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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cornelius (Con) Scarry was born on the 19th Sept. 1878 in Buttevant, Mallow, Co. Cork, Ireland. He married on 25th Feb. 1900 to Margaret Collins, born in Greenock, Scotland and was living in 15 Thomas Street Dublin, by the time of the 1911 census, with Margaret and their 5 children. He was a carter by profession.
Con enlisted in early 1915 into the Royal Munster Fusiliers. Following a period of training he departed with the 8th Battalion.
Sailing from Southampton the 8th RMF landed in France with the 16th (Irish) Division under its new commander Major-General William Hickie on 19. December 1915 with 33 officers and 948 other ranks, going straight to the deeply frozen trenches on the Loos salient, the front line of the earlier lost Battle of Loos, alongside the 15th (Scottish) Division.
Casualties occurred throughout January. During February it was stationed at Béthune for training, returning to the lines, rotating with the 9th RMF through April. In May its casualties were replenished by 12 officers and 200 men from the disbanded 9th Battalion. During June and July it took part on several raids along the Loos sector with its brigade, suffering significant losses, often the battalion’s best soldiers. Con was wounded during this period of service in the front line.
Following his recuperation from his wounds, Con transferred to the 1st Battalion.
Up to the middle of March 1917, rotating routine trench duties continued with light casualties (2 officers and 20 men killed). The battalion rehearsed special training during April and May for the assault on the strategic Messines Ridge.
It was during this time that Con was invalided, suffering from Trench Fever. This infectious disease was characterized by sudden onset with fever; headache; sore muscles, bones, and joints; and outbreaks of skin lesions on the chest and back. It was transmitted from one person to another by lice. First recognized in 1915, trench fever was a major medical problem during World War I.
Trench Fever attacked all armies and until the final year of the war baffled doctors and researchers. Chief symptoms of the disease were headaches, skin rashes, inflamed eyes and leg pains.
Despite such wide-ranging symptoms (which resembled typhoid and influenza) the condition was not itself particularly serious, with patients recovering after some five or six days although prolonged hospitalisation amounting to several weeks was common.
Con finished out his war with the Labour Corps, being demobbed and returning to Dublin in May 1919, finding work as a hotel porter. He lived in Kilmainham for the rest of his life, dying aged 80 in December 1958.
Thomas the son of James and Margaret Morrow, was an Agricultural Labourer, enlisting with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on the 27th October 1915.
Wounded in late 1916, Thomas served through the rest of the war, finally being discharged and released on account of being permanently physically unfit on the 6th of February 1919
Pictured below is Thomas’ Irish Comrades of the Great War, lapel badge.A scarce item, commemorating Irish involvement in the Great War. This is an officially issued badge by the “Comrades of the Great War” as it has an issue/membership number on the horse shoe fixing on reverse of badge.
The Comrades of The Great War were formed in 1917 to represent the rights of ex-servicemen who had fought in the 1914-1918 conflict. It subsequently went on to form the British Legion.
James Clarke a career soldier before the war, attested for the Royal Dublin Fusilers at Naas in July 1899 aged 18.
Departing for South Africa in June 1900, James spent the next two years fighting the Boer war with the Dubs’, receiving the Queens medal with clasps Orange Free State, Cape Colony & Transvaal.
James returned from South Africa in November 1902 and went on to serve for a further nine years, with the regiment, most of it abroad on garrison duty in places such as Malta, Egypt & Sudan. He completed his 12 years with the colours in July 1911 and was transferred to the army reserve.
On his service papers James’ character was described as indifferent. He appeared 13 times on the regimental conduct sheet throughout his service, mainly for drunkenness!
He returned to Dublin and lived with his mother Mary at 29 Lower Clanbrassil Street where he worked as a General Labourer, until the outbreak of the First World War, when he was called up from the reserve, being posted to the 2nd Dublin Fusiliers, as part of the 4th Infantry Division, which were brought over from England in September 1914 and placed around the town of Le Cateau. Their objective was to provide a rear guard force that would cover the retreating BEF.
On the 30th of March 1915, according to his papers, James was wounded by a Gunshot Wound to the hand..
Recuperating for 4 months James was then posted to the 1st Battalion in July 1915, going overseas again in August, this time to the Dardanelles, as part of a draft of reinforcements to a battalion that had been virtually wiped out after 4 months in Gallipoli.
The 1st Dublins and the rest of the 29th Division were moved to Suvla to reinforce the British force there. On 21 August the Dublins took part in another attempt to take Scimitar Hill and after the battle, the Suvla front-line became static, with no more major attacks being attempted. In this one day of fighting, the British suffered 5,300 casualties out of the 14,300 soldiers who participated, James managing to come through unscathed.
The Battle of Scimitar Hill was the last offensive mounted by the British at Suvla during the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I. On 1 January 1916, the 1st Dublins left Gallipoli for Egypt with the rest of the 29th Division and the last remaining British troops left Gallipoli on 9 January. The ironic thing was that the evacuation of Gallipoli by the Allies was, arguably, the most successful part of the campaign. The Dublins had suffered heavily, nearly all of the just over 1000 men of the 1st Dublins who had landed at Helles in April had been killed, wounded, experienced disease or were missing, but further carnage was to await them in France.
Posted to the 9th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in August 1916 as part of the 48th Brigade, 16th Division. James was part of the attack on Guinchy on September the 9th, where he was to go over the top again.
