WW 1 & the 'Point. (Part 2)

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WW 1 & the 'Point. (Part 2)

#1 Post by dukestreet » Wed May 22, 2013 9:13 pm

By November 1914 the war on the Western Front had developed into an impasse, Winston Churchill, as Lord of the Admiralty opted for a new front against the Turks, allies of the Germans, at the Dardanelles.
In the spring of 1915 British, Commonwealth and French soldiers invaded Gallipoli and engaged the Turkish defenders.
The Gallipoli campaign has since become known for its farcical strategy and disastrous planning. The Allies had over 250,000 men killed, wounded or maimed in the short time they were in the Dardanelles. The Medical Corp was overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the slaughter. There was a severe lack of water and poor sanitary conditions. The dead could not be buried, the wounded could not be treated adequately, and dysentery and enteric fever was rampant. Many men who were present testified to the constant presence of huge clouds of flies that virtually blocked out the sun.
The Allied High Command decided to withdraw their forces and by January 1916 the remaining soldiers were evacuated from the Gallipoli peninsula.

For the men who returned from the trenches, medical care and rehabilitation facilities, particularly for those suffering from shell-shock and mental health problems as a result of their traumatic experiences, was woefully inadequate in helping them to adjust to civilian life. In August 1917 two Warrenpoint veterans became painfully aware of how callous the system was to human beings affected by trench warfare.

