Posts Tagged With: Midleton Veterans

The Story of Ambrose Haley: The World War One Australian Digger Buried in Midleton Graveyard

On 30th December 1918 a party of mourners were led by Canon O’Connor to an open graveside beside the main path at the Church of the Holy Rosary cemetery in Midleton. Those in attendance had walked to the church from the railway station at the other side of town, where they had met and formed a cortège behind a flag-draped coffin. The elm casket had been carried to the church by Timothy Murphy undertakers, who were based on the Main Street. Passers-by would have noted a number of unusual aspects to the funeral; the flag was not the Union Jack, as might be expected, but rather was adorned with the Southern Star. As well as that, the soldiers in attendance wore the slouch hat that marked them not as British troops, but men of the Australian Imperial Force. The young man in the coffin– Ambrose Augustine Haley– was laid to rest in the cemetery following a requiem mass. But he was not a local; indeed he had been born and raised on the other side of the world, thousands of miles away in Tasmania. How was it that he had come to be buried in East Cork? We decided to explore his story. (1)

Gunner Ambrose Haley (Australian War Memorial)

Gunner Ambrose Haley (Australian War Memorial)

Ambrose Augustine Haley was born to Thomas Haley and Mary Ann Haley (née Fox) on 7th December 1892 in Portland, Tasmania. Thomas worked as a clerk, and not long after Ambrose’s birth the family moved along the coast to St. Helens. There Thomas ended up working for J.C. Mac Michael & Co. General Merchants and Importers, who had branches in both St. Helens and Lottah. As Ambrose grew to adulthood he embarked on a career as an accountant, but also found time for more martial pursuits, spending a year in the cadets. (2)

Ambrose was not among the first rush of volunteers for service in the army; indeed he was not the first of his family to join the colours. His younger brother Jack enlisted in the recently formed 40th Battalion at Claremont, Tasmania on 8th March 1916. The 21-year-old shop assistant must have looked forward to heading to the seat of action, but he was to be disappointed. After just over a month Jack was discharged as medically unfit. The reason was the impaired vision he suffered in his left eye, the result of an accident with a whip when he was a child. Ambrose decided to take the plunge only a few months after his brother. On 7th November 1916, at the age of 23 years 11 months, the young accountant entered a Claremont recruiting office; when he emerged he was a gunner in the Australian army. The following year a third brother, Urban, would make the same journey. He enlisted on 23rd March 1917 at the age of 20– as he was under 21 his parents had to sign a permission slip for him to be deployed overseas. Thomas and Mary Ann consented, but his father stipulated that the consent was predicated on the fact that ‘he goes in a clerical position as promised by the Minister of Defence in the case of Military Staff Clerks.’ By this point in the war, everyone was aware of the risks. (3)

Australian artillerymen laying an 18 pounder at Maribyrnong in 1917 (Australian War Memorial)

Australian artillerymen laying an 18 pounder at Maribyrnong in 1917 (Australian War Memorial)

Ambrose spent the first few weeks of his service in Tasmania, before leaving his island home for what would prove the final time in January 1917. On the 9th of that month he sailed for the mainland, where he joined a pool of artillery reinforcements based at Maribyrnong near Melbourne. Here he waited for his deployment overseas while training continued. On 11th May Ambrose boarded the troop transport Ascanius, bound for Devonport, Plymouth. The young Tasmanian was off to join the Australian Imperial Force in Europe. The arduous journey to the other side of the world took more than two months, and Ambrose didn’t have a good time of it. He had to spend a day in the ship’s hospital en-route, and was no doubt delighted to finally arrive in England on 20th July 1917. (4)

The Ascanius which brought Ambrose to Europe (Australian War Memorial)

The Ascanius which brought Ambrose to Europe (Australian War Memorial)

It is difficult to imagine what it must have been like for the young Tasmanian arriving in England for the first time, but whatever his feelings, Ambrose was given little time to acclimatise. He was immediately whisked off to Larkhill in Wiltshire, home to the School of Instruction for Royal Horse and Field Artillery. For nearly eight weeks he continued his training as a gunner with No. 3 Battery, Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery, before word finally came that he was on the move again– this time to the Western Front. The 18th September 1917 found Ambrose in Southampton, boarding a vessel bound for France. (5)

