Private Christopher Byrne

1st Battalion Irish Guards,

Wounded in Action, France 1915,

From Drumcondra, Dublin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christopher from Dublin, enlisted, pre war, with the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards on the 16th of October 1912.

Following the outbreak of the Great War, 1st Battalion, The Irish Guards was deployed to France almost immediately, and they remained on the Western Front for the duration of the war. Christopher, in fact, was one of the first to go, his battalion landing at Le Havre on the 13th of August 1914 as part of the 4th (Guards) Brigade, 2nd Division.

The 1st Battalion was involved in fighting for the duration of ‘First Ypres’, at Langemark, Gheluvelt and Nonne Boschen. The 1st Battalion suffered huge casualties between November 1–8 holding the line against near defeat by German forces, while defending Klein Zillebeck.

In May 1915, the 1st Irish Guards took part in the Battle of Festubert, though did not see much action. Two further battalions were formed for the regiment in July. In September that year, the battalion, as well as the 2nd Irish Guards, who had reached France in August, took part in the Battle of Loos, which lasted from 25 September until early October.It was here I believe where Christopher was wounded in action. Both battalions spent the rest of 1915 in the trenches and did not fight in any major engagements.

This relative quiet period for the regiment was broken on 1 July 1916 when the Battle of the Somme began. The 1st Irish Guards took part in an action at Flers-Courcelette where they suffered severe casualties in the attack in the face of withering fire from the German machine-guns. The battalion also took part in the action at Morval, before they were relieved the by the 2nd Irish Guards.

The Irish Guards going up a communication trench. Elverdinghe, 30 July 1917.
Photo: http://media.iwm.org.uk/iwm/mediaLib//355/media-355114/large.jpg

In 1917 the Irish Guards took part in the Battle of Pilckem which began on the 31 July during the Third Battle of Ypres. The Irish Guards also took part in the Battle of Cambrai in that year, the first large use of the tank in battle took place during the engagement.] In 1918 the regiment fought in a number of engagements during the Second Battle of the Somme, including at Arras and Albert. The regiment then went on to take part in a number of battles during the British offensives against the Hindenburg Line. On 11 November 1918 the Armistice with Germany was signed. 

The sacrifice by the Irish Guards during the First World War, however, was immense. Over 2,300 officers and men had been killed and well over 5,000 wounded. The regiment was awarded 406 medals, including four VCs, during the Great War.

Christopher was discharged & returned to Dublin in February 1919, having served almost 5 years, surviving the savagary & bloodshed of the war in Europe.

Sergeant Augustine Hackett

6th Battalion Connaught Rangers,

Killed in Action, 19th February 1917,

From Dublin aged 21

Augustine Hackett landed in France with the 6th Battalion Connaught Rangers on the 17th December 1915, attached to the 47th Brigade in 16th (Irish) Division, for service on the Western Front.

The Battalion was involved in action during operations in Guillemont & Guinchy. In just over a week’s fighting here in September 1916, the 6th Battalion lost 23 officers and 407 other ranks. Augustine coming through this attack unscathed. It was during this battle that he was awarded a Divisional Parchment Certificate for gallantry in action.

February 1917 saw the 6th Connaughts involved in fighting during the Battle of Messines (near the Petit Boise and Maedelstede Farm mines), carrying out numerous trench raids aimed at forcing temporary entry into the enemy’s line in order to kill defenders, destroy fortifications and weapons, gain intelligence by the capture of maps and documents, and return with prisoners.

Augustine was part of large trench raid, near Kemmel, on the 19th February,  when 9 Officers & 190 men went forward under cover of a dense fog The war diary mentions the men ‘cheerfully tucking green miniature Irish flags into their caps or buttonholes’, before moving out at 7.15am.

The Germans however, put up stiff resistance, and at no point did the Rangers succeed in getting past the German wire.

The battalion lost 3 Officers & 8 men killed 2 Officers & 17 men wounded. Augustine tragically, was one of those men killed. The Commanding Officer, Rowland Fielding, mentions his death.

“The first wave of the left party, started off well under 2Lt. Cummins, a very gallant young officer whom I had put in command in place of the original commander. Then Sergeant Hackett, was almost immediately killed”.

The Germans offered a chivalrous local armistice, allowing Augustine & his comrades bodies to be recovered.

