Tag Archives: ww1

#Shorncliffe, #Labour_Corps

Recently the Shorncliffe Trust held their annual Light in the Darkest Hour. Hopefully, this years ceremony will encourage people to visit the graves of the Labour Corp in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. The Closing ceremony was the placing of lanterns at the Chinese Labour Corps graves, (CLC) of which there are six all close together in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery. This was also part of the Big Ideas Company’s Unremembered  (An awful name if they mean “Forgotten” they should just say so.) Project.  Apart from the CLC, there are two men from the South African Native Labour Corps (SANLC) and eleven men from the British Army’s Labour Corps buried in the cemetery.  Photographs of the graves of the SANLC and the Labour Corps men follow.IMG_8384

Piet Malinge of the South African Native Labour Corps. In April 1917 a tented camp was pitched east of Hill Road, Cherry Garden Avenue in Folkestone. Designated the Labour Concentration Camp, it was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel F. Hopley and could accommodate 2,000 Chinese (Chinese Labour Corps CLC) or South African Native Labourers. (South African Native Labour Corps, SANLC) Opposite on the west side of the road another tented camp was erected. This camp could contain another 2,000 Asian or African Labourers. During the summer of 1917, the CLC built hutments of reinforced concrete and the camp became known as the Cherry Garden Camp. This was really two separate camps with Kitchens and Hospitals. 1,500 men could be housed here. It is likely that Piet was part of the SANLC housed in one of these aforementioned camps. Busalk Mvinjelwa would also have been there.

IMG_8385

IMG_8838.JPG

Private 331158 H.A. Baker served in the 18th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment before he was transferred to 242nd Works Company Labour Corps.

IMG_8829

Private G/78845 J Baker, 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before being transferred to the 389th Home service Employment Company Labour Corps. The 29th (Works) Battalion was formed as a labour battalion hence the (Works) atMill Hill the entire battalion was transferred to the Labour Corps and retitled the 5th Labour Battalion in April 1917. (2)

IMG_8842

Private 76316 R Bedford also served in the 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before being transferred to the 389th Home Service Employment Company Labour Corps.

IMG_8830

Private G/78071 George Henry Bloodworth. Another soldier from the 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before he was transferred to the 5th Battalion of the Labour Corps. The son of George Henry and Mary Bloodworth of 18 Banstead St Nunhead, London was killed in the Folkestone Air Raid on the 25th May 1917.

IMG_8841

Private 28527 G.W. Graves, the husband of Lilie Gertrude Parkinson (formally Graves) served in the 9th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment before being transferred to the Labour Corps.

IMG_8839

Private 267099 Samuel Beckerleg Hall the son of Mrs Evelina Hall of 21 Church Street, Helston, Cornwall. He served in the 2nd/1st Kent Cyclist Battalion before he was transferred to the 426th Company Labour Corps.

IMG_8832

Private 293210 T Marshall Served in the 2nd/7th Battalion Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) before he was transferred to 342nd Works Company Labour Corps. Marshall died on the 10th November 1918, one day before the war ended.

IMG_8831

Henry Gordon Prince the son of Mrs Charlotte Prince of 3 Evergreens, South Bersted, Bognor, served in the 1st Infantry Labour Company Northamptonshire Regiment.

IMG_8840

Private 37998 A.H. Slater is another soldier who served in the 29th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before being transferred to the 241st Works Company Labour Corps.

IMG_8837

Guardsman 18439 J.W. Taylor served in the Coldstream Guards before being transferred to 437th Company Labour Corps.

IMG_8844.JPG

Private 5417 Robert Williams served in the 2nd/6th Battalion Cheshire Regiment before he was transferred to 317th Works Company Labour Corps.

Notes

(1) Soldiers details from the CWGC website.

(2) Details about the 29th Battalion from the Long Long Trail Web site. A website that can not be recommended too highly. If you are even remotely interested in the British Army in the First World War bookmark and use the LongLong Trail website.

