Thursday, 21 May 2015

The 'Genuine Relics' of the Volunteer Training Corps

Trumpington Volunteer Training Corps, November 1915. Percy Robinson collection.

Behind the roaring cannon, behind the flashing steel
The defenders of the Inner Line steady and constant kneel;
Some bent, or grey, some crippled, some three score years and ten.
Just praying, always praying for the Front Line fighting men.
These cannot lead a sortie, nor breast the ocean's foam,
But their fervent prayers as incense rise, from church and cottage home,
The poor man and the wealthy, all form the Inner Line
Learning how common sorrow forms a brotherhood Divine.
You can hear old voices quaver, you can see the slow tears fall,
Yet the Inner Line keeps steady; England and Honour call!
They pray, and who can measure such prayer's resistless might?
They trust the Lord of Battles; He will defend the right.
J. F. F.       


Volunteer movements raised for the defence of the country from potential invasion have been part of the history of these islands for generations. In Ireland the Volunteer movement goes back as far as 1715... to the Volunteers of the 1780s raised against French invasion... to the most well known of them all – the Home Guard of the Second World War made famous by Captain Mainwaring and the boys of Dad's Army.

But while the Home Guard is widely recognised, it is often forgotten that there was a similar service in the First World War.

Formed soon after the start of the war, usually by former army officers, volunteer units sprang up around the United Kingdom. They gave those who were too old or otherwise to join the regular army an outlet for their desire to serve and also to counter the perceived threat of German invasion. When first formed however, these units, which became known as the Volunteer Training Corps (VTC), were not formerly recognised.

A Central Committee of Volunteer Training Corps was set up and formally recognised in November 1914, but their remit only extended to Great Britain and an Irish Association was formed and recognised. The Central Committee drew up a set of rules for the Units and, as the Volunteers where allowed to wear a uniform but not khaki, agreed a uniform of Lovat green. All members also had to wear a red arm band bearing the letters "GR" for Georgius Rex and service was only open to those who had a genuine reason for not enlisting in the regular army.

In November 1915 the Australian newspaper, Geraldton Guardian, reported on a newspaper cutting received from home by one of their readers:
"The Irish Association of Volunteer Training Corps has been sanctioned by the Government for the purpose of encouraging and assisting those men who are not able to join the Regular Army for various reasons, to train themselves in military duties to assist the military when occasion requires – Corps and rifle clubs have already been started which have become affiliated to the Irish Association of Volunteer Training Corps, and agreed to accept their conditions, and are entitled to wear the uniform of the corps..."
As with the Home Guard in WW2, the VTC was often the butt of jokes such as the reference to the "GR" on their armbands standing for "George's Wrecks", "Grandpa's Regiment", "Genuine Relics" or "Government Rejects".




In 1915 all Volunteer Units which affiliated to the Central Committee were granted officially recognition however, the Committee was advised by the War Office that "any man below the age of forty years who joins a Volunteer Training Corps on or after the 1st June, 1915, will be required to sign an undertaking that he will enlist into the Army if specially called upon to do so." This was, allegedly, in response to a speech by Mr. Harold Tennant, Under-Secretary of State for War, that "in cases where good and sufficient reasons are not shown, a man ought not to be allowed to take the lesser obligation when he ought to fulfil the greater obligation of serving with the colours."

Grumblings soon emerged throughout the Volunteer movement in relation to the governments failure to make full use of the Volunteers' services.

In Ireland the secretary of the Association, Robert Anderson, wrote to Sir Matthew Nathan, G.C.M.G., Under Secretary for Ireland:
"I am directed by the Executive Committee of this Association to transmit herewith for the information of His Majesty's Government in Ireland copies of five resolutions which have been unanimously adopted by the undermentioned affiliated Volunteer Training Corps and forwarded to the Association, accompanied, in each case, by an urgent letter requesting that prompt action in the direction indicated should be taken. The Corps referred to are:–
(1) Belfast Volunteer Defence Corps. (2) City of Cork Volunteer Training Corps. (3) Irish Rugby Football Union Volunteer Corps. (4) Queen's University (Belfast) 'Veterans' Volunteer Corps. (5) Rathmines Volunteer Training Corps.
"While the resolutions of a similar character have not, so far, been received from the other affiliated Corps the Committee are aware that the accompanying resolutions reflect accurately and without exception the views of the entire body of affiliated Corps. As a matter of fact one Corps – The Howth & Sutton Volunteer Training Corps, quite an excellent and efficient unit raised shortly after the outbreak of the War – has actually disbanded in consequence of the failure to obtain any duty for its members. The Committee are apprehensive that other Corps, finding themselves in a similar position and being unable to hold their members together, may also disband."
Letter from Robert Anderson to Sir Matthew Nathan, 15 April 1916 (NAI)
In 1916 the VTC became part of the County Infantry Regiment system as Volunteer Battalions of their local regiment. The introduction of conscription in 1916 gave Military Service Tribunals the power to order men to join the VTC and the Volunteer Act 1916 meant that members had to remain in the Corps until the end of the war. It has been estimated that by February 1918, there were 285,000 Volunteers, 101,000 of whom had been directed to the Corps by the Tribunals.

During 1917, the VTC began to be issued with Enfield Rifles and battalions were tasked with roles such as line of communication defence and forming the garrison of major towns in case of a German invasion. They also undertook other tasks including guarding vulnerable points, handling munitions, assisting with harvesting, fire fighting and transport for wounded soldiers.

              
City of Cork VTC
Cap Badge
    IRFU VTC
Cap Badge
Although the VTC were employed in a purely defensive auxiliary role they were engaged in actual combat on one occasion – the Easter Rising in Dublin in April 1916.

Four companies of the 1st (Dublin) Battalion, Associated Volunteer Training Corps composed of the Irish Rugby Union Football Corps, the St. Andrew's Corps, the Dublin Veterans Corps, the Glasnevin Corps, as well as City and Railway Corps and some motor-cyclists, were returning from field exercises when the news of the uprising reached them. The commanding officer, Major Harris, decided to march to Beggars Bush Barracks were they found it besieged. While they carried rifles they had no ammunition they did not even carry bayonets. They were fired on by a party of Irish Volunteers from a railway bridge. Part of the VTC force entered the barracks by the front gate, others made their way to the rear and scaled the wall. About 40 men at the rear of the column were pinned down by fire from surrounding houses and four were killed, including the cricketer, Francis Browning, who had been second-in-command. The VTC then assisted the small garrison of regular soldiers to hold the barracks for eight days. In total, five members of the battalion were killed and seven wounded.
"The V.T.C. in Dublin were the first to have the honour of shedding their blood in their country's cause. Those who were killed and wounded fell, it is true, under Sinn Fein and not under German bullets, but their military achievements ensured the progress of British arms just as much, even if indirectly, as though they had been fighting in France. We have read reports of the loyalty and bravery of the Nationalist Volunteers in Ireland, and we would say no word to detract from the honour properly due to any man who scorned to fight on the side of Germany and risked his life to show his true allegiance. But we want here only to tell the story of what was done by the 'G.R.' Volunteers when they were taken at a complete disadvantage and displayed a steadiness, enthusiasm, resource, and endurance which would have done credit to a corps of old soldiers." (Spectator, 20th May 1916)
I leave the final words to R. A. Anderson who wrote in the Spectator on 26th May 1916:
SIR, – The Executive Committee of the Irish Association of Volunteer Training Corps feel that they owe you a deep debt of gratitude for your generous appreciation of their services during the recent outbreak in Ireland, and they wish me to convey to you their best thanks for having given the public, through your columns, the facts relating to our Volunteer Training Corps movement in Ireland. It may be of interest to your readers to know that the Irish Corps now number seventy-seven officers and two thousand and ninety-seven men. They are located in Dublin and surrounding district, in Belfast, in Cork, and in Dundalk . . . They are governed by the same conditions and the same age restrictions as the English Association of Volunteer Training Corps. They are allowed to wear the uniform prescribed for Great Britain, and they are authorized to carry arms and to parade for drill purposes. They have been permitted to use military barracks as parade grounds and as headquarters, and they have further been lent a considerable number of drill-purpose rifles. The Irish Corps, like kindred bodies in Great Britain, wear the "G.R." brassard, issued by the War Office, and, like theirs, the Association is non-political in the same sense that the Army is non-political. Three hundred and forty-five members of the corps in Dublin were sworn in as special constables for service in the Dublin Metropolitan Police area on May 2nd and following days, and they remained on duty until May 11th. A large number of the outlying corps did similar duty either under the military or constabulary authorities, and rendered most valuable service.
The one thing that the corps affiliated to the Association lack is a military status, and, although this has been repeatedly asked for the Government has not found it possible to grant the request. There is a legal difficulty because the Volunteer Acts do not apply to Ireland, and there are, obviously, political difficulties. If these difficulties could be surmounted the strength of the corps might be quadrupled, and there would be ready for use in any emergency a trained and disciplined body of responsible citizens whose sole desire is to render such service as they can to their country and the State. The question of recognition raises other very serious problems. In the recent rebellion five of our members were killed and seven were wounded. In five cases dependants have been left unprovided for. Failing such recognition, it is generally believed that these corps, which proved their utility in exceptionally trying circumstances, will have to be disbanded, as the Executive Committee cannot see their way to advising men to expose themselves to grave peril and their families to the risk of ruin unless they enjoy the same degree of protection as is extended to military bodies. — I am, Sir, &c.,
R. A. ANDERSON, Hon. Secretary.
18 South Frederick Street, Dublin.
[If the military authorities do not accord to the families of the men killed and to the men wounded, all as truly on active service as the men now in the trenches, the treatment due to combatants, they and the nation will stand disgraced. The notion of some petty legal punctilio being allowed to prevent these true soldiers of the British people from obtaining their due is simply unendurable, and we, at any rate, do not mean to endure it without protest. We cannot, however, believe that any such official outrage is really contemplated. We believe, instead, that the words of praise given by the General and the presence of the Prime Minister at the inspection of the corps are proofs that the debt of gratitude owed by the nation to the Dublin V.T. Corps will be paid by the recognition of the killed and wounded men as soldiers and combatants. — Ed. Spectator.]

