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Remembered Today:

C Company, 13 Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles


janette1910
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Hi,

I have been researching my great uncle Francis Cheevers from Killyleagh, Co Down who died at the Somme on 1 Jul 1916. My Grandfather was told that he did not die going over the top. I have a gut feeling that he did not die going over the top, but have not found a way of proving it, I recently came across a passage in a book which stated that during a bombardment on 28 Jun, C company was making it ways from the Mensil road to the front when they got caught in the bombardment, 14 were killed and the rest injured. Does anyone know how or where I should look for clarification of this.

Janette

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Hi Janette have you tried the Belfast Forum, my husband got loads of information on there from a poster called Hendo who seems to know loads about the R. I. Rifles ,he downloaded pictures of all the platoons of the 14th Battalion and identified two pictures of Billy McFadzean..

Mary.

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Thank you Mary, Archangel9

All help is welcome.

Janette

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One of the best sources may be the War Diary. Unfortunately, it has not been digitised yet but the reference at the National Archive is here.

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Janette, if your Great Uncle was the son of John and Sarah Cheevers, Killyleagh, he is listed as being killed on 1st July 1916, No. 17434, Age 21, commemorated at Thiepval.

On 1st July 1916 the 13th Royal Irish Rifles formed the left hand edge on the eastern bank of the Ancre and found themselves mercilessly cut to pieces by machine gun fire from in front and from the left across the valley. Pushed to their right and into the 11th Royal Irish Rifles their attack was halted almost as soon as it had begun. You may be interested in the following account from that day:

Quote from Col. Wm. Savage, the officer commanding the 13th RIR:

“1st July 1916

Almost no information was sent in due to most of the officers becoming casualties and the difficulty of getting men across the fire swept zone of no man’s land. Signalling wires had previously been laid by the Signalling Officer of the 17th but all attempts by the signallers to take a line forward were useless. I had 10 signallers killed and wounded. 2/Lieut. Fullerton of D Coy is the only officer who went over who has come back unwounded and has very little information to give about his Company.”

Report on the action – Commanding Officer, 13th Bn. RIR:

“5.00am – 6.00 am: The men had hot tea for breakfast and a rum ration before they got out to attack at about 6.30 am.

6.30 am: They paraded and filed up to the three gaps in our parapet, being on the steep hillside they were under cover from view and fire and there were no casualties.

7.15 am: At a quarter before Zero, they moved out and lay down on the tape, they moved off a couple of minutes before Zero time, so as to be within 150 yards of the German trenches at the lift.

7.30 am: Directly the start was made the German MGs could be heard firing at once. From this time I received no messages, and the Companies were lost.

8.06 am: Captain Mathews Commmanding A Coy on my right sent in a note to say he was held up in A Line and asking for Vickers Gun. Captain Davidson whose guns were in reserve was then sent out.

9.20 am: Getting no news from the front I thought affairs could not be going according to programme. I tried to get reinforcements from 15th R. Ir. Rifles but they could give none, and said their Right Coys are through B Line and the Companies on the left are in difficulties. After this letter, I asked 108th Infn Bde for reinforcements but none were forthcoming.

10.20 am: Captain J S Davidson 108 MG Company reported: "Am in the B Line 7 have got up 2 Vickers Guns, am consolidating both. Cannot say how many infantry are in the line, but in this part, there are only about 30 men of the 13th, 11th & 15th Royal Irish Rifles. We cannot possibly advance and reinforcements, ammo and bombs most urgently needed." This report was sent on to 108th Infn Brigade Major with further request for reinforcements. Somewhere about this time I sent out 2/Lieut RB Marriott-Watson - the Intelligence Officer to see if any information was forthcoming. He knew the ground well as he was Battn Scout Officer. He however was wounded and admitted to hospital.

The situation was quite confused and very conflicting reports were coming in.

12.40 pm: A message from Capt Davidson 108th MGC arrived. "I am holding the end of a communication trench in A line with a few bombers and a Lewis Gun. We cannot hold much longer. We are being pressed on all sides and ammunition almost finished."

12.50 pm: I then sent up the few remaining Battn Staff, the orderly room Sergt, 2 Officers servants, two Coy QM Sergts with ammunition, these men were unable to cross no man’s land. Two were killed three were wounded.

