Corporal Thomas C Walsh

8th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers,

Wounded in Action, 7th September 1916,

From Dundalk, aged 20

IMG(1)Thomas Clinton Walsh was born in Dundalk around March 1896 to Michael and Mary Walsh, the youngest of six children. Living at 26 Church Street Dundalk (still standing today), his parents were described as merchants in the 1911 census. It seems the family enjoyed a decent standard of living.

Thomas enlisted with the 8th (Service ) Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers in March 1915 aged 19, most probably in Dundalk. The 8th Battalion were generally noted to be men who came from lower middle class backgrounds, clearly evident with Thomas.

With the 8th Battalion, training commenced in Buttevant Co. Cork before moving to Aldershot in Hampshire. After thirteen weeks the unit was deployed to Etaples in France, which they left on December 18th for the front and the Loos Salient. At Loos they got their introduction to trench warfare in January & February of 1916.

The 8th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was attached to the 48th Brigade of the 16th (Irish Division).

This period in the trenches was an eventful one for the Battalion. In the period till the end of April,when the Germans attacked using gas, the 48th Brigade as a whole suffered heavily. The 8th RDF lost 172 men and one officer KIA during this time, with many more to die from gas and their wounds subsequently.

An illustration shows British soldiers wearing primitive gas masks as they attack German positions at Loos Courtesy ofwww.southwalesargus.co.uk
An illustration shows British soldiers wearing primitive gas masks as they attack German positions at Loos
Courtesy of http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk

The Battalion were then on to the Somme sector a few months later, arriving at Sandpit Camp in late August. Early September found the Battalion on the front lines south of Guinchy. The Dubliners were ready for action and in the trenches by the 5th.

The advance east of Guillemont continued over the next three days. By the end of the 6th September, the British had reached their target line, around Leuze Wood, and were ready to turn north to deal with Guinchy.

Between the 6th & 9th September and the eventual capture of Guinchy, the men as a whole lay in open trenches under continuous shellfire. It was on the 7th of September whilst in these trenches that Thomas was wounded. The extent of his wounds we may never know, however although wounded, ten men of the 8th Battalion were killed on this day.

Guinchy was in fact taken the following Sunday to Guillemont, on the 9th September. With seven Irish Battalions involved, the attack was highly successful with the village being taken on the first attempt. It was a costly affair with half the attacking force of the 48th Brigade becoming casualties during the action.

A succinct contemporary line sums up the tenacity of the Irish Brigades. “On a Sunday they carried Guillemont with a rush; on the following Saturday they literally pounced upon Guinchy and in between they lay in open trenches under continuous shellfire”

Thomas was not there to see this successful climax due to his wounding.

Battle of Ginchy, 9 September 1916. Dublin Fusiliers at Ginchy Courtesy ofwww.dublin-fusiliers.com
Battle of Ginchy, 9 September 1916. Dublin Fusiliers at Ginchy Courtesy of http://www.dublin-fusiliers.com

Little more is known of his subsequent involvement in the War. What we do know that after recovering from his wounds at Guinchy, Thomas transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, with whom he saw out the rest of the war, being eventually discharged to Class Z Army Reserve.

Thomas returned to Dundalk where he became a motor car proprietor.

Thomas Clinton Walsh died aged 28 on July 22nd 1924, at his mothers residence, now in Dunany, Seatown Place in Dundalk. From his death notice it states he died from pneumonia, following illness contracted in the War! Seems he may well have been gassed at one point and paid the price a few years later. Another for whom the suffering of War did not end in 1918.

Thomas lies in St Patricks (New) Cemetery, Dundalk, Co. Louth

St Patricks Cemetery Dundalk. Today. Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org
St Patricks Cemetery Dundalk. Today.
Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

 

 

“A SOLDIER AND A MAN”

 

Brigadier General Charles FitzClarence VC

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.

FitzclarenceThis 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.

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Photo from http://www.illustratedfirstworldwar.com

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.

The medals of Charles Fitzclarence VC Courtesy of www.lordashcroftmedals.com
The medals of Charles Fitzclarence VC
Courtesy of http://www.lordashcroftmedals.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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.”

Walter Lord (1917 – 2002)

 

 

 

 

Private William Haughton

1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles,

Wounded in Action, Bois Grenier, 13th October 1915

From Dublin, aged 26

IMG_0001(2)

IMG_0002(7)William was born in Dublin in 1889. Coming from squalid conditions, he had spent all his life in tenements. At the outbreak of war he and his family were living in squalor at 22 Ellis Quay.

He enlisted for the Royal Irish Rifles on the 9th November 1914. He departed shortly after for France on active service, joining up with the 1st Battalion (25th Brigade in the 8th Division), after their action near Fromelles on 21st May 1915. Straight into trench life, William, was one of a draft of 5 Officers and 146 Other Ranks needed to reinforce a depleted battalion who had been suffering high casualties of late.

The battalion remainned in this quiet sector until the end of September and the it was on to Bois Grenier. The attack was conceived as an adjunct to the Battle of Loos. The aim was ‘to capture about 1200 yards of the German front line system opposite the re-entrant and link them up with our own line at the Well Farm and Le Bridoux salients, thereby both shortening and strengthening our position’.

Infantry of the Royal Irish Rifles Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org
Infantry of the Royal Irish Rifles
Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

 

The following assault troops were used:- 2/Rifle Brigade, 2/Royal Berkshire and 2/Lincolnshire. 1/Royal Irish Rifles held the left of the line.

A ferocious battle for William and his pals. Under difficult conditions of heavy rain and mist, the battalion made swift progress capturing there objective together with the 2nd Lincs. However not all the Germans had succumbed here at Bridoux Fort. The second line was full of Germans and rifle fire was brisk. Eventually, under an avalanche of bombs, the Lincolns withdrew along with the Irish Rifles.

The chief reason for the failure to hold the German trench was the superiority of the enemy bombers, who threw a larger and heavier bomb than the British could throw. At 6pm, orders were received to remain in position for the night. Other casualties for the day were 2/Lt J.H.Butler (slightly wounded), 11 Other Ranks killed, 76 wounded and 15 missing. William had come through.

The battalion came out of the front line on October 1st to billets at Pont Mercier.

An Australian chaplain wearing the "Large Box Respirator" Bois Grenier Sector Courtesy en.wikipedia.org
An Australian chaplain wearing the “Large Box Respirator” Bois Grenier Sector 1915
Courtesy en.wikipedia.org

 

 

 

 

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The 1st Royal Irish Rifles were back in the line on the 13th. During this night,there was a lot of trench mortaring and rifle fire opposite Bridoux & Well Farm Salients. 1 officer and 9 men of a working party were wounded. One of these men was William Haughton. William received a Gunshot Wound to the thigh. During a somewhat peaceful time of trench life & having come through serious action a couple of weeks earlier, William’s war was at an end. A serious wound to one of his legs subsequently led to its amputation.

On his return to “Blighty”, it seems William spent nearly 9 months in hospital, recovering and recuperating, before finally being discharged on the 14th July 1916, returning to his parents home at 22 Ellis Quay in Dublin.

A group of soldiers in hospital uniform. For them the war was over! Courtesy of www.worldwar1postcards.com
A group of soldiers in hospital uniform. For them the war was over!
Courtesy of http://www.worldwar1postcards.com