 

Advertisements

#Shorncliffe, #Folkestone the South African Connection

Shorncliffe is justifiably proud of its Canadian Connection. Every year on at least one occasion tributes are paid to the Canadians buried there. The cemetery’s First and Second World War graves being extremely well cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The word “Commonwealth” replaced the original “Imperial” to reflect the changing times at the end of Empire. With the change of title people’s views changed and the different nationalities became important. The Imperial part was lost.  Also fading with the loss of the word “Imperial” was the idea of an Imperial Army. It was this “Imperial ” Army that went to war in August 1914. An Empire at war. Now we think of Brits in the Royal Air Force, Canadians in the Royal Canadian Air Force, South Africans in the South African Air Force. A hundred years ago they were part of an Imperial Family and served regardless of “Nationality”. They were British regardless of where they came from. Now we regard them as national citizens, not imperial subjects. Then all but two of the men named below were British, although they are now regarded as South African or Zimbabwean. the other two both fromm the South African Native Labour Corps, were Native South Africans.

IMG_8378

Cadet Harry Hutton Blake, mentioned in despatches by Lieutenant-General J. L. Van Deventer, K.C.B., Commanding-in-Chief, East Africa Force: — General Headquarters, East Africa Force, 11th October 1917, for meritorious conduct in the field. (London Gazette Supplement dated 7th March 1918) Harry’s parents lived in Roodekop, Transvaal, South Africa.

IMG_8382

Philip Martin Hayes Boardman. His parents lived at Umvuma, Rhodesia. (now Zimbabwe)

IMG_8379Commemorated in the Belfast Book of Honour, where he was born. Arthur James Douglas’s parents lived at 4 Glengareff Terrace, Three Anchor Bay, Capetown and he is listed by the South African War Graves Project.

IMG_8381Wilfred Douglas Duke from Oxford House, Douglas St., Bloemfontein, South Africa.

IMG_8387Raymond was born in Boksburg in the Transvaal. His parents lived in  Maraisburg.

IMG_8389John James Forrest-Dunlop born in Sydney, Australia, and is commemorated on the AustralianNational War Memorial. He married Violet of East Rand, Transvaal, and is listed by the South African War Graves Project as a South African.

IMG_8384

Piet Malinge of the South African Native Labour Corps. In April 1917 a tented camp was pitched east of Hill Road, Cherry Garden Avenue in Folkestone. Designated the Labour Concentration Camp, it was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel F. Hopley and could accommodate 2,000 Chinese (Chinese Labour Corps CLC) or South African Native Labourers. (South African Native Labour Corps, SANLC) Opposite on theWest side of the road another tented camp was erected. This camp could contain another 2,000 Asian or African Labourers. During the summer of 1917, the CLC built hutments of reinforced concrete and the camp became known as the Cherry Garden Camp. This was really two separate camps with Kitchens and Hospitals. 1,500 men could be housed here. It is likely that Piet was part of the SANLC housed in one of these aforementioned camps. Busalk Mvinjelwa would also have been there.

IMG_8385Busalk Mvinjelwa, SANLC. (See under Piet Malinge above)

IMG_8383

David Victor Spain from Johannesburg, South Africa.

IMG_8386John Eric Thomson of 54, Garden St., Rosettenville, Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa,

IMG_8380

Augustus Henry Wells from Geoville, Johannesburg, Transvaal, The inscription on his gravestone reads ” Whosoever liveth and believe in me shall never die. john XI. 29″

The RAF men were here being trained, they were “Cadets”.  Most died of illness, Details of them, and the two men from the SANLC are from the CWGC site and in the South African War Graves Project on the Web. Further details can be found on both sites.