1.05 pm: 270 bombs were also sent up with a party and a man who knew the way. 2/Lieut Findlay went out about this time for information and returned wounded later on.

1.40 pm: 2/Lieut Dale sent in a note to say he was installed in a German trench 50 yards or more to the left of Captain Davidson, firing on German bombing party. This officer returned later on, gallantly saving his two guns and bringing in an extra tripod which he found.

3.00 pm: The situation was confused and no information was available. I received Bde Majors No 108/660 regarding party of Germans advancing on ST PIERRE DIVION.

3.20 pm: I replied with my No 2 of 1st saying I had no men and reinforcements were required. Rn J Blakely came in from the sunken road and reported that Capt Davidson had been wounded in the knee and while he and another man were carrying him out, he was shot dead between them.

3.50 pm: 2 Coys of the York & Lancaster Battn arrived about this time, when Bde Major’s information re. the German counter attack arrived and these two Companies held the NW edge if Thiepval Wood. Several batches of German prisoners came in under escort parties of the Ulster Division from A & B lines of German Trenches.

After this time the two Coys of the Y and L Battn were holding the front line and by night I had a party of 40 men gathered up from the men who returned to hold the left flank of Peterhead and Waterhead Sap.

A prisoner was captured on this flank after dark, which, read in conjunction with a note from Capt Powell RFA looks as if some Germans were coming in to give themselves up, but went away. The message was "Wounded man reports Germans advancing down marsh". The night was very quiet except fairly heavy shelling. Men kept coming in, wounded men and others so tired that they lay down just where they were.

2nd July:

Shelling very heavy throughout the day, the Germans seemed to have got the range of Speyside Road and came nearer and nearer the dugouts and shelters. One shell came through the dugout we were using as HQs where the Battn Staff and the 5th Y & L Regt. Fortunately only one man was hurt. There was nothing doing in the morning except we were informed that we would be relieved. In the afternoon Lt Colonel Crozier 9th R. Ir. Rifles used the Battn HQs whilst in command of a special ... Bde to bomb the German A line and push in the direction of ST PIERRE DIVION.

At 5.30 pm I handed the Peterhead Sap & Waterhead Sap to the CO 5th Battn Y&L Regt. Which saps had been held by my men all night on 1/2nd July. At 7.30 pm I withdrew to MARTINSART under instructions received earlier in the day. By moving in small parties of 10 we were fortunate to come back via Speyside & Northern causeway with only 2 slight casualties.

Wm. Savage Colonel
Commanding 13th R. Ir. Rifles”

Anne

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Thank you Woollamc and Anneca.

Anne this is wonderful, however my Grandfather Francis Cheevers Brother was told after the war, that Francis had been killed when a shell landed on his company, C Company. I have read it somewhere recently that on 28 Jun whilst moving from the Mensil along the mensil road C Company were under attack from a bombardment 14 were killed and the rest of the 60 were injured, which could be where he was either killed or injured and died from these injuries. How well would this have been documented??? We know that his name is on the Thiepval Memorial but my grandfather always insisted he did not die on 1 Jul. You know when there is a doubt you go chasing it, any other thoughts???

Janette

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Hi Janette

See attached two links which give some information on the Martinsart incident on 28th June 1916 - http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=182981&hl=martinsart

Second link - http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=100975&hl=martinsart

Regards, Tommy.

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Janette

You probably know most if not all of this information, but I have posted in case there is something new here for you:

FRANCIS (FRANK) CHEEVERS

SDGW:

Name: Francis Cheevers

Birth Place: Cookstown, Co. Tyrone

Residence: Killyleagh, Co. Down

Death Date: 1 Jul 1916

Death Location: France & Flanders

Enlistment Location: Downpatrick, Co. Down

Rank: Rifleman

Regiment: Royal Irish Rifles

Battalion: 13th Battalion (C Company)

Number: 13/17434

Type of Casualty: Killed in action

Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Medal Index Card Details - Medal Trio

Landed in France: 06/10/15

Memorials:

Thiepval

Killyleagh War Memorial

Killyleagh COI

Regards, Tommy.

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Thanks Tommy

Janette

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Janette

A couple of pictures for you as well.

Killyleagh War Memorial.

Regards, Tommy.


His name on the Thiepval Memorial.

post-29775-0-99632000-1400014044_thumb.j

post-29775-0-98555000-1400014179_thumb.j

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Any idea on how I upload photos?

