The Inniskillings in China

Silver Chinese Urn
This silver Chinese urn was presented to the 1st Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers by Irishmen in North China in 1911. The urn is now displayed in the Officers' Mess of the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment.

The 1st Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers arrived in Tientsin in North China in November 1909, having sailed from Malta in HM Troopship Soudan almost two months earlier. Battalion Headquarters was at Tientsin with one company immediately dispatched to guard the British Legation in Peking in the wake of the Boxer Rebellion (1900-1901). Apart from the British there were also troops from the USA, Holland, Germany, France, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Russia and Japan all guarding their respective legations. Duties were light, apart from guards, parades and route marches, with plenty of time for sport.

The climate in North China was either fine or fearful, according to the season, with occasional dust storms and long hot summer days followed by freezing weather in winter. In mid 1911, the Battalion had embarked for a posting to India when the political situation rapidly deteriorated and they were suddenly recalled to Tientsin; such was the haste of the recall that all the winter clothing was left in the hold of the troopship.

Having been so hastily recalled, the Battalion was hoping to see action but little happened until Chinese troops in Peking started to burn and plunder the capital. Mutinous Chinese soldiers wrecked the offices of the Tientsin-Peking Railway, which was being guarded by the European Powers that had undertaken to keep them open. The Inniskillings were sent to their aid and a successful parley between the Commanding Officer and the rebels led to their withdrawal with no casualties. It was not until December that the Inniskillings again embarked for India.