‘Keep the Home Fires burning,
While your hearts are yearning,
Though your lads are far away
They dream of home;
There’s a silver lining
Through the dark clouds shining,
Turn the dark clouds inside out
‘Til the boys come home,’
(Ivor Novello & Lena Gilbert Ford 1914)
Private Patrick (Paddy) Ruddy, a son of Patrick and Brigid Ruddy enlisted in the Royal Irish Rifles in 1914. A married man with a young family, Paddy was a resident of Duke Street Lane, but originally lived in Church Street Lane.
Along with thousands of other young men, Private Ruddy was put ashore at Suvla Bay in July 1915 and was soon in the middle of the fierce fighting that culminated with the capture of Chocolate Hill from Turkish defenders in August 1915.
Older members of the community have testified that Paddy Ruddy’s bravery was exceptional, he apparently led charges at the Turkish lines, with the war cry, “Come on lads, this is the last boat from Omeath!” He was eventually badly wounded, his left arm was shattered, “quite useless,” was the pronouncement of the Medical Officer on his injured arm. Paddy was honourably discharged from the army and he returned home to Warrenpoint.
Church Street provided another volunteer, this time from the Steenson family who lived across the road from Paddy Ruddy’s home. Mrs. Isabella Steenson and her husband Thomas operated the Telephone Exchange in Church Street, Warrenpoint where Slots of Fun is today.
Their son Private John Steenson enlisted in the 8th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and was killed in action on the 16th August 1917. John was a printer with ‘The Fermanagh Times’ before he joined up. He spent two years at the front before he met his death. He is buried in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, situated near Ypres in Belgium.
Another son Sapper William Steenson, of the Royal Engineers was wounded and hospitalised, but he returned to France and was killed on the 27th January, 1917.
A third son Private Thomas Steenson joined the Royal Irish Rifles on 18th August 1914 and less than 2 months later was badly wounded at the Battle of Mons.
Thomas Steenson spent nine months in hospital and was discharged unfit for military duty with the Royal Irish Rifles. He re-enlisted with the M.T.S. Army Service Corp but on October 1916, he was sent home suffering from shell-shock.
Tommy Steenson and Paddy Ruddy had a lot in common, they were neighbours in Church Street and both had survived the horrors of WW1 and were obviously kindred spirits as this report of a court case from 1917 would testify to.
Below is an excerpt from Newry Reporter (21/8/1917), detailing a court case about Patrick Ruddy and Thomas Steenson.
‘Thomas Steenson and Patrick Ruddy, two discharged soldiers belonging to Warrenpoint, were charged by Constable Soraghan with having being drunk and disorderly on the 18th ult.
Mr.P.J. O’Hagan (Messrs. O’Hare O’Hagan) defended.
Complainant said they were disorderly by roaring and screaming on the street.
The Chairman said he noticed the complainant also applied to have them bound over to be of good behaviour.
Complainant- Yes.
Mr. O’Hagan said he might tell their Worships that both these men had been at the front, and were discharged as medically unfit for further active war service. On the day in question they were seeing another soldier – who had also been at the front- off to Tipperary to rejoin his regiment, and they were jubilating a little, singing ‘Rule Britannia,’ ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ and ‘It is a Long Way to Tipperary,’ a nice little blend - (laughter)- when the Constable came on the scene. They were giving no offence to anyone, but were perhaps, a little elevated. Ruddy, who had served in the Royal Irish Fusiliers, was wounded at Chocolate Hill in the Dardanelles, whilst Steenson had fought at the Battle of Mons with the Royal Irish Rifles, and was wounded there. Both had been discharged with excellent characters, and he strongly appealed to their Worships, in view of the men’s service to their country, to deal as leniently as they possibly could.
Constable Soraghan said that in the case of Steenson, this was the third conviction against him recently, and he had ample reasons for asking that he should be bound over to good behaviour. As a matter of fact he threatened Publicans that if they did not give him drink he would wreck their houses, and he also threatened visitors. The police had received numerous complaints about him.
Mr. O’Hagan thought that this was hardly fair, as if the publican had any complaint to make regarding this man he should come to open court and get the protection of the law, that way.
The Chairman said that if a man was a good soldier at the front, that did not entitle him to act in such a way as was alleged Steenson did when he came home.
