Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

R Bacon, 10th Inniskillings


Recommended Posts

I was shown this letter to-day by a colleague. It was handed to him in type written form, allegedly original, though it looked too modern and clean a typeface to me to be original. I think it was probably a copy of an original that was made to preserve it. That said, it is interesting and I thought I would share it with you all.

B. E. F.

18/7/16.

Dear Mrs. Bacon,

I have put off writing to see if I could get any news of your husband, but haven't been able I am sorry to say, to get any news that he is in hospital. I saw him away in the 3rd German line at 7 p.m. on the evening of the attack, I got him to get a few men to man a section of the trench where a German counter attack was expected, he did so and went on sentry himself, but inside half an hour all the men we had got together were killed or wounded, your husband was badly hit in the leg and foot. I carried Capt. Proctor back a bit, he had been lying wounded since 9 o'clock in the morning, and went back but couldn't find your husband. I afterwards learned he had also been helped back some distance. I got two orderlies and carried back Capt. Proctor close to our lines and sent for a stretcher and left him with one orderly and then I went back again towards the 3rd line to see if any of our men remained. On the way up I heard someone shout on my right and asked who it was, and it turned out to be your husband who said he was with a boy called Ferguson. I told him to keep going on as I had to go up to see what had happened on the right.. I went for 3 or 400 yards but couldn't find any, of our men alive and I learned afterwards they had almost been surrounded and had to retire. My orderly was badly hit by a German bomb which a patrol chucked at us, so I came back but could find no trace of your husband in the darkness and the maze of trenches and concluded he had made his way in. I made enquiries in the morning and could find no trace of his return and as we" had to get what was left of the Battalion out to make way for fresh troops, I couldn't do more then. Rev. Paton went back with stretcher-bearers next night, but still no trace.

I wish I could give you more hope but think it fairest to tell you the exact truth, and if you haven't heard from him before this reaches you, I think there may be a good chance that he is wounded and a prisoner.

One thing, I can say, he sheaved himself a hero when I saw him, and I have heard others who came back tell of the good work he did earlier. in the day before I saw him, I know also that Major Macrory has put his name forward to the Brigadier on our list of men who distinguished themselves.

I assure you I sympathise in your anxiety and can only hope for the best.

Yours sincerely,

(Signed), R. S. KNOX.

P.S.—On no account must my letter be sent to the papers, please.

It refers to this man:

BACON, 15303, Robert, Lance Corporal, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 10th Bn., KIA 01/07/1916, THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

The officer motioned seems to be:

PROCTOR, JAMES CLAUDE BEAUCHAMP, Captain, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 10th Bn., KIA 01/07/1916, Son of James Edwin and Frances J. Proctor, of Tullydoey, Moy, Native of Limavady, Co. Londonderry. MILL ROAD CEMETERY, THIEPVAL.

Can anyone shed light on the others mentioned?

Regards

Carninyj

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a great letter carninyj. As you say it definitely relates to the 10th Inniskillings.

I can't shed a lot of light on this but I'm pretty sure Macrory was from Limavady and survived the war. I know I've read something about him but I just can't bring it to mind.

Rev Paton was obviously a chaplain and I have a feeling he was a Presbyterian chaplain. A Captain Rev JG Paton is listed in Falls' Divisional history as getting an MC - impressively with two bars - and I'm virtually certain this is the same man. Again I'm pretty sure he survived the war. Again I know I have more about him but I just can't think where.

There might be more in the battalion history 'Three Cheers for the Derrys' but I don't have a copy. Maybe someone else does?

Swizz

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the responses. Anything you can add will always be welcome.

I now know Bacon was from Agherton, Portrush and that his brothers Jack & Mark were in the RN; a brother Nathaniel worked in Vicker's Shipyard, Barrow.

Robert apparently got a Certificate of Merit.

Regards

Carninyj

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think there is a soldier called Bacon in one of Robert Thompson's books - I wonder if it could be the same man? He has a book on Portrush Heroes which may be where I've seen the name, although there is also one on Portstewart which is where I would have said the townland of Agherton was - certainly that is where Agherton Parish Church is.

Swizz

Link to post
Share on other sites

Swizz

Checked the Portrush one and Thompson has a J Bacon from the same area, though the two, J and R, don't appear to be the same family. J Bacon was in the RIR, though they could be cousins or something as they are from the same area. Your suggestion was a good one though. Robert Bacon was in the Coleraine book.

Thanks for the suggestion anyhow.

Regards

Carninyj

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

Just a few bits about the names in the letter which may be of interest.

R.S.Knox. was an officer of the 10th and finished as a Lt Col. Commanded the 9th Inniskilling Fusiliers later. One of the best officers of the Ulster Division. won the DSO 3 times [see Falls]. I think by the letter you can see his character. Not sure of his rank on the 1st July but think he was a [ junior] Captain. Interesting that an Officer would go looking for a corporal and write such a detailed letter to his wife. I assume, therefore he knew Cpl Bacon.

