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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Headstone - An Irish Soldier of the Great War


RussT

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I recently came across an image of a CWGC headstone with the inscription "An Irish Soldier of the Great War".

 

Hope this is not a stupid question - but how would they know that the remains of an unknown were Irish?

 

If the remains had, for example, some uniform insignia identifying the solider as belonging to an Ireland based Regiment then why not have the inscription "A Soldier of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers" (or whatever the identifying Regiment might be).

 

Was there some generic uniform trait that enabled a non-specific Irish Regiment to be identified? Even if there were such a feature, how would they know he was actually Irish?

 

Regards

 

Russ

 

 

 

 

irish soldier of the great war.JPG

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Perhaps a partial insignia common to more than one regiment - a harp maybe with no motto? But then the Irish regiments were filled with non Irish especially late in the war.

Great question. I saw a few of these headstones in Belgium in the old days of freedom to travel...:(

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Divisional patch ? Can't see how it could be said that the person was Irish without there being further evidence though.

Do you know the cemetery and grave number ?

Craig

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5 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

Divisional patch ? Can't see how it could be said that the person was Irish without there being further evidence though.

Do you know the cemetery and grave number ?

Craig

One I saw was in Cement House cemetery. At the edge to the right of the main aisle. About halfway as I remember.

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The reason I ask is that, at the back of my mind, there's something that says if you download the full cemetery details as Richard used to do for his Canadians then they do contain details for the unknown graves and sometimes the forms show the ID that was found.

Craig

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16 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

Do you know the cemetery and grave number ?

 

I saw it and a few others on a randomly selected YouTube clip presenting WW1 cemeteries by drone -  I didn't make a note of the clip, and looking back on YouTube it seems there are 100s of such clips - I've no idea which one it was now.

 

The image I posted was just a random image I found on Google Image Search

 

Perhaps we can find an explicit example - e.g. as posted by depaor1 above.

 

 

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59 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

Divisional patch ?

 

The 10th (Irish Division) had this insignia apparently - but I don't think it was worn on the uniform of the rank and file.

 

10th Irish.JPG

 

I can't re-call - did they have a clover patch in some way? EDIT: the 16th (Irish) Division had a Clover for the Divisional Insignia

 

 

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Found it - it was on this YouTube Clip - there is an example headstone that makes an appearance first at the time of 3:44 of this 6:20 clip - there are others later.

 

(4) Wytschaete Military Cemetery and the 16th (Irish) Division Memorial - YouTube

 

The Clip is from Wytschaete Military Cemetery which, according to the title of the Clip, contains the16th (Irish) Division Memorial.

 

Perhaps I can find one of those Grave Reports which contains the details of the unknowns specific to an Irish Soldier of the Great War

 

Regards

 

Russ

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The 16th had a shamrock emblem & 36th the red hand of Ulster. 
 

But as you say, how would they know the soldier was actually Irish?

 

 

Edited by Jervis
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So this is the findings from my little investigation ! 

 

I started looking through all the Graves Registration Reports for Wytschaete Military Cemetery trying to find at least one unknown with the identifier "An Irish Soldier of the Great War". There are 1002 burials in this cemetery of which just 330 are identified - so a laborious task. I went through quite a few Reports without success and was about to give it up when I thought I'd go through the YouTube video again for any clues.

 

Luckily the clip shows that the first (and only) grave in the row is an identified soldier. He is 15474 Adam Menzies of the 1st Bn Northumberland Fusiliers who died 27/03/1916. This allowed me to pick up the relevant Graves Registration Document for this row of headstones - in Plot 5 Row F as marked red in the top left hand corner of Cemetery Map (attached below).

 

If you follow the YouTube Clip posted above from about the time 3:29 onwards the camera then pans along this Row to reveal the following 9 headstones in turn:

 

15474 A Menzies 1/NF

A Soldier of the Great War - Leicestershire Regiment

A Soldier of the Great War - Leicestershire Regiment

A Soldier of the Great War - Royal Field Artillery

A Soldier of the Great War

A Soldier of the Great War

An Irish Soldier of the Great War

An Irish Soldier of the Great War

A Soldier of the Great War

 

These evidently occupy graves 5/F/18 to 5/F/10 as per the Graves Registration Report and the Cemetery Plan.

 

The Graves Registration document nominally aligns with the above list. It has 10 graves recorded so I'm not sure why we only see 9 in the clip - unless the 10th and others carry on beyond the small visible gap in the video. The two graves marked as Irish Soldiers have the identifier R. I. Fus. recorded on the Graves Registration Document. I have to assume that this stands for Royal Irish Fusiliers given the context (although in theory this abbreviation could also stand for Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers). There does not seem to be any documents that describes what it is that identified these two men as RIF (I assume it must have been a cap badge, a shoulder title or the like).

 

The Headstone Schedule just states that all unidentified graves in this part of Row F in Plot 5 have the inscription "Unknown British Soldier" yet none of the headstones actually have that inscription.

 

There you have it - probably of no use to anyone - but it whiled away a few hours.

 

Regards

 

Russ

 

 

Wytschaete cemetery-plan-51700 - red.jpg

Grave Registration.JPG

Headstone 1.JPG

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Just to add to that Russ, the actual concentration reports for several of the graves in 5 F are missing including 11 and 12. Also 5 F may appear to have started out as the Memorial Plot or part of. The digitally annotated Headstone Schedule is interesting and may suggest the two ‘Irish’ headstones are not the originals, note the layout is the same for all the UBS with no identifiable particulars. 
Curiosity says it’s worth a query to the  CWGC.
 

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