Category Archives: Ireland

CWG: Major Stafford Douglas

Major Stafford Douglas

Stafford Edmund Douglas was born on 4th January 1863, the second of four children to Stephen and Mary Douglas. Stafford came from a military family, his father having been a Captain in the Royal Navy. This led to a lot of travelling and, having been born in Donaghadee, County Down, he then moved to South Wales.

By the 1880s, when Stephen and Mary had set up home in Portsmouth, Stafford has started to carve out a career for himself, and was a Lieutenant in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, based at Edinburgh Castle.

Over the coming years, Lieutenant Douglas, who stood 5ft 8.5ins (1.74m) tall and also spoke French, travelled the world, serving in South Africa, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Hong Kong. By 1894 he had made Captain, and he finally retired in 1903, after nineteen years’ service.

On 29th April that year, at the age of 40, Stafford married Mary Louisa Harris. She was the daughter of an army colonel, and the couple wed in St George’s Church, Hanover Square, London. The couple set up home in Exeter, Devon, and went on to have two children – Violet and Stafford Jr.

At this point, Stafford’s trail goes cold. When war broke out in 1914, he was called back into duty, working as a Railway Transport Officer in Norwich. He continued in this role until 1919, before being stood down and returning home.

Stafford Edmund Douglas passed away on 15th February 1920, at the age of 57 years old, although no cause of death is immediately apparent. He was laid to rest in the Milton Road Cemetery in Weston-super-Mare, presumably where his family were, by this time, residing.

CWG: Corporal Cyril Allen

Corporal Cyril Allen

Cyril Starr Allen was born on 15th June 1891 in the village of Baughurst, near Tadley in Hampshire. He was the second youngest of five children to Charles and Martha Allen. Charles was a rate collector, and the family moved around the county during Cyril’s early years.

By the time Cyril left school, Charles had become an assistant bursar in Wootton, near Basingstoke. Cyril, meanwhile, had found similar administrative employment and was working as a clerk for a local land agent.

At the start of 1911, Cyril enlisted in the British Army. He joined the 4th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment as a Private and was soon based on Salisbury Plain. His service records confirm that he was 19 years and 7 months old, and stood at 5ft 5ins (1.65m) tall. Private Allen served for his initial term of four years, before being remobilised.

In November 1915, Cyril married Mabel Young. She was a printer’s daughter from Wiltshire, and the couple married in Salisbury, before settling down in Frome, Somerset. They went on to have a child, a daughter they called Kathleen.

Remobilised in the autumn of 1915 Private Allen received a series of promotions – to Lance Corporal, Corporal, Lance Sergeant and Sergeant, and, by June 1917, he found himself at the Front.

On 22nd April 1918, Cyril was injured, sustaining gunshot wounds to his shoulder and left arm. He was invalided back to England for treatment, and was hospitalised in the north of the country. He was then transferred to the Royal Welch Fusiliers with the rank of Corporal and sent to Ireland to continue his recovery and work light duties.

While in Ireland, Corporal Allen contracted influenza and was admitted to the Buttevant Hospital in County Cork. Sadly, in his weakened state, it was something he was to succumb to, and he passed away, with Mabel at his bedside, on 15th November 1918. He was just 27 years of age.

Cyril Starr Allen’s body was brought back to England; he was laid to rest in the graveyard of Christ Church in Frome, Somerset.

Corporal Cyril Allen (from

After the loss of her husband, Mabel went on to live her life. In 1923, she married James Burr, a draughtsman from Frome; they went on to have a child – a brother for Kathleen – called James.

Cyril’s two brothers, Winthrop and Charles, also fought in the First World War.


Winthrop had emigrated to North America in 1911, but returned to Europe as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force when war broke out.

Lance Corporal Charles Allen served with the 15th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. He fought on the Western Front and was killed near Kemmel Hill in Belgium on 4th September 1918. He was just 21 years old. Charles is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial in Zonnebeke, Belgium.

CWG: Greaser Humphrey Donoghue

Greaser Humphrey Donoghue

Humphrey Donoghue was born in Kerry, Southern Ireland, on 13th December 1859. He was the oldest of two siblings, boys to John and Mary Donoghue. John was a labourer who, by the time Humphrey’s younger brother was born, had moved the family to the village of Llantarnam in South Wales, presumably for work.

Humphrey seemed to be looking for adventure, and the trip across the Irish Sea may have been the spur for that. By the time of the 1891 census, he was recorded as being a Stoker on board HMS Tretis. This was a screw corvette ship which, on the day of the census, was plying the waters of the Pacific.

Sadly, full records of Humphrey’s life at sea are no longer available, so it’s not possible to track his progress over the following years. It would seem that he Stoker Donoghue persisted with his naval career, continuing through what would have been his initial twelve years’ service. Whether he had any breaks in that service is unknown, but he was certainly still serving – or had been called back into duty – by the time of the Great War. His gravestone confirms that was serving as a Greaser – maintaining the engines – on HMS Achtaeon.

