ATHY HERITAGE CENTRE

KILDARE OBSERVER

Athy Heritage Centre Virtual Tour Kildare Observer World War 1 World War Casualties John Vincent Holland


MAY 1915

 

 

IRISH NATIONAL VOLUNTEERS 01/05/1915

 

The Naas Corps of the National Volunteers with their fife and drum band marched to Punchestown on Sunday last. Kill and some of the other local corps were also present.

 

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RATHANGAN VOLUNTEERS 07/05/1915

 

A special meeting of the above was held on Thursday night, Mr. S.J. Malone, J.P., presiding. It was unanimously decided to hold a concert at Rathangan on Sunday, 27th June, in aid of the Equipment Funds of the local Volunteers. It was also decided to make a house-to-house collection in the district.

 

THE CASUALTY LIST

KILLED AT THE DARDANELLES

 

Amongst the lists of casualties published during the week were the following names of officers: -

 

KILLED

 

Sec.-Lt. Andrews, R.D.F., son of a former sergeant-major at Naas Depot. He was promoted from the ranks in February last.

Brevet-Major T.H.C., Frankland, R.D.F., son of Colonel Frankland, formerly commanding officer at Naas Depot.

Major C.W.T., Grimshaw, D.S.O. R.D.F., formerly of Naas Depot.

Lieut.-Colonel R.A., Rooth, R.D.F., well known in Naas, where he was stationed at the Depot.

 

CAPTAIN W.F. HIGGINSON

 

Captain W.F. Higginson, 1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who was reported killed at the Dardanelles, was gazetted to the regiment on December 4th 1901, became Lieutenant on August 22nd, 1906, and Captain on March 5th, 1912. Captain Higginson was for some years

stationed in Naas. He won the Co. Kildare Lawn Tennis Championship in 1911, and was a fine exponent of cricket and hockey.

 

WOUNDED

 

Captain A.M. Johnson, R.D.F., son-in-law of Colonel Downing, in command of the 7th Battn. R.D.F.

 

MAJOR E.A. MOLESWORTH

 

Major Edward Algernon Molesworth, who is wounded, has had 18 years' service with the 1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He served through the South African war, and took part in the relief of Ladysmith. He received the Queen's medal with five clasps and the Kings's medal with two clasps. He was promoted to his present rank on December 5th, 1914. Major Molesworth was stationed in Naas for some years.

 

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HOME FROM THE FRONT WOUNDED AT ST. ELOI 08/05/1915

RECUPERATED IN NAAS

(SPECIAL TO "KILDARE OBSERVER")

 

