 by converting the 210th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home), a Home Defence formation organised in 1940. 210 Bde had been serving in Dorset County Division. When that division was disbanded on 24 November 1941, 210 Bde transferred to 1st Infantry Division. By then all of 210 Bde's English home defence battalions had been posted away and were being replaced by frontline Irish battalions.[2]

See main article 210th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home)

In June 1942 the 38th Brigade transferred to 6th Armoured Division and it landed in North Africa with that formation on 22 November 1942. In March 1943 it joined 78th (Battleaxe) Infantry Division and fought with distinction in the Tunisia Campaign, Sicily, and Italy as part of this highly regarded division until the end of World War II, though during May 1945 it was detached to both 46th Division and 6th Armoured Division. The brigade then was alloted occupation duties in Carinthia in southern Austria, and was eventually formally disbanded in April 1947.[3][4]

38 (Irish) Brigade reformed on 1 August 2007, as part of a new combined divisional / brigade structure called HQ Northern Ireland and 38 (Irish) Brigade after the disbandment of HQ Northern Ireland and has its Headquarters at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn.[5] The Brigade subsequently came under command of the 2nd Division, the regional division for Scotland, the North of England and Northern Ireland, on 1 January 2009. It is now the Regional Brigade responsible for administering the Territorial Army within Northern Ireland. This was the culmination of a drawdown of military headquarters in Northern Ireland, which had seen the disbandment of 3 Infantry Brigade, 8 Infantry Brigade, 39 Infantry Brigade and 107 (Ulster) Brigade.

Today the Territorial soldiers from the Brigade have served on operations supporting the Regular Army in the Balkans, on Operation TOSCA in Cyprus, on Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan and Operation TELIC in Iraq. At home the Brigade has the key role of providing the Civil Contingency Reaction Force for Northern Ireland.

World War II StructureEdit

With this combination, it therefore had pre-war Regular, Territorial and war-time raised units within its structure.

World War II CommandersEdit

The following officers commanded 38 (Irish) Bde:[8]

  • Brigadier The O'Donovan (12 January 1942 – 1 July 1942)
  • Brigadier N. Russell (1 July 1942 – 20 February 1944)
  • Brigadier T.P.D. Scott (from 20 February 1944)

Formations Served UnderEdit

Source: 38 (Irish) Infantry Brigade at Orders of

  • 1 Infantry Division 25 Nov 41 – 7 Jun 42
  • 6 Armoured Division 9 Jun 42 – 16 Feb 43
  • 'Y" Division 16 Feb 43 – 15 Mar 43
  • 78 Infantry Division 15 Mar 43 – 28 Mar 43
  • 46 Infantry Division 29 Mar 43 – 6 Apr 43
  • 78 Infantry Division 7 Apr 43 – 10 May 45
  • 6 Armoured Division 10 May 45 – 13 May 45
  • 46 Infantry Division 13 May 45 – 18 May 45
  • 78 Infantry Division 18 May 45 – 31 Aug 45

Current StructureEdit

Units supporting 38 (Irish) Brigade:


The current Brigade insignia is a green shamrock on a circular, sand-coloured, background. This insignia was adopted to differentiate it from the World War II design which is now too similar to the design of the tactical recognition flash (TRF) worn by the Royal Irish Regiment


  2. Joslen, p. 373.
  3. The Irish Brigade
  4. Joslen, p. 373.
  5. Hansard, proceedings of the British Parliament
  6. Disbanded and merged with 2nd Battalion. Ford pp242-243
  7. From British 5th Division, absorbing 6th Battalion. Ford pp242-243
  8. Joslen, p. 373.


  • Ford, Ken (2003) [1999]. Battleaxe Division. Stroud, UK: Sutton Publishing. p. 273 pages. ISBN 0-7509-3199-X. 
  • Doherty, Richard (1994) [1993]. Clear The Way! History of the 38th (Irish) Brigade. Dublin, Ireland: Irish Academic Press. p. 336 pages. ISBN 0-7165-2542-9. 
  • O'Sullivan, Edmund (2007) [2007]. All My Brothers. Slough, UK: Edmund O'Sullivan & Family. p. 232 Contains an eyewitness account of serving in the 2nd Battalion of the London Irish Rifles from October 1939 March 1946 including O'Sullivan's involvement in Irish Brigade battles in Tunisia, Sicily and Italy, including at the Battle of Cassino in May 1944. 
  • Joslen, Lt-Col H.F. (2003) [1st pub. HMSO:1960]. Orders of Battle: Second World War, 1939–1945. Uckfield: Naval and Military Press. ISBN 978-1-84342-474-1. 

External linksEdit

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