6 RIR into the Line, Macedonia

Sat, 11/13/1915 - Fri, 12/31/1915
Bulgarian artillery shells bursting close to British positions near Doiran in Macedonia, August 1916.

The 6th Battalion The Royal Irish Rifles (6 RIR) was amongst the first units of the 10th (Irish) Division to arrive in Salonika from Gallipoli on 5 October 1915. By the end of October the Battalion's transport had arrived and soon its parent Brigade, 29 Brigade, began the move forward to the front. On 13 November, 6 RIR entrained at Salonika and travelled along the single-track line and after 50 miles detrained some ten or eleven hours later that night at Dorian.

On 17 November the Rifles moved forward to Hasanli and two days later took over an outpost at Causli. On 19 November, 30 Brigade and 31 Brigade of the Irish Division relieved the French at the Kosturino Ridge due north of Dorian, with the 10th Hampshires and the 5th Connaughts detached from 29 Brigade to reinforce 30 Brigade. The 29 Brigade's two remaining battalions, the Rifles and Leinsters, relieved the other Brigades' positions in the area from Causli to Lake Dorian. A period of trench digging followed as the two battalions also took their turn in manning various posts on the line, including blockhouses.

On 4 December, the Bulgarians began attacking and pushing the Brigades off the Kosturino Ridge positions forward of the Rifles and 29 Brigade was placed under command of General Leblois's 57th French Division. The order for 29 Brigade to withdraw came on 6 December. When the Bulgarians captured the Kosturino Ridge and the Irish Division began to fall back, the Causli line was reorganised on 9 December and the Rifles were moved back to the Causli line to support the Leinsters. Unfortunately, the French were unable to hold their position on the left and withdrawing again, the Allies began pulling back across the border from Serbia into Greece's province of Macedonia on 11 December.

Following a night march on roads choked with French and British artillery, 29 Brigade moved into its new position along the frontier with the lake on the right. Here the Rifles were in support of the 5th Connaught Rangers on the Brigade's left before later moving forward to relieve the Connaughts. The French 57th Division was to their left. All waited to see if the Bulgarians would cross the border and pursue the Allies into Greece.

On 15 December, 29 Brigade, having been ordered to withdraw, assembled at Kilinder and then moved to Uruslu as the Brigade's rear was guarded by French Chasseurs. Following a night march in heavy rain along a difficult road, the Rifles and Leinsters reached Kurus and the following day, 16 December, the two battalions entrained at Sarigeul for Salonika.

Orders were issued on 25 December for 29 Brigade's move to Rendina Gorge and on 28 December the Rifles embarked on the Prince Abbas to sail south of the Chalcidicean Peninsula to Stavros on the Gulf of Orfano. It was 31 December 1915 when the Rifles marched from its bivouac on the beach up to the Rendina Gorge, where in the New Year of 1916 it would move to the forward outposts on the hills to the north.