He is remembered with honour at Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery

 

HE WENT TO WAR
FOR THE SAKE OF PEACE
HE DIED WITHOUT HATE
THAT LOVE MIGHT LIVE

 

Corporal Wallis Darlington

6th Battalion Leinster Regiment,

From Inchicore, Dublin,

Aged 31

Wallis Darlington was born in Dublin in March 1884 to James Faucett Darlington a printer and his wife Ellen. From the 1901 Census, Wallis aged 17 is living with his parents at 2 Spences Terrace, near Cork Street, right in the heart of the Liberties area in Dublin. Wallis was an Engine Fitters Apprentice at Inchicore Rail Works.

More information can now be gleaned from the 1911 Census returns. Wallis(27) is now married to Matilda(23) and they have a baby daughter Charlotte(1). The family were now living at Tyrconnell St, in Inchicore in Dublin, tenements to be blunt!! Wallis & his family were Church of Ireland and he had been married to his wife for three years. Charlotte their daughter died in August 1911, from scarlet fever, a terrible bereavement for this young family. Not uncommon though for the time, as many children perished through living in squalid conditions. Their son Ralph arrived though in May 1912.

His occupation is now giving as an Engine Fitter, for the Great Southern & Western Railway at Inchicore Works. Tyrconnell Road where he now lived, is practically a stones throw, from the station works at Inchicore. From an article in the Evening Herald of the 6th November 1915, we gather that before the war, Wallis played half back for the railway team & was described as a ‘fine player’.

A GS&WR railway engine built by the Inchicore Works in 1902.
Photo: https://ansionnachfionn.com/2016/03/23/improvised-armour-from-the-british-army-1916-to-the-islamic-state-2016/

With the advent of the Great War, Wallis enlisted into the 6th Battalion the Leinster Regiment, at Dublin in September 1914. Following a period of training, on July 9th the Battalion as part of the 29th Brigade of the 10th Division, sailed from Liverpool on board the SS Mauretania, bound for the Dardanelles.

They arrived at Mudros on the small Greek island of Lemnos, on 26th July 1915. Mudros was only a staging post and on the 5th August the battalion arrived at Anzac, the 29th Brigade being at this time attached to the Australian & New Zealand Corps.

And so arrived Wallis at the front line, a trained and fighting man, ready to take on the Turks. The battalion were straight into the thick of things. Part of the 29th took part in actions on Sari Bair 6-10 August and at Hill 60 later that month.

Sari Bair on the whole, was the centre piece of the total August offensive, the breakout from Anzac!

The assault began late on the evening of the 6th August and although the first attacks on the Turkish covering were successful, it soon became clear that the operation was too ambitious.

The assaulting columns began to lose their way as they struggled through the maze of inter-cutting ravines, harassed by the light but elusive opposition of the Turks. This slowed progress to a crawl. When dawn broke on the 7th August, the columns, which should have been on the summits along Sari Bair ridge, where still languishing far below in the gullies & lower ridges, leading up to the peaks.

The fighting at Sari Bair August 1915 Photo: http://www.6thgurkhas.org/website/regiment-battles/gallipoli-campaign

A further series of attacks were ordered, which resulted in lodgements on Chunuk Bair and Hill Q on August 8th. But by the end of August 9th, the question was no longer whether the British could seize control of Sari Bair, but whether they could hold on to the gains they had made.

The men were in badly entrenched, enfalided positions; they were exhausted, hungry, thirsty and lacking in local leadership, as a result of the high casualties among their Officers & NCO’s. Above all the divisions & brigades had become totally intermixed, with no clearly defined command structure, and they were bereft of orders to tell them what they were meant to be trying to do. It was a potentially disastrous situation.

On the 10th August, Mustafa Kemal led the newly arrived Turkish reserves in a massed counter-attack across the top of the Sari Bair Ridge. Pushed back from Chunuk Bair & Hill Q, the British came tumbling back from the hills, sometimes in good order, sometimes not. The attempt to seize the Sari Bair heights had ended, as it had begun, in failure.

The Sari Bair Range…
Photo: http://apostrophenz.blogspot.ie/2015/08/2015-term-3-week-3-centenary-of-chunuk.html

On the morning of the 11th of August, the 6th Leinsters along with the rest of the Brigade, was relieved and marched back in the direction of the beach. The men had earned a rest, since they had been fighting hard for thirty six hours and had been going two days without sleep.

Wallis & the 6th Leinster’s fighting on the peninsula, was at an end, with this one battle. The Leinster’s lost 6 Officers & 81 men killed at Sari Bair

Allied casualties over the five day period amounted to 12,500 men out of a total of 37,000 present, more than 33% of the Allied force at Anzac.

