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Remembered Today:

Survivability of war.


david murdoch
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I'm looking into a soldier of 1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers - He survived the war although being in hospital due to sickness and also wounded twice. I found this old thread regarding survivability ratings (unscathed) in regards to Gallipoli. Does anyone have figures on the survival numbers of men who left UK with 1st RDF  in March 1915  who survived Gallipoli and then went on to survive action in France. The chap I am looking at was in W Coy, sick in Gallipoli and then evacuated after being shot in the shoulder 12/8/1915 and evacuated to Malta. He was wounded again 23/3/1918 in France  - most likely at Battle of St Quentin then back in action right up to end of the war - he got a bar to his MM on 11/11/1918! How many of the original battalion survived the war? I have seen somewhere when they paraded to collect their colours on Boxing day 1918 in Torquay there were only 40 originals left out of 1100 . Presumably there were more actual survivors  - men wounded and transferred out or invalided out.

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/228080-gallipoli-early-disembarkation-and-survivability/

 

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40 remained out of 1100

 

Comes from my web site on RDF :thumbsup:

 

afraid I am away from home at the moment and I cannot give you my source, but I suspect it is from the official history of 1st bat which I have at home

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17 hours ago, corisande said:

40 remained out of 1100

 

Comes from my web site on RDF :thumbsup:

 

afraid I am away from home at the moment and I cannot give you my source, but I suspect it is from the official history of 1st bat which I have at home

Man I am researching was 5834/32285 Private Felix Mulligan DCM,MM & Bar. He was from my home town in Scotland. He has a surviving service record  and a "colourful" criminal record. He enlisted in Hamilton and served briefly in 3rd Battalion then transferred to 1st just prior to them sailing for Gallipoli.  I'm writing a biography on him. Recently tracked him down to moving to New Zealand in 1928. He died there in 1940. I found his burial record and through a volunteer group who take care of (non CWGC) soldiers graves they found and photographed his headstone. He was a long term alcoholic and died in a shelter run by the Catholic church, so received a Catholic funeral and then an ex soldier's headstone paid for by the New Zealand RSA (equivalent to Royal British Legion). In one of his court appearances in New Zealand he stated that he had been recommended for the VC  - whether or not this is true I have not seen any evidence. He received DCM 31/10/1917 then two MMs in under three weeks 25/10/1918 and 11/11/1918. He may well have been recommended for VC but turned down on account of his service record. Going by his record is also clear why he  never made it above private. 

Seeing by a newspaper report just a small colour party was sent over to Torquy to collect the colours and return then to the Battallion then in Germany.

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felix MM.jpg

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18 hours ago, pjwmacro said:

Quite some lad!

Paul.

Yes he was  -  He was only 5'2"  and 24 when he enlisted. He already  had a bit of a criminal record before enlisting - both he and his father  were up in court in front of my Great Grandfather. By his service record he already had a serious drinking problem - not just an occasional offence but constant. I need to tote it up but he probably had about 6 months worth of FP1 and FP2! After the war his trouble continued (in local newspapers), and he shows up getting into theft, house breaking and assault. In 1928 he and his younger brother (ex MGC) left for New Zealand. The pair of them continued the same pattern of drink, theft and other offences. Both of them were jailed multiple times (Felix has 42 prison release records and his brother over 60!)  His police file notes scars which match his two gunshot wounds from his record. Both of them at different times were  incarcerated at the Salvation Army facility at Roto Roa and both ended up at the half way house linked to St Josephs Church. Felix died in 1940 aged 49, his brother Francis was run over by a truck in 1948.

He appears to have served with W Coy right through, but would have been in A.W. Moloney's  Coy disembarking from SS River Clyde onto V Beach. I was looking at his record for this period but does not have anything signed by Moloney . Seems his direct officer was a Captain W. Cooney.

 

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The DCM was second only to the VC as a gallantry award for men below the rank of commissioned officer.  Some DCM winners were recommended for the VC, but for any variety of reasons that measured the required benchmark for a VC, were awarded the DCM instead.  Ergo, it's a possibility that his story of receiving a recommendation is true.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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30 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

The DCM was second only to the VC as a gallantry award for men below the rank of commissioned officer.  Some DCM winners were recommended for the VC, but for any variety of reasons that measured the required benchmark for a VC, were awarded the DCM instead.  Ergo, it's a possibility that his story of receiving a recommendation is true.

I tend to lean on his story being true. Most likely put forward by his immediate officer but turned down at company or battalion level due to his record. Then given he was later awarded two MMs within three weeks of each other. He seems to have played his war record card long after when in court. He managed to get himself a war pension (for contracting bronchitis) but this was cancelled in mid 1930's once he was in New Zealand and on account of his activities there, and which he complained about. This is why he probably has a surviving record which has "deceased" stamped on it - which led me to hunt for him as he disappears from Scottish records.

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46 minutes ago, david murdoch said:

I tend to lean on his story being true. Most likely put forward by his immediate officer but turned down at company or battalion level due to his record. Then given he was later awarded two MMs within three weeks of each other. He seems to have played his war record card long after when in court. He managed to get himself a war pension (for contracting bronchitis) but this was cancelled in mid 1930's once he was in New Zealand and on account of his activities there, and which he complained about. This is why he probably has a surviving record which has "deceased" stamped on it - which led me to hunt for him as he disappears from Scottish records.

