In 1900, Queen Victoria had visited Ireland for the last time, (unknown to anyone she would be the last Queen to come there for 111 years) and within 8 months of her departure she would be gone forever and her son Edward VII would take the throne.
George V became King after his father Edward VII died on the 6th May 1910, he would be bestowed the honour of being the last Monarch to visit an Ireland which in 1911 was completely under British rule. At this time the country was slowly spiraling into conflict as the possibility of home rule and independence came into being.
As these events and activities started heating up, all would grind to a sudden halt when on the 28th June 1914 when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife the Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg were shot (these shots were fired from a Fabrique Nationale model 1910 semi-automatic pistol at the hands of Gavrilo Princip).
The Archduke was hit in the jugular vein and his wife in the abdomen. As he struggled to stem the flow of blood he begged his wife to stay alive for their children, but his words were in vain as she passed away 10 minutes before him. At 11 am the acts of Princip had now set in motion the events that would ultimately start the first of two world wars.
As the war graves throughout Europe began to fill as a result of these global conflicts the same was true in the Emerald Isle and indeed in Londonderry (Derry). Our hope is to individualize each and everyone of these burials on this website while also providing some history of these men and women who sacrificed everything for their family, friends and country in both world wars.
These are not just Irish servicemen and women but also English, Welsh, Scottish, Dutch, Canadians and other nationalities who died as a result of battles, accidents and from illness in various places around Europe, Ireland, Britain, the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
All in all they all deserve their stories to be told and through years of research I hope I have done them some justice finding long lost details in official records and documents that can be found in various places around the World.
Some of the stories though contained herein are more tragic than others. James Downey is a good example: just married before he went to war and a young child born while he was in France, he found out while in the trenches that his 9 month old son had died. Four months later while resting from the turmoil of the trenches in huts in Mazingarbe, France, he was shelled. He passed away a few weeks later from wounds received here, leaving his new wife, Margaret (who had just recently announced a new pregnancy) widowed to raise their unborn child alone.
There is also quite a few service personnel here who were involved in events that were firsts (guided missile sinkings, gas attacks, etc) and of course horrific events (Sinking of HMS Curacoa, the Somme, etc) all within a close proximity.
You will also see international tragedy, the Spanish flu pandemic is a great example (which caused millions of deaths), this being highly prevalent throughout the cemeteries of Europe (most victims would be registered as having meningitis, flu or pneumonia).
These service personnel I have researched and documented using information taken from the last battalion, unit or ship they served on. If there is further information or a record of previous service then this will also be noted and the history given. It is worth remembering while some stayed with the same others switched, sailors for example would change ships if theirs was in dock for repairs, maintenance or upgrades, soldiers could often change if their battalion is dissolved or they become sick, wounded or are sent home. You will notice this referenced throughout this website especially with home battalions.
In regards to service records, the ones from the Second World War ones are obtainable but unfortunately it takes a long time and quite an expense to get, it is possible though that in future editions this information will come to light and be added. The First World War is a different story, some are available but it is very hit and miss (around sixty percent were destroyed when the War Office in London was bombed during the Blitz in London during 1940), the rest are largely in very poor condition having sustained burn and smoke damage making them at times unreadable and unfindable.
Furthermore if you have information you would like added to any of the service personnel’s history then let me know and it will be added online and/or to later editions of this work.
Lastly a major goal in this project is to make sure the recorded details are correct, and if not, submitted to the relevant authorities for correction. I am working closely with the commonwealth war graves commission to achieve this aim.
I also would highly recommend any reader either in Ireland or from anywhere else to visit these service personnel and pay their respects, as many are long forgotten.