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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Wilfred Thomas-service in ireland during World war 1

john white

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Dear Colleagues

Can you help please?

My great uncle,Wilfred Thomas served in Ireland during the years of World War 1 From family history we know that he was a dispatch rider and on one occasion he was almost beheaded by a wire which has been stretched across the road.A photograph has been discovered which I attach. Uncle Wilf is squatting in front on the left of the photograph as one looks at it. Most of the men seem to have Prince Of Wales Feathers'cap badges. Is anyone able to establish which regiment this is?


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is there any more info re Wilfred or any medals in the family with his name/number/regt inscribed?

The wire across the road sounds more like a post Jan 1919 War of Independence tactic rather than something that would have happened during the Great War.

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I think the wire-across-the-road tactic had been used in a handful of incidents but I'd imagine that the road conditions etc would be such that the bikes didn't get to a speed at which it would decapitate a rider. There are dozens of accounts in the Bureau of Military History records of despatch riders being intercepted but I can't find one in which there was a successful interception using wire. Here's an example of an ambush-that's-not-an-ambush, in which the IRA volunteer (Tommy Brett) issues a challenge and receives a fatal gunshot wound:

http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS1454.pdf#page=39 and


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Wire across the road was used before the war. The wife of Lord Leitrim OC Donegal UVF recorded a close call with a steel wire being strung across the road in spring 1914 to catch him in his open touring car.

I would imagine after Easter 16 there was sufficient bad feeling amongst sections of the population to carry out such actions.

Would the Leinsters have been used in 1919-21 in Ireland?

Interesting photo, does the guy 3rd from left back row have a territorial badge over his breast pocket or just mark on photo? and the guy rear right end with the revolver, who were authorised to carry revolvers just MC Riders? Man on the opposite end of that line is one by the look of his goggles.


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the following statement carries the hold up of 2 despatch riders during the Tan War. In the second instance the rider was killed. No mention of wire being used as part of either hold up. In most ambushes of riders I've read up on, there doesn't appear to be intent to kill or even hurt the riders


The Sweeney mentioned in the above statement is the one from my signature.

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