Religious, Racial Profiling and S.A.D #FWW #WW1 #WWI

This blog has its origins in a book. Death sentences passed by military courts of the British Army 1914-1924, revised edition edited by Julian Putkowski with a forward by Andrew Mackinlay MP.  2005, ISBN 1 903427 26 6. If you are interested in the men Shot at Dawn, it is a must read. Along with its companion book, British Army Mutineers 1914-1922, also by Julian Putkowski. They are should have books for anyone with more than a passing interest in the soldiers executed. Combined they not only give a good comparison between Sentences passed, and Sentences carried out.  They contain a guide to other sentences the Military Courts passed and where.

“There has always been public disquiet about the fate of the men who were sentenced to death during the First World War”  Andrew Mackinlay MP, the opening sentence of his forward in  Death sentences passed by military courts of the British Army 1914-1924

The closing sentence of his forward reads “It would also be to the credit of those given to sustaining the officers’ version of military justice if, as a consequence of studying this book, they were to advance a more generous measure of compassion to the condemned, and to acknowledge the misery and grief simultaneously inflicted on the innocent families and dependents of the men whose names are recorded herein.”

It gives the impression that the book represents a complete list of those executed by the British Army. A plea of compassion for the men and recognition that their families were innocent victims of the war. Which they were.

However, not all Commonwealth Soldiers who were executed are listed in the book, at the memorial, or on the Commonwealth War Graves Registers. Which purports to list all those soldiers who died in the first World War regardless of how they died. It is as though they never existed. The books list only one man sentenced to death in Singapore. Private Chadwick, 1st Battalion King’s Own YorkshireLight Infantry. sentenced to death for cowardice on the22nd September 1914. His sentence was quashed. There is also a list of the number of executions by each offence.  55 Soldiers convicted of mutiny, 15 of whom were executed. At the back of the book, Appendix 2 p122, there  are the number of condemnations executions by Division. The final group of entries on the page is headed Dominion Forces and other Formations. The last entry is ” Indian Army  54 (Condemnations) 5 (Executions)” It is by no means complete. It does establish that at least in some cases Capital sentences in Singapore were recorded by the Army and also by the Indian Army. Further evidence is contained in the book British Army Mutineers 1914-1922 that sentences for Mutiny were recorded in Singapore in March 1915. Malay SG (States Guides) Bty Gnr Ahmad Sultan Singapore 11/03/15 3 years Penal Servitude for Mutiny, Commuted to 18 months imprisonment. He is one of four listed on p120.

So the others, the soldiers sentenced to death and executed? It is difficult to acknowledge their deaths, or the misery, grief and shame imposed on their families if we do not know who they are. It seems if you want to erase history, first delete their names.

Two Shot on the 23rd February. Notice by his excellency Brigadier General DH Ridout, These men were found guilty in the act of shooting at peaceful citizens and has been tried by a properly constituted Court Martial (1) These two men were executed in public at the rear of Banda Prison. They were executed by a firing squad of Scots soldiers. Two volleys were required to kill one of the men. After the execution  and the removal of the bodies,  some of the crowd rushed forward to search the blood soaked ground for  the bullets. (3) The nationality of the crowd, Singapore was as it is now a cosmopolitan country is not known. It is known that there was not a lot of disquiet amongst them on that day.

Two unknown were shot on the 28th February,  (2)

Now it is possible to name some of the others.

Dunde Khan, Chiste Khan, Rahmat Ali, Hakim Ali, and Abdul Ghani. Sentenced on 22nd March 1915.  The men along with others were marched out of Outram  Prison that afternoon. Just before 5:10 pm. The five condemned men were tied to posts and the verdict of the Court Martial was read out. in front of a well behaved crowd estimated at around 6,000 of mostly Asians by Major Hawkins. “These five men, Subadar Dunde Khan, Jemadar Chisti Khan, 1890 Havildar Rahmat Ali, 2311 Sepoy Hakim Ali, and 2184 Havildar Abdul Ghani have been found guilty of stirring up and joining a mutiny and are sentenced to death”