Sergt. Robert Doherty, of 2nd Battn Royal Irish Fusiliers, who was wounded at St. Eloi on the 14th March, was on a visit to his brother, Mr. W.J. Doherty, main Street, Naas, during the week and told a thrilling story of his experiences at the front to the "Kildare Observer" representative. Sergt. Doherty is 25 years of age and a native of Clones, Co. Monaghan. He joined the Fusiliers seven years ago and after a few months home service went to his battalion in India. In October last he returned to England, and almost immediately the "Royal Leish" were dispatched to the front and from the moment of their arrival began to experience the hardships of active service. The intense coldness of the nights in the trenches around Ypres taxed the endurance of our troops, but none more terribly than those fresh from the warm Indian climate. The story of the stirring period that followed the arrival of the Fusiliers in Flanders is best told in Sergt. Doherty's own words: - "We lay to the right of Ypres all the time", he said, "and had a few minor fights, eventuating is the battle of St. Eloi on the 14th March, where we were out to avenge Neuve Chapelle, and this we did. It was about 5 o'clock on the afternoon of the 14th when Germans started a Terrific Bombardment of our trenches. This was soon followed by a slight advance of the German infantry who poured showers of bullets on our trenches. The Village of St. Eloi lay behind us a short distance and was occupied by our troops. The onslaught on our trenches was awful. Germans coming along in vastly superior numbers - about 6 to 2 - with the result that after a stubborn resistance our first line had to retire."The Germans kept up the pressure, but we refused to yield. We were at last overpowered by their great numbers and were driven back the German got possession of the village, but the blood of our men was up. The troops holding this position were entirely an Irish Brigade - the 82nd. When we retired from the village of St. Eloi the Germans barricaded the streets, evidently knowing that we were not going to give it up so softly. Next morning - that is the morning of the 15th - we charged and not only drove the Germans out of St. Eloi - though they fight like devils - but also recaptured the trenches from which we had been driven the previous night. Again and again the Germans attempted to dislodge THE IRISH BRIGADE but without success, and numbers of our fellows - N.C.O.s officers and men - were decorated and mentioned in dispatches. We were also complimented by the General Officer Commanding and also by the Army Corps Commander, and for the plucky way they held out our fellows got 16 days' rest. Indeed, the needed it badly. "It's a strange thing, isn't it, that though Canadians and Scottish and other regiments can be mentioned for certain deeds IRISH BRIGADE DOES NOT GET THE CREDIT for what it is doing. The only Irish Regiment that seems to get a show in this way is the Irish Rifles. They are nearly all Belfast fellows."We were only about an hour in action at St. Eloi after the Germans furious bombardment when I was struck by shrapnel on the right side of the head near the eye (sticking plaster indicated the wound). The shell, a splinter from which struck me, burst in front of the trench and killed the officer beside me and the major in charge - Major McGregor - FELL DEAD ACROSS MY FEET I remember after I was struck one of our fellows - Sergt. T. Dolan - came along to me, got out my bandages and bandaged my head, and other fellow gave me some water. I heard afterwards in a letter from a friend in the trenches that poor Dolan was killed almost immediately afterwards. I became unconscious, and recovering soon afterwards. I jumped up and seized my rifle and I saw the Germans advancing towards us. The pain in my head was terrible - so bad that I could not keep my eyes open and had to shoot with my eyes closed. Then I swooned off again. An attempt was made to remove our wounded and I was taken back to the first dressing station, where I was attended to. The chap - a private - who helped me back could not carry me owing to the depth of the mud. On the way back I lost consciousness several times, and when I was swooning the private used to lie down flat in the mud and let me rest my head.

- ALL STREAMING WITH BLOOD - on his body. It's a strange thing that though I know the chap quite well, he is of my own company, I can't remember who he is. My memory plays me tricks like that since I was hit. I was taken to Boulogne hospital, where I spent a week, and was then sent to Hampstead Heath, London, where I remained in hospital for 17 to 20 days. I returned to my regiment again on Thursday, and feel all right only for my nerves."I was a corporal on my return from India and was promoted full sergeant on service. I might mention to you as a strange coincidence that the French Regiment, THE 8TH FRENCH REGIMENT we relived at St. Eloi was the same regiment from whom the Irish Fusiliers took the Eagle at Barossa in 1812. When we were relieving them the Frenchmen knew this and lots of them looked at our badges - bearing the Eagle - and smiled, saying; J'ai compris". I thought that was rather a coincidence."

 

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ROLL OF HONOUR

DUBLIN FUSILIERS IN CASUALTY LISTS

 

Amongst the names published in the casualty lists published on Saturday, May 8th were:-

 

WOUNDED

 

Lieut. Colonel A. Loveband, C.M.G., 2nd Battn. R.D.F., who has been associated with Naas Depot for many years, being officer commanding there on the outbreak of war. He has had 29 years service with the regiment, to which he was gazetted Lieutenant on

August 28th 1902, and took part in several operations in Cape Colony, Orange River Colony and the Transvaal. He was promoted Captain in December 1894, Brevet Lieutenant - Colonel in April 1907, and Lieutenant - Colonel on September 14th 1914. No more popular officer has ever been attached to the Depot, as was recently manifested when the Colonel returned from the front for a few days to recuperate after an illness contracted in the firing line.

Major R.D.Johnson, 3rd Battn. R.D.F. (attached to 2nd Battn.) Major Johnson was attached to Naas Depot for some years.

Captain S.G. de Courcey Wheeler, 1st Battn., R.D.F. Captain Wheeler is a brother of Captain H.E. de Wheeler, Robertstown, who is at present serving with the Army Service Corps.

 

KILLED

 

Second - Lieut. C.W. Peel 2nd R.D.F.