Wallis went on to survive the war, eventually transferring & finishing with the Royal Engineers (Waterways, Railways & Roads) section. For his service during the Great War 1914 – 18, he was awarded the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal, (Pictured below).

He returned to his job at Inchicore Works as an engine fitter. Wallis died of heart failure in May 1945 and is buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery, in Harold’s Cross, Dublin. His wife Matilda outlived him, for a further twelve years, dying on 30th July 1957.

 

 

 

Rifleman James Neville

1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles,

Killed in Action, 9th May 1915,

Born Forkhill, Co. Armagh

 

 

 

 

James enlisted with the 1st Battalion, the Royal Irish Rifles at Dundalk in late 1914. Landing in France on the 21st of April 1915 as part of 25th Brigade in the 8th Division.

May 1915 saw James with his battalion preparing for the Battle of Aubers Ridge.

May 9th, 1915, the taking of Aubers Ridge marked a major loss of life for the Royal Irish Rifles in the war, wiping out almost 80 per cent of the battalion, with over 100 men dead. James Neville being one of these. He died 18 days after landing in France.

James’ body was never found. He is remembered with honour on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the missing.

 

 

Private John Tiernan

D/B Company,

2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers,

Prisoner of war 24th May 1915 (Mouse Trap Farm),

From Dublin, aged 19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another casualty of the 2nd Battalion at http://Mouse Trap Farm was John Tiernan from Dublin.

One of 294 men originally posted as missing after the battle, John was in fact captured and spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner in Limburg POW camp in Germany.

Limburg, Prisoner of War camp…
Photo: http://www.irishbrigade.eu/camps/limburg.html

John spent nearly four years in captivity, returning to his widowed mother, in early 1919. She was living at 16 Rathdown Terrace on the North Circular Road in Dublin City.

 

Sergeant John Tait

2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers,

Died of Wounds (Gas Poisoining),

26th May 1915,

From Dublin aged 21

 

 

 

 

 

Serjeant John Joseph Tait enlisted in Royal Dublin Fusiliers at Naas and first served in France with the 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers from 23 August 1914 as Lance Serjeant. The 2nd Battalion landed at Boulogne as part of 10th Brigade in 4th Division.

On the 24th August, the British Expeditonary Force (BEF), began to retreat from the Belgian City of Mons. It was during this retreat that the 2nd Dublin Fusiliers, as part of the 4th Infantry Division, were brought over from England and placed around the town of Le Cateau. Their objective was to provide a rear guard force that would cover the retreating BEF.

On April 25th, 1915, the 2nd battalion force marched 50 kilometres to fill a gap in the British lines to try and retake the village of St Julien from the Germans. They got within 100 yards of the German lines before being “mown down, like corn, by machine guns in enfilade. They remained lying dead in rows where they had fallen”, as the British official history put it.The battalion suffered 500 casualties, though John came through unscathed. It was possibly here, where John may have received his recommendation for the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). For all ranks below commissioned officers, it was the second highest award for gallantry in action after the Victoria Cross..

Worse was to follow a month later at a place called Mouse Trap Farm which exists to this day. Mouse Trap Farm was a place of dread for the British soldiers, who nicknamed it Shell Trap Farm.

Mouse Trap Farm 1915.
Photo: http://firstworldwar.westminster.org.uk/?tag=the-london-regiment

The assault on Mouse Trap Farm was to be the Germans’ last attempt to take Ypres from the British. On the morning of May 24th, 1915, they drenched the Allied lines with chlorine gas along a 12 kilometre front.

Three Irish battalions held the line around Mouse Trap Farm. To the right was the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, in the centre was the 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers and to the left was the 2nd Royal Irish Regiment.

The RDF bore the brunt of the German assault on the trenches surrounding Mouse Trap Farm. Their trenches were within 35 metres of the German lines. They could hear the hissing of the gas being released. Within seconds the Germans were on top of them.

German troops starting a gas attack 1915

The Dublins quickly lost their commanding officer, Lieut Col Arthur Loveband, from Naas, Co Kildare, who was shot through the heart. The situation for the RDF grew ever more desperate. One officer sent out the message “For God’s sake send some help, we are nearly done”. No help was forthcoming. The only surviving officer, Capt Leahy, recalled that the men “died fighting at their post”.

At the end of the day all that was left was one officer and 21 other ranks out of a total complement of 658 officers and men. Rarely in that terrible war had a single battalion suffered such a wipeout.