I think they were in 'C' company, which was North Londonderry [County] recruitment area. Both Proctor and McRory were North Londonderry UVF and possibly Knox too. The 10th Inniskillings had a high proportion of locally recruited Officers.

Bacon was born Agherton [doesn't sound right] Co Londonderry, according to 'soldiers died'. so could have been UVF too.Enlisted in Portstewart.

Will have to get my old files out but as i recall Claude Proctor was a solicitor, i think practicing in Dublin. He was killed after he dropped into a German trench and was shot. The Germans then tried to surrender but Proctors men killed them all. This is briefly mentioned in 'Three cheers for the Derrys' but the details are a bit more graphic. Those that carried out the retaliation were known to the author but he didn't mention them by name because of their families still being alive.

F.McRory was a bit of an odd one too. Very well thought of, became CO of the Battalion a couple of hours before going over the top as the CO Ross-Smyth sprained his ankle in the trenches and had to be relieved. Therefore McCrory didn't go into battle as he would have done. Was a despatch rider in the UVF. There is a nice picture of him and the rest of the Limavady UVF officers in 'Three Cheers'. He is leaning on his motorbike.

However in 1917 he made a near fatal error. He decided to go on patrol with just his batman into no-mans land and was shot in the thigh. It transpired he was carrying maps and highly secret documents on him when he was brought back in. Not sure how but he managed to avoid a Court Martial, which is what he should have had. As i said was well thought of though. Don't think he returned to Battalion. Was a Lt Col at this time. There was a book written about him and his family which is very hard to get hold of. His brother was manager of Londonderry electricity station for many years. I think they were one of the first families to have a car in Ireland, hence his interest in motorbikes, i understand.

Rev Paton was the Presbyterian minister for the Btn. He too was well thought of as he was quite prepared to go into the trenches to see the men. Stayed with the Division through-out the war.

Regarding the man Ferguson who was with Bacon, i have found a strong possibility. James Ferguson Pte, 15512.

The 10th service numbers are in a rough alphabetical index. Robert Bacon was 15303. there is a gap in the listing for names beginning with F where the number 15512 would fit. There is only one other Ferguson listed an R, with no number. I checked the medal indexes and couldn't find him [when the book was wrote there wasn't the quick checking we can do now]. There are a couple of other Fergusons who may fit having later enlistment numbers starting 25.. or 27... but no other with an original 15....

McRory, Knox and Paton all attended the laying up of the 10th Btn colours in Londonderry in 1921.

Hope this is of interest.

By the way is anyone going to the exhibition in Bushmills on the 21st July?

Rob

Link to post
Share on other sites
Swizz

Checked the Portrush one and Thompson has a J Bacon from the same area, though the two, J and R, don't appear to be the same family. J Bacon was in the RIR, though they could be cousins or something as they are from the same area. Your suggestion was a good one though. Robert Bacon was in the Coleraine book.

Thanks for the suggestion anyhow.

Regards

Carninyj

I remembered that I had a list of the names on the memorial in St Patrick's Parish Church, Coleraine - and who is on the list but a 'Robert Bacon'! There are no other details (regiment etc) in the report I have although presumably if he is in Robert Thompson's Coleraine book its likely to be the same man.

Interestingly both Know and Paton later attend the unveiling of the town memorial in Coleraine!

Swizz

Link to post
Share on other sites

Swizz & Rob, thank you so very much for the replies.

Rob, you know your stuff and have certainly brought the letter to life for me. Thank you so much for all the detail. I'll pass a link to Robert Thompson; he'll be delighted with the information. I know he likes to see what he writes acting as a stimulus for further exploration by others and he delights in seeing what depth/detail thay can add.

Swizz, thanks for your imput too. It lovely to know that some of the group got to see their friends remembered on the memorial.

Regards

Carninyj

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 8 years later...

My attention was drawn just recently to this discussion.

I am the grandson of Nathaniel Bacon, youngest brother of Lance Corporal Robert Bacon. Robert was born and raised at Theresa Terrace, Heathmount, Portstewart (Parish of Agherton) and I understand he was living and working in Coleraine when he joined up. That is why his name is on the Portstewart and Coleraine war memorials, the Agherton Parish Church memorial in Portstewart, the St Patrick's Parish Church memorial in Coleraine and on the Roll of Honour in the rector's vestry in Agherton.

I have in my possession three quarters of the original letter from the War Office dated 1931 notifying Robert's parents that Robert's name was now inscribed on the monument at Thiepval.

I am intrigued to know if the original of the letter from RS Knox, described above, still exists.

MB

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 years later...

Gentlemen, I am the great grandson of Robert Bacon mentioned above.

Unfortunately, the original letter along with many old family photographs from the same period were stolen from the family property in 2006. The letter was treasured by the family as Robert never made it back or has a grave.

Any assistance in retrieving the original letter safely to the family would be greatly appreciated.

Please feel free to message me with any information.

Many Thanks,

SGD Great Grandson

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...