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Remembered Today:

14th Royal Irish Rifles


Sue Light

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I really dislike family myths, so have never bothered to delve into this before, but reading another thread this morning on posthumous MMs, I felt the need to get it off my chest...

A relative, Alexander Hildersley, L/Cpl 17875, 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, died on the 1/7/16. He was awarded a Military Medal [at some time] and the London Gazette date is 10th November 1916. The family story goes [and goodness knows where it originated] that he won his medal for his action at the time of the incident during which Billy McFadzean was killed, and was then killed later on the 1st July. Now is there any likelihood of there being more than a grain of truth in this? Or is there any other way [in the absence of a service record] to pin the MM down to a different day, and thus put the story to rest? And could a man be awarded an MM for an action in which he survived, and then be killed later the same day in a different action? Does 'posthumous' in this sense refer to the action, or the day as a whole? [sorry - confusing :rolleyes: ]

Sue

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Steven Moore is a news editor at the Newsletter morning paper in Belfast. He is currently researching a book onthe YCVs having published a Battlefield Guide to Irish Memorials on the Somme.

You can contact him on steven.moore@jpress.co.uk

He may have something for you .. on the other hand you may be able to help him?

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I really dislike family myths, so have never bothered to delve into this before, but reading another thread this morning on posthumous MMs, I felt the need to get it off my chest...

A relative, Alexander Hildersley, L/Cpl 17875, 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, died on the 1/7/16. He was awarded a Military Medal [at some time] and the London Gazette date is 10th November 1916. The family story goes [and goodness knows where it originated] that he won his medal for his action at the time of the incident during which Billy McFadzean was killed, and was then killed later on the 1st July. Now is there any likelihood of there being more than a grain of truth in this? Or is there any other way [in the absence of a service record] to pin the MM down to a different day, and thus put the story to rest? And could a man be awarded an MM for an action in which he survived, and then be killed later the same day in a different action? Does 'posthumous' in this sense refer to the action, or the day as a whole? [sorry - confusing :rolleyes: ]

Sue

Sue

If I follow your email correctly, the award of a posthumous MM simply recognises that the recipient was dead at the time of the award, not that he was killed earning it. There are plenty of examples of men being given gallantry awards and then dying before they could recieve them.

I would have thought the MIC would have an award date and it is possible that there is an entry in the London Gazette detailing the award. I know there are for MCs. Unfortunately if there is a LOndon Gazette entry it will probably not include the citation, only the dates.

Pete

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Pete

Thank you - yes, the London Gazette entry is 10th November 1916, so about right for July 1916 - or could be a bit before I suppose. I think the problem revolves around the premise that the Military Medal cannot be awarded for an action during which a man was killed. I understand that it could be awarded posthumously for an action that had taken place prior to the date of death. But what if, as in this case, my relative had performed some worthy deed early on July 1st, before the whistles went, and then, a couple of hours later was killed in action. I just wondered if this would have been counted as the same action, or a different one.

Quite honestly, I might never know, and the family myth will return to the drawer again until it gets another airing at some time in the future.

Sue

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Hi Sue

If you were able to check a local newspaper you might get something - I have seen information about MM awards on a few occasions.

I have researched the McFadzean story, albeit from the point of view of how he was commemorated, and I have not come across any mention of anyone else receiving an award in connection with the incident. The name Hildersley has not come up at all in the material I have looked at. Although of course that doesn't disprove your family story!

Swizz

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Swizz

I remain rather sceptical about the whole thing - as he was the same battalion, and died on the 1st July, it would be very easy for the family to connect the two events. Although I suppose all things are possible, and I could never discount the theory that they received a letter later on telling them how Alex Hildersley died. I'm sure you're right about the papers - certainly a good idea.

Sue

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Hi Sue

Sorry, I only just noticed your reply. I'm not sure whether it's of any use, but McFadzean's VC was Gazetted in a supplement on 9 September 1916.

Another possible avenue to find out more could be the Regimental Museum:

http://www.geocities.com/rurmuseum/

I'm pretty sure they have material relating to the YCVs.

The local newspaper came into my head because my grandfather was awarded the MM and one day, by surprised, I came across his photograph in a 1916 Belfast Telegraph! But of course without specific dates it could be a needle in the haystack task.

Swizz

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Thanks Swizz - something will probably pop up some time - everything comes to he [her!] who waits!

Sue

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  • 5 years later...

Hello Sue,

New to this forum and I can see it's been a while since you started this post but i think I can dispel the myth about L/Cpl Hildersley MM. I have emailed you via your "Scarletfinders" site and hope you get back to me as I think you may also be able to help me with a project that I have just started.

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Hello,

I've an extract of the Belfast Newsletter from the 13th November 1916 which details L/Cpl Hildersley's MM award if you don't already have it. (I just realised that this thread is 5 years old)

"The deed for which he has been awarded the medal was carried out with splendid pluck. Communication lines were broken and Hildersley set out to repair the wires but twice he was buried by the explosion of a German shell. He was able to relieve himself each time and at the third attempt succeeded in repairing the wires and getting his message through. The gallant young soldier has been missing since 1st of July and great anxiety is felt by his parents as to his whereabouts."

I have a copy of the newspaper clipping if you need it.

Mick.

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Hi

I case you don't already know L/Cpl Hildersley also gets a mention in the 14th Battalion war diary in May 1916 - see below;

Lealvillers 23.5.16 parade to dummy trenches for attack practice. Extract from Battalion orders:- “The C.O. wishes to place on record his approval of the good services and courage shown by the following N.C.O’s and men during the bombardment of our trenches on May 6th 1916 No.15604 L. Sgt Mitchell G.; 16016 Pte. Thompson E.; 15971 Sgt. Steel; 16278 Pte. Burns R.; 17875 Lcpl Hildersley A.; 14351 Lcpl Davidson A.; 668 Pte. Milligan A.; 1904 Pte. Townsley W.; 15970; Lcpl. Steele W.; 15782 L. Sgt Poots J.; 6756 Lcpl. McIlveen J.; 17946 Pte. Jameson A.; 18783 Pte. Smith A.F.; 13970 Pte. Auld A.; 16954 Pte. McKendry J.; 18552 Pte. Neill W.; 6885 Pte. McBride J.T.; 671 Pte. Nelson F.; 7180 Pte.Mercer R.; 14402 Pte. Dempsey S.; 17081 Pte. Williamson D.; 19461 Sgt. Dalgleish R.; 15604 L.Sgt. Mitchell G. being recommended for D.C.M.

I hope this proves useful - regards, Tommy.

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