Moments  later Lieutenant Vyner of the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) gave the command. The firing squad of 25 men from the RGA commanded by Vyner and a sergeant fired. All five men executed slumped to the ground. From being marched to their execution posts  the whole proceedings had taken just a couple of minutes.(4)

On the 25th March 1915, 22 were executed. 2112 Naick Munshi Khan, 1933 Naick Zaffar Ali, 2463 Sepoy Mahomed Baksh, 2715 Sepoy Rahim Dad, 2462 Sepoy Suliman Khan, 1886 sepoy Nawab Khan, 2406 Sepoy Suliman, 2457 Sepoy Jamal, 2457 Sepoy Jamel, 2574 SepoyBahar Ali, 2819 Sepoy Shafi Mahomed, 2544 Sepoy Faiz Mahomed, 2770 sepoy Umrad Ali, 2885 Sepoy Suleiman, 3048 Sepoy Lai Khan, 2824 Sepoy Shamsuddin, 2997 Sepoy Said Mahomed, 2652 Abdul Ghani, 2649 Bashart, 2982 Sepoy Rafi Mohamed, 2904 Sepoy inayat. 2856 Sepoy Moman, and 3113 Sepoy Nur Mohamed.(5) As with the executions on the 22nd March,  the men were marched out of Outram Prison and tied to posts. The time was 5.25pm the order to fire was given at 5.30. This time the crowd numbered around 15,000 and consisted of Europeans as well as Asians. The firing part were 110 men from the Singapore Volunteer Corps. While the firing party was moving off Captain Fraser Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) examined each body. Several had to be finished off by a shot from a revolver. it is not known who fired the revolver. No other person was reported as accompanying Captain Fraser. There is at least one photograph of this execution. none of the men are wearing blindfolds. It is almost certain that no blindfolds were offered.

The Straits Times 3 April 1915 (6) list another six, 1905 Sepoy Ismail Khan, 1499, Sepoy Nathe Khan, 3051 Sepoy Nishan Ali Khan, 1754 Havildar Ibrahim Khan, 1352 Havildar Murid Khan, 2058 Sepoy Taj Mohamed Khan. All as in the previous cases tried in open court and executed in public in front of 1,000s.

Taj Mohamed was identified by a German prisoner of war detained at Tanglin Barracks. (6)

On the 19th April the Straits Times (7) gives the names of three more men executed. This time on the 17th April, Havildar Samand Khan, 2637 Lance Naick Feroz, and 2102 Lance Naick Fazel Ali.

Fazel Ali was badly wounded and he was shot inside the walls of Outram Prison. the other two men were executed outside in public. The two firing squads fired at the same time. No verbal order was given the executions were carried out on the lowering of a flag.(7)

In all 39 men were executed for their part in the Singapore mutiny, 38 shot and one hanged. The Imperial narrative describes the causes of the mutiny as dissatisfaction with their officers. Discontent over a promotion/rations, or a riot (8).  Anything but a rebellion. All soldiers deserve to be named on the Commonwealth War Graves Register regardless of how or why they died. it is a gross error of admission for the men of the 5th Light Infantry who died as a result of the mutiny not to be included. Regardless of whose side in the mutiny they were on.

These men were not suffering from Post Traumatic Stress when they mutinied.  Some but not all committed terrible crimes including murder, but so did some of the men pardoned and commemorated by the Shot At Dawn Memorial.  This article is not about righting wrongs or part of a lost debate over should those  executed be pardoned or not.  It is about fairness. If others are commemorated so should they. Religion or race should not be a factor. They were part of the British Indian Army. It is time to prove we commemorate all regardless of race or religion and do it.

If you think that it was a rebellion, remember this. They died for freedom-this I know those that bade them fight told them so.(apologies and thanks to WN Ewer  and his poem Five Souls)

(1) page 827 Secret documents on the Singapore Mutiny 1915 Dr TR Sareen

(2) page 826 Secret documents on the Singapore Mutiny 1915 Dr TR Sareen

(3) Japan Times 19th march 1915. Translation of which p 844.

