The Royal Munster Fusiliers was a regular infantry regiment of the British Army. One of eight Irish regiments raised largely in Ireland, it had its home depot in Tralee. It was originally formed in 1881 by the amalgamation of two regiments of the former East India Company. It served in India and in the Great War. Following establishment of the independent Irish Free State in 1922, the five regiments that had their traditional recruiting grounds in the counties of the new state were disbanded. The regiment won three Victoria Crosses in the Great War.
The regiment's historic background goes back as far as 1652, before it was reformed as part of a reorganisation of the army in 1881, from the 101st Regiment of Foot (Royal Bengal Fusiliers) and 104th Regiment of Foot (Bengal Fusiliers) and the Militia of Munster (namely the South Cork Light Infantry Militia, the Kerry Militia and the Royal Limerick County Militia, which became the 3rd, 4th and 5th Battalions, respectively). Both the fusilier regiments had originated as "European" regiments of the East India Company (also known as "John Company") and transferred to the British Army in 1861 when the British Crown took control of the company's private army after the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
There followed the localisation of recruiting districts in England between 1873 and 1874 under the Cardwell Reforms. Five of the European infantry battalions were given Irish territorial titles under the Childers Reforms of 1881. The first and second Royal Munster Fusiliers battalions were the former Bengal Fusilier regiments, the higher number battalions were the militia units. The Reforms linked regiments to recruiting areas – in this case the counties of Clare, Cork, Kerry, and Limerick. Militarily, the whole of Ireland was administered as a separate command with Command Headquarters at Parkgate (Phoenix Park) Dublin, directly under the War Office in London. The regimental depot was located at Ballymullen Barracks, Tralee, Co. Kerry.
Following the outbreak of the Second Boer War in South Africa in October 1899, a number of regiments containing large centres of population formed additional regular battalions. The Royal Munster Fusiliers were announced to be among those regiments set to form 3rd and 4th regular battalions in February 1900, but they do not appear to have done so.
Prior to the First World War the regiment consisted of two regular service and three reserve battalions. In August 1914 the need for further divisions resulted in the creation of a New Army. Subsequently, the Royal Munster Fusiliers had a total of 11 raised battalions.
At the outbreak of war the 1st Munster's (1RMF) battalion was acting as a regular garrison in Rangoon, Burma. Their last home station had been Fermoy in 1899. They arrived back at Avonmouth, UK in January 1915, and were entrained for Coventry where it was assigned to the 86th Brigade of the 29th Division (United Kingdom). In March it sailed for the Dardanelles, Turkey, when it numbered 28 officers and 1,002 other ranks.