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My next R.Dub.Fus. write up - KIA 1917


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Hi Gents,

Here is my today's write up of the brave soldier from Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

Thomas McKenna (1889 – 28.02.1917)

Private

1st/8th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers

British War Medal - 23148 Pte T McKenna, Royal Dublin Fusiliers

Thomas was entitled:

Victory Medal (Roll B/101.B.9 Page 651)

British War Medal (Roll B/101.B.9 Page 651)

Thomas was born to John and Catherine McKenna in 1889 on Kingscourt, Co. Cavan. His family were Agricultural Labourers and they were also Roman Catholics. Thomas had as well three younger brothers; Patrick, John and Michael (11).

When the Great War started, New Army battalions (often referred to as Kitchener’s Army) were formed, where man can sign up for three years or the duration of the war (whichever was the longer) (4).

Thomas enlisted from Hamilton and was posted as a private to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers 8th Battalion, what was formed in September 1914 and was part of 48th Brigade in 16th (Irish) Division (6/9/10).

Regarding his service number 23148, he enlisted around winter/spring 1915 (3).

They received basic training mainly in Buttevant and Ballyhooley, after which the battalion was moved to England in September 1915 to Blackdown near Aldershot in Surrey for the 16th (Irish) Divisions final training (1/4).

The 8th Battalion landed at the port of Le Havre on the 20th December 1915. However, looks it like Thomas entered France later on in 1916, as he wasn’t entitled for the 1914-1915 Star which was issued to the soldiers in the British Expeditionary Force who served in any theatre of the War on the 5th August 1914 to 31st December 1915 (2/12).

Most likely he got his first battle experience while still with the 8th Battalion, who engaged in the horrific Battle of Hulluch 27th – 29th April 1916 (1/5/9).

After March 1916, Private Thomas McKenna was transferred to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who arrived to France from Egypt and was part of the 86th Brigade, 29th Division, which was concentrated in the area east of Pont Remy between 15th and 29th March (4).

But because both battalions took part of the Battle of Somme (1st July–18th November 1916), most likely Thomas eye witnessed some of the moments in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers hardest history at Somme (4/5):

First Day of the Somme on the 1st July 1st Battalion

Capture of Ginchy on the 9th September 8th Battalion

Unfortunately his service records haven’t survived and also there aren’t any notes about his wounds in the Irish publications at this period, so it is hard to find out extra details about Thomas’ service.

At the end of February 1917 the 1st Battalion had rested in the Bronfay and Hardecourt camp for a few days.

The War Diary states that on the 28th February 1917, Battalion attacked east of Sailly-Sailisel at 5:25 a “Potsdam trench” which they took in with the help of there own artillery fire support. The next objective was “Weimar” and “Palz trench” where they start reaching but their own artillery barrage and enemy machine gun fire caused casualties. Also they found “Weimar trench” full of water. Commanded by Captain Bagley men reached front of the wires of “Palz trench” but Germans machine gun fire caused many casualties. Also the fusiliers ran out of grenades at this time and they was forced to pull back to the “Potsdam trench”.

On this day Private Thomas McKenna met his ultimate faith and was killed in action. Hid body was never found or he is buried as a one of many unknown soldiers (6/7/8).

Thomas is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, reference Pier and Face 16 C.

There is all together 377 Royal Dublin Fusiliers buried/commemorated in this memorial (1). Also his name is engraved in the War Memorial in the Bridge Street, Banbridge, Co. Down (8).

Source:

(1) Royal Dublin Fusiliers – a forgotten regiment

http://www.dublin-fusiliers.com/

(2) British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920

http://search.ancestry.co.uk

(3) Army Service Numbers 1881-1918

http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/

(4) The Long, Long Trail – The British Army of 1914-1918 – for family historians

http://www.1914-1918.net

(5) Royal Dublin Fusiliers – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Dublin_Fusiliers

(6) UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919

http://search.ancestry.co.uk

(7) Commonwealth War Graves Commission

www.cwgc.org

(8) Irish War Memorials

http://www.irishwarmemorials.ie

(9) Ireland Unknown Soldiers, The 16th (Irish) Division in the Great War

by Terence Denman

(10) 16th (Irish) Division – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16th_(Irish)_Division

(11) National Archives: Census of Ireland 1901/1911

http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie

(12) British Campaign Medals, 1914-2005 (Shire Library)

by Peter Duckers

1st RDF location on 1917 January (Courtesy of TNA Trench Map CD from N and M Press also thank you to Roger H)

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Sctech from 1st Bn. War Diary during 28th Feb. attack (thank you to the "Royal Dublin Fusiliers – a forgotten regiment site"!)

