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Bart150

Defending Cork Harbour

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Bart150

Cork Harbour, the main base of the Royal Navy in Ireland, was defended by forts, that were manned by a few hundred soldiers – enough to fire the guns to prevent enemy ships entering the harbour.

Inland from the east coast of the harbour at Upper Aghada, about four miles from Fort Carlisle, there was a camp containing two or three battalions of soldiers, so maybe 2000 men.

The question I have is this:

Were the soldiers in the camp at Upper Aghada there specifically to oppose a possible raid by enemy forces, who might, for example, first land on the coast outside the harbour, capture Fort Carlisle and then go on to sink ships to block the harbour entrance?

OR

Was this just a camp for training Irish soldiers before they went to the Western Front, which happened to be located in Upper Aghada, but might just as well have been anywhere else in Ireland?

I expect somebody must know.

Bart

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Arnhem44

Hi Bart,I don't know the answer but from newspaper clips in a local Cork paper it gives reference to soldiers recovering from wounds there and also soldiers waiting to leave for England to go to war from there so maybe it's the latter.

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centurion

I suspect that the British defence of Cork was primarily the British Fleet which would have loved the Germans to attempt a landing in force on the West Irish coast, the attacking ships having to pass round the top of Scotland, past Scapa Flow, and out into the Atlantic with no line of retreat.

I think the forts were originally intended to to protect against a French attack up through the Bay of Biscay.

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healdav

One of the forts is called King Charles' Fort - which may give clue to its age. There were some British army people around in WW1 but not many, and most, I suspect were training.

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Bart150

Thanks, Brendan. The following point is a bit off the main question of the defence of Cork Harbour, but since you have access to old newspaper clips you may be able to help me.

When I visited Corkbeg cemetery in August I came across the grave of Francis Noel Harris, died at Whitegate, 4 January 1918(?). The stone also says 'presented by the garrison Aghada'.

My local guide told me that this was the grave of an American airman from the Aghada flying-boat base, but I’ve since established that this can’t be true. Harris must have been a civilian and I'm pretty sure that I've found him in the 1911 census; he was 17 in 1911. So why did the garrison get involved in his burial, I ask myself.

I suppose that Harris EITHER was well known to men at the army camp at Upper Aghada because he worked or did business there

OR ELSE died in an accident related to camp soldiers, eg a road accident or a drunken brawl.

If the second possibility was the case then the incident might well have been mentioned in the papers.

Thanks

Bart

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Arnhem44

Hi Bart.I'm afraid I can't find any mention of a Francis Harris in the paper(Southern Star) but someone here may have access to the Cork Examiner or Cork Constitution newspapers that may mention him.

Regards

Brendan

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Terry_Reeves

Bart

I have found amongst my research material that Aghada was listed in a War Department document as being "land for defences" and also being used for " training, exercising and a bombing ground."

TR

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centurion

AFAICS there was only one KIA from the 4 US bases on the West Coast of Ireland; resulting from a forced landing. However it's entirely possible that civilian employees from say Curtis were at the base and accorded that time dishonoured distinction of 'civilian with officer status' [a status I've had on some UK military establishments]. In the UK this used to be handled by the 'honorary Lt' tag (but got out of hand in the last 30 years or so). The US used this approach in a number of ways and in WW2 it was one way to get round legal restrictions on using non US nationals in officer roles (I had a relative who was employed as a Lt JG at Supreme Allied Advanced HQ and wore the uniform, acquired US campaign medals [and a Purple Heart - but thats another story] but officially remained a 'civilian with officer status'- I have the photos, papers, dog tags etc). If your man was a 'civilian with officer status' and died - say from accident, Spanish influenza or other natural causes he might well have been buried with some of the appropriate trappings.

This is, of course, speculation, but it does indicate that there could be a relatively simple explanation.

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Bart150

Thanks for your interest, gentlemen.

Terry - There's no doubt that the British army camp at Upper Aghada existed. The interesting question, to me, is whether it was located there to counter possible threats to Cork Harbour or not. The term 'land for defences' sounds enigmatic. I can't see that there would be any point building serious defences at Upper Aghada, which is several miles inland from the shore of the harbour and Fort Carlisle.

Centurion - I'm pretty sure that Harris was a civilian associated in some way with the British army rather than with the American USNAS. (1, Use of the word 'garrison' on the stone, which seems an odd term for the personnel of an air base; and 2, the date, which I've been told is a little too early for the USNAS base.)

Bart

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