The Volunteer Training Corps was suspended in December 1918, and officially disbanded in January 1920.



Our Volunteer Corps.


By a Villager.

Our fine old warrior, Major Chrustie, of Tiffin Lodge, raised it, and is its commandant. He is patriotic in heart, soul and cellar, and to hear him denounce the Huns saves fuel in cold weather. He found an able secretary and recruiter in Green, our auctioneer, who, being an expert in pinching and appraising cattle, is just the man for gauging human physique. He soon roped in the early spring and late autumn of Larkfield manhood, a big platoon strong. He even got me, though my game leg won't go far sideways, and I can never hope to form fours properly (on which I understand victory in the field so much depends).

We have had a hard training, including a special sermon from our Vicar, and are already widely known as the Larkfield Dare-Devils.

Now our contemptible neighbour, Sloshley, has a Volunteer Corps too, but it is nothing to ours. We have tunics – they haven't; we march smartly – they flop about anyhow; we have been promoted to aim at the running perambulator drawn by a long rope – they are still in the haystack stage. I intrude this trivial subject of Sloshley only because we went out to fight them last Saturday afternoon. The Major of course led us, and a brave show we made when we "debauched" (I believe that is the correct military term) on to the road to Wild Heath, where the battle was to take place under the eye of a real Colonel of Territorials. His fife and bugle band kindly played us part of the way; after that, those of us who could whistle whistled, and to this stirring accompaniment we completed the four-mile journey to the Heath like so many Alpine Chasseurs, all of us having, by advice, soaped our socks and horaxed our toes for three days beforehand.

At the Heath we were met by the Colonel.

"This your infantry?" he inquired of our Major.

"Yes, Sir."

"Where are your machine guns?"

"On this piece of paper, Sir."

"Very good; post them in what you think is the most strategic position, and your troops too."

So the Major fastened the guns to a strategic gatepost with a safety-pin. Then he spread us out along an adjacent hedge and ditch, and ordered us to lie down and try to look as if we weren't there.

There we lay for what seemed a week, rifles firmly grasped, straining at the leash. No word was uttered, except when the nettles became intolerable, and then only one. All this time Sloshley never came near, the poltroons! At the long last, however, the Colonel galloped back and shook our Major heartily by the hand.

"I congratulate you on your victory," he said.

"What victory Sir?" exclaimed the puzzled Major, "we have never stirred or seen a soul."

"Oh, that's all right," was the reply, "the battle was won by the superior disposition of your machine-guns. Your opponents had placed theirs where they could only fire on themselves!"

So, exulting, we turned our faces and marched back towards Larkfield, home and beauty. Only one man fell out (into a passing cart), having used the wrong soap for his socks.

'Our Volunteer Corps', Punch, 14th July 1915


Poem: 'The Inner Line', Church of Ireland Gazette, 11th September 1914.



Thursday, 14 May 2015

Lusitania - The Inquest

Capt. Turner's Evidence


Captain William Turner giving evidence at the Lusitania Inquiry
Message from the Admiralty

At the inquest at Kinsale on Monday, Captain W. S. Turner was sworn by the Coroner as to the death of Captain Mathews and certain other unknown passengers. He said he left New York on May 1st. I received no personal warnings beyond what I saw in the newspaper. The voyage was without incident. I was fully aware that threats had been made that the ship would be torpedoed.

The Coroner -- Was she armed?

Witness -- No, sir.

What precautions did you make in connection with these threats? I had all the boats swung out and the bulkheads doors closed when we came within the zone. We passed the Fastnet about eleven o'clock. Between that time and the torpedoing I saw no sign whatever of any submarine. There was some haze on the Irish coast, and when near the Fastnet I slowed down to fifteen knots. I was in wireless communication with the shore all the way across.

The Coroner -- Did you receive any message with reference to submarines being off the Irish Coast?

Witness -- Yes.

What was the nature of the message?

Witness -- I respectfully refer you to the Admiralty for an answer to that question.

Did you receive any message as to the sinking of a ship off the Old Head of Kinsale? No.

Did you receive any special instructions as to the voyage? Yes, sir.

Are you at liberty to tell us what they are? No, sir.

Did you carry them out? Yes, to the best of my ability.

Tell us in your own words what happened after passing the Fastnet. The weather was clear and we were going at a speed of eighteen knots. I was on the port side, and I heard the second officer, Hefford, call out, "There's a torpedo." I ran over to the other side, and saw clearly the wake of the torpedo. Smoke and steam came up between the last two funnels. There was a slight shock immediately after the first explosion. There was another report, but that might possibly have been internal. I at once gave the order to lower the boats down to the rails, and I directed that the women and children should be got into them. I also gave the order to "Stop ship," but we could not stop it. We found the engines were out of commission. It was not safe to lower boats until speed was off. The vessel did not stop; as a matter of fact, there was a perceptible headway on her up to the time she went down. The moment she struck she listed to starboard. I stood on the bridge as she sank, and the Lusitania went down under me. She floated about eighteen minutes after the torpedo struck her. My watch stopped at 2-36¼.

A Juryman -- That exactly corresponds with the time of another watch.

The Coroner—It does.

Firemen and engine room staff on the deck of the Lusitania.

NO NAVAL CONVOY.

Witness continued -- I was picked up from among the wreckage, and was afterwards brought aboard a trawler. No warship was convoying us. I saw no warship. None was reported to me as having been seen. At the time I was picked up I noticed bodies floating on the surface, but no living persons. Captain Matthews was unknown to me. Eighteen knots was not the normal speed of the Lusitania. At ordinary times she could make twenty-five knots, but in war time her speed was reduced to twenty-one knots. My reason for going eighteen knots was I wanted to arrive at Liverpool Bar without stopping, and within two or three hours of high water.

The Coroner -- Was there a look-out kept for submarines, having regard to the previous warnings? Yes; we had double look-outs.

Were you going a zig-zag course at the moment the torpedoing took place. No. It was bright weather, and the land was clearly visible.

Was it possible for a submarine to approach without being seen? Oh, yes, quite possible.

Something has been said as to the impossibility of launching the boats on the port side? Yes, owing to the listing of the ship.

How many boats were launched safely? I cannot say.

Were any launched safely? Yes, and one or two on the port side, too.

Were your orders promptly carried out? Yes.

Was there any panic aboard? No, there was no panic at all, and it was almost calm.

How many persons were on board? There were 1,500 passengers and about 600 of a crew,

A Juryman -- Did you get a wireless to steer the vessel in a northerly direction? No.

Was the course of the vessel altered after the torpedo struck her? I headed straight for the land, but it was useless. Previous to this the watertight bulkheads were closed. I suppose the explosion forced them open. I do not know the exact extent to which the Lusitania was damaged.

The Coroner -- There must have been serious damage done to the watertight bulkheads? There certainly was without doubt.

Were the passengers supplied with lifebelts? Yes.

Were any special orders given that morning that lifebelts should be put on? No.

Was any warning given you before you were torpedoed? None whatever. It was suddenly done and finished.

If there had been a patrol boat about might it have been of assistance? It might; but it is one of those things one never knows. The submarine would have probably torpedoed both of us.

The Coroner -- We all sympathise with you very much in the terrible crime that has been committed, and we also express our appreciation to the high courage you have shown. You have proved yourself worthy of the traditions of the service to which, you belong. We are very much obliged to you for coming here to-day at considerable inconvenience to give evidence. (Murmurs of approval.)

The captain then retired from the witness chair.

THE VERDICT.

The jury found -- "This appalling crime was contrary to international law and the conventions of all civilised nations, and we therefore charge the officer of the submarine and the German Emperor and Government of Germany, under whose orders they acted, with the crime of wilful and wholesale murder." The jury expressed sympathy with the relatives, with the Cunard Company, and with the United States.

Punch, 12th May 1915

THE LOST LUSITANIA.


AMERICA'S NOTE.


Washington, Thursday. -- The Government Note to be sent to Germany to-day will demand a guarantee that no further submarine attacks will be made on merchantmen carrying non-combatants, and also gives notice that reparation will be sought for the loss of over one hundred lives on the Lusitania, and for other violations of the rights of Americans in the sea war zones.

Whilst no indication is given in the Note of the steps which the Government will take in the events of an unfavourably reply, Germany is informed in it that America will leave nothing undone, either diplomatically or otherwise, to obtain compliance.

More Impertinence to America.

Washington, Thursday. -- The German Embassy yesterday evening notified by letter and telegraph the newspapers, in all the large cities of the United States, to discontinue the publication of the advertisement warning Americans against Transatlantic travel in belligerent ships. No reason for the discontinuance was given, but it was stated by the Embassy that the warning was considered to have been sufficient.



REFERENCE BY THE MODERATOR.


Speaking at a meeting of the Sustentation Fund Committee on Tuesday

The Moderator said he felt that at that the first representative meeting of their Church since that most calamitous occurrence that had happened on the shores of Ireland he should say a word. In such a matter one felt, he said, to speak with calmness. (Hear, hear.) They were all greatly distressed when the Titanic, by an accident, went down, and when so many of their fellow-creatures were overwhelmed in the mighty deep. But he thought they had different feelings -- feelings of the deepest sympathy on the one hand, but also feeling of deep indignation at the barbarity and the brutality of a nation that claimed to be civilised at all. He would not further enter into that side of the question, but he wished to express the sympathy and sorrow they all felt with the relatives of those who had perished not only in this land, but in America. That feeling would be shared throughout the whole Church -- (hear hear) -- as it was fully shared by that committee. (Hear, hear.)



Text: The Witness, 14th May 1915


Thursday, 7 May 2015

Cunard Liner Lusitania Torpedoed and Sunk of Irish Coast


GREAT LOSS OF LIFE – ULSTER VICTIMS.