(4) Straits Times, 23rd March 1915, p7 viewed on the web.

(5) Straits Times, 26th March 1915, p7 viewed on the web.

(6) Straits Times 3rd April 1915 page 10, viewed on the web

(7) Straits Times 19th April 1915 page 10, viewed on the web

(8) Introduction Secret documents on the Singapore Mutiny 1915 Dr TR Sareen

A Little Campaign Lost in A Great war.

In April 1915 an old man with a beard went to pay his land tax. Tired of waiting he went home and urged the peasants who looked up to him and admired him by following suit and doing the same. The event started a rebellion.

The place was Kelantan in Malaya. A new tax had been introduced in the Unfederated Malay States by the British. It was a “Land” Tax Land ownership would now be taxed. The tax was to replace the tax on produce. What the land produced and the quantity now no longer mattered. The new tax was not explained it was just imposed. On page 27 0f (7) Kheng, Cheah Boon points out  that John Maxwell the acting Colonial Secretary blamed  the Kelantan Government for not pointing out the differences and the benefits of Land registration. The Malay peasants around Pasir Puteh seemed to think it was an addition, not a replacement. Like people everywhere they were probably not happy about taxation but paid anyway. When a local worthy said basically, I’ve had enough, not waiting any longer to pay tax. I’m going home. People followed. On the 29th of April.(1)  A police serjeant Che Wan, was dispatched to arrest To’Janggut-the man with the beard and investigate reports of a planned attack on government buildings in Pasir Puteh.  To’Janggut then allegedly killed the police serjeant by stabbing him in  the neck with his dagger.(2) The attack on Pasir Puteh led by To’Janggut and Ungku Besar, a local feudal lord went ahead the next day.(3) The police station was raided and prisoners released. Some of the prisoners joined the rebels. Perhaps they were forced. Others just went home. Other government buildings were touched. someone then requested help from Singapore. the “Who” is not clear. So far we have looked at a brief overview of the initial events. Cheah Boon Kheng’s book, To’Janggut: Legends, Histories,and Perceptions of the 1915 Rebellion in Kelantan. does exactly what it says on the tin. We are left to make up our own minds. To’Janggut was a Muslim who had been to Mecca. Going to Mecca is one of the obligations of a Muslim. so the first question that arises is,”Was he radicalised?” Doubtful there seems to be no record of him being anything. he was wealthy. We know that because he went to Mecca. There were no cheap flights or boats back then. He  was though a landowner. For the first time, he now had to pay tax. Killing or at least being involved in the killing of the police serjeant would have put him on the wrong side of the law. Almost certainly he would have been hanged for this.  The next question that arises is, “Why did he kill the police serjeant?” The answer is how knows? Kheng’s book indicates it may have been for revenge. To’Jangget’s father had apparently run off with one of the Sultan’s concubines and, the Sultan had him killed. In all probability, To’Janggert had wanted to pay the land tax. It seems strange to have gone with the intention of not paying, and the police serjeant was killed during the arrest attempt.  So the next question is was this a riot or a rebellion? the involvement of Ungku Besar who was a feudal lord suggests it was a rebellion.

So why then? The attack was a few months after the Singapore mutiny which was quelled with the help of non-empire troops. Ungku Besar may have thought there were not enough British Troops in Singapore to spare and the 29th April was an opportune moment.

Who asked for help and why. The simple answer is only the Sultan could have asked for help. He could ask because the District Officer asked. The British Adviser “Asked” that would be tantamount to an order. Or the Sultan asked off his own bat. The next question is why? The Sultan would have had enough levies under his command to deal with a riot or minor rebellion. Perhaps the answer is the Sultan was hedging his bets. With the new land Tax the Sultan for the first time had to pay tax too. If there was the slightest chance of the rebellion succeeding he had more than anyone something to gain. With this in mind, he would have been quite happy for the Malays to think he had to ask for help. Farrer the political Office doest think the Sultan was implicated. ( Page 27 of (7) )

The British Response.