Mr. O’Hagan strongly urged that instead of binding the men over, the cases against them should be adjourned, which would be equally as efficacious, and if they did not conduct themselves he (Mr.O’Hagan) would not appear for them again.
The bench agreed to adjourn the cases for two months, the Chairman dissenting.’
Injury in WW1 resulted in poor health for Patrick Ruddy; in fact he was a broken man after his wartime experience. But all his worries ceased in January 1918, when he passed away while still a comparatively young man of 29 years, he was accorded a military funeral and is interred in Burren Cemetery.
Patrick Ruddy’s premature demise left his young wife Mary Ann to struggle on alone and rear Francis ‘Pa’, aged 6 years of age, Patrick ‘Buttons’ aged 4 years of age and Mickey 6 months old. All the Ruddy brothers were hard working, pleasant men who were well respected all their lives by anyone who knew them.
There are many grandchildren and great grandchildren of Patrick Ruddy still living here in the town.
On arriving home to Warrenpoint Thomas Allen Steenson returned to his job as a painter with the local council, but he had problems with his ‘nerves’ due to shell shock and was in and out of trouble with the constabulary over the years. He eventually passed away on the 24th September 1949 aged 59. One can only hope Tommy Steenson and Patrick Ruddy found peace in the hereafter, a peace that was denied to them in this world.
It is obvious that Paddy and Tommy’s experience of fighting in World War 1 had left them traumatised and possibly brutalised by what they had seen at the front. Like many more veterans, they were ill- equipped to pursue a normal existence in civilian life.
The McGibney’s from Donaghguy were another local family who had their lives ruined by the effects of World War One. The father, James Ellison McGibney B.A. served as the Principal of Clontifleece National School which is about three miles outside Warrenpoint. When war broke out the sons, two of whom were attending university in Dublin and were considered to have brilliant academic backgrounds, left to join the British Army and soon found themselves in France. Lance Corporal Charles Warren McGibney was wounded in February 1918, but survived. Unfortunately a year later he contracted tonsillitis and then pneumonia and died. He is buried in Clonallon Churchyard.
A second son, 2nd Lieutenant James Ellison McGibney Junior of the Leinster Regiment was severely wounded at Lens in 1918; he survived but never regained full health.
The eldest son 2nd Lieutenant Francis George McGibney of the Royal Irish Fusiliers was killed in May 1917 at Roeux in France. He is remembered with honour at Brown’s Copse Cemetery, Roeux.
While living in Forth Avenue in the late 1950’s we played a lot of football in what was known as the Rush Field, so called for the many rushes on the bank of the river that ran through the field on Smalls Road. The field actually belonged to Dick Nugent, who lived not too far away up the Donaghguy Road, just behind where St. Mark’s High School is today.
As a young lad I thought of Dick Nugent as a cantankerous old man, who always chased us from playing in his field. In fact we always had to keep an eye on the gate and another eye on the game in case Dick made a quick raid on us.
I only found out years later that Troop Sergeant Richard Nugent, along with his brothers Lance Corporal Jack Nugent, a Machine Gunner in the Royal Irish Rifles and Robert Nugent of the North Irish Horse fought in France. The North Irish Horse was one of the first Regiments to land in France in August 1914; they were quickly among the fierce fighting that autumn. The German Kaiser quickly named them a contemptible little army, and they earned the nickname ‘The Old Contemptibles’.
Dick Nugent was gassed and also badly wounded, having lost most of his stomach at the Somme in 1916; he was honourably discharged and returned to Warrenpoint.
Thomas George McGivern, 11 Newry Street, of the 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in Flanders on 14th October 1918, less than a month before the Armistice was signed. He was 27 years of age, and a son of Mrs Mary McGivern. He is remembered with honour at Dadizele New British Cemetery Belgium.
Mr. and Mrs John and Annie Campbell from Hayes Row, on the Newry Road, had three sons who served in World War One. Rifleman William Campbell 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, age 20 years was killed at the Somme on July 1st 1916. He is remembered with honour at the Thiepval Memorial.
Lance Corporal Thomas Campbell who also served in the Royal Irish Rifles wrote home to his mother and told her that he saw his brother William, who was in the same regiment at the Somme, killed by an exploding shell. Thomas was badly wounded in January 1918 died in September in 1926 he is buried in Clonallon Graveyard.
Joseph Campbell of the North Irish Horse, survived the war, came home to Warrenpoint but eventually settled in Ballyclare.