Australian artillery in action in Passchendaele, October 1917 (Australian War Memorial)

Australian artillery in action in Passchendaele, October 1917 (Australian War Memorial)

In France Ambrose initially formed part of the 12th Reinforcements of the 15th Field Artillery Brigade, but within a few days he received his permanent assignment. He became a gunner in the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade, which formed part of the artillery compliment of the 1st Division, Australian Imperial Force. When he joined his new unit in Belgium on 5th October, they were in the midst of the bloody slog that was the Third Battle of Ypres, better known as the Battle of Passchendaele. Having spent months in training and traveling, Ambrose was finally at the front. It was not an environment he would experience for very long. (6)

Shell dump for Australian artillery at 'Birr Crossroads', near Ypres in October 1917, the mnth Ambrose was wounded © IWM (E(AUS) 1991)

Shell dump for Australian artillery at ‘Birr Crossroads’, near Ypres in October 1917– the month Ambrose was wounded © IWM (E(AUS) 1991)

Only six days after joining his unit, on 11th October 1917, Ambrose was shot in the left arm. He was rushed to 3rd Australian Field Ambulance at Wippenhoek, which was described as ‘an old and very well designed rest station to accommodate 300 cases.’ Among the facilities were a number of rudimentary buildings, including a hospital nissen hut and a small kitchen. Ambrose was one of 23 men admitted to the Field Ambulance on the 11th, which at the time was caring for 249 patients. (7)

Members of the 13th Australian Field Ambulance at Passchendaele © IWM (E(AUS) 839)

Members of the 13th Australian Field Ambulance at Passchendaele © IWM (E(AUS) 839)

From Wippenhoek, Ambrose was moved to the 17th Casualty Clearing Station. By the 12th October he was a patient in the 7th Canadian General Hospital at Étaples, the major depot area for British and Commonwealth troops in France. His long road to recovery was only just beginning. He was still in hospital in February 1918, four months after he was hit. Shortly thereafter it appears he had recovered sufficiently to be given some leave. It was probably at this time that Ambrose traveled to Ireland, although he may have done so when he initially arrived in Europe. The reason he visited is also the reason that would ultimately see him buried in the town. Midleton had been the home of Ambrose’s grandmother, Mary Josephine Lynch. Mary had apparently been one of the first pupils of Midleton’s Presentation Convent, before she emigrated to Colebrook, Tasmania in the mid-19th century. Ambrose’s mother Mary Ann Fox was her daughter. Apparently no fewer than six of Mary Josephine Lynch’s grandchildren and a son-in-law enlisted in the Australian military during World War One. According to the Irish Examiner, the same Midleton Lynch family also had men serving in the American army in France. Ambrose’s grandmother had lived on William Street (now the New Cork Road), and the young Tasmanian Digger still had Lynch relatives living there. The 1911 Census records them at No. 51, where 79-year-old Margaret Lynch resided with her daughters Helen and Elizabeth, granddaughter Eileen O’Sullivan and boarder Daniel O’Flaherty. Ambrose supposedly stayed in this house during his visit. (8)

Notification that Ambrose had been wounded in 1917 (Ambrose Haley Service Record)

Notification that Ambrose had been wounded in 1917 (Ambrose Haley Service Record)

Eventually recovered, Ambrose was finally able to rejoin his unit on 31st August 1918. However, the unfortunate young man’s front line service was to again prove brief. He reported sick on 27th September, apparently suffering from slight deafness, no doubt caused by the noise of the guns. On 29th September he was sent to the 1st Australian General Hospital in Rouen, before being shipped back to England aboard the Hospital Ship Essequibo on 2nd October. Ambrose finally ended up in the Graylingwell War Hospital in Chichester, where his condition continued to worsen. His parents, who had initially been informed that his condition was not serious, must have been shocked to receive a communication in Tasmania on 19th November that simply stated: ‘Now reported Gunner Ambrose Haley dangerously ill condition stationary further progress report expected.’ Ambrose’s brother Urban, who was serving as a Warrant Officer at Australian Imperial Force Headquarters on 130 Horseferry Road in London, likely tried to visit his stricken brother. It transpired that Ambrose’s body was ravaged with cancer; the disease had taken control of his pancreas lungs, spleen and ‘other organs.’ The 26-year-old Tasmanian succumbed to the illness on Christmas Day 1918. (9)

