2 RIR Advance to the River Aisne

Monday, 14 September, 1914
Royal Irish Rifles

The 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Rifles now took part in the advance to the River Aisne and with the 1st Wiltshires were allotted a crossing place beside a destroyed railway bridge near Vailly. The crossing was a single plank pontoon bridge constructed by the Royal Engineers. German artillery had registered the bridge and the crossing was made under heavy enemy shellfire.

While the two battalions crossed their flimsy bridge, German artillery heavily shelled both the bridge and the surrounding area. Afterwards the Rifles took up positions around some old quarries and remained there for ten miserable days. In the course of the few days of action up to and including the crossing near Vailly, the Battalion lost 15 officers and 300 men, including the Commanding Officer, Lt Col Bird, who was wounded.