The great Cunard liner Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine off the Old Head of Kinsale, on the Irish coast, on Friday last, and the lives of almost 1,500 people, men, women, and children, British citizens and neutrals, were sacrificed.

The ship was struck by two torpedoes. Neither the captain nor his officers saw the submarine which fired them. The torpedoes entered the forward stokehold, and the engines were paralysed by the breaking of the main steampipe. The vessel was steaming at eighteen knots, and as it was impossible to reverse her engines, she made way for about ten minutes. The boats, accordingly, could not be lowered immediately. In any case, the starboard boats were useless, as there was a heavy list. Altogether between ten and a dozen boats and rafts got away. The Lusitania sank eighteen or twenty minutes after she was struck.

The United States is ablaze with indignation. Many distinguished American citizens have lost their lives. The death-roll includes, among others, Mr. A. G. Vanderbilt, Mr. Charles Frohman, Dr. F. S. Pearson, Mr. Justus Miles Forman, and Mr. Elbert Hubbard, authors of international reputation, and Mr. Charles Klein, the playwright. Sir Hugh Lane and Mr. J. Foster Stackhouse were also lost. Among the survivors were Mr. D. A. Thomas, Lady Mackworth, Lady Allan, and Captain Turner, who was in command of the ship.

THE LAST MOMENTS.


Scenes on Board.

The last moments in the sinking vessel are described vividly by Mr. Oliver P. Bernard, scenic artist at Covent Garden Theatre, one of the four people who saw the torpedo discharged. "I saw the periscope of a submarine about 200 yards away (he says). Then I noticed a long white streak of foam. A woman and two men came up to me and exclaimed 'Is that a torpedo?' I felt too sick to answer and turned away, knowing too well that it was a torpedo. When the torpedo came within a yard or two I covered my eyes and corked my ears as I did not want to hear the explosion. Almost immediately there was a violent impact followed by the explosion. Fragments of material, dust, and water shot up in a great column. Hundreds of people must have been blown to atoms, including stokers and trimmers -- to say nothing of the men and women in the forward cabins, who were about to come on deck.

"A few moments after the explosion the vessel toppled over, and I was flung against the starboard rail. Recovering myself, I could see there was a frantic rush from the starboard entrances to the port side of the deck and from below. Women shouted wildly, 'What shall we do?' I struggled to the port side to get a lifebelt. There was great excitement, but no real panic.

MR. VANDERBILT'S FORTITUDE

"The last passenger I spoke to before the vessel went down was Mrs. Mason, a young American, who was on a honeymoon trip to England. She was the daughter of Mr. Wm. Lindsay, a well-known Boston manufacturer of military equipments. Mrs. Mason rushed up to me, exclaiming, 'Have you seen my husband?' I advised her to remain on the port deck, as I was certain Mr. Mason would come up there to find her. I then made for the funnel deck, and the last person I noticed particularly, because of his demeanour, was Mr. Alfred Vanderbilt. He was standing outside the grand entrance of the saloon. He looked quite happy and perfectly composed. He was chatting to a friend. In has right hand he held a purple leather jewel case belonging to a woman friend for whom he was apparently waiting.

"I reached the funnel deck and crossed over to look at the starboard side. There I came across the two Marconi operators. They were sending out their 'S.O.S.' The explosion had disorganised the main wireless room and they were working the emergency apparatus. I asked the wireless operators how they were getting on, and at that precise moment they received an answer to their call. A moment later the apparatus was smashed. One of the operators offered me a swivel chair to go down into the water. His colleague took out a pocket Kodak, and, going down on his hands and knees on the deck, which was now at an angle of about 35 degrees, took a solitary snapshot of the scenes forward. It would have been a wonderful photograph, but the film was destroyed in the water."

STRUGGLES IN THE WATER.

Mr. Bernard eventually got into a water-logged boat hanging from the davits. "Hundreds were trying to scramble into it. The funnels of the Lusitania were gradually sweeping down on us, and we had enormous difficulty to get the boat free. However, we succeeded in chopping through the tackle, and this released the boat. Not a moment too soon, for the great liner heaved over. One of the funnel stays caught us right in the middle of the boat. By a great effort we got the line clear, one of the funnels just grazing our heads as the Lusitania went down on the starboard side. In a moment the vessel disappeared amidst terrible cries from those who were caught. What I saw in the water I can hardly describe. There was floating debris on all sides, and men, women, and children clinging for life to deck chairs and rafts which littered the water.

"There were desperate struggles. Many were entangled between chairs, rafts, and upturned boats. One by one they seemed to fall off and give themselves up. One poor wretch was struck by the oar which I was sharing with the steward, but he seized and clung to the oar until we were able to drag him into the boat. Next we saw a woman floating quite near us. Her face was just visible above the water. We rowed alongside and pulled her in. The boat was by now packed to its full standing capacity, but the steward and I let her slip down between us, where she lay in about eighteen inches of water between my knees. And there she died. We could not help crying, but we had done all we could to save her."

Illustrated London News, 15th May 1915

LINER STRUCK TWICE.


Lowering of the Boats.

One of the survivors was Dr. Haughton, of Troy, New York State, who was proceeding to Belgium, accompanied by Madame de Page, head of the Belgian Red Cross Society. Dr. Haughton, who was interviewed at the American Consulate, Queenstown, was bleeding from a flesh wound under the right eye, received in falling upon a piece of wreckage. He said -- "I was in my state-room at 2-15 p.m., when the ship was struck a violent blow on the starboard side, which had the effect of at once stopping the engines. I at once rushed up the companion way, and jostled in my hurry several other passengers who were quite as eager as I was to get on deck to ascertain what had taken place. In truth I may say I had a dread foreboding that we would be torpedoed, and was not surprised when I got on deck to be informed by an officer that we had been attacked by a German submarine. By the time I reached the deck the vessel had a decided list to starboard.

I remained standing on the deck for a moment or two, and was joined by Madame de Page. Boats were by this time being lowered. It was not easy to do much in the lowering of the boats owing to the fact that those on the port side alone were available. An officer told us there was no reason to fear any danger. The vessel would be headed for Queenstown, and would be beached if necessary. Meanwhile other boats were being got ready for any emergency.

Then the liner was again struck – this time forward of the main bridge. The first struck us amidships. The second attack was evidently of a more deadly character than the first, as quite suddenly the big steamer began to settle by the head. Orders quickly came from the bridge to lower all boats. This work was at once commenced. Almost a panic then took possession of the women, who were terror-stricken, and they commenced to cry piteously. Children were clinging to their parents, and the whole scene was too bad to witness. The women and children were being rushed into the boats which were being lowered – some of them successfully, others not so, and many people were thrown into the sea.

A PLUNGE OVERBOARD.

I saw that the time had come to leave the ship, which was now well down by the head. I said to Mdme. de Page that we had better jump overboard and trust to be picked up by one of the rafts or lifeboats. This we both did, and as I struck the water my head came into violent contact with a piece of wreckage, which stunned me, and I commenced to sink. Happily I came to the surface again, and struck out for a damaged raft that was not far away. My first thought was to try and see Mdme. de Page, but no trace of her was to be seen, and I can only conclude that she was drowned. Quite a number of people were on the raft, and it was sinking under us, so several women and children were taken off by a lifeboat. I remained on the raft, in my wet clothes for three hours, but that did not give me any concern. I was alive at all events, with a chance of being picked up. I felt weak from loss of blood, but tried to cheer those who were with me. One poor fellow lost his reason altogether and jumped into the sea and was drowned. We were about 100 yards from the Lusitania when she foundered. It was an appalling sight to witness, as her decks were still crowded with passengers frantically rushing about in a frenzied state. The spectacle in the water was even worse. Scores of people were struggling to keep afloat, and some were shouting for help. But we could not give them any assistance. We were picked up by a trawler, and transferred to the tug Stormcock and brought to Queenstown. It was an awful experience, and I thank providence for my escape.

INCIDENTS AND ESCAPES


LADY MACKWORTH'S STORY

A vivid account of her experiences was given by Lady Mackworth, daughter of Mr. D. A. Thomas, the millionaire coalowner. "When I came up from my cabin," she said, "whither I had gone to put on a lifebelt, on hearing the explosion, the deck was inclined at a fearful angle, making it impossible to get about. Unable to get into a boat, I was still on deck when the ship went down and was sucked under for a great depth. When I rose to the surface I swam towards a floating board, and, having grasped it, offered a corner to a man, who gladly availed himself of it and held on for some time. He let go later, however. I was by this time feeling the effects of my immersion in the cold water, and must have lost consciousness for some time, for the next I remembered I was floating with a deck chair under me. How I got on to it I do not I know."

SUCKED INTO THE FUNNEL

Wonderful almost beyond belief was the escape of a Lusitania passenger named Mrs. Gwyer, who, when the liner sank, was thrown out of a boat into the sea and sucked down into one of the vessel's huge funnels. The boat in which Mrs. Gwyer had a place was tossed high in the air, and waves crashed all round it, some curling high over it and breaking over the heads of the unfortunate passengers. Mrs. Gwyer was whipped over the side of the boat by one huge billow, and fell into the boiling waters. Then the Lusitania made her last plunge with her funnels flat on the water.

Torrents of water poured into the four smokestacks of the Lusitania, and Mrs. Gwyer was swept away on the flood, and, to the horror of all who saw it, disappeared down one of the funnels. A few seconds later, as from the mouths of a mighty volcano, there sprang back to the sea enormous jets of water, followed by vast clouds of steam. The Lusitania had gone, but had not taken Mrs. Gwyer with her. For she was shot out of the funnel. As the water poured on the furnaces such an enormous quantity of steam was generated that it blew back from the funnels the thousand tons of water that entered them. Mrs. Gwyer owed her escape to that.

