KILL HISTORY GROUP AUTUMN & WINTER SCHEDULE 2017

by ehistoryadmin on July 22, 2017

Kill History Group

 Autumn & Winter 2017

Monday 21st August: Tom Ashe: another martyr for old Ireland with James Durney

         [Please note that this event is part of Heritage Week]

 Friday 22nd September:   Walk and Talk around Kill village

[Please note that this event, which is part of  “Culture Night”, will start in the car park beside St Brigid’s church at 7 pm]

Mon 25th September: The Conscription Crisis in Co Kildare, Spring 1918 with Seamus Cullen

Monday 23rd October: Changes in family life in the past 100 years with Prof. Jane Gray

Monday 27th November:  ‘In search of Mausoleums’ with Ger Mc Carthy

Monday 22nd January 2018: Annual General Meeting (8 p.m)

All meetings take place in the Parish Meeting Room at 8.30 p.m.(unless otherwise indicated)

 

From Messines to Passchendaele 1917: Kildare men at war

Part 2

James Durney

The Third Battle of Ypres (or Passchendaele) was scheduled to commence on 31 July 1917 and designed as a follow-up operation to exploit the British success at Messines. Third Ypres ran from 31 July to 10 November and actually consisted of eight officially listed ‘battles’: those of Pilckem Ridge (31 July-2 August); Langemarck (16-18 August); Menin Road Ridge (20-25 September); Polygon Wood (26 September-3 October); Broodseinde (4 October); Poelcapelle (9 October); First Passchendaele (12 October); and Second Passchendaele (26 October-10 November).

These ‘battles’ are best looked upon as phases in a continuing struggle. Some battles lasted only a day, others several days, the final one over two weeks. However, though the fighting never stopped the phases are not continuous. General Haig for all his dourness was a great optimist and his plan offered various objectives and even if only one was taken it would be a valuable gain. If the Wytshaete-Passchendaele Ridge could be taken, the German position around the Ypres Salient would be untenable. If the railway line at Roulers and Thourout could be cut, the German position in the northern flank would be fatally compromised. If Bruges, Ostend and Zeebrugge could be taken, German forces in northern Belgium would be forced to surrender or withdraw. And if all else failed, the offensive would certainly cause further heavy losses to the German Army, as well as appease the French.

The offensive began with a three division attack on 31 July, with the 16th Irish Division and the 36th Ulster Division in support. The 2nd Irish Guards were heavily involved in the battle for Pilckem Ridge. Four Kildaremen were killed on 31 July, two of them serving with the Irish Guards. Private John Cooke died of wounds received in action. From Sunnyhill, Kilcullen, John Cooke had enlisted at the Curragh Camp and had been at the front since 1914. His brother William had died in the Gallipoli campaign. Also killed was Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Beresford Greer, 2nd Irish Guards. Born at Curragh Grange, Co. Kildare, he was the son of Capt. Henry and Mary Greer. Eric enlisted in the British Army in 1911 and was the youngest officer holding the rank of Lt. Col. in the Brigade of Guards. He had earlier won the Military Cross. His brother, Francis St. Leger Greer, was killed in action on 1 February 1917.

Although encouraging gains were made on 31 July, not all objectives were taken. The attack was to be renewed the following day, but that evening heavy rain fell and the attack was postponed. Even though it went on raining for several days the effect of the downpour was almost immediate. At the end of the first day shell holes were filled to the brim, while the open ground was turning into a quagmire under the relentless shelling. Haig wrote in his diary: ‘A terrible day of rain. The ground is like a bog in this low-lying country.’ On 4 August, he noted, again in his diary, that ‘In view of the bad weather and wet ground General Gough has cancelled the orders he issued for the furtherance of his attack.’

Gough’s army attacked three times in August, at Pilckem, at Langemarck and along the Menin Road. Every time an assault was launched the rain came down with renewed intensity, until as Robin Neillands wrote, ‘men came to believe that the thunder of the guns was causing the clouds to deliver their torrents’. Even so, the Fifth Army advanced, slowly, damply and painfully. Casualties by the end of August totalled 68,000 which were deemed ‘light’ compared to the 57,000 suffered on the first day of the Somme Offensive.

August was a bad month for Kildaremen at the Passchendaele front – twenty-three were killed, while dozens more were wounded. Most of the deaths occurred at the Battle of Langemarck (16-18 August), a savage clash, which also led to the loss of the much-loved chaplain of the 16th Irish Division – Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J. He was desperately trying to drag a wounded comrade back to safety when he was blown to pieces by a German shell. Unlike the many to whom he had given a Christian burial, Fr. Doyle’s remains were hastily interred in a makeshift communal grave, while all around the battle raged on. His body was never recovered, but he is commemorated at Tyne Cot Memorial. General W. Hickie, the commander-in-chief of the 16th Irish Division, described Doyle as ‘one of the bravest men who fought or served out here’.

