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







Dear Sir - Just allow me a little space in your paper to enlighten the public the treatment the wounded soldiers receives in this hospital. The food is disgraceful for wounded men returning from France. The dinner is worse than troops receive in barrack rooms or trenches. Smoking is strictly prohibited. No cigarettes are issued, and nobody is allowed to have money in their possession. This is not a frivolous complaint as you will see for yourself if you come to this "prison". Hoping you will oblige, I remain -


(name enclosed)


Curragh Military Hospital


[We publish the letter in the hope that if the complaints are justified they will be seen to without delay. This is the least concession due to the soldiers home suffering from wounds honour able received in the performance of a strenuous duty. It is highly undesirable from every point of view that they should have anything to complain of that can be remedied. - Ed. "K.O."]







The death of Drummer Rodney Ahearn of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, from wounds received at the Dardanelles, has been heard with much regret in Newbridge and Naas districts. Drummer Ahearn was a native of Naas, where his Father, Private Richard Ahearn, was a officers' servant in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers' barracks for many years. He had just arrived at the age of 20 years, and having been wounded in action, he was removed to Port said hospital on the 24th June, but, recovering quickly, he rejoined his regiment, and getting back to the firing line he was killed in action at the Dardanelles. Mrs Ahearn, mother, has received information from the war office of the sad death of the gallant lad, the cause of death being stated as "died of wounds". Mr. Richard Ahearn, father of the deceased was a popular member of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who fought right through the Boer War, and who for some years past was the staff of the Newbridge Post Office. When the present war started Mr. Ahearn immediately volunteered for active service, and was soon at the front with his old corps, the lst Dublins. He was very anxious to meet his son, who was in the fighting line, and although both were in Alexandria for some hours at the same time, in their different companies, they did not meet, neither did they while in fighting line afterwards. In a letter to his mother from the convalescent hospital, Port Said, on the 25th June, Drummer Ahearn said he had been wounded in the foot on the 18th June, but was going on splendidly, "So I think I have escaped very lucky, as I think I am one of the last of he old 1st battalion to leave the trenches. It is terrible the cutting up that battalion has got - in fact, the whole division.  Each time there has been anything on the mat we have been there, so I think it is very near time that they gave us a rest, but there is no such thing. There is no rest or playing football, as there is on the other side. It is a break to get away for a few days after being two months "on the go" day and night. I have been expecting one every day as I should like to know if my father is on his way out, as I have not heard of him. I suppose "Titch" is getting on tiptop. Is he gone to Belfast yet? I wrote him a postcard to the Curragh , but I suppose it will be forwarded to him, -

Your Loving Son,



In a War Officer communication, dated 20th July, Mrs. Ahearn, mother, who resides at Newbridge, received a document from the Infantry Record Office, Island Bridge, to the effect that Drummer Rodney Ahearn, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was wounded in action and admitted to the Government Hospital at Port said. A further communications was received a notification of the death of Drummer Ahearn from the war office, expressing regret, the cause of death being stated as "died from wounds". It afterwards transpired that the information was only too correct. Drummer Rodney Ahearn was a great favourite with all who knew him, and much sympathy goes out to his mother at Newbridge, as well as to his father, who is at fighting in the trenches, both of whom are very well known in Naas.




THE GRAND FLEET 11/09/1915



Mr. Frederick Palmer, the well known author who is accredited representative of the American Press on the western front thus describes the visit he paid to the British Grand Fleet;



During the past week I have visited the British Grand Fleet and an important  naval  base, where I saw dry docks capable of docking the largest Dreadnoughts which had been built since the war began, I was also shown maps marking the points where German submarines had been sighted and results of the attacks on them, classified under "captured", "supposed sunk", and "sunk". When bubbles are observed rising for a long time from the same spot in smooth water, it is taken for granted that the career of the submarine is ended, I asked the officers, "How did you get them" and they answered, "sometimes by explosives, and in many other ways which we do not tell. The officers and men on battleships and armed cruisers are envious of those engaged as the greatest sport of all. England has 2,300 trawlers, minesweepers and other auxiliaries outside of the regular service on duty on the blockade from the British Channel it Iceland, and in keeping the North Sea clear. Their reservist crews have been most zealous in performing their important part in overcoming the kind of naval warfare which Germany has waged.