Major E.N. Banks, 2nd R.D.F., Major Banks was well known in Naas, where he resided at Craddockstown for some time.

IN THE SAME RANK AND FILE

 

Amongst the casualties in the Dardanelles notified during the week to the relatives of the soldiers in Naas were;

 

KILLED

 

Private Michael Kavanagh, 1st Battn., R.D.F., son of Mrs Kavanagh, Corban's Lane, Naas.

 

WOUNDED

 

Sergt. Laurence Byrne and Private Michael. Byrne. sons of the late Private Byrne, R.D.F., who died at Naas Depot a short time ago. Both Sergt. and Pte. Michael Byrne belong to the 1st Battn., R.D.F.

Private Thomas Doran. 1st R.D.F., son of Mrs McCann, The Harbour, Naas, (his brother Pte. John Doran 2nd R.D.F., is a prisoner in Germany.)

Private Coughlan, 1st Battn. R.D.F. (one of three sons of Peter Coughlan, Rathasker Road, at present at the front)

Private Christopher Pierce, 1st R.D.F., son of Mrs Pierce, Corban's Lane, Naas.

 

SOLDIER'S FUNERAL AT KILCOCK

 

On Saturday evening last, at Kilcock, the funeral took place of Private Baxter, a native of that town, who died at Netly Hospital during the week from wounds received at the front recently. A query from the War Office to deceased's parents, who reside at School Street, as to whether they wished the remains to be sent home, having been answered in the affirmative, the remains arrived by the 4.45pm train on Friday evening. They were met at the station by the relatives of deceased, the local members of the R.I.C., and a large gathering of the public, and were conveyed to his parents residence. The funeral on Saturday was a very imposing scene. The cortege was headed by the local corps of National Volunteers, all the available members attending and comprised a large concourse of people from the town and surrounding districts.

The parents were the recipients of many messages of condolence, including one from H.M. the King and one from Lord Kitchener.

 

FROM THE BOUNDARY OF CIVILISATION

NAAS MAN'S EXPERIENCES

THE STORY OF THE CAPTURE OF NEW GUINEA

 

SPECIAL TO "KILDARE OBSERVER"

 

Back from the borders of civilisation with experiences such as fall to the lot of few young men of twenty-two, Mr. Peter Lawler, youngest son of Mrs. Lawler, Halverstown, Naas, told me a story during the week, which, for thrills, and as a veracious account of the conquest of the only bit of German territory that has yet fallen to the gun of the British troops during the present war, will be found as interesting as any narrated within the past twelve months. It is a plain, unembroidered story, full of incident and information of the happenings in far-away New Guinea - German New Guinea - dating from the outbreak of war, the tale of how the wings of the Germans were clipped by the sealing up of some of their sources of supply for coal for their ships in the Pacific. Mr. Lawler, who is an electrical engineer by profession, left his home for New Zealand some four years ago. In New Zealand he only remained for twelve months, and as he there developed Rheumatics he left for Australia on the advice of his doctor. Here his worth was soon recognised and within twelve months of his arrival he had secured an important and much coveted position on the electrical engineering staff of the National Insurance Company. This position he left in August last to join the first Australian Naval and Military Expedition. And reference to this fact justifies the introduction of a remark which Mr. Lawler dropped in the course of our conversation. "The Colonies", he said, seem to me to be much more patriotic at the present time than the old country. Why, there everybody rushed to the army to help the Empire when the trouble commenced. Here it seems to require a lot of coaxing to induce men to join. Sydney alone sent sixty thousand men to the colours, and that is something to the credit of a new country". But to begin the story - "Three day after England declared war on Germany", said Mr. Lawler, "they called for volunteers in Sydney. They were looking for marines, but thought I was not a marine, I offered myself and was accepted. Altogether on the first call they got 700 marines and ex soldiers, and with this batch I WAS SENT OFF five afterwards in H.M.S. Berrima - which was a P. and O. liner that had been converted into a troopship. Our destination was secret, but proved to be New Guinea. People at home don't seem to know much about what happened out there, but elsewhere it was regarded as a very important feather in the British cap that we should have so promptly succeeded. However, that is by the way, and I may say for the information of those whose geographical knowledge has become rusty that New Guinea is an island lying to the North of Australia. Having left Sydney, we went along the Australian coast to Palm Island, where we landed and had a fortnight's training. Meanwhile the battleship Australia had gone to look for the German fleet, which was known to be in the Pacific. When she returned to Palm Island we - the Australian fleet accompanied us - moved on to the Island of New Guinea, where we landed at Herbertshohe in New Britain. New Britain was at this time a German possession, having ceded by Britain for some other place, and Herbertshohe was a German garrison town. About twelve miles inland from Herbertshohe was a wireless station, which is THE STRONGEST IN THE PACIFIC. This station we got orders to dismantle, about 100 of us being detailed for the work. We started at 4 o'clock in the morning. I may mention that marching with the troops through plantations with the sun 120 in the shade and laden with equipment weighing about 110lbs is no joke. Added to this is the additional consideration that there is no water to be had. Troops marching there have to carry sufficient water for their needs with them.