 

It occurs to me, based purely on what you have written, that his life of petty crime and drunkenness was shaped by his birth and subsequent circumstances.  With the father that he seems to have had he doesn't appear to have had much chance of making good.

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1 hour ago, FROGSMILE said:

 

It occurs to me, based purely on what you have written, that his life of petty crime and drunkenness was shaped by his birth and subsequent circumstances.  With the father that he seems to have had he doesn't appear to have had much chance of making good.

 

Knowing his home town and background it's clear his upbringing shaped the rest of his life, but for sure he was already set in his ways before he enlisted and I don't think his war experience contributed too much to it - though he must have had a hard war. Kilsyth at the time was a rough mining town with poor housing and a very high number of pubs and drinking dens for the size of population. In the newspapers he's just one of dozens landing up in court  from an early age. I was making a direct comparison with another MM winner from the town with an identical background and similar military history, but after the war went back to work, got married and settled down. Going by his parents and brother's exploits they were a rough family (even by their contemporaries) even the mother had a couple of breach of the peace charges. He'd been down the pit with his father and three brothers probably from about age 15. The father and one of the brothers show up at fatal pit accident inquiries so he'd have been no stranger to death and injury (pretty well a weekly occurrence back then). His social recreations would have been drinking and fighting! One thing that happened in Kilsyth was in 1923 the temperance movement voted the town dry and all liquor licences were revoked (until 1968!). You then see in the papers they just went to the nearby towns and caused trouble there! The miner's strikes probably affected them as they all go from being miners to "labourers" but possibly just got fired for being unreliable. None of the brothers married and still living at home as adults. One of the elder ones landed in court for having matches and cigarettes down the pit. He took off to Canada in 1923, then the two younger ones to New Zealand in 1928. 

After Felix was awarded the DCM he got  £20 and a home leave. In the paper there is a lengthy article on him being presented with a gold engraved watch ( this was common for both DCM and MM winners in the town).Before that leave was over he was in jail which caused him to be late back from leave so he got docked 16 days pay. Unfortunately it's most likely the watch and his medals were pawned for drinking money or perhaps to pay he and his brother's passage to New Zealand. 

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He appears to have served with W Coy right through, but would have been in A.W. Moloney's  Coy disembarking from SS River Clyde onto V Beach. I was looking at his record for this period but does not have anything signed by Moloney . Seems his direct officer was a Captain W. Cooney.

 

Great research David. Moloney,  as you know, went on to be my Grandfather's OC  in 22 Bty. I'm right in the throes of moving at present, so not on top of where my information about Gallipoli is. But from recall Molony was W Coy's 2nd Captain, neither OC or Coy 2ic at V beach. Off the top if my head I cannot recall either the coy commander or 2ic's name. But the name Cooney isn't ringing abell!

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35 minutes ago, david murdoch said:

nfortunately it's most likely the watch and his medals were pawned for drinking money or perhaps to pay he and his brother's passage to New Zealand

Don't suppose they have ever shown up at DNW or any other auction site?

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On 19/02/2020 at 15:37, david murdoch said:

Seeing by a newspaper report just a small colour party was sent over to Torquay to collect the colours and return then to the Battalion then in Germany.

 

In fact there is not a great deal of coverage in the Irish papers, but it confirms the numbers for the RDF. I must say I don't think that 1ST bat rdf would only have had 40 men alive  from the 1914 contingent as stated in news report

 

rdf1919.jpg.835c85a8d580d7699f8b65017f14c680.jpg

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2 hours ago, pjwmacro said:

Don't suppose they have ever shown up at DNW or any other auction site?

 

I asked Geoffrey Churcher. He said he would take a look to see if they have ever shown up at auction. I suspect though back in the 1920's  sold at scrap value. The watch would be worth more than the medals. There were a number presented  to medal winners from the town over the course of the war. I know the whereabouts of  a couple of them - still with family. One below was to a MM winner. 

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2 hours ago, corisande said:

 

In fact there is not a great deal of coverage in the Irish papers, but it confirms the numbers for the RDF. I must say I don't think that 1ST bat rdf would only have had 40 men alive  from the 1914 contingent as stated in news report

 

 

I'd hazard a guess that this number is original men still on strength with the battalion at the end of the war. I'm sure there would have been more survivors. Given the amount of casualties they took, probably quite a few Silver War Badges due to wounds and sickness and likely many transferred to other service once recovered from wounds. 

I have several other RDF casualties from Kilsyth of various battalions, but one other 1st Battalion killed in action at Gallipoli. 18093 Patrick McCann - died 4/6/1915 also born in Kilsyth. Apparently he'd only been there two weeks, so was probably a casualty replacement. Quite a number of casualties to Irish regiments from the town as there was a large number of Irish miners there for work. Some born in Ireland and some second generation. Early on a lot of them appear to have specifically joined the Irish regiments - often to be with brothers or cousins still in Ireland and also due to the sectarian divide. Also by their background got a few tunnellers as well. 

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