‘Old Johnny’ Campbell, also survived that dreadful carnage, returned to Warrenpoint and lived for many years in the little gate house at Dromore Lodge, at the top of Duke Street (where Aveen’s hair salon is now). He died in 1972, he had two sons named Johnny and Ernie, Johnny is alive and well and living in Kilkeel.
Boy First Class Robert Woodney R.N. was killed on HMS NATAL, while she was at anchor in The Cromarty Firth, near Invergordon, Scotland on the December 30th 1915. During a Hogmanay party on board the Natal an explosion in the magazine hold occurred. More than 400 crew members and invited guests lost their lives.
Young Robert Woodney was a cousin of Miss Emily Vennard, who lived in the flats at Lower Dromore Road in the 1960’s, I delivered prescriptions down to this lady, when I was the message-boy for the late Mr. Maurice Murphy in the mid-1960’s. Miss Vennard always gave me a two shilling piece, 10p in today’s money, that was a big tip. Robert Woodney’s name is commemorated on a headstone in Clonallon Graveyard.
William White from Post Office Street also served in the Great War. William was married to a Liverpool girl named Ellen Brennan. He was the son of Johnny and Sarah White and a brother of Hughie ‘Turk’ White.
Able Bodied Seaman William White lost his life on the SS ROMEO which was torpedoed by a German U-Boat just off the Mull of Galloway on 3 March 1918, he was aged 37. He was awarded the Mercantile Marine Medal.
William’s brother, Hughie ‘Turk’ White survived service at the Dardanelles, returned home and became the proprietor of the little pleasure boats that were kept round at the Baths.
Private Peter McGivern, a Church Street man, served at Gallipoli and was subsequently transferred to the Western Front. He was serving with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he wrote home to his mother in the winter of 1916 to say that he bumped into his brother Private Thomas McGivern of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and another chum, Private J. Logan of the Ulster Division “in the trenches, somewhere in France.”
A Rostrevor soldier Corporal Edward Cole, serving in the Dardenelles campaign with the Royal Munster Fusiliers, wrote home to his parents in the autumn of 1915 lamenting, “......... We have been sorely tried this last eleven days, during which time I have been in the firing line. And I thank God that I am able to write this. I never for one minute expected to be alive to write it. ...................I am proud to belong to the Munsters.........................During the last engagement on Monday, I saw Peter McGivern, from Church Street, Warrenpoint, and he was leaving the firing line wounded in the foot. Before three of our engagements, the whole regiment received the Sacrament and it fortified us, and made us better soldiers” *
Peter McGivern went on to see service in Palestine and his brother Thomas, of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, suffered from Trench Fever and was gassed in France.
Peter, who lived in his final years in Charlotte Street with his wife, passed away in March 1938. He was employed for many years by James Wilson and Sons, Building Contractors of Post Office Street. He was described by his many friends and workmates as a “quiet and gracious personality.”
Local landowner, Captain Roger Hall of the Royal Irish Rifles was wounded and shell shocked at the Battle of the Somme. He survived the war but died in 1939, at the relatively young age of 42.
His uncle Major William Charles Hall of the 19th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles was killed at Newtownards training camp, when a bomb accidently exploded beside him on the 17th of December, 1917. He is buried at Clonallon Cemetery.
In January 1918 Mr and Mrs George Goucher of Clonallon Road received the dreaded telegram informing them that their son Sergeant Thomas Goucher of the 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was killed in France. He is remembered with honour at the Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery.
The Gouchers had two other sons at the front, William who had immigrated to Canada but enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and George who was in the King’s Shropshire Light infantry.
William returned to Canada and married a Native American girl. George, though wounded in the leg, returned home and joined the RUC. Both these brothers lived on for many years.
Mr. William McKinley, a native of Loughbrickland, fought in France he was badly injured but he recovered and returned to the front as a stretcher- bearer in Royal Army Medical Corp.
Stretcher–bearers had a dreadful job to do; they were unarmed and had to go into no-man’s land to bring in the wounded and the dying, usually under extremely difficult circumstances, as enemy shells would still be raining down on them.
Medical orderlies were much respected and admired by the other ranks at the front, as they had only their bandages and Red Cross armbands for protection.
The stretcher – bearer sees all the horror of war written
In blood and tears on the shell-riven battlefield.’
Patrick McGill (1890-1963)
(The Donegal Navvy Poet)
It is hard to imagine the grotesque scenes that these men witnessed as they tried to aid their fellow human beings. It was the stretcher bearers who administered treatment to the badly wounded and kept many soldiers alive until they could receive specialist attention at base hospitals.
Mr. McKinley married a Warrenpoint girl and reared his family in Charlotte Street. Despite all the horrors that he must have witnessed, he always remained a very placid and amicable man, he passed away in 1980.
Mr. Henry Edward Peers was born in near Dover in Kent he came to live in Warrenpoint and worked as a house painter. Mr. Peers married a local girl named Mary Bradley and lived in Post Office Street, and they later moved to Summerhill.
Mr. Peers enlisted in WW1 in 1916 and soon saw action as a stretcher- bearer with the R.A.M.C. He survived the war and returned to live in Warrenpoint. He reared his family here in the town he lived until 1950’s. Today many of his grandchildren and great grandchildren still live in Warrenpoint.
Charlotte Street in Warrenpoint has produced its share of local characters; Thomas ‘Stoker’ Reay was one of them who participated in the Great War. His obituary from the Newry Reporter in November 1968, gives a measure of what this man endured.
“Mr. Reay saw service during World War 1 with a Machine Gun Corps and a Calvary Regiment in France, Belgium and the Holy Land. It was in the Holy Land where he was reported missing and presumed dead. His parents who resided at 66 Meeting St., Warrenpoint, were duly notified and received the condolence of the late King George V and Queen Mary.
Fate had ruled otherwise, fortunately, and Tommy was found buried under a pile of dead and mutilated cavalry horses. His parents were shocked at his return as they had inserted his name in the Roll of Honour List in the newspapers and a friend composed a special poem to his supposed passing.
“You did not see the pain I bore,
You did not see me die.
You only knew I passed away,
And never said goodbye.”
The mourning was quickly changed to rejoicing, and after his discharge, Tommy married. For a great number of years he was employed by the Warrenpoint Urban Council and was always found to be cheery and courteous to all he came into contact with.”
Tommy ‘Stoker’ Reay passed away in 1968, at the ripe old age of 88 years of age. Tommy has two sons living in the town, Frank and Jimmy and many grandchildren.
Private John R. McKernan of the 8th Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers was killed on 29th April 1916, and is interred in Bois-Carre military cemetery, Haisnes, just south of La Bassee, near Lens in Northern France.
John R. McKernan was a married man who lived in Duke Street and the eldest son of Mr. Bernard McKernan, who for many years was the Town Clerk of Warrenpoint. The Lavery family who lived in Summerhill were nieces and nephews of John McKernan.
When we lived in Forth Avenue in the late 1950’s an old man would walk up past us most days as we played football. He had a sad look about him, he wore an old gabardine coat and an old hat pulled down over his head. He always minded his own business, one day when there was a snowfall, my friends and I pelted him with snowballs but he just stoically ignored us. That man was Mr. Charles Robert Pedlow, known locally as Charlie, the scion of a well to do local business man, Edward Pedlow who lived at Cloughmore Terrace.
When WWI broke out, Charlie Pedlow was commissioned into the Canadian Field Ambulance section and was awarded the Military Medal for bravery. He was injured in the arm by shrapnel. Charlie also received a severe back injury which left him in considerable pain for the rest of his life. Charlie passed away in the early 1960’s.
It matters not if these Irish men who served in WW1 were Nationalists, Unionists, Knights of the Realm or the road, gentlemen or men of the labouring classes, they were all human beings, and for whatever reason they were caught up in that terrible maelstrom of unfathomable misery. We cannot begin to understand what these men and their families endured, but their suffering should be remembered.
In 2014 it will be the 100th year anniversary of the First World War’s beginning, the world that was to end all wars. One of the campaign medals given to all the Allied soldiers who survived the conflict had this inscription on it, ‘The Great War for Civilisation 1914-1919.’ Sadly that goal was not achieved as this was the beginning of a century of warfare, a century that had no parallel in history.