About six miles from the wireless station, that is a mile or so from the first trench of which I shall tell you in a moment, we had a bit of a surprise. One of our men noticed a German soldier in a tree about to fire. He was well up in the tree and one of our men anticipated his intention and fired at him, wounding him in the wrist, and leaving him helpless - his hand was shattered. It was a lucky thing for us for upon reaching the wounded German and examining the tree we found that there was an electrical contrivance set up in it with a switch. It was connected with a A LAND MINE and portion of our little army had already crossed the mine, which was a trench across the road filled with iron bolts and other metal and a lot of explosives. A touch of the switch and we should have been blown sky high, but the lucky shot of our comrade prevented this. The man told us afterwards that he had been posted there to explode the mine as we crossed it with our 12 - pounder. Later on we exploded it ourselves as an experiment and you never saw anything like the upheaval of earth there was. Bolts, earth and stones were hurled into the elements and trees in the vicinity were uprooted by the violence of the shock. Some time later we found another mine, but having seen the havoc produced by the first explosion we didn't explode it.

About 5 miles from the wireless station, which it was our duty to tackle, we came across the first trench. It was occupied entirely by niggers - about 400 of them, native police.The NIGGERS OPENED FIRE ON US and we lost ten men. We were forced to take shelter as they entirely outnumbered us and were no mean shots. Later we had 150 reinforcements. This was about 8 o'clock in the morning, and at 3 o'clock that afternoon after in stiff fight we had that trench. We had brought our 12 - pounder gun to bear upon the niggers. The nigger knows not mine rifle shooting; he can stand that all right, but the big gun is too much for his nerves. Those of the niggers who hadn't deserted the trench and cleared off to our trenches in the rear chucked up the sponge when the heavy gun had fired some shots on the trench and we took 150 prisoners, disarmed them and packed them back to Herbertshohe.

We got to the second line of trenches about 5 o'clock in the afternoon. This was occupied by a mixture of niggers and Germans soldiers. We opened fire with the 12 - pounder and in the attack lost pretty heavily ourselves. Somewhere about 8 o'clock in the evening that trench fell to us also, and we took about 40 niggers prisoner. It was dark by the time and the niggers managed to give us the slip and get away through the scrub. We then marched on the last trench, which lay between us and the wireless, station. We found on approaching the trench that IT WAS OCCUPIED BY GERMAN SOLDIERS. There were no niggers there. We rested without attacking and at 4 o'clock in the morning the Germans opened fire on us. We returned the fire and for about two hours the racket went on in pretty lively fashion. We had previously entrenched ourselves during the night. I should have told you that our little force was composed of all tough old soldiers, with the exception of six green ones like myself. Every time a German head come over the trench we popped at it until about 7 o'clock when UP WENT THEIR FLAGS. We didn't advance at once fearing this was a ruse and that their intention was to get us out of our trench so as to have a fling at us. When we did advance on the trench we found it deserted save for the bodies of some 10 Germans and some wounded. The Germans had retreated to a place called Tomo, about 19 miles the other side of the wireless station. We dismantled the wireless station and proceeded to pick up any wounded there - 24 Germans and about 50 of our own men. We had to carry the wounded back to Herbertshohe, which was a terrible job, as we had nothing to eat since we left the morning before, and our water supplies had long been consumed. We left a garrison of 120 men in Herbertshohe and went about the troopship.