Notification of Ambrose's Death (Ambrose Haley Service Record)

Notification of Ambrose’s Death (Ambrose Haley Service Record)

So it was that five days later Ambrose’s brother Urban (who would soon receive the Meritorious Service Medal for devotion to duty during the period from September-November 1918) joined Australian Imperial Force representative Sergeant C.E. Hunkin in Holy Rosary cemetery, Midleton. The Haley’s Midleton relatives had offered their family grave as a final resting for their Tasmanian Digger cousin. One of those relatives– Timothy Christopher O’Sullivan– was of an age with Ambrose and probably attended the funeral. Less than three years later he would be the next person remembered at the plot, when he was killed while serving with the I.R.A. at the Clonmult Ambush on 20th February 1921, at the aged of 28. Military tragedy had not steered clear of the family for long. It is unlikely that Ambrose’s parents ever made it from Tasmania to Midleton to visit their son’s grave, but it must have given them some comfort to know that he rested with family. The story of their son, and that of the Lynches and O’Sullivans, is just one of thousands preserved in stone in the Midleton cemetery. (10)

The grave of Ambrose Augustine Haley in Midleton (Damian Shiels)

The grave of Ambrose Augustine Haley in Midleton (Damian Shiels)


Close up of inscription on the grave of Ambrose Augustine Haley in Midleton (Damian Shiels)

Close up of inscription on the grave of Ambrose Augustine Haley in Midleton (Damian Shiels)

(1) Irish Examiner, Haley Service Record; (2) Tasmanian Births, Ambrose Augustine Haley Service Record; (3) Ambrose Augustine Haley Service Record, John Marshall Haley Service Record, Urban Aloysius Joseph Haley Service Record; (4) Ambrose Augustine Haley Service Record; (5) Larkhill Camp, Ambrose Augustine Haley Service Record; (6) Ibid.; (7) Ibid., 3rd Australian Field Ambulance War Diary; (8) Ambrose Augustine Haley Service Record, Irish Examiner, 1911 Census of Ireland; (9) Ambrose Augustine Haley Service Record; (10) Ambrose Augustine Haley Service Record, Urban Aloysius Joseph Haley Service Record;

References

Irish Examiner 2nd January 1919. Southern Items

1414 John Marshall Haley Australian War Service Record

34423 Ambrose Augustine Haley Australian War Service Record

3441 Urban Aloysius Joseph Haley Australian War Service Record

3rd Australian Field Ambulance War Diary, October 1917

Diggers History: Larkhill Camp

Tasmanian Births in the District of Portland, 1892

1911 Census of Ireland, 51 William Street Midleton

Categories: 20th Century, World War One | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Commonwealth Wargraves in the Church of the Holy Rosary Graveyard, Midleton

We went to the main Catholic graveyard in Midleton to have a look at the Commonwealth Wargraves related to World War One and World War Two, and to see if we could find any details on the men themselves. Of course there are numerous military-related graves in the Church of the Holy Rosary cemetery, from the I.R.A. volunteers killed and executed following the Clonmult Ambush during the War of Independence, to veterans of the armies and navies of both Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Below are those men buried in Midleton who died while in British service, and who are recorded by the Commonwealth Wargraves Commission. We supply short biographies of each one, but are eager to uncover more detail on their lives from readers. One of these men, Tasmanian Ambrose Augustine Haley, will be the subject of a more detailed post over the weekend.

Shipwright 2nd Class William Froyne, HMS Roxburgh

William died of disease on 24th May 1915. He was 33 years of age and served aboard HMS Roxburgh, an armoured cruiser. He was the husband of Mary Froyne of 10 St. Mary’s Road, Midleton. William was originally from Kilmore, Co. Wexford, and had married Mary Ballick of Midleton.