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McKenna's BWM

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Received an article today from 7th Sept. 1916 The Irish Times and it's states that Thomas got wounded at this time.

Makes sence - he got wounded in the end of Somme, when he was in 8th Bn. After recovery, he was posted to the 1st Bn. as a reinforcement.

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One moe finds. Just finished write-ups!

John Kelly (1900 – 22.08.1918)

Private, 20815

2nd Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers

7th (SIH) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment

John Kelly’s full entitlement:

Victory Medal (Roll A/131 B7 Page 1127)

British War Medal (Roll A/131 B7 Page 1127)

John was born in 1900, a third child of Hugh and Elizabeth Kelly in Wolstanton,

Burslem, Staffs. They lived nearby in 6 Grant Street, Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent (4/5/7).

When the Great War stared, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers formed new service battalions which continued with the same service number series that was in use before the war. Due to this, it is possible to confirm that John enlisted in May 1915 at the Hanley Recruiting depot or via a recruiting officer. When he started his service with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers as a Private his service number was 20815 (1/2). He must have been only 16 years old at this time.

After his initial training in 1916, Private John Kelly was posted to the 2nd Battalion which was part of the 48th Brigade, 16th (Irish) Division from15th November 1916 (1/3/8).

It is impossible to say which battles John served in and when his next transfer took place but as his Medal Index Card and Victory medal/British War Medal role states, he was posted to the 7th (South Irish Horse) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment and his new regimental number was 26476 (1).

However, as 7th (SIH) Battalion War Diary from 1918 states, that they received reinforcements after their horrific casualties in March when the battalion was caught in the maelstrom of the German Kaiserschlacht (Kaiser's Battle) offensive. Extra men from Royal Dublin Fusiliers and Royal Munster Fusiliers arrived on the 1st May and 26th June and they were taken into the Battalion in Widdebroucq area, near Aire during July. Most likely Private Kelly was one of these reinforcements (9).

At the end of July the Battalion’s strength was 31 officers and 830 other ranks and ready for action. At this time they were part of the 49th Brigade, 16th (Irish) Division (6). On the 7th August they were moved into the front line.

Looks like then luck turned bad for John. On the 19th and 20th August the Battalion War Diary indicates 2 wounded and at the Boeschepe area and on the 23rd August 4 men killed and 3 wounded (9).

Private John Kelly most likely was one of these wounded and he was transported to the 62nd (1/2nd London) Clearing Station where he died of wounds on the 22nd August 1918. He was only 18 years old (4/5).

He is buried Arneke British Cemetery in France, Grave Reference III.E.11 next to other 568 identified casualties (5).

Source:

(1) British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920

http://search.ancestry.co.uk

(2) Army Service Numbers 1881-1918

http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/

(3) The Long, Long Trail – The British Army of 1914-1918 – for family historians

http://www.1914-1918.net

(4) UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919

http://search.ancestry.co.uk

(5) Commonwealth War Graves Commission

www.cwgc.org

(6) Ireland Unknown Soldiers, The 16th (Irish) Division in the Great War

by Terence Denman

(7) England Census 1901

http://search.ancestry.co.uk

(8) British Campaign Medals, 1914-2005 (Shire Library)

by Peter Duckers

(9) War diaries for 7th South Irish Horse Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment

http://www.southirishhorse.com/documents/war_diaries_table.htm

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1914859679985d_l.jpg

Edited by Noor
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  • 2 years later...

Hi - wow I am amazed at what I have seen here, I was directed to the site by a friend who did a bit of research for me on my Great Uncle - John Kelly, from Stoke on Trent.

Its fantastic to see you have his medal and photos - I have a couple of pictures of him, one with his Sister (My Nana) and his two brothers Joseph and Tom.

I would love to chat more to you if thats ok ?

Anna Jackson

Chester

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