We landed again at a place called Rebaul, 250 milesfrom Herbertshohe on the same Island. Rebaul is the capital of the Island and was AN IMPORTANT GERMAN COALING STATION. They had thousands of tons of coal stacked there for their warships. As we entered Rebaul they flew the white flag and surrendered, and we hoisted the our flag and read the proclamation. We marched through the town in company with a lot of men off the Australian warships, and met with no opposition. At 5 o'clock in the afternoon we returned to the ship when a dispatch rider reached our colonel to inform us the Germans were showing fight at Tomo - the place to which they retreated from the wireless station. Two hundred men, amongst whom I found myself, were sent back to Herbertshohe on the Sydney, which you may remember was THE SHIP THAT SANK THE EMDEN. We reached Herbertshohe about 12 o'clock that night and anchored outside, as there are no wharves there. We were sent to the shore in boats and when the boat stranded we had to wade the rest of the way. We slept on the sands in our kits that night, and at 4 o'clock in the morning we marched for Tomo. The "Sydney" kept up a steady bombardment over our heads, but Tomo being so far inland, of course, it could not be shelled from the sea. The Germans, however, reckoned that no white men could march from Herbertshohe to Tomo in one day. However, we did it in a forced march and got to Tomo abut 3.30 in the afternoon, dragging our 12 - pounder after us. The Germans did not expect us that day. They Drink a terrible lot of beer, believing that it keeps off the malaria, and when we reached Tomo they were HAVING A GOOD "BOOZE" UP. There were only about twenty Germans in the trenches with the niggers. But what a trench that was! we found it quite imperious to our shells. After firing four shots Colonel Watson, our commander, ordered us to retire, as it was not possible to take the trench that night in the darkness. We were ordered to retreat to our base, which had been made about four miles back. On our march back a German soldier on horseback overtook us and told us his Government wished to confer with our commander with regard to making peace. Ourcolonel told him through an interpreter, a Frenchman - for the fellow pretended he could speak no English - to tell his Governor to bring in his men and surrender next day, that was the only peace he could make. We marched back to Herbertshohe that night, and next day the German Governor came in with 400 German troops and 500 niggers and surrendered.The Germans were put on the "Berrima" and sent back to Sydney, we took the rifles from the niggers, GAVE THEM TINS OF BULLY BEEF and sent them back to the bush again, as they were harmless without their German masters.

"We returned to Rebaul, where there was a garrison of 300 Australian troops, and we proceeded to a place called Mandang on the mainland of New Guinea. The German Governor had, of course, surrendered Mandang amongst the other places, but some troops there held out on their own, surrendered without much trouble. We left a garrison of 150 men there. We next went to the Solomon Islands - Kikta - where there were only fifty Germans, and they surrendered. After that we returned to Rebaul, arriving there just at the beginning of the Malaria season, which sets in about Christmas. We lost a lot of men there through fever.

"After that we were sent to New Ireland. There were six Germans on the island who had not come in. Information of this was given to us by AN ENGLISH MISSIONARY. The Germans got to know that he gave the information, and when he went back they flogged him, but they paid for it afterwards. The garrison came to relieve us on 1st February and we left Rebaul for Sydney on the 18th February, that is about 400 of us were left out of 1,500, between fever and bullets. We had spent six months in New Guinea and around it, and the work and the climate told so much on us that hardly on of us was STRONG ENOUGH TO LIFT A RIFLE when we reached Sydney.

I should have told you that Rebaul, Kieta and Mandang were important German coaling stations, and as these were taken by us the Germans had nowhere to go for coal but to Chili. the Australian fleet followed them there only to find that they had cleared around by Cape Horn where they were met by the British fleet at Falkland Island and were sunk.

Arrived at Sydney our little force was examined and the doctors said we would be unfit for services for nine months owing to a hardship we had endured. I thought I would come home for a while. I WAS THE ONLY IRISHMAN amongst the force, as far as I know I believe I am the only one that has yet reached England after the New Guinea expedition. We were a small force, but we did some useful work and many a poor fellow who left Sydney with me gave up his life in his doing. I escaped without a scratch, and was also extremely lucky in escaping the fever which played havoc with our men.