The next available document for Humphrey is the record of his death. He passed away on 26th February 1917, at the Royal Naval Hospital in Chatham, Kent, having been admitted there with pneumonia. He was 57 years old.

Humphrey Donoghue was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, close to the Naval Dockyard where he may have been based.

CWG: Stoker 1st Class Christopher Hickey

Stoker 1st Class Christopher Hickey

Christopher Hickey was born on Christmas Eve 1891, in Wicklow, Southern Ireland. Full details of his early life are not available, but his mother was called Mary and he had at least one sibling, a sister called Catherine.

When he left school, he worked as a gardener but, when the war broke out, he enlisted, joining the Royal Navy on 5th November 1915. His enlistment records show that he stood 5ft 6ins (1.67m) tall, had brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion.

Stoker 2nd Class Hickey received his initial training at HMS Pembroke, the shore establishment at the Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. In February 1916, he was assigned to HMS Champion, a cruiser that, during his time on board, served as a flagship during the Battle of Jutland that summer.

Christopher returned to HMS Pembroke in November 1916, having been promoted to Stoker 1st Class. He served there until the following March, when he was admitted to the local Naval hospital with pyaemia (or sepsis). Sadly, this proved too much for his body to take and he died on 20th March 1917 at the age of 25 years old.

Christopher’s body was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, not far from the base at which he had served.

Interestingly, the Irish Memorial Records for the Great War confirm Christopher’s passing, but give the cause of death as ‘died of wounds’, although I have been unable to find anything else to corroborate this. It may be that sepsis set after he was wounded, but it is reasonable to assume that full details will remain lost to time.

CWG: Stoker 1st Class James Duffy

Stoker 1st Class James Duffy

James Albert Duffy was born on 21st May 1888 in the town of Monaghan, Ireland. The son of Francis and Elizabeth Duffy, he was one of ten children. Francis was a policeman, but James took up plastering when he left school; by the time of the 1911 census, the family had left Monaghan and moved to Belfast.

War was coming, and James received his call up in March 1916. He joined the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class; his service record shows that he stood 5ft 5ins (1.65m) tall and had fair hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion.

After two months’ training at HMS Pembroke in Chatham, Kent, Stoker Duffy was assigned to HMS Chatham, a cruiser that served in the Mediterranean. He spent eighteen months on board, and was promoted to Stoker 1st Class for his service.

At the end of 1917, James returned to Chatham Dockyard. While there, he fell ill, and was admitted to the Naval Hospital in the town. Sadly, while in hospital he passed away, having suffered a cerebral abscess. He died on 29th January 1918, aged just 29 years old.

James Albert Duffy was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, not far from the dockyard at which he had been based.

CWG: Leading Stoker John Madden

Leading Stoker John Madden

John Joseph Madden was born in Cork, Eire, on 13th August 1894, one of ten children to John and Mary Madden. John Sr was a jarvey – or coach/cab driver – while his son found work as a messenger boy when he left school.

John Jr wanted bigger and better things, however, and so, on 26th June 1913, at the age of 19, he left Cork for a life in the Royal Navy. Joining up as a Stoker 2nd Class, his initial posting was at HMS Pembroke, the shore-based establishment at the Naval Dockyard in Chatham. After five months’ training there, he was assigned to HMS St George for his first posting.

Over the next few years, Stoker Madden served on five different vessels, rising through the ranks to Stoker 1st Class, and Leading Stoker. His final ship was HMS Conquest, which he boarded on 1st April 1916. The cruiser served in the North Sea and was damaged by a shell during the German raid on Lowestoft just weeks after John came on board.

HMS Conquest was involved in a number of other skirmishes during Leading Stoker Madden’s time on board, On 13th June 1918, while on patrol, she struck a mine, and was badly damaged. Seven of those on board, including John, lost their lives in the incident. He was just 23 years of age.

The ship sailed back to the Naval Dockyard in Chatham; John Joseph Madden was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham.

CWG: Able Seaman John Hannon

Able Seaman John Hannon

John Hannon (or Hannan) was born on 9th November 1885, in the Cork village of Ladysbridge. He was one of ten children to labourer Michael Hannon and his wife, Kate.

Given his proximity to the coastal port of Cork, it is no surprise that John sought adventure on the high seas. In May 1903, he joined the Royal Navy as a Boy, and served on HMS Black Prince. His enlistment papers gave his height as 5ft 4ins (1.62m), and recorded that he light brown hair, blue eyes and a sallow complexion. He also had a tattoo on each wrist.

As soon as he turned eighteen, on 9th November 1903, he was formally signed up, and given the rank of Ordinary Seaman. Over the next eighteen months, he served on two more ships – HMS Minotaur and the training ship HMS Boscawen – and was promoted to Able Seaman in August 1905.

John’s naval career continued apace up until the Great War. When hostilities broke out, he was assigned to HMS Tiger, and served on the ship at the Battles of Dogger Bank (1915) and Jutland (1916).