On the 11th of November 1998 the Irish President Mrs. Mary McAleese, HM Queen Elizabeth II of the UK and King Albert II of Belgium opened the Island of Ireland Peace Park in the Belgian village of Messines.
The main feature of the Peace Park is a replica of an Irish Round Tower, common in the great monastic period of early Christian Ireland. This site was chosen for the memorial as it was one of the few places in WW1, where Irishmen of all religious and political affiliations fought and died together at the battle of Messines Ridge in June 1917.
On March 24th 2010 the President of Ireland, Mrs. Mary McAleese, visited the WW1 battlefields of Gallipoli to dedicate a foundation for a proposed Memorial to the 3,000 Irish men of all political persuasions who participated in the Dardanelles campaign.
In 2008 the Mayo Peace Park Memorial and Garden of Remembrance was opened. Captain Donal Buckley M.A. (Hist), who served in the Defence Forces as an Infantry Officer made a welcoming speech this is an excerpt from the speech.

“As regards the future we, all of us on this island are waking up. History is what happened. We may not like some of it, it might suit our notions, but happen it did.
Britain, our nearest neighbour, our biggest trading partner, our biggest contributor to tourism and our biggest refuge for employment for generations before and after independence did not behave well or cover itself in glory in Ireland. It was a long and sad episode. We have our differences and will continue to have, but like it or not, we have a deep and shared tradition and military tradition on this island and in these islands.
We have much in common. We are proud and cosmopolitan, independent and unafraid in the corridors of Brussels and on the streets of Sydney, London and New York. We have to finish getting over our post-colonial angst and shedding of our inferiority complex. We have to stand back and see how our history was manipulated and how we were manipulated with it.