Back from the boundary of civilisation concluded Mr. Lawler, referring to my comment "That's quite true, for we were quite close to the cannible country. I should like to tell you something another time about the niggers and their lives and habits. I'm sure it will interest you."

 

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ROYAL DUBLIN FUSILIERS PRISONERS IN GERMANY 15/05/1915

 

We have received the following letter from Private Philip Halleron (9639), 11. Bat. 6 Camp. No. 729, Limburg (lahn). Germany bearing the post mark of 26th April:- "Sir, - On behalf of a few Naas men of my regiment (the Royal Dublin Fusiliers) who are here as prisoners of war and who were readers of your paper before the war broke out, I ventured to write this card and to ask you if you could see your way to send us something now in our time of trouble. As it seems to be the custom of provincial journals to look after the prisoners of their particular town or county, I am sure you will not be far behind other papers in this matter. Should you see your way to fall in with this suggestion, the most suitable things to send are eatables, tobacco and cigarettes at present. Wishing your paper every success. The number here from Naas and district is about 10 or12 men.

I remain, sir,

yours sincerely

 

Philip Halleron

 

[We shall be glad to receive subscriptions or gifts residents of the Naas district for the purpose indicated - Ed. "R.O."]

 

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EGGS FOR OUR WOUNDED SOLDIERS 22/05/1915

COLLECTION BY NORTH KILDARE BRANCH

BRITISH RED CROSS SOCIETY

 

In pursuance of the effort which is being made to provide eggs for our wounded soldiers and sailors, a branch of the Red Cross Society has been started in North Kildare. Mrs. Greer, Curragh Grange, is president, and Miss. C. Thackeray, Lumville, The Curragh, Hon Secretary. There are 300,000 new laid eggs wanted weekly for the wounded, and any gifts of eggs, no matter how small, will be gratefully received by Miss. C. Thackeray, Hon. Sec., Lumville, The Curragh. In connection with the scheme which has been inaugurated by the Red Cross Society, it is proposed to make a national egg collection for our sick and wounded soldiers and sailors. An egg depot has been started for North Kildare. The children in the schools are asked to bring one egg each every week. Many people have already very kindly consented to collect in various parts of the district. All particulars can be had by those who send eggs from Miss. C. Thackeray, Hon. Sec., Lumville, The Curragh.

The cause is a very urgent one, and it is to be hoped there will be a generous response in Kildare. Depot centres will be established in each of the towns, villages, districts and market places in North Kildare, full particulars of which can be held from the Hon. Sec.

 

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CORRESPONDENCE 22/05/1915

TO THE EDITOR OF THE KILDARE OBSERVER

 

Sir, - books and magazines are most urgently needed for distribution to our soldiers in the trenches and in cases. I am sure there are many of my friends and neighbours in the Co. Kildare who have old books and magazines which they would gladly send to our soldiers to pass away the time when resting from their labours both in the fighting line and in camps at home. All books and magazines can be sent to the "Stationery Office, Dublin", from whence they will be sent to the head office in London. All parcels should be clearly marked "Camps Library", - Yours truly

 

Palmerstown, Straffan

Co. Kildare

 

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IRISH NATIONAL VOLUNTEERS

BALLYMORE - EUSTACE CORPS

 

A shooting competition confined to members, will begin to-morrow (Sunday). Those intending to take part will assemble in Market Square at 2 o'clock.

 

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SOLDIER'S FUNERAL AT BALLYMORE - EUSTACE 22/05/1915

 

On Saturday afternoon a large and sympathetic gathering of the neighbouring public attended at Harristown station on the arrival of the 3.10 p.m. train to meet the remains of Michael O'Hara (Private in the R.D.F.) who died at Netly Hospital from wounds received a few days previously. O'Hara had been in the thick of the fighting since the very commencement, and is one of three brothers all in the army fighting for King and Country. The War Office - at the request of his relatives - had the remains sent home and laid in their last resting place beside the peaceful little village of Ballymore - Eustace far from the din of battle. As the sad cortege reached the outskirts of the village the solemn pealing of the chapel bell announced its arrival, and the villagers flocked to pay a last mark of respect. The Rev. Father O'Brien, C.C., conducted the burial service. On Sunday morning one of the worshippers at the church very thoughtfully placed a beautiful wreath on the grave.