As the destroyer which carried the guests after a cruise at sea, following the coast, turned its head towards the land into the harbour where the Grand Fleet is anchored we saw a target being towed in the customary manner for firing practice by some cruisers. "We keep at it all the time ", the officer with me explained. The cruisers' practice finished, they took their place in the fleet formation among the immense field of grey shapes at anchor in presant order, which as one drew nearer became line after line of Dreadnoughts painted a colour which melts into the sea. Even the Queen Elizabeth back from the Dardanelles looked small for her tonnage and gun power, unless compared with the inflexible, the Flagship of the Falkland Islands battle, or with vessels of the cruiser squadron, which had just come from mine-sweeping in the North Sea, as scouting is called. As our destroyer threaded its way through the fleet turrets could be seen turning and guns elevated and lowered in a course of drills. Seaplanes which where sailing over the fleet had their home on a famous Atlantic Liner, which has carried many thousands of passengers.


In their places in the battle cruiser squadron, which is known in the Navy as the "cat" squadron, were the Lion and the Tiger (which sank the Blucher in the North Sea battle). "This seems to be sufficient denial of the German report that the Tiger is at the bottom of the sea" said the officer with us. Looking exotic among the homogeneous types of the 10 gunships which belong to the regular British Navy was the former Turkish 12-inch Dreadnought which was taken over at the outset of the war.


As we approached the flagships, the officer pointed our Sir John Jellicoe, Commander-in- Chief, as one of the two officers walking on the quarter deck, who carried a telescope under his arm. From quarter deck he can keep an eye on all those grey monsters which form the fighting part of his command, while others of his host are abroad on different errands. Quick of movement and speech, tanned by a year of exposure on constant duty, only a broad gold lace band differentiated him from other officers as they received their guests at the gangway. Whether it was Beatty, Sturdee or any other of his squadron commanders, their youth was most impressive. The Commander-in-Chief at 57 is senior of all. He is rarely without a telescope under his arm, his officers say when he is on deck, and nothing which the officer on watch sees but he sees also. He escorted his guests through the flagship, showing men at drill, particularly called attention to a special machine for giving gun layers practice in firing where the results of each shot are displayed.


Stepping into a small room where the telegraph keys clicked and compact wireless apparatus was hidden behind the armour, we saw one focus of communication which brings Sir John word of any submarine sighted or any movement in all the seas around the British Isles and carries the Commander-in-Chief's orders far and near. Blue jackets were invariably sturdy, long-service men of mature years. Their health is better than in time of peace as a result of being kept on board under a consistent regime, with sufficient exercise and good food. Misdemeanour of all sorts have decreased since the war began. One feature of the usual routine alone is changed. Decks are washed only twice a week instead of everyday, which allowed the men less freedom of movement, and kept their surroundings too moist. The aim is to keep always up to the maximum of efficiency, the officer explained, and not to overtrain to staleness of to permit of any slackness. The patience and application of the men in want of action are amazing, whether in the turrets, on the bridge or below deck. There was a significant absence of even the minutest thing to the civilian eye which did not serve the purpose of battle. Only in the Commander-in-Chief's cabin, with its numerous sea maps on the wall, did books and pictures suggest other than their bare utility, for many officers whom I met spoke in the same strain about the situation.


If the German fleet ever had any chance of success it was at the outset of the war. With every passing month the British fleet has grown stronger and better organised to meet any emergency. Though the submarines have played a more important part than many had anticipated , methods of countering their attacks and of destroying them have also developed beyond all expectations. The hardest part of the war for the Navy was the early days when the fleet was continually at sea looking for battle. Now securely ready it could steam out to action immediately the patrols, which are continually sweeping the North Sea, reported any sign of the enemy.







To the Editor, "Kildare Observer".


Dear Sir - We have undertaken to send the Prisoners of War of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers at camps other than Limburg (the Dublin Women's Unionist Club, 10, Leinster Street, Dublin, have undertaken to supply the prisoners of war at Limburg) regularly fortnightly supplies of food. In some camps there is only one prisoner of the R.D.F. and we would be very grateful for offers one or many of these regularly fortnightly with parcels containing the following, viz:- 1 tin of coffee and milk, 1 tin of condensed milk, 1/4lb of tea, 1lb of bacon and 1lb of cheese to augment their prisoners' fare, which we understand is very meagre. We are arranging to send bread in sufficient quantities to all the prisoners from Switzerland. We can send out cigarettes from bond, so that private individuals by sending through us can save considerably. With the view to saving overlapping, we hope that everyone sending supplies to prisoners will let us know full particulars. Subscriptions to enable us to carry on the work will be gratefully received and acknowledged by us and we shall be glad to give any further information required. - Yours truly





Naas, 8th September 1915.







