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Remembered Today:

Irchonwelz Communal Cemetery, Belgium


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Mark

Thanks for the help and all the details and references. I agree to celebrate Lancashire Day this year. It will be a Friday. I’m looking for a voluntary high school, I already have my own idea! A simple text… but also cake and cup of tea!

Christian

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John

Thank you for mentioning the page  55th Motto., it’s very interesting. The word « Motto », a word I had never met and that I will introduce into the explanation so,I will be sure to memorize it. Your text will be slightly modified and elongated.

Christian

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On 20/06/2020 at 17:40, Mark Hone said:

Thank you all once again for keeping the memory alive. We have very fond memories of our Battlefields Tour  visit to Irchonwelz in 2018. The detailed diary of another Bury Grammar School old boy who served as an officer in 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers has recently come to light.  He was wounded during the Battle of the Somme in September 1916. When he recovered, he transferred to the sister 1/5th Battalion for the rest of the war, so he was not involved in the liberation of Irchonwelz and Ath. However, he may well have known some of the long-serving members of the battalion who were there, like William Kitchen. When I have access to the full diary I shall check for any mentions. 

 

Hello Mr. Hone,

have you more information about this diary ? I am very interesting by this ;)

 

Sincerely yours

 

Sébastien Morancé

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Sebastian, 

The plan is for an edited version of the diary to be published in the near future. It sounds fascinating. However, as I have said, the author did not serve in 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers after he was wounded on the Somme in September 1916 so was not actually involved in the liberation of Irchonwelz and Ath. 

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They wanted to pay tribute to Cycling Soldier Sullivan, killed within 24 hours of the Armistice, possibly the last cycling soldier killed in that war. This group of cyclists came from the « Basse-Meuse », north of Liège. In this region, it is in the village of Thimister, that was killed the first Belgian soldier of the war 14-18: Antoine Fonk

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  • 3 months later...

Thanks to Mr Dean and Mr Conlon who sent me a copy of Pte 205299 Walter Harrison's photo in JPEG format. Mr Dean extracted the photo from the Manchester Evening News of 19 December 1918. This photo is now present in the chapel Notre-Dame au Chêne.

Page 29 of Lieutenant Floyd’s campaign diary: « ….Picanin as we used affectionately to call the brave little company runner. The death of Harisson is a great shock to us all. He was one of the best runners I have ever known…. What a shock it will be for his parents. They will first learn that the war is over and afterwards they will be informed that their boy is killed. He is being buried this afternoon in the village churchyard with the others. »

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With my neighbor Jean, we firmly anchored in the ground the panel with the Lancashire Rose. Behind this panel, the explanation and the motto of Lancashire. Usually this (wooden) panel is removed on November 11,(no commemoration in 2020, we are confined). This year it will be November 27... Lancashire Day.

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Thank you !
Remembering the 11th

And remembering my father's arrival in Ath on 11/11/18

And my visit in 2019.
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No commemoration this year ! (covid). Yet, going to the cemetery this afternoon, I found flowery military graves. Walter Harisson got a little wreath of flowers. He was 20 years old!

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Marvellous. I expect the mayor has just put the wreath in the middle of the row.

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Not exactly, John. But maybe the center of the row was already busy. For several years, an anonymous man, woman, has been laying a pot of chrysanthemum.

 

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  • 2 months later...
A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy
On 03/07/2020 at 14:13, Morance said:

have you more information about this diary ? I am very interesting by this ;)

Sébastien Morancé

The diary referred to by Mark Hone is the idary of my grandfather, Captain Norman Hall. The book was published in November last year (see the link in my signature). As Mark has indicated, however, my grandfather's involvement with the 2/5th came to an end in September 1916 when he was wounded on the Somme. When he returned to France in June 1917 he was re-assigned to the 1/5th, which was not altogether to his liking, at least initially.