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Francis Cheevers Born 1895 Cookstown, died Somme 1 Jul 16 ??

post-104684-0-89225900-1400016397_thumb.

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Thank you Woollamc and Anneca.

Anne this is wonderful, however my Grandfather Francis Cheevers Brother was told after the war, that Francis had been killed when a shell landed on his company, C Company. I have read it somewhere recently that on 28 Jun whilst moving from the Mensil along the mensil road C Company were under attack from a bombardment 14 were killed and the rest of the 60 were injured, which could be where he was either killed or injured and died from these injuries. How well would this have been documented??? We know that his name is on the Thiepval Memorial but my grandfather always insisted he did not die on 1 Jul. You know when there is a doubt you go chasing it, any other thoughts???

Janette

Janette, what a wonderful photograph, so young and so handsome and to die at 21. It was a dreadful time then with so many dead and dying. I too had a relative KIA on 1st July and on trying to focus on exactly what happened to him reckon he actually died on 2nd July although officially his name is recorded as KIA the previous day. In his case there were so many slaughtered on that date when the battle was raging so long that when stretcher bearers went out to collect the injured, the dead took second place understandably. To bring in so many injured and then cope with so many bodies could have taken days so it is understandable why dates of death in those circumstances may not be accurate. It was the best they could do at the time I reckon. This is a quote from Philip Orr’s book – The Road to the Somme: Men of the Ulster Division Tell Their Story. I have to say this does makes grim reading.

“Wednesday, 28th June:

Tuesday had been another wet day and Wednesday showed no sign of drier weather. The decision was taken to put back the assault by a day or two – until the weather improved. Careful plans would have to be adjusted. Certainly, two days of extra shelling of the Germans could only boost the chances of destroying them, but more loads of high-explosive shells would have to be carried up on wet, slippery ground – a fearsome task. Also, the battalions who had been holding the line had to be relieved by fresh men. As the Down Volunteers moved up through Martinsart to replace the South Antrim men, they encountered disaster. No. 11 Platoon and the HQ staff were marching out of Martinsart when a shell fell right in the midst of the party. Fourteen men were killed on the spot and almost all the others in the group were wounded, including Major Robert Perceval Maxwell, second in command of the battalion.

With a total of almost sixty casualties, the confusion in the darkness was grim. A group of South Antrim men took charge of the clearing up operations. As dawn broke, Tommy Russell could see the ghastly debris of the tragedy, a huge crater in the road, bloodstains everywhere, and most horrifically of all, men’s internal organs, blown up and scattered over the statues on the walls of Martinsart’s damaged chapel.”

I think I recall this event being referred to in the History of the 36th (Ulster) Division by Cyril Falls but can't be certain.

Anne

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Anne this is what i read any idea how many men would be in a platoon if all 60 were either killed or wounded my uncle had to be one of them dont you think?

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  • 6 years later...

HI ALL , REF C COY 13TH BATT ROYAL IRISH RIFLES.

MY GREAT UNCLE WAS CHARLES MCWILLIAM ARMY NUMBER 18390 HE WAS IN C COY R.I.R. AND HE LIVED IN DOWNPATRICK CO DOWN

HE WAS KILLED 1ST JULY 1916 AT THE SOMME ,HIS BODY WAS NEVER FOUND , BUT SOME YEARS AGO I FOUND OUT WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.

A MAN CALLED SAM GRAIG WAS VERY NEAR 11 GUYS, WHEN A SHELL  CAME IN FROM THE GERMAN LINES , SAM HIT THE GROUND IN NO MANS LAND AND LOOKED OVER TO HIS LEFT AND SAW NONE OF THE 11 . HE GOT UP WITH THE REST OF THE TROOPS AND RAN TOWARDS THE GERMAN LINES. 

SAM TOLD ME THIS ABOUT 1970 OR SO .

HE ALSO TOLD ME THIS MY GREAT UNCLE CUT HIS HAIR THE DAY BEFORE , ODD CAUSE CHARLIE WAS A CARPENTER.

FRANK CHEEVERS WAS IN C COY AS WELL .K.I.A.1 JULY MISSING ,  BODY NEVER FOUND.

I WONDER IF ANYONE HAS A PICTURE OF C COY FROM WW1  BEFORE 1 ST JULY 1916

 

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