The Royal Irish Regiment, drawn mostly from the southeast and the Royal Irish Fusiliers from Armagh, Cavan and Monaghan, also suffered grievous losses in what was the bleakest of bleak days for Irish regiments. The whole of Ireland was affected by the tragedy, which also claimed the life of Pte John Condon from Waterford city who was with the Royal Irish Regiment. At 14, he was the youngest Allied soldier to die in the war.

John died wretchedly of gas poisoning two days later. His will confirms that he died at No 8 Casualty Clearing Station on 26 May 1915 having made out his will in hospital and that all his effects should go to his wife on the event of his death. Serjeant Tait is buried in the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France.

It is this particular horror of gas that is captured in Wilfred Owen’s poem Dulce et Decorum Est, arguably the most widely read description of the horrors of war in the English language.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

 

 

Private William Lindsay

2nd Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment

Wounded in Action, 9th May 1915

From Dublin, aged 29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William was born in Dublin to Patrick & Sarah Lindsay in July 1886, at 16 Summer Place, Mountjoy Square in Dublin.

In the summer of 1904 , William decided to join the army and attested for the East Lancashire Regiment at Dublin. According to his medical records he was 5ft 3inches tall & weighed 115lbs.

He joined the 1st battalion spending the years 1905 – 1908 based at the Curragh in Co. Kildare. He served till 1913, when he was discharged to the army reserves, marrying Marie O’Toole in August 1913.

When the Great War broke out in August 1914, William was recalled from the reserves, was mobilized and posted to the 2nd battalion, East Lancashire Regiment. They landed in Le Havre, France on the 6th November as part of the 24th Brigade in the 8th Division.

At this time William got his first frontline experience in the muddy trenches of France & Flanders.

Soldiers of the East Lancs Regiment in early 1915
Photo: http://www.archive.oneguyfrombarlick.co.uk/www.oneguyfrombarlick.co.uk/forum_topic0928.html

At the Battle of Aubers Ridge on the 9th of May 1915, William was wounded badly in the shoulder, caused by a bursting shell which exploded only a few yards from where he was entrenched, killing many of his comrades.

The following describes the 2nd East Lancs on the morning of May 9th.

As the men left the trench at 5.40 am the following morning the front ranks of the attacking companies were swept by machine gun fire and all suffered heavy casualties before reaching their own advance trench.
Forced to ground, they were told to attack again at 1pm after a barrage from their artillery, but the barrage fell upon the East Lancashire men instead.

A young officer, in this, his first action, reported:-

“Suddenly there broke over us a hail of shrapnel. It seemed to come from everywhere except the enemy, and men were being hit right and left. I realised that our artillery were bombarding the enemy trenches, after which we would assault if there were any of us left. From all around came the cries of wounded men mingled with the splitting crash of shrapnel, and every few minutes one’s ears were numbed by bursts of Jack Johnsons behind the forward trench.”

The attack was a failure, with 10 officers killed & 9 wounded, 63 other ranks killed, 325 wounded with 42 missing. The vast majority being within yards of their own front-line trench.

William was evacuated to Britain with his wounds, spending the next four months recovering at Stobhill military hospital in Glasgow.

Photo: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/397513104586188419/to:

Fully recovered, William transferred to the 9th Service Battalion. His unit was moved at the end of October to Salonika, as a part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, arriving on the 5th November 1915.

Compared to other theatres of war, stalemate characterised this arduous campaign in mountainous Balkan terrain, with offensive operations largely confined to raids and patrolling. In December 1915 the 9th East Lancashires were in action at Kosturino and, on 13th-14th September 1916, the same battalion saw more serious fighting at Macukovo.

Dec 1, 1915 – British troops prepare for Bulgarian assault at Kosturino Ridge in southern Serbia (modern Macedonia). Photo: http://www.scoopnest.com/user/prchovanec/671820335193436160

For the best part of two years the battalion took their turn in trenches overlooked by the immensely strong fortified heights of Pip Ridge and Grand Couronne. These were their objectives when the second battle of Doiran was launched in September 1918.

On the 19th, the East Lancashires made a heroic solitary assault, enfiladed by machine guns on both flanks. Their sacrifice was not entirely in vain, for three days later the enemy abandoned their positions and on 29th September Bulgaria was the first of all the Central Powers to unconditionally surrender.

For William his war was over, he had survived. He returned to England serving on for a further year, before being discharged in January 1920. He returned to Dublin, where he remained for the rest of his life, dying of heart failure on the 28th February 1951, aged 65. He was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.