Peter, an old soldier with 15 years service in the army, was living in Wishaw, Scotland, when he enlisted into the 12th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry in the spring of 1915. He landed with his battalion, in Boulogne on the 2nd of October 1915 as part of the 46th Brigade in 15th (Scottish) Division.
Peter was killed in action whilst attached to a working party of the Royal Engineers, on the 1st September 1916.
Working parties were regularly sent out to mend shell damage to the trenches and their defences. These soldiers carry coils of barbed wire and corkscrew pickets (metal stakes) for repairing the belts of wire that protected the trenches. This was done to prevent the enemy from getting close to front-line positions.
Peter’s body was found and he is remembered with honour at Vermelles British Cemetery.
Patrick Dalton a Pre War regular soldier, departed with the 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, from Portsmouth, were it was stationed at the outbreak of World War 1. It was assigned to the 9th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division and remained with it throughout the war. It landed at Le Havre on 31st August 1914 and remained on the Western Front until the Armistice with Germany.
The 1st Battalion was soon in action at Mons in which battle, the 3rd and 5th Divisions bore the brunt of the fighting, and thereafter saw action in all the major engagements of 1914 – Marne, Aisne, La Bassee, Armentieres and Ypres. The battalion remained on the Western Front, in the same brigade and division, for the rest of the war. In all it suffered 1742 dead.
Patrick was killed on the 3rd July 1915,with two others wounded, whilst in bivouac, near the trenches at St Eloi. Circumstances of his death are unknown, most probably a stray shell, whilst his battalion was ‘at rest’.
He left behind a young wife, Elizabeth, who was living at 26 Haras Cottages, Harold’s Cross, in Dublin.
WE ASKED LIFE OF THEE
AND THOU HAS GIVEN HIM LIFE
Charley was born in Dublin in late 1892. A pre war regular soldier, he joined the Connaught Rangers in the summer of 1911, being based in India till the outbreak of the Great War.
Landing in France on the 26th September 1914, the 1st Battalion arrived at the Port of Marseilles having left the port of Karachi on the Indian subcontinent a month before. Throughout 1914 & 1915 they took part in: The First Battle of Messines. October 1914. The Battle of Festubert. November 1914. Battle of Neuve Chapelle. March 1915. Second Battle of Ypres. April 1915. Battle of Loos. September 1915.
Charley was killed at La Bassee in February in 1915, whilst in forward trenches. He was buried in the Le Touret Military Cemetery, Richebourg-L’Avoue.
He was the the son of Catherine Hand of 16 Aungier Street, Dublin, and the late John Hand.
Incidentally, Charley’s brother John, was to die a year and a half later on the 1st August 1916, whilst serving with the 1st/8th Battalion, The Kings Liverpool Regiment.
Lieutenant John Joseph Doyle, 6th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was killed in action at the Dardanelles on the 7th August 1915. He was the 4th son of Joseph James Doyle. of Fairview,Clontarf. He was born in March 1893.
John was educated at Blackrock College, Dublin. and the National University of Ireland, where he was an engineering student and was within a year of being qualified. When war broke out he volunteered, joined the Trinity College (Dublin) O.T.C.,(Officer Training Corps), 6 Aug. 1914, and was given a 2nd Lieut ‘s commission in the Dublin Fusiliers on 19 Sept. following, and promoted Lieut., 5 Feb. 1915.
He left with his Regiment for the Dardanelles on 9 July, 1915, and was killed in action there, 10 Aug. 1915.
His Commanding Officer, Col. P. Cox, wrote : ” He fell early on the morning of the 10th when most gallantly leading his platoon. His death must have been instantaneous, as the poor boy was shot through the temple. His death is a great loss to me and the Regiment. He was a right good boy, who was always keen, always did his very best, loved his work, and had no idea what the word ‘ Fear ‘ meant. Your son and his young brother subalterns have done splendid work for the Regiment., and it is due to their great devotion to duty that the Regiment has done so well.” Lieut. Doyle was a well-known footballer. His two brothers, Capt. E. C. Doyle A VC and Lieut. F. H. Doyle, A.V.C., are on active service. (Lt F H Doyle died 12/10/1916)
John has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial to the missing of Gallipoli.
Andrew was born in May 1895 in St. Mary’s, near the Rock of Cashel, to John and Bridget Parsons. The 1901 Census gives us a more fuller picture of the family. Living in the townland of Loughnafina, Cashel, we have John (40) a general servant, Bridget (36) also a general servant, Edward (20) a general labourer, then Willie (11), Andrew (6) and Bridget (4), complete the family. This was house number four of six in the townland. Very basic country dwelling, something like a lodge or outhouse leased to him by his neighbour and landlord, who being more well-to-do and prosperous has come to some sort of arrangement in using the two men of the family for work in and about his property.