Ten planters (4) Messrs Templer, McPherson, Haughton, Stephens, Green, Belton, Gardner, Bone, Osbourne, and Dobson, joined together. along with the labourers from the Taku estate marched to hunt down some of the rebels. The group were armed with 4 guns, rifles, revolvers and parangs (a machete like, long knife) That night they marched fifty miles over one night and three mornings to intercept rebels they thought were heading to Kamuning. Returning disappointed that no one had had the chance to use their parangs.(4)Meanwhile, the wifes of the British officers were evacuated to Siam. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 29th May 1915 printed an article probably written by the Acting Colonial Secretary for the Straits Settlements John Maxwell on the 29th May 1915. 22 Malays and Sikhs had taken the earth road to Gunong from Kota Bahru to intercept rebels heading to Pasir Puteh but were recalled shortly after their arrival.This must have happened on or about the 30th April. The same article mentions the Tinggi estate bungalow owned by a Mr Marks had been looted. the only recorded wounding of a European was when a certain Mr Morrison stumbled on a beach and shot himself. This is also mentioned in the article.

The SS Calypso arrived with 250 Malay States Guides at Kota Bahru on the 5th May. The same day HMS Cadmas arrived off the coast and nearly 239 Officers and men from the RGA, RE and the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI) (6) plus 20 Malay policemen landed from her(5) and occupied Pasir Puteh.  The KSLI waited at Pasir Puteh for nearly two weeks before returning to Singapore,  waiting for the rebels to attack. It was an attack that never came. Page 71 of To’Janggut: Legends, Histories,and Perceptions (1)  mentions a Royal Navy Warship fired 4 inch shells over Pasir Puteh, circa  after anchoring off the coast near the mouth of the Semerak River. It is not known if this was HMS Cadman or exactly what date, or why,  this incident occurred.The rebels fought a series of Hit and Run engagements mostly with the Malay States Guides but no large-scale actions. On the 27th May the Malay States Guides attacked about 50 rebels and killed them all, including To’Janggut included. To’Janggut’s body was hauled to the banks of the Kelantan River and strung up by the ankles for the local people to see.(5) This battle is described in The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (6) as occurring on the 24th. Major Borton and a force of 60 Sikhs and 7 Europeans pursued 50-60 men to a village about 4 miles from Pasir Puteh. The men were able to take cover behind trees and fences. Major Borton’s force fought in the open from the padi-fields. The Major’s forced charged the Malays fled. Three bodies were picked up plus one wounded Malay. To’Janggut’s body was later buried just across the river from the site of where it was hung. Photographs still exist of the hanging and are easily found on the web.  The Campaign in Kelantan was over.

The Campaign was an Imperial sideshow. Largely ignored in the narratives of the Great War. Its significance is it was a successful counter-insurgency campaign in the jungles of South East Asia. The British Army was to spend over a third of the next hundred years fighting other counter-insurgency campaigns and wars in other parts of those jungles. 1928  Terengganu, 1942-45 WW2, 45-46 Vietnam, 45-46 Indonesia, 47-49 Sarawak, and 48-77 Malaya, to name a few.

More details of the politics of the rebellion can be found in. (7)

Notes, Sources, References.

(1) To’Janggut: Legends, Histories,and Perceptions of the 1915 Rebellion in Kelantan. from page 110,  By Cheah Boon Kheng (Web, https://books.google.com.my/books?id=2n6LhfSDVnwC&pg=PA114&lpg=PA114&dq=tok+janggut+The+attack+on+Pasir+Puteh+police+station+(1915)&source=bl&ots=F5FfIR2qYk&sig=wtyn9tpqa_FfRxNHkJ7N1X4GQ88&hl=en&sa=X&ei=bdljUo_xOYWJrQeXuYGwCg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=tok%20janggut%20The%20attack%20on%20Pasir%20Puteh%20police%20station%20(1915)&f=false.)

