Killed In Action on board H.M.S. “Indefatigable.” 31st May 1916
At the Battle of Jutland
Around 4:00pm, on Wednesday afternoon, May 31st, Indefatigable was hit around the rear turret by two or three shells from the German battlecruiser Von Der Tann. She fell out of formation to starboard and started sinking towards the stern and listing to port. Her magazines exploded at 4:03 after more hits, one on the forecastle and another on the forward turret. Smoke and flames gushed from the forward part of the ship and large pieces were thrown 200 feet (61.0 m) into the air.
Of her crew of 1,019, only two survived. Hugh Byrne’s body was never recovered. He is remembered with honour on the PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
Hugh left behind a widow, Isabella, of 27 Fishamble Street, Dublin
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
The Citation for John’s action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross reads as follows;
“On 12/13 September 1917 north of Broenbeek, Belgium, Lance-Sergeant Moyney was in command of 15 men forming two advanced posts. Surrounded by the enemy he held his post for 96 hours, having no water and very little food. On the fifth day, on the enemy advancing to dislodge him, he attacked them with bombs, while also using his Lewis gun with great effect. Finding himself surrounded, he led his men in a charge through the enemy and reached a stream, where he and a private (Thomas Woodcock) covered his party while they crossed unscathed, before crossing themselves under a shower of bullets.”
John Moyney was born in Rathdowney, County Laois, Ireland. He was 22 years old, and a lance-sergeant in the 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards, British Army during the First World War when he was awarded the VC.
In 1920, he joined the Great Southern Railway as a porter at Roscrea. As his family grew to six children, he was plagued by money worries.
However despite everything, he maintained a close association with his old regiment. During the Second World War, his only son was among many Southern Irishmen who enlisted in the Irish Guards. He served in North Africa and was taken prisoner in Italy.
Jack Moyney retired as head porter at Roscrea station after forty years on the railways. He was a devout Catholic who raised thousand of pounds to help poor boys study for the priesthood.
Described in old age as a ‘fit,bright-eyed man’, he was a familiar figure in Roscrea, cycling each week to the local post office to collect his pension well into his 80s. The last surviving Irish VC winner of the First World War, he passed away on 10 November 1980. aged 85. His most valuable possessions, his hard won row of medals, were bequeathed to the Irish Guards.
Shortly before his death, in a typically candid interview, he recounted his harrowing experiences on the Western Front. His abiding memory was of Passchendaele – ‘an awful joint altogether’
“We were very surprised to seem them walking. We had never seen that before. The officers went in front. I noticed one of them walking calmly, carrying a walking stick. When we started firing we just had to load and reload. They went down in their hundreds. You didn’t have to aim. We just fired into them.”
German soldier in his diary, after the Battle of Loos, September 1915