During the Battle of Loos, in 1915, Fr. Doyle was caught in a German gas attack and for his conduct was mentioned in dispatches. A recommendation for a Military Cross was rejected as ‘he had not been long enough at the front’. Doyle was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery during the assault on the village of Ginchy in September 1916. He was recommended for a posthumous Victoria Cross and Distinguished Service Order but was passed over, deemed to have a triple disqualification: Irish, Catholic, and Jesuit. Fr. Doyle was proposed for canonisation in 1938, but this was never followed through.

A GAME OF WHISTLE

July 13, 2017

A GAME OF WHISTLE

A game of whistle Liam Kenny If there was an All-Ireland medal for the characteristic of “understatement” then a Gaelic games correspondent in the local press in June 1916 would be up there with the team of the century. He surfaced in an issue of June 1916 having been absent since the April of that year and described his absence to his readers as being an “unwelcome interim”. The fact that the weeks since his previous appearance in print had […]
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THE CURRAGH PLAIN AND ITS FORMER GLORIES

July 13, 2017

THE CURRAGH PLAIN AND ITS FORMER GLORIES

The Kildare Observer 27 May 1922 The Curragh Plain and Its Former Glories The Curragh is dead; long live the Curragh! The Camp was completely evacuated last week by the British military, and possession was taken over by the Irish Army, already well equipped and each and every day getting better and better. In the minds of racing folk the Curragh symbolises simply the home of the thoroughbred and a great racecourse. The fact that the centre of the great plain […]
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NEW FLAG PRESENTED TO NORTH KILDARE VOLUNTEERS

July 13, 2017

NEW FLAG PRESENTED TO NORTH KILDARE VOLUNTEERS

Leinster Leader 17 October 1914 North Kildare Volunteers Brilliant Display at Naas New Flag Presented Speech by Col. Moore The ceremony of presenting a new flag to the 4th Battalion of the Kildare regiment of the Irish National Volunteers took place on Sunday at Gaelic Field, Naas, and was in every sense a historic event, well calculated to rouse enthusiasm and to give renewed [sic] to the movement in North Kildare. It was also a creditable display reflecting the live spirit […]
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LIEUT. G. H. MEDLICOTT KILLED IN ACTION

July 13, 2017

LIEUT. G. H. MEDLICOTT KILLED IN ACTION

Kildare Observer 11 November 1916 WAR NOTES LIEUT. G. H. MEDLICOTT KILLED IN ACTION On October 15th Second-Lieut. George Herbert Medlicott, South African Infantry, was killed in action in France. The deceased officer, who was the youngest son of the late Mr. James E. Medlicott, J.P. of Dunmurry, Kildare, was 29 years of age. He was in the South African Constabulary and Natal Mounted Police, and on the outbreak of war volunteered for active service. Refusing a commission, he served […]
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FROM MESSINES TO PASSCHENDAELE. PART 1

June 29, 2017

FROM MESSINES TO PASSCHENDAELE. PART 1

From Messines to Passchendaele 1917: Kildare men at war Part 1 James Durney The very name Passchendaele evokes the senseless, murderous slaughter on the Western Front in 1917. It was here in the remorseless rain and sucking mud that the combat power of the Irish divisions was virtually destroyed. From the beginning of the offensive on 31 July to its bitter end on 10 November the British army suffered 260,000 casualties for a useless acreage of ground. The Battle of […]
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HEROICS ON THE HIGH SEAS

June 29, 2017

HEROICS ON THE HIGH SEAS

Heroics on the high seas Liam Kenny Riddle me this, what is the connection between Punchestown and the North Sea? An answer does not spring to mind. It would be hard to imagine two places with such contrasting characteristics. The green sward of Punchestown galloped over by horses, and the grey reaches of the cold North Sea where the only horses are the white horses of the tumbling waves. However a close reading of the local press of June 1916, […]
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MRS. BESSIE GRAY

June 29, 2017

MRS. BESSIE GRAY

Leinster Leader 16 September 1939 OBITUARY Mrs. Bessie Gray, Dublin Deep regret will be expressed at the death which occurred in a Dublin hospital, of Mrs. Bessie Gray, wife of Mr. Alfred Gray, 6 Susanville Road, Drumcondra. Mr. Alfred Gray is a brother of the late Mr. Earnest Gray, formerly proprietor of the “Kildare Observer,” and who was well known in sporting circles all over the country. The late Mrs. Gray endeared herself to all sections of the community by her […]
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NAAS NATIVE KITTY TOAST OF NEW YORK

June 29, 2017

NAAS NATIVE KITTY TOAST OF NEW YORK

Leinster Leader 17 July 2003 NAAS NATIVE KITTY TOAST OF NEW YORK Kitty Henderson Naas woman Kathleen Henderson was named Person of the Year at the Kildareman’s Association dinner in New York recently. This is the first time that a woman from Naas has been honoured in this way. On receiving the guest of honour award at the Kildareman’s annual dinner in April, Kitty made a beautiful speech about her times in Naas point out that she “will always be a […]
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