Zero hour for the attack was set at 4.45pm on 9 September. At the last minute orders were dispatched delaying the attack for two minutes to allow for a final intense bombardment of the German lines, but only the 47th Brigade received the order in time. The 48th Brigade launched its attack on time, and was hit by German counter battery fire.
The 48th Brigade captured 200 prisoners during the advance into Ginchy, but suffered heavily casualties during the fight, amongst them two of the six battalion commanders, Lieutenant-Colonel H. P. Dalzell-Walton of 8/ Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Captain W. J. Murphy of 9/ Royal Dublin Fusiliers. A series of further battles would soon push the front line away from the village.
The battalion was in the support trench which it had dug, with orders to take the second objective and consolidate. 9th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 1 section Machine Gun Company. 1 section 156 Company, Royal Engineers, 8th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 1 section Machine Gun Company, 1 section 156 Company Royal Engineers.
At zero hour (4.45pm) the line advanced under the artillery barrage on the first objective, each battalion assaulting with 4 companies in the front line, on a frontage of one platoon, platoons at 40 yards distance.
First Phase. Right Battalion (1st R.M.F.). At the onset very heavy Officer casualties were suffered. The right company experienced considerable opposition owing to the inability of the 8th R.M.F. to advance. This company was therefore wheeled to the right and dug in. Owing to the shortage of officers the other companies lost direction and went on beyond their objective. Left Battalion (7th R.I.R.) closely followed by 7th R. Irish Fusiliers reached the first objective with slight resistance & with very few casualties.
Second Phase. Right Battalion (8th R.D.F.) advanced to the second objective at 5.25 p.m. and gained it without encountering very serious opposition. Left Battalion (9th R.D.F) advanced to the second objective at 5.25pm but suffered very heavy officer casualties in doing so. Captain W. J. MURPHY (commanding) being killed as the battalion reached GINCHY. The battalion, owing to the loss of officers, carried on beyond the second objective and had to be brought back, also owing to the fact that 55 Division had not come up. The left flank had consequently to be brought back slightly. The line gained was then consolidated.
Casualties to the 9th battalion were 209, James being wounded from a Gunshot wound to his left hand.
James seen out the rest of the war without incident, mainly serving with the 1st & 9th Battalions, before transferring just before the wars end, to the Royal Irish Fusiliers. He was finally demobbed on the 27th February 1919 and returned once again to his mother in Lower Clanbrassil Street in Dublin. Interestingly his character which was described as “indifferent” during his earlier period of service, is now mentioned as “Very Good” during the period of the First World War.
James served a total of 17 years, fighting for his king & country and responded twice to Britain’s call to arms, serving on three continents.
I am proud to be the custodian of his 1914 Star with Bar and Victory medal, which were awarded for his service in the Great War 1914 – 18.
16th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (2nd Co. Down Pioneers)
Wounded in France, July 1916
From Belfast, Aged 20
Douglas from Ulsterville Avenue in Belfast, attested for the 16th Royal Irish Rifles in late 1914. They proceeded to France 0n the 13th February 1916. As part of the 36th (Ulster) Division, they were concentrated near Flesselles, north of Arras. With training and familiarisation, including periods in the trenches with 4th Division in the front line north of the River Ancre near Albert. 36th (Ulster) Division took over the front line in early Spring.
During unseasonably polar conditions,through March & April, the Pioneers were often engaged in the construction and repair of military railways, in preparation for the upcoming ‘big push’ on the Somme.
Prior to the eventual attack on the 1st July, the 16th were responsible for constructing new assembly trenches, fixing damaged wiring, deepening certain trenches and building bomb-proof dugouts along the whole front line of the 36th Ulster Division.
The Battalion was billeted in defensive positions in Aveluy Wood, which was only about 1500 yards from the front line and well within enemy artillery range. Indeed the battalion settled down for the first night on arrival, only to suffer an enemy bombardment around 0230 so slit trenches had to be dug hurriedly for their own protection.
All work was to be completed by the 19th June but the commencement of the bombardment was delayed for various reasons with the attack eventually set for the 1st July 1916 – a day to become a source of great sorrow and pride for the people of Ulster when the outcome was eventually disclosed.
The major decisions regarding the Somme offensive were made in March 1916 and all units now had new planned objectives. For the Pioneers it was a return to defensive work reinforcing existing wiring and trenches together with the construction of several lines of additional assembly trenches.
During the actual attack on the 1st July, the Battalion was in active support positions to move supplies forward, cut new connecting forward trenches to the German front line trenches and generally help the advancing troops. In some areas this was successful, but lack of committed fresh troops limited success whilst in other areas enemy troops were still in possession of targets and the men had to hold defensive positions against enemy counter attacks. The Ulster Division, having suffered about 5,500 casualties including killed and wounded, were withdrawn at 1800 that evening, but the 16th Pioneers had to work on supporting the replacement division until their eventual withdrawal on the 8th July 1916.
Prior to this month the war diaries had not reported monthly casualties but were now going to have to do so for many months to come. Casualties at the point of relief from the Somme sector were: 2 officers killed, 3 wounded and 5 broke down (later termed shell shocked). Douglas being one of these officers wounded at this time. Among the men 22 were killed and 159 wounded of which over 100 were invalided.
At the close of the first 9 months since arrival in France, the Battalion had fully earned their distinctive emblem of the crossed rifle and pick-axe.
We don’t know the extent of Douglas’s wounding. What we do know is that he recovered and went on to serve throughout the rest of the war. Finally being demobbed in April 1919.
Wounded in Action, Bois Grenier, 13th October 1915
From Dublin, aged 26
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’.
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.
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.