Corporal R.A. Semmence, 6th Battalion, R.D.F., who was clerk in the Co. Kildare Insurance Society office, Naas, from which he, with other members of the clerical staff - Mr. J. Robinson, now a corporal in the same battalion - volunteered shortly after the outbreak of war, is in hospital at Cairo suffering from a shrapnel wound to the knee.

The following letters have been received from Corporal Semmence by his parents:-


G Ward, British Red Cross Hospital, Giza, Cairo, Egypt, 22-0801915 –


My Dear Mother –

I am sure you are surprised at not having heard from me for so long, but from the day we landed at Gallipoli up to now I haven't had the remotest chance of writing. I can tell you we got a hot reception too when we did land, as we were making a new landing, but the 6th got through with remarkably few casualties. For the next two days we were employed bringing up stores. Then we went into the firing line, and we advanced to far without support, and the Regiment suffered badly, having something like 300 casualties. Jim Robinson and Bob Carter were both wounded. Where the former is now I cannot tell you. I was wounded on Sunday August 15th., when our lot along with the Munsters and "Skins" took a Turkish trench and about 20 prisoners. A piece of shrapnel went right through my knee. Captain Preston was killed just before I was wounded. I arrived at this place yesterday, so it has taken a week to get here.  I got some papers from dad (July 14th and 21st) and a letter from Willie and Harry. This is all I have received. They afforded me an interesting afternoon's read in the trenches. For the whole week I was on the Peninsula we could only get water, bully beef and biscuits. Not even a chance of a wash or shave. I had a beard on me past description. The whole of my kit has gone, but I suppose I will get a reissue. It was a bit of hard luck we weren't taken to England. Our chaplain did tell us we were going to Devonport but it was not to be. Probably the boat that I was just late for did go, as we have not heard of her coming here. The Turks are shelling our Red Cross Hospital too. When I was lying with some others awaiting my turn to be taken to the boat a shell landed about 6 - 8 yards behind us and we weren't able to help ourselves. It certainly is a new experience to be under fire but after a while you get used to it. It is very dangerous to knock about alone. The place is simply walking with snipers, and they paint themselves green. I have heard that some female snipers were captured. How true it is I don't know. -

Your affectionate son,



"G Ward, British Red Cross Hospital, Giza, Cairo, Egypt, 23rd August, 1915 –


My Dear Dad, -

I have just sent a hurried scribble off to M. to catch the post to let her know I had been wounded, but am going on well. It passed right through the knee. However, I think it is only a flash wound, and it won't so long to heal. At any rate, it affords a welcome change from life in Gallipoli. Jim Robinson is also wounded, but where he is I don't know. Perhaps he is in some different hospital, and I might hobble up against him yet. I was wounded on Sunday afternoon, August 15th, and it took us a week to get here. Any papers you get hold of you could send here. They would come in very useful.We received only one mail at Gallipoli. There were two 'Observers' and a letter from H. and W. If there was anything else sent they have probably gone astray. Bob Carter is very badly wounded, I believe in the lungs, so the Hockey Club trio are all hors de combat. Do you hear anything about Sammy Morrison or Digby? There are a few of my regiment here in this hospital, and they were up seeing me. S.-M. Cornish is here. He has a bullet in his right leg. When we captured those 20 Turks in the trench they seemed to be quite delighted they had been 'knobbled' and came out to shake hands with us, though some of our fellows went dangerously near giving them the bayonet instead. How are things getting on in Naas. Anything strange or wonderful.... I wonder when poor Tommy Atkins will be able to talk of holidays again....

Kindest regards and best wishes to all. –

Your affectionate son,





"IF THOSE AT HOME ---" 11/09/1915


Corporal E.R.Gray writing to his grandmother in Naas from the Dardanelles under date August 28th says:-

"I am still all right after three weeks on Turkish soil and eight days in our present trenches. We had two days off during that and the rest we were under shrapnel, bullets, bombs and high explosives. The snipers are the devil......Willie (his cousin) is in hospital with days entry, which few escape in more or less severe form.......The work is heavy; the casualty list ditto. There are Australians and Indians here helping, and the fleet is grand. They say the Italians are coming along. I hope so! "If those at home, who ought to have enlisted, saw what goes on here they would join the colours tomorrow...... I did not receive the parcel you sent. I get the 'Observer' regularly. Henry and I are now censors of letters".



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