MR. VANDERBILT'S SACRIFICE

Mr. Vanderbilt's heroism has come to light in a story told by Mr. Norman Ratcliffe, whose home is at Gillingham, Kent, and who was returning from a visit to Japan. Mr. Ratcliffe was saved after being in the sea for three hours clinging to a box. "I was having lunch down below at the time of the crash," he said, "and with others scrambled on to the deck. There was, of course, great excitement, but no panic. When I reached the deck several of the lifeboats were being lowered, and the ship was already heeling over. I jumped into one of the lifeboats which was already launched, landing fortunately on my feet right in the stern of the boat. There were several women and children in the boat, which soon afterwards capsized, throwing us all out into the water. I went underneath and when I came to the surface saw a box floating 100 yards or so away. I swam for this, and succeeded in getting hold of it. On this I kept afloat for three hours, at the end of which time one of the rescuing boats saw me, and I was pulled on board. I only heard the one explosion on the Lusitania, which remained afloat for seventeen minutes after being struck by the torpedo. One of the stewards who was among those saved told me that he saw Mr. Vanderbilt among the passengers on deck shortly after the ship had been struck. "The last I saw of Mr. Vanderbilt," the steward said to me, "was when he was in the act of giving his lifebelt to a lady passenger."

A PREMEIDATTED [sic] CRIME.


Warning to American Travellers.

The following advertisement appeared in American newspapers a fortnight ago. At the time it was regarded in Liverpool as merely a trick to prevent passengers travelling on British ships –
Travellers intending to embark for an Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her Allies and Great Britain and her Allies; that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with the formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain or any of her Allies are liable to destruction in those waters; and that travellers sailing in the war zone in ships of Great Britain or her Allies do so at their own risk.
Imperial German Embassy,
Washington, April 22.
This action by the German Embassy caused some resentment in Washington, and was generally interpreted as a threat directed at the Lusitania. Indeed, a German in America expressed himself confident that "we shall have her." "We did it to ease our conscience lest harm should come to persons misinformed," was the explanation of the advertisement given by the German Embassy, who added they had acted in accordance with instructions from Berlin.

The Lusitania's passengers, however, for the most part treated the threat derisively, confident in the belief that the Cunarder's great speed would make her safe from submarine attacks, and the vessel left New York on Saturday with a record number of passengers for the time of year, not a single booking being cancelled.

It was stated in New York, although the captain subsequently denied it, that many of the leading passengers received telegrams, signed either "John Smith" or "George Jones," warning them to cancel the trip.

The following telegram addressed to Mr. Alfred G. Vanderbilt was stated to be typical of the rest –
"Have it on definite authority Lusitania is to be torpedoed. You had better cancel passage immediately."
Neither Mr. Vanderbilt nor any of the other passengers paid the slightest attention to the warnings, or to strangers who accosted them at the entrance of the pier and in German accents tried to frighten them with stories of big German submarines which, they [sic]

MANY WELL-KNOWN NAMES.

Among the passengers supposed to be on board Were the following well-known people --

Mr. Charles Frohman, the well-known theatrical manager, was born at San Dusky (Ohio) fifty-five years ago. His first connection with the theatre was in the box office at Hooley's Theatre, Brooklyn. He subsequently joined Haverley's Minstrels, bringing them to London. His first success as a theatrical manager was "Shenandoah," produced at Boston in 1888. At the Duke of York's, London, he has produced many notable plays since he acquired the theatre in 1897. Mr. Frohman, who was perhaps the largest theatrical business in the world, endeavoured to establish a repertory theatre at the Duke of York's in 1910.

Mr. Frederick Stark Pearson is an American engineer with a world-wide reputation. His name is associated with many railway, light, and power companies in various countries. Coombe House, Kingston Hill, Surrey, is his residence in Britain. Mr. Pearson was born at Lowell (Mass.) in 1861.

Mr. Elbert Hubbard, a well-known New York journalist (Editor of "The Era and Philistine Magazine"), and his wife were bound for France. Mr. Hubbard started life as a school teacher. He met William Morris in London in 1890, and when he returned to the United States started the Roycroft Press at East Aurora (N.Y.) on similar lines to the Kelmscott. The Roycrofters' Corporation has grown out of this venture -- a semi-communal institution giving work to 800 people. Mr. Hubbard has written about 30,000 magazine articles and a number of books, the latter including "Little Journeys," in twenty-three volumes.

Mr. Alfred Vanderbilt is the well known capitalist. He was a son of Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt, and was born in 1877.

Sir Hugh Percy Lane is hon. director of the Municipal Art Gallery, Dublin, and also director of National Gallery, Ireland, since last year. He was a member of the council, National University of Ireland. Sir Hugh was born in County Cork in 1875. He has taken a leading part in the revival of Irish art by organising winter exhibitions at the Royal Hibernian Academy and at Belfast. He presented a collection of modern art to the City of Dublin, and formed a collection of modern art for Johannesburg Municipal Gallery, also the Capetown National Gallery collection of seventeenth century Dutch pictures.

Mr. J. Foster Stockhouse, F.R.G.S., was the organiser of the British Antarctic Expedition, 1914, to determine the coast line of King Edward VII. Land.

Illustrated London News, 15th May 1915

VICTIMS FROM ULSTER.


A heavy bereavement has befallen the Rev. G. P. Mitchell, M.A., rector of Drumbo. His son, Mr. Walter Dawson Mitchell, accompanied, by his young wife and nine months' old baby, and Mrs. Mitchell's brother, Mr. John Moore (son of Mr. William Moore, Newgrove, Ballylesson), were coming home on a visit to their parents. The first list of survivors published contained the names of Mrs. Mitchell and her brother, and while no mention was made of Mr. Mitchell and the infant hope was still entertained until Sunday evening, when a wire was received by the Rev. Mr. Mitchell conveying the information that his son and grandchild had perished. The two survivors, Mrs. Mitchell and her brother, arrived at Lisburn at midnight by the same train as conveyed Mr. Mitchell's remains, and after these had been enclosed in an oak coffin, young Mr. Moore made a brief statement to a Press representative. The lifeboat he got into after the Lusitania was struck unfortunately overturned, but he got hold of a rope which was hanging over the ship's side and held on for a little time during which the passengers were jumping down in crowds, many of them striking him as they pissed and bruising his body. Subsequently he found himself struggling in the water and just managed to clutch the keel of one of the upturned boats, with which he supported himself until he was rescued by what he thought was a mine-sweeper. He had lost sight of his sister and her husband, and was despairing of seeing them again, when he observed them being taken out of the sea and brought aboard the trawler. Mrs. Mitchell was in a semi-conscious state and her husband was unconscious. Everything possible was done to restore him, but without success. As for the baby, he (Mr. Moore) did not see it after leaving the liner.

Mr. Moore served his apprenticeship with Messrs. Magowan & Ingram, Belfast, after which about four years ago, he received an important appointment in Newark, Connecticut.

Mr. W. D. Mitchell (who was a grand-nephew of the Rev. Canon Pounden) had been in the States for the past two years, holding a responsible position in the concern of Messrs. Marshall & Co., New Jersey. He served his apprenticeship with the Island Spinning Company's Mill, Lisburn.

BELFAST FAMILIES BEREAVED.

Amongst the large number of those who, it is feared, have perished in the awful disaster is Mrs. Mary A. Hume, of New York (formerly Miss Elliott, of Belfast), who is a relative of Mr. W. S. Patton, 34, Yarrow Street, and niece of Miss Fleming, of Doagh, County Antrim. Four years ago she proceeded to New York to be married, and was on her way home to pay a surprise visit to her friends, who only knew that she was a passenger on the Lusitania when they received a wire from her husband asking was she amongst the survivors.

Mr. Robert M'Cready, a son of Mr. Wm. J. M'Cready, Oldpark Road, is also a victim. Mr. M'Cready, who was a photographer by profession, was returning home after a very successful period of business in the United States and Canada.

The chief baker on board the Lusitania was also a Belfast man named Pinkerton. His name as yet does not appear amongst the list of saved.

BALLYMENA, OMAGH, AND LIMAVADY.

Mr. and Mrs. Burnside, who are natives of the Cullybackey district, Ballymena, were coming for a short holiday from Toronto. The name of Mrs. Burnside appears in the list ot survivors, but not that of her husband or children. Mr. Burnside was formerly an engineer at Ballyclare Paper Mills.

Amongst the passengers were Mrs. Murray, wife of an officer in the American Navy, and her brother, Mr. Patrick M'Ginley, sister and nephew respectively of the Rev. Father Harkin, Omagh, County Tyrone, and cousin of Mr. John Harkin, J.P., Strabane, County Tyrone. A telegram has been received that Mr. M'Ginley has been saved, but Mrs. Murray is missing.

Great anxiety is felt in Limavady owing to the fact that two well-known Limavady ladies, Mrs. Moody and her youngest daughter Miss Meta Moody, were on board the ill-fated liner. A measure of relief was felt when it became known that a wire had been received by Mr. John H. Moody, Wheatfield, Limavady, from his sister at Queenstown, stating she was safe and that she was waiting for her mother. Up to the time of writing no intelligence has been received as to the fate of Mrs. Moody, and her relatives are entertaining the gravest fears for her safety. Mrs. Moody and her daughter were returning from a visit of a year's duration to the former's brother, Rev. Dr Hemphill, of San Francisco, California. Mr. John H. Moody has gone to Queenstown to ascertain tidings of his mother.


Text: The Witness, 14th May 1915.




Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Landing

THE following grim and characteristic story of the landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula — five days of hell, as he himself calls it — is told by a New Zealander who took part in the fighting. In a covering letter the writer says I have had my second turn with the 'unspeakable Turk' and as a result am in hospital with a wrecked spine and rather a badly tangled set of nerves, caused through concussion from a shell and a fall. The enclosed is perhaps crude, but I made rather an effort to write it, and Nurse says 'never again' — for a while anyhow."

The "enclosed" is probably the most vivid personal narrative of the Gallipoli fighting which has yet reached this country. — The TIMES.


A MILITARY HOSPITAL, CAIRO,

May 5. 

