2nd Faughs into the Bird Cage - Salonika

Saturday, 11 December, 1915 - Thursday, 31 August, 1916

The 2nd Battalion Princess Victoria’s (The Royal Irish Fusiliers)* sailed from Marseilles in November 1915, and although originally bound for Gallipoli, arrived in Salonika on 11/12 December 1915, as part of 82 Brigade; The 1st Leinsters and 1st Royal Irish Regiment (18th) were also in the 27th Division’s 82 Brigade. The 27th Division was one of the four British divisions arriving in theatre to join the 10th (Irish) Division in the Army of Salonika; the 22nd, the 26th, the 27th and the 28th Division.

Four of these Divisions were now engaged in the task of constructing the Army of Salonika’s defences that would be known as the ‘Bird Cage’ due to the amount of wire used in its construction. The line would run west from the the River Struma, that flowed into the Gulf of Orfano , to the River Vardar some 15 miles to the west of Salonika.

In the Spring of 1916, the Army of Salonika, now further strengthened by the arrival of Italian and Russian contingents, began to move out of the Bird Cage, and in June, the 5th and 6th Faughs moved forward to positions in the lower Struma valley overlooking the river. Later that month, both Battalions moved west to the Rendina Gorge where they joined the 2nd Faughs following a regrouping of formations.

These low lying areas near fresh water rivers and lakes were much infested with mosquitoes and the resultant malaria was endemic.

By August 1916 the Allies the Army of Salonika would begin to mount operations following the entry of Rumania into the Great War on the side of the Allies.

Royal Irish Fusilers are known a ‘Faughs’ from their motto Faugh a Ballagh.