(2) other accounts claim the fatal wound was caused by a spear.  The dagger would have been a keris.This weapon is more likely as it was a weapon normally carried.

(3)page 110 To’Jangget :Legends…

(4) C M Hawksley phd Thesis, Administrative Colonialism Chapter 6. University of Wollongong 2001.

(5) http://www.christopherhalemedia.org/2012/06/some-early-rebels-against-british-rule/

(6) The Kelantan Outbreak The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 29th May 1915, page 10

(7)   Kheng, Cheah Boon. “Hunting Down the Rebels in Kelantan, 1915: The Sultan’s ‘Double Game'” Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 68, no. 2 (269) (1995): 9-32. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41493643.

Saying Goodbye to Joseph’s Dad and Ireland 1916.

Joseph Mallin was two and a half when he said goodbye to his dad in 1916. Joseph’s mum, granny, brothers, uncle, they were all there. His granny told Joseph’s dad she was proud of him. It takes a lot for a mother not to be proud of her son. Like many farewells, it was a tearful event. All knew they would not see Joseph’s dad again. Holding your loved ones and knowing it is for the last time must have been heartwrenching. It was the 7th May 1916/

Joseph’s dad was not going off to war. Nor was he dying of wounds. Joseph’s dad was not a soldier. He had been in the Army. He had served for twelve years in the Royal Scots Fusiliers. Joined up as a Boy Bandsman. After 12 years spent mostly in India. During which there was a spell in South Africa fighting the Boer.  Joseph’s dad had left the army as a serjeant.

Joseph’s dad had been tried by a British Army Court Martial two days earlier, on the 5th May.  There were three judges. Colonel E.W.S.K. Maconchy, Lieutenant Colonel A.M. Bent, and Major F. W. Woodward. Joseph’s dad was prisoner number Seventy-eight. He was charged with: 1) Did an act to wit did take part in armed rebellion and in waging of war against His Majesty the King, such an act being of such a nature as to be calculated to be Prejudicial to the Defence of the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy. 2) Did attempt to cause disaffection among the civilian population of His Majesty.

Found not guilty of the second charge. He was found guilty of the first charge and sentenced to death.  He was executed by firing squad sometime between 3.45 and 4.05 am on Monday 8th May 1916

Today we would call Joseph’s dad a terrorist, and a very important one at that. (1)

He was second in command of the Citizen Army, along with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, one of the predecessors of the IRA.

Prisoner 78 was one of 15 men executed as being leaders of the 1916 Rising in Dublin.

Up until the executions of the leaders, there seems to have been very little support for the rebellion in Ireland. -It was suppressed very quickly.

The executions changed all that. It turned the men into Martyrs. Martyrs become heroes in the popular psyche.  Frozen in time they are regarded much in the same way as the Rebel Alliance is in the Star War Films.  Underdogs fighting the technologically superior evil  empire.

The ideas behind the rising got turned into stone and stopped evolving.  you can’t have a conversation with, Marx  because Marx is dead. death is the point the individual’s ideas stop, but the words and actions live on.

When the leadership of an organisation is taken out you have no idea who is going to take over.  It is the middle that runs a war. The Top Directs. Without the middle, direction is lost. Without the Top the middle just promotes itself. Then the war just goes on.

In 1916 Britain won the 1916 Irish insurrection but ultimately lost the Republic, and the war continued for generations in the North.

References and notes

Joseph is Joseph Mallin, who is still alive and will be 103 years old tomorrow 13th September 2016

Joseph’s Dad was Michael Mallin

(1) In the Irish Republic, he is remembered as a “Freedom” Fighter. The difference between “Terrorist” and “Freedom” Fighter is down to are they shooting, or throwing bombs at you, or are they shooting or throwing bombs away from you.-If you are with them they are “Freedom” Fighters, if you are against them, they are terrorists.