 

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THE WAR AND TRADE OPPORTUNITIES 29/05/1915

 

The Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland desire to announce that the Board of Trade in pursuance of their efforts to enable British firms to replace merchandise previously obtained from Germany and Austria-Hungary, have issued a number of weekly lists of articles which inquiries desire to purchase. List No. 21 has now been issued and copies of it can be obtained on application from the Commercial Intelligence Branch of the Board of Trade, 73 Bassinghall Street, London, E.C..

 

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ROBERTSTOWN MAN ON THE "LUSITANIA" 29/05/1915

STORY OF HIS EXPERIENCES

A FORTY FEET JUMP FOR LIFE

 

Amongst the survivors of the Lusitania disaster was a young man named Thomas McCormack a native of Robertstown, who arrived at Cooleragh, near Blackwood last week, where he now resides with his relatives, and showing little signs of the terrible ordeal he had passed through. When I called on him to hear his story on Tuesday, writes our representative, I found him engaged in carting turf from the bog of his uncle.

Starting with his narrative, Mr. McCormack said he had been about two years in the United States and decided to come home, booking on the Lusitania, as in ordinary times. Before leaving he was not aware of any threat on the part of the Germans to sink the ship. He saw no placards in New York, and although he had seen the daily papers for a week before he left he noticed no published warning. The first he heard of submarines was on the Wednesday preceding the disaster, when he saw the ships' life boats hung over the sides. He inquired of a sailor the reason for this and was told it was done so as to be prepared for attacks coming near England, and also that there was no cause for alarm as it was done on all trips then. Coming to the eventful day, he said they sighted land about 11 a.m., and they were beginning to consider themselves safe. He was walking on the main deck about 2 o'clock when he heard the two bangs. They were not very much, he added, and he did not know what was wrong till he noticed the ship keeling over to starboard and saw a bit of a panic with people tumbling over one another running for life belts. He also went to procure his belt, but as he was travelling third class, his berth was situated three flights of stairs below, and before he had descended more than half way he found himself more than half way he found himself knee deep in water. He returned to the deck to find the ship was almost on his side, with the bow dipped low and the stern high in the air. The boats were being lowered and large numbers of people were standing around. No life belt was available, but vessel, he decided to jump. Jumping from the side on which the deck was nearest the water, he said, meant certain death, because it was becoming a howling mass of human beings clinging to one another in groups, "and you know", he added. "If a drowning person catches hold of you and you have no life belt it is all up". Continuing, he said he had no friend or chum with him. He knew no one on board, and made no acquaintances. It was merely up to him to devise a plan to cave his own life, and he was powerless to do more. He scrambled up towards the stern, the deck being now almost perpendicular with the stern towering upwards of 40 feet in the air. Divesting himself of coat, vest and boots, he made the fateful jump, diving to an awful depth. On rising to the surface he started swimming away from the ship, and got to a distance of about four or five perches when she disappeared. Then came the explosion, which was dreadful, water and wreckage being hurled high in the air. After a short time he came upon something like a trunk, but this capsized and was near drowning him. He kept afloat for about an hour and a quarter, when he saw about half a dozen life belts floating about, and donning one of these survived the ordeal till rescued about 6p.m. by a trawler called, he thought, "The Indian Empire". He pulled himself on to th trawler by means of a rope, his hands still showing traces of the injuries thus received. On reaching the deck he fell, having temporarily lost the power of his legs. This boat, he said, picked up a large number of people wearing life belts, but many of them died before reaching Queenstown. While in the water he also saw many dead bodies of children floating about. On arriving at Queenstown, he said, the survivors were very kindly treated. Questioned, he said he learned to swim when a child in the canal, and then spent most of his time in the water in the summer months. While employed as a boatman later with the Canal Co. he once succeeded in swimming across the Shannon. As to his loss, he said 75 in notes and all his belongings, including a new suit of clothes and a valuable watch, went to the bottom of the sea. He had saved a good sum while working on the canal before emigrating, that which he had lost representing portion of his total savings, the remainder being safety banked in Boston.