It is time to look at the facts. We are progressing and maturing as a nation, able to see the bigger picture. The proof of this is manifested in this War Memorial/Peace Park. The recognition of our fallen was not politically acceptable up to very recent years, strange as this statement may seem. A memorial like this would have been unheard of, and if it was heard of a myriad of people would find valid and vociferous reasons to object to it and people would have their lives put on the line.”

Captain Donal Buckley MA (History)
Irish Army (Retired)
Military Heritage Tours


The Frontier Sentinel October 2nd 1915
The Frontier Sentinel 6th August 1916
The Newry Reporter 8th August 1916
The Newry Reporter 12th November 1916
The Newry Reporter 21st August 1917
The Newry Reporter 18th November 1968
Field of Bones by Philip Orr,
The Agony of Gallipoli by John Laffin.

I am indebted to Michael Hourican, Johnny Marsh, Albert McMahon, Billy McKinley, Jim Taylor, Bob Waters, Paul McEvoy, Robert McCoy, Billy Larmour and to George Goucher (who put at my disposal his considerable research documents). I would like to thank all the local people who shared their knowledge of WWI stories. I would welcome any information or photographs regarding local involvement in WWI.

Hugh B. Heatley,
Campbell’s Pond,

forest wall
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Re: WW 1 & the 'Point. (Part 2)

#2 Post by forest wall » Thu May 23, 2013 12:21 am

My mother, next-door neighbour of the Bradleys, Moygannon, used to tell that a brother of Jimmy, George and Dan, named Harry, was a blacksmith in the Army during the Great War. On his last visit home she recalled that as he crossed the river to return to his unit he waved a white handkerchief to say goodbye. He never returned, and was killed at the Front. I have been unable to find his regiment or place of rest. Can anyone help?

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Re: WW 1 & the 'Point. (Part 2)

#3 Post by dabarry » Thu May 23, 2013 12:52 am


A very engaging read.

Nice to see mention of Henry Edward Peers
who would be my Step Father's Father.

Their service and sacrifices should never
be forgotten.

George Williamson
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Re: WW 1 & the 'Point. (Part 2)

#4 Post by George Williamson » Thu May 23, 2013 4:42 am

Hi Dukestreet, Great piece of sleuthing. Know all the people you acknowleged in the narrative (Who assisted you). Good work.

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Re: WW 1 & the 'Point. (Part 2)

#5 Post by silveryfox » Thu May 23, 2013 8:56 am

Hi Dukestreet

This is just brilliant.


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Re: WW 1 & the 'Point. (Part 2)

#6 Post by northbrook » Thu May 23, 2013 1:30 pm

Very interesting and well documented Hugh, a great addition to the town`s history ...........................

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Re: WW 1 & the 'Point. (Part 2)

#7 Post by dukestreet » Thu May 23, 2013 3:19 pm

I would love to get a list compiled, and put on the Forum, of all the men from the 'Point who were involved in WW1. Forest Wall thanks for that info, I never came across any one named Bradley, I will look out for that person. Did those Bradley's deliver milk around the town in the 30's and the 40;s. Mick Connelly(ex-Moygannon man) now Lower Dromore Road, always talked about the Bradley's of Moygannon.

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Re: WW 1 & the 'Point. (Part 2)

#8 Post by forest wall » Thu May 23, 2013 8:55 pm

Hi, Dukestreet. The Connellys (of fond memory) were Bradleys' (also well loved neighbours) and our own next door neighbours for many years. Jimmy Bradley did a milk round in Warrenpoint under the name of Loughview Dairy. His milk trap and pony could be found at the side door of The Crown around 1pm each Saturday, where he treated himself to "lunch" after collecting the weekly takings during the morning. Connellys' house in Moygannon was a traditional Irish whitewashed cottage, kept immaculate by Mick's mother, Maggie, and his sister, Rita, and where you were always sure of a warm welcome. I've very fond memories of the kindnesses of both Connellys and Bradleys in the 40's and 50's, before cars and televisions became common, when Moygannon was a vibrant and caring community and neighbours the length of the townland ceidhlied,(and sometimes fell out!!)

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