A glass flat sea covered with a shallow mist, and beyond, the tops of green hills peering through the vapour, dim shapes of warboats and transports, and a fleeting glimpse of a seaplane as it winged over the Turkish positions: this was the scene that met our eyes on the morning of April 25 when we approached the peninsula of Gallipoli. Drowning the noise of the winches in our transport there rose and fell the thunderous arpeggio of the heavy guns, ceaseless in its monotonous roar, but, as we drew nearer, relieved by the staccato crack of the bursting Turkish shrapnel and the plunge of the heavier shell in the water amongst the transports.

As we approached the shore there came to our ears the continuous rattle of musketry, first scarcely perceptible, but at last growing to an ear-racking roll as of giant kettle-drums beaten without reason. Through glasses I could see one of our skirmishing lines advancing from the boats on the beach. It was as though one watched a cinematograph screen. The white boats on the beach and some brown figures sadly still on the grey sand, the green grass, and a tilled field across which advanced lines of our attacking force formed the foreground. Steep hills, clay faced and covered with dense scrub and dwarf ilex, over which the cottonwool puffs of shrapnel appeared and disappeared, made the background.

Troops of the Essex Regiment going ashore at 'W' Beach, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, 25 April 1915. (c) IWM Q70723
Business-like and brisk a destroyer glided alongside our transport towing strings of heavy barges.

"What's it like over there?" we asked.

"Pretty warm, boy," answered a smiling gunner, "but they're on the run."

Straight to the beach we ran, to the foot of the hill, but the destroyer necessarily could not take us right in to the sand, and we lay smiling sickly smiles at each other as the bullets purred and whistled over and round us. The sharp-pointed bullet "meows" like a motherless kitten as it passes you, but it enters the water with a "phut" that suggests something more unpleasant.

At last the barges were taken as far in as possible and we jumped into water up to our armpits and half swam, half waded ashore. I had often wondered how one would feel going into a tight corner for the first time, and then I knew. It was as if some one had given me a smack below the chest with the flat of a heavy spade. Later came a sense of elation.

Formed up we marched along the beach past dressing-stations already hemmed in with stretchers and wounded men. An Australian and a sailor lay beneath an oil sheet, their feet in the little waves.

"Reinforcements at the double on the left," roared an officer through a megaphone, and then added as a shell burst overhead, "Keep in under the bank — shrapnel's unhealthy."

Then came a toilsome, tiresome scramble over the high bluffs to the firing line. On the top of the first ridge we came through a Turkish trench. In it were a dead Turk, bayoneted, a box of ammunition, and many flies. Stooping low we doubled to the brow, ever with the purring bullets overhead. Wounded on the way to the beach passed us cheerfully, saying, "It's hot as hell up there!" And it was. When we had crossed a gully and gained another ridge, half an hour's scrambling and sliding, we were scarce 200 yards from the last, so steep is the ground.

Snipers were everywhere, and as we made one descent of about 100 feet, at an angle of about 10 degrees past 90, bullets spattered about on the stones and in the bushes round us. I struck a shingle slide and my downfall was expedited.

At the bottom I saw a wounded man bleeding badly over one shoulder. He grinned hideously with his shattered mouth. "Got it where the chicken got the axe," he wheezed, and fainted as the stretcher-bearers came up for him.

British official photograph. A Turkish sniper photographed immediately after capture,
and while he was being brought under guard. He was ingeniously screened
by a Jack-in-the-Green arrangement of foliage attached to his clothing. (c) IWM Q 109176.
And so on, up to the firing line, where I got separated from my own unit and found ranges, that being my job, for an Australian regiment. Through the powerful telescope of the range-finder I could see the Turkish retirement and then an embryo bayonet charge by some of our men. Still the wounded came back in apparently endless procession. They were wonderful, cheerful, and full of information and profanity.

Then in our trench things began to happen. Personally I think a sniper spotted the range-finder, for two bullets lobbed into the trench parapet and then the man next to me stood straight up and fell back over my legs. "Mafeesh," he said quaintly, the Arabic for finished, and then more slowly, "Money-belt — missus and kids — dirty swine, dirty ----"

Then a strange thing happened. Dying, shattered beyond recognition, he rose to his knees and dragged his rifle to the parapet. With a weak finger he took shaky aim at the sky and fired his last shot, to collapse finally in the bottom of the trench.

Obviously the Turks had our range, for things began to get too hot for comfort. Those who were left of us changed position about a hundred yards along the trench, one of the Australians first resting a dead man's hat on a bush on the trench parapet. "Got our range," he said laconically, "better let 'em have a little target practice." They did, for the hat only stayed there five minutes.

Then we spotted our sniper. Have you ever gone stalking in open country with only dry watercourses or stone slides as cover and a Royal smelling danger on the slope opposite? It was rather like that.

Two of our men crept from the trench and crawled out of sight through the bushes. All unconscious the Turk continued his rifle practice until a double report rang out and our two men appeared on our left waving the sniper's hat — their equivalent of a scalp. After that we had comparative peace.

Away to the right a machine gun, like a motorcycle, purred incessantly, and then one started nearer and to our front. A seaplane from the Ark Royal, anchored in the bay behind, soared overhead, and twice white puffs of shrapnel appeared below her, where the Turks lobbed two shells. It is rather like shooting at a rocketing pheasant, this aeroplane-potting, and has about the same result. Then she turned and went back to report.

Something was due to arrive and it did, suddenly, in the shape of a naval shell. First came the ear-and-nerve-shattering roar of the gun, then the shriek of the shell overhead, and away in front a cloud of smoke and earth rose slowly and drifted away, showing a gap in the skyline and a few Turks, who obviously recollected that it was about time to start for the last train to Gallipoli. Away they went out of sight, and then the naval guns started in earnest.

From the bay below came one continuous thunder, and the screech of the heavy projectiles was incessant. No sooner had one burst than another was on its way.

A French battleship firing at Turkish shore positions in the preliminary bombardment.
(c) IWM Q 13336
Presently the 15-inchers started and we tore up some "pull-through" rag to put in our ears. Commands, unless shouted, were unintelligible now, and one felt ridiculous yelling against such thunderous voices. Below in the bay a warship was firing salvoes from her 6-inch battery. Puffs of brown smoke would jet from the bulwarks, and then, a long while afterwards, the roll of reports would shake the hills.

Then the enemy's guns joined in the argument. Shrapnel began to burst above us, and the whistle of the flying bullets was everywhere. The brass nose of a howitzer shell struck from nowhere upon a mound in front and rolled into the trench. I burned my fingers picking it up. For three hours this violent cannonading lasted and then it gave place to a more desultory, but still severe, bombardment.

We had gained our footing, at heavy cost it is true, but at least a mile square of the Gallipoli Peninsula was ours, and Von der Goltz Pasha was proved a liar. Back on the beach stores were beginning to come in. Horses, donkeys, and mules were landed and ammunition reserves grew as one watched. Men were carrying water to the firing line, ammunition and oil for the machine guns. On every path the stretcher-bearers toiled with their sad loads, and wounded waited patiently in little knots by the dressing-stations, laughing, chatting, and cheering each other. Sweating under the hot sun the doctors worked like machines, probing, washing, bandaging. Often the hurts were beyond aid, and a handkerchief covered the face of one man I had known as a cheery optimist on board the transport. The Brigadier-General in khaki shirt and neat riding breeches was sending off innumerable messages — cool, ubiquitous, and business-like, he inspired others to emulate him.

Wonder of wonders ! We had been ashore only six hours when three wireless stations sprang up mushroom-like on the beach, and their buzzing sparks told the warships just how and where to send their screaming missiles. Troops continued to land, and as soon as they were landed were rushed to the firing line, usually to the left, for the right was well held and safe for the time.

At nightfall the bombardment ceased, but Turkish shrapnel burst over the beach and the wounded in the boats were submitted to a hot shell fire. The rifle fire continued, nerve-racking and noisy. Sleep was out of the question, and trench digging, to consolidate the position we had won, commenced almost immediately.

(c) IWM CHR 30
On our left along the beach about half a mile, a boat, sunk in the surf, rocked uneasily. With the aid of a glass I could see its freight. Sitting upright were at least eight dead men, and on the beach another twenty. A sailor, distinguishable by his white cap cover, lay in an attitude strangely lifelike, his chin resting on his hand, his face turned to our position. The next afternoon I casually turned my glasses on the pathetic group, and saw that the sailor was now lying on his back with his face to the sky. There was no mistake: he had been alive, and perhaps even now, after lying there nearly thirty-six hours, he was still alive. I was destined to get yet another thrill. In the centre of the heap on the beach there was some movement.

And then I saw distinctly a khaki cap waving weakly, and presently a man detached himself from the group and hobbled slowly towards us along the beach. Immediately the snipers started afresh.

Four other men and myself made off along the beach to meet the sad figure, which by this time had collapsed. Ten yards out from our trench we drew fire, and the bullets whispered confidingly "Duck," and as they entered the water or hit the stones by our feet, "Run like the devil!" I personally cut out the first hundred yards in well under eleven seconds, and although my style might have been ragged, it was good enough and got me to a small sandy knoll where I was able to talk to the man. There were four others still alive out there, he said, and "last night there were eight, but it was cold, and they'd had no water or food, and couldn't last it out." That was all.

We got him in slowly, and afterwards the others, but not until one of the warships had dealt with the snipers. Later we buried all the others. One of the men we brought in had been out there half in the water and half out, shot through both knees, but he was cheery and bright, and asked first about his brother in another company, and then explained where the Turks were sniping from.

At night the rifle fire waved backwards and forwards in fluctuating bursts, and we expected an attack at dawn. It came, but not against our position. More in the centre the enemy made a desperate effort They approached our trenches — came through the lines, and were certainly brave and venturesome. Once an unmistakably foreign bugle blew the "Cease fire," but an order was passed down our line to take no notice, it was a ruse. At one time, as darkness came down a voice in English called out "Retire! Retire!" but as there was no immediate reason why we should retire, we waited, and again Brigade Headquarters informed us it was not a British command.