An interesting fact which transpired in further conversation with Mr. M'Cormack was that he was one of the crew of the string of boats off one of which a Robertstown man named Weir lost his life in the Shannon a few years ago, the boats drifted 40 perches before they could be stopped. He also stated that on the trip from America he saw people throwing wreaths and flowers into the sea, and on asking the reason was told that they were passing over the "Titanic".

 

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KILDARE MEN JOIN THE COLOURS 29/05/1915

 

Seven men, having joined the Irish Guards and Royal Field Artillery, left Kildare on Monday last. A number also left Newbridge on Wednesday for the Irish Guards Several soldiers - time expired, and formerly in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers - have been accepted in the Irish Guards from Newbridge. A large number of young married men have recently enlisted in North Kildare.

 

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SERGEANT O'LEARY, V.C.

REPORT OF DEATH IN RECENT BATTLE 29/05/1915

 

A Macroom man serving with the Artillery forces in France has written under date May 24th to a friend stating that the latest news was the Sergeant Michael O'Leary, V.C., has been

killed in the "last battle". Up to the time of writing no official communication has reached his parents, but the above message was duly censored, and there is reason to fear that the intelligence is correct, although a postcard from himself dated May 21st was recently received.

A sum of 300 has been collected as a national tribute to O'Leary, V.C., by a local committee, and it was hoped he would soon be given an opportunity of visiting his parents and receiving at the same time his military decorations and the congratulations of his proud fellow country - men. We have been unable to obtain any official confirmation or contradiction of the above rumour. The latest lists of rank and file casualties issued by the War Office only go up to May 11th. Lists of officers for May 20th show that the Irish Guards lost two officers killed and twelve wounded.The list of officers' casualties fro May 21st include an officer of the 1st Battn. Irish Guards wounded.

 

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ANOTHER BATTLESHIP SUNK BY SUBMARINE 29/05/1915

OFF GALLIPOLI PENINSULA

NEARLY ALL OFFICERS AND MEN SAVED

The Press Bureau at 10 o'clock on Thursday night is

sued the following:-

The Secretary of the Admiralty makes the following announcement:- An enemy submarine torpedoed and sunk H.M.S. Majestic (Captain H.F. Talbot) this morning while she was supporting the army in Gallipoli Peninsula. Nearly all the officers and more men were saved.

The Press Association adds:- The Majestic, although twenty years old, is still described in the Navy list as a first - class battleship. She was built at Portsmouth in 1894-95, and was first commissioned in 1895. She displaced 14,000 tons, mounted four 12 inch and twelve 6 inch guns, had a speed originally of 17 knots, and a peace complement of 757 officers and men.

The Majestic had been the flagship of many distinguished Admirals, including Lord Walter Kerr, Price Louis of Battenberg, Sir A.K. Wilson, Lord Charles Beresfor, Sir F Bridgeman, and Sir H.H. Rawson.

 

HOW AN ATHY OFFICER DIED

 

Amongst a large circle of friends in Athy district the announcement of the death of Lieut. N.C. Hannon, 7th King's Liverpool Regt., who was killed in action at Festubert on the 16th inst., was received with regret. He was only 20 years of age and was at the front for the past three months, have taken part in several engagements. He was the youngest son of Mr. John A. Hannon, Ardreigh House, Athy. He had a brilliant college career, having entered Trinity from High School, Dublin, in June 1913, and in the following October obtained a school exhibition in classical honours. He joined the officers' Training Corps, from which he received a commission in the Liverpool Regiment early in August. A brother of his, Lieut. J.C. Hannon, is in the 3rd Battalion of the same regiment. Private E. Lynch, "D" Company, King's Liverpool Regt., writing from France, says:- "It is my duty to write and inform you of Lieut. Hannon's death. I was his servant, and a better and kinder master one could not wish for. He entrusted me with the enclosed letters with instructions to send them to you if anything happened. He went into the charge full of dash and vigour, but alas! he never reached the German lines. He was shot in the stomach and died crying to his men "go on and win". He was a hero, and was loved and respected by all his men. All assisted at his burial. He is interred behind the firing line, and his grave is marked with a cross. With deepest sympathy for your great loss".

 

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