Battle Honour 'AVA'

Tuesday, 24 February, 1824 - Friday, 24 February, 1826

BH AVAThe Battle Honour AVA is emblazoned on the Regimental Colours of the Royal Irish Regiment.

The Kings of Ava, since the latter part of the 18th century, had been rising to power over the petty chieftains around them and establishing an empire in what became Burma (Myanmar). Their expansion brought them as far as the British possessions of Bengal and Chittagong. Attacks on British posts, in September 1823 and January 1824, resulted in the Governor General India declaring war on the Kings of Ava on 24 February 1824. Major General Sir Archibald Campbell's expedition, the main of four attacking forces invading Burma, assembled in the Andaman Islands, sailing for Rangoon on 5 May 1824. There, the 89th joined as reinforcements in December 1824, for Campbell's campaign to advance along the River Irrawaddy to Ava, north of Rangoon. In August 1824, the 89th was sent south to the province of Tennasserim. By December, the 89th was back fighting around Rangoon.

By January 1826, the British had advanced from Rangoon northwards towards Ava and had inflicted a number of defeats on the Burmese who, wishing for peace, had accepted a treaty which the King of Ava would not sign. Campbell's force therefore advanced again towards Ava. Although the 87th Regiment, which had arrived in Burma in November 1825, was part of Campbell's force during the campaign, it took no part in the final action before Ava where the 89th Regiment fought in the final battle of the war near Pagan on 9 February 1826. The defeat of the 10,000-man Burmese Army at Pagan near Ava, forced the King of Ava to sign the peace treaty, thus ending the first Anglo-Burmese War on 24 February 1826.

Mortality was such, from both battle and disease, that there were 621 deaths in the 89th between December 1823 and May 1826, and the 87th experienced a similar fate. Across the army in Burma the casualties in action amounted to less than 3 per cent whereas those by disease exceeded 56 per cent.