Shipwright 2nd Class William Froyne, HMS Roxburgh

Shipwright 2nd Class William Froyne, HMS Roxvurgh

HMS Roxburgh (Image via Rootsweb)

William’s ship, HMS Roxburgh (Image via Rootsweb)

Mechanician Patrick Lynch, HMS Revenge

Patrick died at sea at the age of 35 on 10th November 1918, the day before the armistice. He was serving aboard the dreadnought HMS Revenge. Patrick was the husband of Norah Lynch of Avoncore Cottages in Midleton. He had been born in Carrigtohill on 28th December 1881.

Mechanician Patrick Lynch, HMS Revenge

Mechanician Patrick Lynch, HMS Revenge

Patrick's ship, HMS Revenge (Wikipedia)

Patrick’s ship, HMS Revenge (Image via Wikipedia)

Gunner Ambrose Augustine Haley, Australian Field Artillery

Ambrose died at the age of 26 on 25th December 1918. He was from Australia and served in the Australian Imperial Force. We have carried out research into Ambrose’s life, and what led to him being buried in East Cork. His story will be the subject of the next post on the site.

Gunner Ambrose Augustine Haley, Australian Field Artillery

Gunner Ambrose Augustine Haley, Australian Field Artillery

Able Seaman Peter O’Reilly, HMS Marlborough

Peter died of disease at the age of 30 on 12th February 1919. He was serving aboard the battleship HMS Marlborough. He was born in Killorglin, Co. Kerry; his father Edward was from Ballyera, Ballincurrig.

Able Seaman Peter O'Reilly, HMS Marlborough

Able Seaman Peter O’Reilly, HMS Marlborough

Peter's ship, HMS Marlborough (Image via Wikipedia)

Peter’s ship, HMS Marlborough (Image via Wikipedia)

Private Edward Hayes, 6th Connaught Rangers

Edward (sometimes referenced as Edmond) died at the age of 27 on 25th September 1919. He was the son of Mrs. Bridget Hayes, Upper Mill Road, Midleton. The 1901 Census showed that he grew up in Broomfield West with his mother Bridget, grandmother Norah O’Callaghan, aunt Julia, uncle Stephen and older brother Christopher. As yet we know little of Edward’s service. The 6th Connaughts served in France and Flanders with the 16th (Irish) Division from 1915-1918, taking particularly punishing casualties at engagments such as the German Kaiserslacht Offensive of March 1918.

Private Edward Hayes, 6th Connaught Rangers

Private Edward Hayes, 6th Connaught Rangers

Private William Bridgeman, Royal Army Ordnance Corps

William died on 26th October 1940. Born in Ireland, he lived in London before his enlistment. We currently know little regarding his service or death.

Private William Bridgeman, Royal Army Ordnance Corps

Private William Bridgeman, Royal Army Ordnance Corps

Sergeant Stephen Joseph Coleman, Royal Army Service Corps

Stephen died on 15th October 1942. He was 42 years of age and had also served in World War One. He was the son of Hannah Coleman of Midleton. We find them in the 1911 Census living at 5 Park Street, with Stephen’s father Thomas working as Town Watchman. Stephen was the eldest of six at the time; he had three younger sisters and two younger brothers. He served as a driver in the army.

Sergeant Stephen Joseph Coleman, Royal Army Service Corps

Sergeant Stephen Joseph Coleman, Royal Army Service Corps

Categories: 20th Century, World War One | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hanoverian Riflemen & Black Brunswickers: Midleton Barracks During the Napoleonic Wars

As this year is the 200th anniversary of Waterloo, our previous post looked at some Midleton men who served during the Peninsular War and at Waterloo. One of the reasons that many locals enlisted was the fact that they had a military barracks on their doorstep. During the Napoleonic Wars Midleton was teeming with soldiers of different nationalities, many stopping off on their way to and from the Iberian Peninsula where they were taking on French forces. We are very fortunate that the building these men were housed in still survives today- and forms a key part of what is now the Jameson Distillery. We have spent some time looking into the history of this Barracks, and some of the very interesting units that spent time there. 