It will be hard to forget those first days, and even now I wake at night with the patter of musketry in my ears, only to find some cart is rumbling past the hospital on uneasy wheels.



From Light and Shade in War by Captain Malcolm Ross and Noel Ross, 1916.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Dardanelles Landing – A Glorious Achievement


VALOUR OF BRITISH TROOPS.


GRAPHIC OFFICIAL STORY


TRIBUTES TO IRISH REGIMENTS

General Sir Ian Hamilton has sent to the Secretary of State for War a despatch describing the landing of the British and French forces on the Gallipoli Peninsula. It is one of the most graphic accounts of the work of the Army which has been published during the present war. From the first he realised the enormous difficulties to be overcome, and reluctantly came to the conclusion that all the forces at his command would be required to enable the Fleet to force the passage of the Dardanelles. The great difficulties of the country are described at length and reference made to the remarkable defences and bravery of the Turkish forces. One sentence of the despatch dealing with the landing near Capo Hellos may be quoted — "It is my firm conviction that no finer feat of arms has ever been achieved by the British soldiers — or, any other soldiers — than the storming of these trenches from open boats on the morning of the 25th April." The British losses during the period covered by the despatch were 1,167 killed, 8,219 wounded, and 3,503 missing.

In the course of his narrative Sir Ian Hamilton States — The landing of an Army upon the theatre of operations — a theatre strongly garrisoned throughout, and prepared for any such attempt — involved difficulties for which no precedent was forthcoming in military history except possibly in the sinister legends of Xerxes. The beaches were either so well defended by works or guns, or else so restricted by nature that it did not seem possible even by two or three simultaneous landings, to pass the troops ashore quickly enough to enable them to maintain themselves against the rapid concentration and counterattack which the enemy was bound in such case to attempt. It became necessary, therefore, not only to land simultaneously at as many, points as possible, but to threaten to land at other points as well.


FIGHTING AGAINST ODDS.

The covering force of the. 29th Division left Mudros Harbour on the evening of April 23rd for the five beaches S, V, W, X, and Y. Of these, V, W, and X were to be main landings, the landings at S and Y being made mainly to protect the flanks, to disseminate the forces of the enemy, and to interrupt the arrival of his reinforcements The landings at S and Y were to take place at dawn, whilst it was planned that the first troops, for V. W. and X. beaches should reach the shore simultaneously at 5-30 a.m. after half an hour's bombardment from the fleet.

A general view of men possibly on board HMS Queen Elizabeth on their way to Gallipoli.
Several other ships can be seen in the background. IWM Q103294
The detachment detailed for S Beach (Eski Hissarlik Point) consisted of the 2nd South Wales Borderers (less one company) under Lieutenant-Colonel Casson. Their landing was delayed by the current, but by 7-30 a.m. it had been successfully effected at a cost of some fifty casualties, and Lieutenant-Colonel Casson was able to establish his small force on the high ground near De Totts Battery. Here he maintained himself until the general advance on the 27th brought him in touch with the main body. The landing on Y Beach was entrusted to the King's Own Scottish Borderers and the Plymouth (Marine) Battalion, Royal Naval Division, specially attached to the 29th Division for this task, under Colonel Coe. So impregnable had the precipices here appeared to the Turks that no steps had been taken to defend them.

Both battalions were able in the first instance to establish themselves on the heights, and an endeavour was made to gain touch with the troops landing at X beach. Unfortunately, the enemy's strong detachment from Y 2 interposed, and the attempt to join hands was not persevered with. Later in the day a large force of Turks were seen to be advancing from the cliffs above Y beach from the direction of Krithia, and Colonel Koe was f obliged to entrench. From this time onward his small force was subjected to strong and repeated attacks, supported by field artillery. Throughout the afternoon and all through the night the Turks made assault after assault upon the British line. The Turks were in a vast superiority and fresh troops took the place of those who temporarily fell Lack. Colonel Koe (since died of wounds) had become a casualty early in the day, and the number of officers and men killed and wounded during the incessant fighting was very heavy. By 7 a.m. on the 26th only about half the King's Own Scottish Borderers remained to man the entrenchment made for four times their number. These brave fellows were absolutely worn out with continuous fighting; it was doubtful if reinforcements could reach them in time, and order's were issued for them to be embarked. The re-embarkation of the whole of the troops, together with the wounded, stores, and ammunition, was safely accomplished, and both the battalions were brought round the southern end of the peninsula.

The troops to be landed at X beach were the 1st Royal Fusiliers, who were to be towed ashore from H.M.S. Implacable in two parties, half a battalion at a time, together with a beach working party found ty the Anson Battalion, Royal Naval Division. About 6 a.m. H.M.S. Implacable, with a boldness much admired by the Army, stood quite close in to the beach, and fired very rapidly with every gun she could bring to bear. Thus seconded, the Royal Fusiliers made good their landing with but little loss.

IRISH REGIMENTS' WORK.

The landing on V beach was planned to take place on the following lines — As soon as the enemy's defences had been heavily bombarded by the Fleet, three companies of the Dublin Fusiliers were to bo towed ashore. They were to be closely followed by the collier River Clyde (Commander Unwin, R.N.), carrying between decks the balance of the Dublin Fusiliers the Munster Fusiliers, half a battalion of the Hampshire Regiment, the West Riding Field Company, and other details. The River Clyde, had been specially prepared for the rapid disembarkation of her complement, and large openings for the exit of the troops had been cut in her sides, giving on to a wide gang-plank by which the men could pass rapidly into lighters which she had in tow. As soon as the first tows had reached land the River Clyde was to run straight ashore. Her lighters were to be placed in position to form a gangway between the ship and the beach, and by this means it was hoped that 2,000 men could be thrown ashore with the utmost rapidity. Further, to assist in covering the landing, a battery of machine-guns, protected by sandbags, had been mounted in her bows. Needless to say, the difficulties in the way of previous reconnaissance had rendered it impossible to obtain detailed information with regard either the locality or to the enemy's preparations. Whilst the boats and the collier were approaching the landing-place the Turks made no sign. Up to the very last moment it appeared as if the landing was to be unopposed. But the moment the first boat touched bottom the storm broke. A tornado of fire swept over the beach, the incoming boats, and the collier. The Dublin Fusiliers and the naval boats' crews suffered exceedingly heavy losses whilst still in the boats. Those who succeeded in landing and in crossing the strip of sand managed to gain some cover when they reached the low escarpment on the further side. None of the boats, however, were able to get off again, and they and their crews were destroyed upon the beach.

A Royal Irish Fusilier attempts to draw the fire of a Turkish sniper to reveal the enemy position, Gallipoli, 1915. IWM-Q13447
Now came the moment for the River Clyde to pour forth her living freight; but grievous delay was caused here by the difficulty of placing the lighters in position between the ship and the shore. A strong current hindered the work and the enemy's fire was so intense that almost every man engaged upon it was immediately shot. Owing, however to the splendid gallantry of the naval working party, the lighters were eventually placed in position, and then the disembarkation began. A company of the Munster Fusiliers led the way; but, short as was the distance, few of the men ever reached the farther side of the beach through the hail of bullets which poured down upon them from both flanks and the front. As the second company followed, the extemporised pier lighters gave way in the current. The end nearest to the shore drifted into deep water, and many men who had escaped being shot were drowned by the weight of their equipment in trying to swim from the lighter to the beach. Undaunted workers were still forthcoming, the lighters were again brought into position, and the third company of the Munster Fusiliers rushed ashore, suffering heaviest loss this time from shrapnel as well as from rifle, pom-pom, and machine-gun fire. For a space the attempt to land was discontinued. When it was resumed the lighters again drifted into deep water, and at this time, between 10 and 11 a.m., about 1,000 men had left the collier, and of these nearly half had I been killed or wounded before they could reach the little cover afforded by the steep, sandy bank at the top of the beach. The situation was probably saved by the machine-guns on the River Clyde, which did valuable service in keeping down the enemy's fire and in preventing any attempt on their part to launch a counter-attack. One half-company of the Dublin Fusiliers, which had been landed at the Camber just east of Sedd-el-Bahr village, was unable to work its way across to V Beach, and by midday had only twenty-five men left. Late in the afternoon part of the Fusiliers seemed likely to relieve the situation by taking the defenders of V Beach in the flank, but at nightfall the Turkish garrison still held their ground. Just before dark some parties of our men made their way along the shore to the outer walls of the Old Fort, and when night had fallen the remainder of the infantry from the collier were landed.

STORMING OF THE TRENCHES.

Twenty-four hours after the disembarkation began there were ashore on V Beach the survivors of the Dublin and Munster Fusiliers and of two companies of the Hampshire Regiment. The remnant of the landing party still crouched on the beach beneath the shelter of the sandy escarpment which had saved so many lives. With them were two officers of my General Staff — Lieutenant-Colonel Doughty-Wylie and Lieutenant-Colonel Williams. Now that it was daylight once more, Lieut.-Colonels Doughty-Wylie and Williams set to work to organise an attack on the hill above the beach. Under cover of bombardment by the Fleet, and led by Lieutenant-Colonel Doughty-Wylie and Captain Walford, Brigade-Major R.A., the troops gained a footing in the village by 10 a.m. So strong were the defences of W Beach that the Turks may well have considered them impregnable, and it is my firm conviction that no finer feat of arms has ever been achieved by the British soldier — or any other soldier — than the storming of these trenches from open boats on the morning of April 25. The landing at W had been entrusted to the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers (Major Bishop). As in the case of the landing at X, the disembarkation had been delayed for half an hour, but at 6 a.m; the whole battalion approached the shore together, towed by eight picket-boats in line abreast, each picket-boat pulling four ship's cutters. While the troops were approaching the shore no shot had been fired from the enemy's trenches, but as soon as the first boat touched the ground a hurricane of lead swept over the battalion. Gallantly led by their officers, the Fusiliers literally hurled themselves ashore, and fired at from right, left, and centre, commenced hacking their way through the wire. Covered by the fire of the warships, which had now closed right in to the shore, by 10 a.m. three lines of hostile trenches were in our hands, and our hold on the beach was assured. About 9-30 a.m. more infantry had began to disembark, and two hours later a junction was effected on Hill 114 with the troops who had landed on X beach. At 2 p.m., after the ground near Hill 138 had been subjected to a heavy bombardment, the Worcester Regiment advanced to the assault, and by 4 p.m. the hill and redoubt were captured.