No doubt some of the men whom he mentions as being with the 2/5th in the period up to September 1916 would have been with the unit at Ath in November 1918, though possibly not very many, given the casualty rate. I only know of one with certainty, Captain Hugh Waterhouse (nick-named "Long'un", or "tall one"); I only know for certain that he was with the 2/5th at Ath because in the History of the Lancashire Fusiliers  1914 - 18 by Major General J.C. Latter there is a description of the actions during the advance into Ath which won him an MC. My grandfather had quite a lot to say about "Long'un" in the early stages of the war. He also knew the officer who commanded the 2/5th battalion during the advance into Ath, Lieutenant Colonel G.S. Brighton.

it is probably unlikely that he knew any of the 8 men of the 2/5th who lost their lives on 10 November 1918, but he does mention a Private Harrison, and also a Private Porter. If Private Harrison was only 20 when he died, he should not have been overseas in 1915, when my grandfather mentions a Harrison as being in his group of signallers. Also, presumably if a man had been trained as a signaller in 1915, he would not have been described as a "runner" in 1918? 

As for Porter, my grandfather uses this name in two different places, possibly to refer to the same man, possibly two different men. In one place he is referred to as "only a boy - about 17", which does not fit with the man in his 30s who married in 1914 and had 3 children who died in infancy, as mentioned by Mark towards the beginning of this thread; in the other place he refers to Porter as a runner, which also may not fit with a man in his 30s, as I understand that runners were normally young lads.

My grandfather certainly doesn't mention any of the other six unfortunate men who lost their lives so very close to the end of the war.

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A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy

I have just checked the medal cards for the Private Harrison and Private Porter who are buried at Irchonwelz Communal Cemetery, and see that, although Victory and British medals are recorded for both, there is no reference to 1915 medals, so (unless for some reason the 1915 star was not mentioned on the MIC even though he went to France in that year) Private Harrison was definitely not the Harrison mentioned by my grandfather; both times my grandfather mentions a Porter it was 1916, so the man or men he mentions could have come to France in 1916, though the impression he gives in at least one of the mentions is that he was part of the original 1915 cohort. Curiously the MICs for the Harrison and Porter who are the subject of this thread do not mention that they were killed in action; I am not sure how common such an omission is?

Edited by A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy
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Thank you so much for all your research, I didn’t know there were medal cards and I didn’t know that Harisson and Porter had received a medal, it should also be the case his companions of misfortune.

You write: « this thread do not mention that they were killed in action.. ». In the case of the Ath region, this may well be explained. Ath is less than 30 km from Mons. November 1918, all attention was then to focus on Mons because a victory at Mons would erase the memory of the painful retreat of Mons 1914. In November 1918, in order to highlight this victory, all the other deadly battles in the area have been more or less ignored.

In Ath, the local press adopted the same attitude. Thus, in the edition of December 8, 1918, one can read in the local newspaper  l’ECHO DE LA DENDRE: « .  ...voici qu'au faubourg de Mons, les arrières-gardes allemandes attendaient les alliés tout proches paraît-il. En effet, vers une heure trente, les boulets envoyés par les canons boches postés près du bois du Renard, pleuvent sur le faubourg de Mons et sur le hameau FION (Irchonwelz). D'importants dégâts matériels mais pas de victimes. Bientôt les mitrailleuses et les fusils mêlent leurs coups secs aux sifflements lugubres des obus. De nombreux avions se mettent de la partie. Finalement les Allemands se retirent vers 3 h 30 du matin (du 11 novembre). Le matin, les Anglais et les Ecossais rentrent en ville par la rue de Pintamont….. ». Nothing is written about the 8 British soldiers killed in a bombing.

At the Ath Communal Cemetery, all but one of the British soldiers buried died after November 11, 1918, as a result of a pandemic: the Spanish flu; we thought the situation was the same at the Irchonwelz cemetery. Born in 1948, it was not until the 1980s that I learned that a British soldier may have been killed in action near the sugar factory. In 2012, by chance, I discovered in the Daily-Mail of November 13, 1918 that it was Private Sullivan buried in Irchonwelz, unfortunately, he was not alone.