The Barracks in Midleton with later attached waterwheel http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/34083)

The Barracks in Midleton with later attached waterwheel http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/34083

The barrack building within the Midleton complex did not spend long in army use. In fact it had already become a distillery by 1825, when it was purchased by the Murphy Family. It still forms a major part of the Jameson Experience tour, where visitors can view the impressive cast-iron waterwheel that dates to 1852. Neither did this building start life as a purpose-built army structure. It was constructed in 1793 to serve as a woollen mill, run by the Lynch family. With the renewed outbreak of war with France in 1803, and the army’s need for more accommodation around Cork Harbour, the mill was sold to the military. So began its brief but fascinating life as a military barracks. Remarkably, during the course of research, we discovered the original advertisement for the sale of the equipment from the Mill building, which you can see below. (1)

The Advertisement in the Cork Mercantile Chronicle of September 21st 1803 Announcing the Sale of Lynch's Equipment

The Advertisement in the Cork Mercantile Chronicle of September 21st 1803, announcing the sale of Lynch’s Equipment

We were interested in exploring just who served in Midleton during the conflict. In order to ascertain this with some degree of surety it would become necessary to travel to archives in locations such as the Public Record Office in Kew, to extract details concerning the British garrison in Ireland. This is (unfortunately!) currently beyond the scope of the project, but as an alternative we took to contemporary newspapers and a number of online sources to see if we could discover references to the types of troops stationed in the town. Although newspaper accounts have to be treated with caution, they nonetheless do give us an insight into the important military hub that Midleton became during this period. Indeed the first references to troops we come across relate to increased militarisation as a result of the 1798 Rebellion. To give a flavour of this information, we have created a table which chronologically lists the references we have uncovered:

Unit Date Details
Carlow Militia 1798 Stationed in Midleton (2)
Caithness Highlanders 1798 Public Meeting, 12 March, to express thanks to Regt for 2 years quartered there (3)
Barrymore Legion 1803 Entertained at Midleton’s Globe Inn following manoeuvres in the Deerpark of Castlemartyr (4)
96th Regiment 1804 No details (5)
62nd Regiment 1805 The regiment, quartered in Midleton, was to embark for foreign service. Convoy of HMS Narcissus, Sloops of War Favourite and Argus (6)
8th Regiment 1805 Marched from Cobh to Midleton, and embarked on transports at East Ferry (7)
50th Regiment 1805 Understood to be marching to Midleton from Clonmel (8)
German Regiments 1806 15 transports arrived in Cobh to take some of the German Regts, 2 battalions understood to be in Midleton, for embarkation to Gibraltar (9)
Hanoverian Rifle Corps 1806 The 2 battalions of Hanoverian Rifle Corps who had been at Tullamore are marching for Midleton where they will be quartered until transports arrive to take them with the 59th and 82nd Regiments, presently in Cork, for foreign service (10)
Donegal Regiment 1807 The remainder of the Donegal Regiment marched into Cork from Midleton (11)
26th Regiment, 3rd Battalion 1808 The 3rd Battalion of the 27th Regiment arrived at Midleton (12)
71st Regiment 1808 Quartered in Midleton (13)
27th Regiment 1808 3rd Battalion of 27th Regiment embarked at East Ferry from Midleton (14)
German Corps, Duke of Brunswick Oels 1810 Arrived from Jersey and Guernsey, light troops landed at Cobh and proceeded to Midleton (15)
Kerry Militia 1811 Earmarked to replace Longford Militia at Midleton (16)
Longford Militia 1811 To be replaced by Kerry Militia at Midleton (17)
Roscommon Militia 1813 Arrived in Cobh in ten transports from Plymouth, disembarked and marched to Midleton (18)
Londonderry Militia 1813 Marched into Cobh from Midleton to head for Ramsgate (19)
28th Regiment 1814 Reports 28th are ordered from Birr to Midleton preparatory to sailing for service in America (20)
34th Regiment, 2nd Battalion 1814 No details (21)
3rd West York Militia 1814 Marched into Cobh from Midleton to go to England (22)
26th Foot 1822 Stationed in Midleton (23)
Members of the King's German Legion, who were in Midleton in 1806, by Charles Hamilton Smith