The landing of the Australian and New Zealand corps is then described. The boats approached the land in the silence and the darkness, and they were close to the shore when the enemy stirred. The moment the boats touched land the Australians turn had come. Like lightning they leapt ashore, and each man as he did so went straight as his bayonet at the enemy. So vigorous was the onslaught that the Turks made no attempt to withstand it and fled from ridge to ridge pursued by the Australian infantry. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. the enemy, now reinforced to a strength of 20,000 men, attacked the whole line, making a specially strong effort against the 3rd Brigade and the left of the 2nd Brigade. This counter-attack was, however, handsomely repulsed with the help of the guns of H.M. ships. Between 5 and 6-30 p.m. a third most determined counter-attack was made against the 3rd Brigade who held their ground with more than equivalent stubbornness. During the night again the Turks made constant attacks, and the 8th Battalion repelled a bayonet charge; but in spite of all the line held firm. Their casualties had been deplorably heavy. But it is a consolation to know that the Turks suffered still more seriously.

THE ADVANCE.

An advance was commenced at 8 a.m. on the 28th, and carried out with commendable vigour, despite the fact that from the moment of landing the troops had been unable to obtain any proper rest. The 87th Brigade pushed on rapidly, and by 10 a.m. had advanced two miles. Here the further progress of the Border Regiment was barred by strong work on the left flank. They halted to concentrate and make dispositions to attack it, and at the moment had to withstand a determined counter-attack by the Turks. Aided by heavy gun fire from H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth, they succeeded in beating off the attack, but they made no further progress that day. The 88th Brigade, on the right of the 37th, progressed steadily Until about 11-30 a.m., when the stubbornness of the opposition, coupled with a dearth of ammunition, brought their advance to a standstill. By 2 pm. the whole of the troops, with the exception of the Drake Battalion, had been absorbed into the firing line. The men were exhausted, and the few guns landed at the time were unable to afford them adequate artillery support. The small amount of transport available did not suffice to maintain the supply of munitions, and cartridges were running short despite all efforts to push them up from the landing places. Had it been possible to push in reinforcements in men, artillery, and munitions during the day, Krithia should have fallen, and much subsequent fighting for its capture would have been avoided. On April 29, April 30, and May 1 our positions were solidified, and more troops, &c., landed.

DESPERATE MOONLIGHT ATTACKS.

At 10 p.m. on May 1 the Turks opened a hot shell-fire upon our position, and half an hour later, just before the rise of the moon, they delivered a series of desperate attacks. The first momentum of this ponderous onslaught fell upon the right of the 86th Brigade, an unlucky spot, seeing all the officers thereabouts had already been killed or wounded. So when the Turks came right on without firing and charged into the trenches with the bayonet they made an ugly gap in the line. This gap was instantly filled by the 5th Royal Scots (Territorials), who faced to their flank and executed a brilliant bayonet charge against the enemy, and by the Essex Regiment detached for the purpose by the officer commanding the 88th Brigade. The rest of the British line held its own with comparative ease, and it was not found necessary to employ any portion of the reserve. About 5 a.m a counter-offensive was ordered, and the whole line began to advance. By 7-30 a.m. the British left had gained some 500 yards, and the centre had pushed the enemy back and inflicted heavy losses. The right also had gained some ground in conjunction with the French left, but the remainder of the French line was unable to progress. As the British centre and left were now subjected to heavy cross fire from concealed machine guns, it was found impossible to maintain the ground gained, and, therefore, about 11 a.m., the whole line withdrew to its former trenches.

The net result of the operations was the repulse of the Turks and the infliction upon them of very heavy losses.

The losses, exclusive of the French, during the period covered by this dispatch were, I regret to say, very severe, numbering —
       177 officers and 1,990 other ranks killed.
       412 officers and 7,807 other ranks wounded.
         13 officers and 3,580 other ranks missing.

Throughout the events I have chronicled the Royal Navy has been father and mother to the army. Not one of us but realises how much he owes to Vice-Admiral de Rebeck, to the warships, French and British, and to all their dauntless crews, who risked everything to give their soldier comrades a fair run in at the enemy.

Throughout these preparations and operations Monsieur le General d'Amade has given me the benefit of his wide experiences of war and has afforded me always the most loyal and energetic support. The landing of Kura Kale, planned by me as a mere diversion to distract the attention of the enemy was transformed by the commander of the Corps Expeditionaire de l'Orient into a brilliant operation which secured some substantial results. During the fighting which followed the landing of the French division at Sedd del-Bar no troops could have acquitted themselves more creditably than those under Monsieur le General d'Amade.

The beaches and landing places mentioned under letters throughout the despatch are —

S — A small beach in Morto Bay, by Eski Hissarlik.
V — Sandy beach, about 300 yards across, inside Sedd el-Bahr.
W — Sandy Bay, south of Tekke Barnu.
X — Half a mile north of this point, with a break on the cliffs.
Y — Mouth of a small stream two miles further up the coast.
Y — Scrub covered gully about a mile and a half further on.


Text: The Witness, 9th July 1915.
Image top: The Battle for Sari Bair by Terence Cuneo

Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Real Hero of the War


There is an impression about that among the candidates for the position of real hero of the war King Albert might have a chance; or even Lord Kitchener or Sir John French. But I have my doubts, after all that I have heard — and I love to hear it and to watch the different ways in which the tellers narrate it: some so frankly proud, some just as proud, but trying to conceal their pride. After all that I have heard I am bound to believe that for the real hero of the war we must look elsewhere. Not much is printed of this young fellow's deeds; one gets them chiefly by word of mouth and very largely in club smoking-rooms. In railway carriages too, and at dinner-parties. These are the places where the champions most do congregate and hold forth. And from what they say he is a most gallant and worthy warrior. Versatile as well, for not only does he fight and bag his Bosch, but he is wounded and imprisoned. Sometimes he rides a motor cycle, sometimes he flies, sometimes he has charge of a gun, sometimes he is doing Red Cross work, and again he helps to bring up the supplies with the A.S.C. He has been everywhere. He was at Mons and he was at Cambrai. He marched into Ypres and is rather angry when the Germans are blamed for shelling the Cloth Hall, because he tells you that there was a big French gun firmly established behind it, and only by shelling the building could the enemy hope to destroy that dangerous piece of ordnance. He saw something of the bombardment of Rheims and he watched the monitors at work on the Belgian coast.

And not only does he perform some of the best deeds and often get rewarded for them, but he is a good medium for news too. He hears things. He's somewhere about when General ----------- says something of the deepest significance to General -----------. He knows men high up in the War Office. no refers lightly to Kitchener, and staff officers apparently tell him many of their secrets. He speaks quite casually and familiarly of Winston and what Winston said yesterday, for he often has the latest Admiralty news too. It was he who had the luck to be in the passage when Lord Fisher and another Sea Lord executed their historic waltz on the receipt of the news of Sturdee's coup. I don't pretend that he is always as worthy of credence as he was then; for he has spread some false rumours too. He was, in fact, one of the busiest eye-witnesses (once or twice removed) of the triumphant progress of millions of Russians through Scotland and England some months ago. He is not unaware of the loss of battleships of which nothing has yet been officially stated. In fact, his unofficial news is terrific and sometimes must be taken with salt. But denials do not much abash him. He was prepared for them and can explain them.

His letters are interesting and cover a vast amount of ground. They are sometimes very well written, and in differing moods be abuses the enemy and pities them. He never grumbles but is sometimes perplexed by overwork in the trenches. He hates having to stand long in water and has lost more comrades than he likes to think about. One day he was quite close to General Joffre, whom he regards as a sagacious leader, cautious and far-sighted; another day he was close to Sir John French, and nothing could exceed the confidence which his appearance kindled in him. On the morning of the King's arrival at the Front he was puzzled by the evolutions of our air scouts, who seemed to have gone mad; but it turned out that they were saluting His Majesty. Some of his last letters were from the neighbourhood of Auchy and described the fighting for the canal. He is a little inconsistent now and then, and one day says he has more cigarettes than he can smoke, and the next bewails the steady shortage of tobacco. As to his heroic actions he is reticent; but we know that many of the finest deeds have been performed by him. He has saved lives and guns and is in sight of the V.C.

And what is his name? Well, I can't say what his name is, because it is not always the same; but I can tell you how he is always described by those who relate his adventures, his prowess, his news, his suspicions and his fears. He is always referred to as "My son."

"My son," when all is said, is the real hero of the war.



Text: Punch, 30th December 1914. 
Image top: 'Over the top' by Alfred Bastien.
Image bottom: IWM  CO-2533 – Four Canadian soldiers, sleeping and writing letters in the trenches.