(2) Charges and judges are from “The Secret Court Martial Records of the Easter Rising, by Brian Barton

(3) Information about Joseph and his dad is from various Web Sites

Isobel Esson #FWW #WWI

William Philip Esson is a dream to research. There is a Medal Card. He died, killed in action. A look at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Webpage gives yet more detail. Although he has no known grave. He was buried behind the lines. William is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial. The Commission’s website also reveals he was the father of Isobel M Esson. William married her mother,  Helen Stephen Rennie, in 1909. Sadly a typical story of the times. Young man, when you are sixty they are all “Young Men”, goes to war. Killed so close to the end. Another child grows up without their dad. Isobel was not yet 7 years old when her dad died. She lived near Strathdon in Aberdeenshire. A beautiful part of the world. William went to war at the beginning of January 1917. Isobel would have been 5 years old. Around February 1918 William managed to get home leave so he, hopefully, would have spent some time with his daughter.  There was another daughter, Helen Stephen. No mention of her on the Commission’s webpage, which is sad. Helen would have been 3 when their dad went off to France to fight in the Great War. Helen is mentioned in William’s service record, which also survives. There is also mention of Helen in de Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-18.  As yet I have been unable to find any more information about Helen.  Apart from Helen was named after her mother. Can not imagine how the family coped. Or what could be worse? That is where the stories of those killed in action usually end. we are left to imagine and contemplate.  For Isobel, it could not have got any more tragic. On the 19th September 1918 her dad was killed. Least we forget, although soldiers are never forgotten. Just two years and six days after her mother had died.

Helen Stephen Rennie died 13th September 1916. RIP.SDC10118Helen’s grave at Strathdon  (photo Peter Anderson)

Enlisting and Trains “Train Window Death” #FWW #WW1

“Train Window Death” A very recent tragedy. It reminded me of Private 2778 James “Jas” George, 2/6th Seaforth Highlanders death over a hundred years ago. Jas had his head out of the window chatting to friends in another carriage. The train was approaching Grantown-on-Spey when he hit his head on a viaduct. He died shortly afterwards at Ian Charles Hospital in Grantown-on-Spey. Jas was 31 years old with four children. He is buried in Elgin New Cemetery.

Mind you getting a train wasn’t that easy.

Andrew Simpson was killed a few weeks before Jas. He was on his way to enlist and was killed in a railway accident in Bulawayo, Rhodesia. Andrew is not on any memorial that I know of.

Another man who had problems getting to a train was Alexander Cumming.

Alexander was born at Baillieward, Grantown-on-Spey, 11th October 1883. The son of John and Isabella McMillan Cumming of Garth Green, Grantown-on-Spey. He was a student at the Grammar School in Grantown-onSpey. Alexander’s first job was as an apprentice clerk in Lord Elgin’s Estate Office in Dunfermline in Fife. Then he emigrated to Canada. Here he became a rancher in Alberta.  In 1915 Alexander decided to enlist. Easy, walk downtown and sign on the dotted line. Or get a bus or a train to the nearest city. Alexander decided on a train. So he walked. Well, when I say “walked” that was only part of the way to the station. He then boarded a raft. This brought him a bit closer. He still had a way to go. He did what any self-respecting rancher would do. he completed the last part of the 300-mile journey to his nearest railway station by bullock waggon. This was by no means the end of his journey to enlist. That was just to get to the station. Alexander then crossed the Atlantic and made his way to his parents and then on to Elgin. Here he enlisted. His travels were not over. The army sent him to Salonica. Salonica was the end of his journey. Private S/18408 Alexander Cumming died of illness on Christmas day 1916. He is buried in Salonica, at Lambert Road Military Cemetery. He is commemorated on Grantown-on-Spey War Memorial, Grantown-on-Spey’s Grammar School’s War Memorial, and a family gravestone in Cromdale Churchyard.

Jas, Andrew, and Alexander are all included in my book Poppies from the Heart of Strathspey