Members of the King’s German Legion, who were in Midleton in 1806, by Charles Hamilton Smith

Some of the men station in Midleton even left an account of their views on the barracks and the town. Lieutenant Francis Simcoe of the 27th Regiment recorded in 1808 that ‘Middleton Barracks are much larger & handsomer than Enniskillen, the town very small & neat about 7 m. from Kilworth.’ (24)

The Totenkopf badge of the Brunswickers (Wikipedia)

The Totenkopf badge of the Brunswickers (Wikipedia)

Two of the units that stand out among those we know to have been quartered in Midleton are the Hanoverian Rifle Corps in 1806 and the Brunswick Corps of the Duke of Brunswick Oels in 1810. The Hanoverian Rifle Corps (who are the same unit as the ‘German units’ in the previous table entry) were better known as the King’s German Legion, an expatriate force of Germans who fought throughout the Napoleonic Wars and at Waterloo. The Brunswick men had fought in Germany from where they had fled in 1809, and were known as the ‘Black Brunswickers‘. They were passing through on their way to service in the Peninsula and ultimately Waterloo. Many of the other regiments of foot would later develop names that are familiar to us today- the 71st Foot were known as the Highland Regiment, while the 50th Regiment of Foot would become known as the ‘Queen’s Own’ later in the 19th century.

Brunswick Infantry in Action at Quatre Bras, 1815 by Richard Knötel

Brunswick Infantry in Action at Quatre Bras, 1815 by Richard Knötel

It is interesting to note that troops used Midleton as a staging area while heading to or returning from theatres such as the Peninsula. Also of note is that a number embarked from East Ferry; one can imagine the bustling route from Midleton to the Ferry, via the busy port at Ballinacurra- surely quite a sight during the Napoleonic Wars. This quick newspaper review offers us just a glimpse of the hidden history of the brief period when Midleton served as an important military base. There is little doubt that many other units were stationed here during this period, and that much historical detail remains to be uncovered. We hope to carry out more much more work on this in the future, and in the meantime would like to hear from any readers who can add to the story of Midleton’s Napoleonic Barracks. Although, as the table shows, military units would continue to use Midleton both before and after the Napoleonic Wars, the town would never again see the cosmopolitan military traffic that it grew accustomed to during the wars with France. Shortly after Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo, the British Army sought to reduce the number of barracks it held around the country. Although there is some evidence to suggest they may have initially considered keeping Midleton, ultimately it appears they decided to offload it, as the advertisement below suggests. By the 1820s it would become part of a new story, one that it still shares with locals and tourists alike today, as part of what would ultimately become one of the world’s major whiskey distilleries.

The Freemans Journal of 24th December 1816 which lists the intended sale of Midleton Barracks

The Freemans Journal ad of 24th December 1816, which lists the intended sale of Midleton Barracks

References

(1) National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Record; (2) Online History of Carlow Militia; (3) Aberdeen Journal 24th March 1800; (4) Cork Mercantile Chronicle 17th October 1803; (5) 96th Regiment of Foot, Wikipedia, drawing on National Archives records; (6) Belfast Newsletter 25th April 1805; (7) Finns Leinster Journal 11th May 1805; (8) Hibernian Journal 24th December 1805; (9) Belfast Newsletter 15th May 1806; (10) Caledonian Mercury 13th October 1806; (11) Hibernian Journal 8th July 1807; (12) Finns Leinster Journal 16th August 1808; (13) Online Record of Service of 71st Foot; (14) Mary Beacock Fryer 1996 “Our Young Soldier”: Lieutenant Francis Simcoe, 6 June 1791- 6 April 1812, pp. 95-6; (15) Freemans Journal 5th June 1810; (16) Freemans Journal 20th November 1811; (17) Ibid.; (18) Freemans Journal 30th April 1813; (19) Freemans Journal 3rd November 1813; (20) Centinel of Freedom 11th October 1814; (21) Online Record of Service of 34th Foot; (22) Freemans Journal 12th May 1814; (23) The Naval and Military Magazine, Volume 4, 1828, p. 56; (24) Fryer, op. cit.;

Categories: Nineteenth Century | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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