We have to thank Mark Hone very much. He told us about Lieutenant Floyd, his notebook in which he recounted the bombing at Irchonwelz, he quotes the victims. Nowhere else have I read this. but maybe Mr the Major General J.C. Latter recounts this bombing in his book: the History of the Lancashire Fusiliers 1914 – 18. Thanks also to Mark Hone and the Bury Grammar Schools for coming on October 22, 2018 to honour the memory of these soldiers. Thanks again to John Morris and his wife for their visit on June 21, 2019. For our part, we try to do our best by maintaining the modest memorial of the chapel Notre Dame au Chêne. Finally, as we say at home «il n’est jamais trop tard pour bien faire», following a reasoned request by Sébastien Morancé, the Ath Community Authority has accepted the idea of naming a new trail near the canal and station “Edward Sullivan”, near the place where this soldier was killed in action 102 years earlier. Later, we hope to discover the Lancashire trail in Irchonwelz. Below is a picture of the start of the construction site Sullivan that started ….. yesterday (Covid delay)

 

SULLIVAN TRAIL.JPG

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A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy
On 19/01/2021 at 22:07, christiandup said:

I didn’t know there were medal cards and I didn’t know that Harisson and Porter had received a medal

 

Medal cards are held by the National Archives in London. These are the most complete surviving records for British soldiers who fought in WW1, in that there is one for virtually every soldier. Other records, which would have been more detailed, were to a large extent destroyed by a fire in WW2. The Medal Index Cards are simply a record of soldiers (or their surviving next of kin) claiming their medals.

The Victory and British Medals were campaign medals, rather than for outstanding conduct. Virtually every soldier who fought on the Western Front during WW1 would have been entitled to these. The 1914 and 1915 medals, or "stars", to which I referred in my earlier post, were also awarded not for outstanding conduct, but simply for being there - in the case of the 1914 star, for going to the Western Front in 1914, and in the case of the 1915 star, for going to the Western Front in 1915.

 

On 19/01/2021 at 22:07, christiandup said:

In the case of the Ath region, this may well be explained. Ath is less than 30 km from Mons. November 1918, all attention was then to focus on Mons because a victory at Mons would erase the memory of the painful retreat of Mons 1914. In November 1918, in order to highlight this victory, all the other deadly battles in the area have been more or less ignored.

 

I do not think that the location of the deaths of the men, or focusing on Mons rather than Ath, explains the absence of the reference to the men being Killen in Action on the Medal Index Cards, as the authorities were well aware of the deaths of the men; thus, there is a Grave Registration Report dated 1921 which can be viewed on the Commonwealth War Graves' Commission's website here https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/107854/R DICKERSON/#&gid=1&pid=1 listing all 10 men killed at Irchonwelz on 10 November 1918. other people on this Forum who are much more knowledgeable than me on this Forum will have much better information than me as to what governed whether a man's death in action was recorded on his Medal Index Card or not.

 

On 19/01/2021 at 22:07, christiandup said:

maybe Mr the Major General J.C. Latter recounts this bombing in his book: the History of the Lancashire Fusiliers 1914 – 18.

 

I am afraid that Major General Latter does not mention what happened at Irchonwelz during the advance from Tournal to Ath, instead focusing on the operations to capture the bridges leading into Ath. He had a great deal to cover in his book, which is an account of the actions of all the Lancashire Battalions throughout the war, so it is perhaps not surprising that he omits some details.

Well done in maintaining the Memorial, and beginning the construction of the Sullivan path, despite covid. Good luck with the Lancashire path in due course.

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christiandup

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Thank you for all this helpful information. At the beginning of the evening, we ordered the book «A Lancashire Fusilier’s First World War» by Norman Hall. After reading it, this book will take place in the small wardrobe of the chapel Notre-Dame au Chêne. We plan to create a small library with some books on the history of the chapel, the village of Irchonwelz, Lancashire, Lancashire Fusilier and the war 14-18. We also hope that Lieutenant Floyd’s notebooks will one day be published in the form of a book that we can also buy. Thanks also to my grandson Cyril who helped me because I didn’t have a Pay Pal account and especially I’m not a regular online shopper.

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A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy

Thank you so much for purchasing my grandfather's book. I hope that you find it a good addition to your library. I can confirm that £9.00 of the purchase price will be donated to the charity, Combat Stress, thank you. I will post the book to you next week.

If you are interested in books about the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers, Lieutenant Thomas Hope Floyd did publish a book about them, not at Ath, but at Ypres, called At Ypres with Best-Dunkley, which you can find on Amazon.

Good luck with your project.

Tricia

 

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