Thursday, 16 April 2015

Historical Notice of the City of Dublin (pt3)

Gerald, 9th Earl of Kildare
In giving historical sketches of Dublin it may not be irrelevant to notice that branch of the Geraldine family so much connected with the City as being always their neighbours, often their champions, and very frequently their viceroys. The earls of Kildare commanding by their castles of Maynooth, Leixlip, Kilkea, &c. the approaches to the valley of the Liffey, and having a fixed residence at Thomas's Court adjoining the town, always occupied an important position in the good opinion and affections of the citizens. And indeed the peculiar characteristics of the family, which were well defined as the well known lines of a Fitzgerald's mind, seemed best suited to rivet popular affection, and secure for them 'golden opinions.' In the government of their retainers, mild – to their enemies stern – easily displeased – sooner appeased – warm friends and bitter foes – liberal, brave, pious, merciful – the anecdote recorded of Gerald, the eighth Earl, might be told of any other of the race. In a rage with one of his followers, an English horseman seeing the chafed earl in his fearful mood, offered Master Boice, a gentleman of his household, an Irish Hobby (Poney) on condition that he would go up to his lord and pluck a hair out of his black heard. Boice, who knew his master, and felt how far he might venture on a Geraldine's nature, even while boiling in the heat of his choler, approached his lord and said, "here, my master, is one who has promised me a choice horse, if I snip one hair out of your honor's chin." "One hair," quoth the earl – "I agree thereto, but mark me Boice, thou malapert varlet, if thou pluckest more than one, I promise thee to bring my fist from thine ear." But it is (pursuant to our promise) with Gerald, the ninth earl, and his son Thomas, that at present we have to do, and we present them as subjects of historical entertainment to our readers, because not only connected in a very interesting manner with the City of Dublin, but also with a very stirring period of Ireland's history. The civil wars of England being brought to a close by the accession of the House of Tudor, and the politic Henry the Seventh having seen the great value of Ireland, a system of government was commenced in his reign, and adhered to during the long reign of Henry the Eighth, of keeping up an English interest in Ireland, and managing the great Irish lords, whether Milesian or Anglo Irish, by creating and fostering jealousies amongst them, and alternately elevating or depriving the rival interests. In this way was Gerald, earl of Kildare, at one time favored, at another suspected; now lord deputy, now accused of treason; one while pursuing, as Chief Governor of the land, the rebel Irish; storming the strong-holds of the king's enemies in Munster and in Ulster, sending as the most acceptable of presents the grim head of Shane O'Toole, from the glen of Imale, to John Rockford, mayor of Dublin, and returning from all his hostings, as the historian of his day has it, "loaden with hostages, prey and glory" – again summoned to London to answer for his usurpations, and his correspondence with the enemies of the State, and finding Cardinal Wolsey his bitter as well as his able enemy. Wolsey, in order to conduct the English interest, had sent over a confidential person to Ireland, Dr. John Allen, who had been very active in England in the suppression of the monasteries – this clever and subtle man, appointed at the same time lord chancellor and archbishop of Dublin, acted as a counterpoise to the Geraldines, and reported all their conduct to his employer; therefore on the earl of Kildare's appearance before the Council Board of England, Wolsey, with that swelling hauteur that marked the purpled Churchman, and which gave occasion to the following couplet, not more remarkable for its alliteration than its bitterness –

  "Begot by butchers, but by bishops bred,
  "How high his honour holds his haughty head" –

accused the earl before the king in a taunting style that wounded the fierce, nobleman more than the matter of the allegation: conniving at the rebellious practises of the "lewd earl of Desmond, his kinsman," of acting "more as king of Kildare than the earl, reigning more than ruling in the land." To this the Geraldine most characteristically replies, "What is Kildare to blame for Desmond more than my good brother Ossory (Butler,) who, notwithstanding his high promises, having also the king's power, is yet content to bring him in at leisure? – cannot the earl of Desmond shift, but I must be of his council – cannot lie hide himself except I wink – if he be close, am I his mate – if he be befriended, am I a traitor? This is a doughty kind of accusation which they urge against me, wherein they are gravelled and moved at my first denial. You would not see him, say they. Who made them so familiar with mine eyesight – or where was the earl within my view – or who stood by, when I let him slip – or where are the tokens of my wilful hoodwink? But you sent him word to beware of you – who was the messenger – where are the letters – convince my negatives – see how loose the idle gear hangeth together – Desmond is not taken – well – you are in fault – why – because you are – who proveth it – nobody – what conjectures – so it seemeth – to whom – to your enemies – who told it them – they will swear it – what other ground – none." After for some time continuing in this strain to justify himself from this accusation, and others of the same nature, he in defending himself against the taunt of being king of Kildare, addresses himself to Wolsey and says, "I marvel greatly my Lord, that one of your Grace's wisdom should appropriate so sacred a name to so wicked a thing – but howsoever it be, my Lord, I would you and I had changed kingdoms but for one month, and I would trust to gather up more crumbs in that space than twice the revenues of my poor earldom. But you are well and warm, and so hold you, and upbraid not me with such an odious term. I slumber in a hard cabin when you sleep in a soft bed of down – I serve under the king's cope of heaven, when you are served under a canopy – I drink water out of my steel skull cap, when you drink wine out of golden cups – my horse is trained to the field when your jennet is taught to amble. When you are graced and my-lorded, and crouched, and kneeled unto, then I find small grace with our Irish Borderers, except I cut them off by the knees."

It may well be supposed how the English arch-prelate winced under this indignant reply of the Hibernian; accordingly lie adjourned the cause under pretence of waiting for further evidence, and had the earl remanded to the tower, from whence he was restored through interest made for him by the English nobility, but was again recommitted, and if Speed tells truth, a circumstance occurred, during his second detention in the tower, which, as giving another tint to the picture of a Geraldine, is worth the reader's perusal. The cardinal having got at length sure evidence, as he said, that Kildare had plotted with O'Neil and O'Connor, sent a mandate for his immediate execution. At the instant of the arrival of the fatal messenger, Fitzgerald was playing at push-groat with the lieutenant of the tower, who on reading the paper changed countenance, and shewed signs of great grief, whereupon Kildare swore by St. Bridget that there was some "mad game in that villian scroll. But come Master lieutenant, fall what will, this throw is for a huddle," and accordingly throwing he gained his groats. The game over, with great composure he listened to the contents of the letter, and had little difficulty in persuading his keeper to go to the king, and know from him personally whether he was to die; accordingly the officer went and had an interview with Henry, who, surprised at the mandate, which was surreptitiously obtained from him, and offended at the malice of the cardinal, and in order to control (as he said) the priest's sauciness, gave the lieutenant his signet for a countermand of execution, at which the cardinal stormed; but soon after his day of disgrace came, and Kildare restored to royal favour, returned to Ireland to assume the sword as lord deputy, and to stand at the head of the party opposed to the English interest there. The changeful story of this nobleman is not yet told – clever, dauntless, and victorious, he shone brighter when breaking forth from the cloud of adversity than when basking in unobstructed beams of good fortune. Hating the Butlers, more perhaps for enjoying the favor of Wolsey, than even from hereditary motives, he was not content with carrying his arms against the obstinate enemies of his king, the O'Neils and O'Connors; but with the royal forces he invaded Kilkenny, and destroyed all belonging to the Earl of Ossory and his party. Moreover, instead of devoting himself to restoring peace and prosperity to the distracted island, he made himself a mere partizan in the quarrels of the Milesian chieftains; and in. order to support his son-in-law, the Tanist of Ely, O'Carrol, against the son of the deceased chieftain of that district, who, being of age, and a competent man, had asserted his right, to succeed his father, he besieged the castle of Birr, held by the young O'Carrol, where he received a shot from a falcon in the head, that caused him to raise the siege, and so deranged his intellect, that hot and fiery as he was before, he now became more unruly, and committed errors and extravagancies that nearly brought about the destruction of his noble family.

On the occasion of his wound; there is an anecdote recorded of him that does not redound much to the credit of his good nature. When recovering a little from the stun of the bullet, he sighed deeply, which when one of his followers observed, he, in order to raise his lord's spirits, said – "Good, my lord, be not discouraged; for I myself have been shot three times, and yet have recovered – to which the angry lord replied – "Would to God thou hadst, received also the fourth shot in my stead!"

The extravagant use which Kildare made subsequently of his power as deputy, raised a host of enemies against him which he could not resist. The Earl of Ossory, Sir William Sheffington, and Allen, Archbishop of Dublin, formed a cabal to put an end to his administration; and John Allen, Master of the Rolls, a creature of the Archbishop, was sent over the water to complain to the king of how matters were managed in Ireland. To the ear of an English monarch, the report which this official gave of the decay of Ireland, must have been in no small degree vexatious. He acquainted his majesty, that "neither English order, tongue, or habit, nor the king's laws, were used above twenty miles in compass; that the decay was occasioned by the takers of coyne and livery,1 without order after mens' own sensual appetites, and taking cuddies garty, and caan for felonies, and murder, alterages, saults, slaunciaghs, &c. &c. and that they want English inhabitants, who formerly had arms and servants to defend the country; but of late the English proprietors hath taken Irish tenants, that can live without bread or good victuals, and some for lucre, [it seems that the Irish landlord has been always pretty nearly of the same character,] to have more rent, and some for impositions and vassalages, which the English cannot bear – have expelled the English, and made the country all Irish, without order, society, or hospitality. Formerly, English gentlemen kept a retinue of English yeomen, according to the custom of England, to the great security of the country; but now they keep horsemen, or kernes, who live by oppressing the people. The great jurisdiction of the nobility is another cause of destroying the king's subjects, and revenue, and the black rents which the Irish exact, enriches them, and impoverishes the English."

Thomas, 10th Earl of Kildare
It is not to be wondered at, that upon such a report being made, the Lord Deputy should be summoned to London, to account for his administration. This mandate he most unwillingly, and after much evasion, obeyed; and being permitted to name his successor, on an undertaking of being accountable for his conduct, he had the hardihood to nominate his eldest son Thomas, a young man of one-and-twenty, who possessed all the qualities peculiar to his house, together with an excessive rashness and sensitiveness of character that made him altogether unsuitable to govern Ireland. Perhaps, says the historian, this promising young Geraldine would have exceeded his ancestors, if by laying the too great burthen on his weak shoulders, they had not broken his back in the beginning. In our next sketch we shall give an account of the government, rebellion, and destruction of this tenth Earl of Kildare, who, as we have before reported, went by the name of Silken Thomas.

[1] Hereafter we shall give a particular explanation of these terms, which so frequently occur in Irish history. For the present let it be understood to mean all the licence of the free quartering of military men upon a wretched peasantry.


Source: The Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Jul. 21, 1832)