Andrew enlisted into the 2nd battalion the Leinster Regiment at Clonmel around August/September 1914, right at the very start of the First World War.This was in no doubt hastened,by the fact that his elder brother Willie, a Royal Munster Fusilier since 1909 and an original member of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), was killed during the famous rearguard action at Etreux on 27th August 1914.
Following his period of training firstly at Fermoy and then at Cambridge in the UK, the battalion arrived in France on 10th September. Andrew was not part of this initial deployment. He arrived over a month later on the 25th of October after the battalion had suffered terrible casualties at Premesque ( 434, of which 155 were killed).
He was now part of the 73rd Brigade in the 24th Division. We pick Andrew up in June 1916. Barely twenty years of age he was now a Sergeant and his rapid promotion augured well. He has seen action at Hooge during the summer of 1915 and in front of Messines in April 1916. The battalion was still in Belgium now, as all others gathered up for the push on the Somme. Andrew went on leave for a few days in June before returning to the front line at the end of the month.
The end of June found the battalion occupying trenches along the Kemmel to Wyschaete road. A quiet sector considering what was to go on elsewhere on the Somme a few days later. The war diary reveals little information regarding the 27th/28th June. From what I can make out is that battalion were about to be relieved on 28th by the 7th Northants. The war diary for the 28th mentions that the last few days in the trenches there was shelling from whizzbangs, trench mortars bombs and rifle grenades, frequently. It seems fair to assume that sometime during the early morning of the 28th, one of these shells/bombs has exploded near Andrew, fatally wounding him. He lived for a few more, hours dying at 12.30 in the casualty clearing station.
Andrew is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension.
“HE SAW BEYOND THE FILTH
OF BATTLE, AND THOUGHT DEATH
A FAIR PRICE TO PAY
TO BELONG TO THE COMPANY
OF THESE FELLOWS”
Here is another from my collection of autographs to Irish born holders of the Victoria Cross (VC). This is to Brigadier General Charles FitzClarence VC of the Royal Fusiliers.
Charles was born in May 1865 at Bishopcourt, Co. Kildare the son of Captain George FitzClarence (15 April 1836 – 24 March 1894) and Maria Henrietta Scott (1841 – 27 July 1912). He had a twin brother named Edward. His paternal grandfather was George FitzClarence, 1st Earl of Munster, whose title Charles took on his death in 1903.
This was written by Charles for receipt of a tailor made suit in the early 1900s at the Seville Fine Clothiers. London. The following is the incredible personal history of this great Irish Hero.
Brigadier General Charles FitzClarence, VC, was one of the few senior British officers to be killed in action during the First World War. The son of a naval officer, he had been educated at Eton College and Wellington College, before joining the Royal Fusiliers as a lieutenant in 1885.
During the Boer War he was besieged in Mafeking, winning the Victoria Cross for his actions during the siege, where he was badly wounded. After the war he attended the staff college at Camberley. In 1900 he joined the Irish Guards, commanding a battalion from 1909-1913 and the regiment from 1913.
At the outbreak of the First World War, FitzClarence was sent out to France to command the 1st (Guards) Brigade, replacing General Ivor Maxse, who was returning to Britain to train a division of the new army. He took command of the Brigade during the first battle of Ypres (October-November 1914).
He would play a major role in two incidents of that battle. The battle of Gheluvelt (29-31 October) saw the Germans come close to breaking the British line. FitzClarence organised and led the counter-attack that restored the line.
The final major German attack of the battle came on 11 November (battle of Nonne Boschen). By this time the 1st Brigade consisted of three battalions (one each from the Scots Guards, the Cameron’s and the Black Watch) and was down to 800 men. They were attacked by a regiment of the Prussian Guard, and forced out of their front line. FitzClarence played an important role in stopping the German advance. He was then determined to win back the front line trenches lost earlier in the day. Having lost most of his own brigade in the fighting, he returned to the rear to find new troops. He was at the head of 500 men from the 2nd battalion of the Grenadier Guards, the Irish Guards and an contingent of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, when he was shot and killed by a German rifleman. After his death the planned counterattack was abandoned.
“Even against the greatest of odds, there is something in the human spirit – a magic blend of skill, faith, and valor – that can lift men from certain defeat to incredible victory.”