At the start of 1918, Able Seaman Hannon was transferred to HMS Hindustan; this was one of the many ships that supported the Zeebrugge Raid on the 23rd April. The plan was to scuttle a number of ships in the entrance to the Zeebrugge Canal in Belgium, thus preventing the German Navy from launching into the North Sea.

Over 1700 men were involved in the raid and heavy fighting left close to 300 sailors dead, with a similar number wounded. Sadly Able Seaman Hannon was one of those to lose their lives in the battle. He was just 32 years old.

John Hannon’s body was brought back to England; he was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, close to the Naval Dockyard in Chatham that he had occasionally called home.

CWG: Stoker 1st Class James Kilmartin

Stoker 1st Class James Kilmartin

James Kilmartin was born on 24th June 1894, one of four children to James and Mary Kilmartin. James Sr was a farmer from Tobercurry in County Sligo, and this is where he raised his family.

When he left school, James Jr helped his father out on the farm, but by the time he was 22, war was raging in Europe and he received his call-up papers. He joined the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class on 11th April 1916 and was sent to England for training.

After initially being based at HMS Pembroke – the shore-based establishment at the Naval Dockyard in Chatham – Stoker Kilmartin was assigned to HMS Greenwich. He served on board for nine months, during which time he was promoted to Stoker 1st Class.

James’ next assignment was on board HMS Bacchante, where he spent two years, through the Armistice and beyond. Returning back to HMS Pembroke in February 1919, he fell ill, contracting bronchial pneumonia. Admitted to hospital, the condition sadly got the better of him, and he died on 24th February 1919, aged just 24 years of age.

James Kilmartin was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham, a short walk from the dockyard at which he had been based.

Tragically, less than two weeks after James died, his brother Michael, also passed away, at home in Tobercurry. While I have been unable to locate any specific documentation around military service, it seems likely that he too would have been in some way involved in the conflict.

CWG: Stoker 2nd Class William Bonham

Stoker 2nd Class William Bonham

William Bonham was born in Abbeyleix, Queen’s County (now County Laois) on 6th September 1895. One of ten children, his parents were labourer John Bonham and his wife Mary.

Little information about William’s early life is available; when he left school, he found work as a railway porter, but when he was 23, with war having be raging across Europe, he received his enlistment papers.

William joined the Royal Navy on 13th October 1918, and set sail for England. Assigned the role of a Stoker, he was sent to HMS Pembroke – the shore-based establishment at the Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – for training. Less than eight weeks later, however, he was dead.

Stoker Bonham had contracted pneumonia that winter, and died at his home in Chatham on 12th December 1918. He was just 23 years old.

William was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham.

CWG: Bombardier Daniel Mcauley

Bombardier Daniel McAuley

Daniel Mcauley was born in Belfast in around 1883, one of six children to John and Margaret Mcauley. John was a farmer, and when Daniel – who was named after his uncle – left school, he found labouring work to help the family bring in an income.

In January 1909, Daniel married Annie Fittis, the daughter of a linen tenter (stretching cloth on a loom while it was drying and maintaining the machines). The couple had had a son, John, eighteen months before, and would have another child, Sarah, later that year.

The 1911 census for Northern Ireland found the young family living with Annie’s mother and two sisters in Dayton Street, near the middle of Belfast. Annie and her sisters were working as flax spinners, while Daniel was a labourer. Tellingly, the document lists inhabitants’ religion – Daniel is the sole Roman Catholic amongst a family of Presbyterians.

War was coming to Europe, and Daniel was called on to do his bit. Sadly, full details of his military service was not available, but what is clear is that he enlisted as a Bombardier in the Royal Field Artillery towards the end of 1914. He was shipped to England, and barracked in Somerset, near Frome.

Sadly, the next evidence of Daniel’s life comes in a wealth of newspaper articles that report on the accident that led to his death.

One soldier was killed and another seriously injured as the result of a horse attached to a Royal Field Artillery wagon bolting at Frome Saturday morning. The wagon was on its way to the stables when the horse got out of control and ran along Christ Church Street West.

One man, who was riding in the wagon, in jumping clear was seriously cut about the head and body, and was taken to the hospital. The other, Bombardier Daniel MacAulay, belonging to Glasgow [sic], remained in the wagon trying to pull up the horses, but the vehicle swerved across the road and he was thrown out, his head coming into contact with a street lamp.

He was taken to the hospital on the police ambulance, but died before admission. He was a married man, about 34 years of age, and was to have gone on leave Saturday in order to visit his sick child. In the morning he received a letter form his wife saying that the child had been seriously ill and had gone blind.

Mr Douglas Mackay, deputy coroner, held an inquest at Frome on Tuesday on the body of the deceased. The verdict was “Accidental death.”

Shepton Mallet Journal: Friday 19th March 1915

Other newspapers reported similarly, a couple staring that Daniel was father to three children. There is no evidence that this was the case and, given that all of the reports state that he came from Scotland, when he was Irish, it is likely that this too was an error. Each newspaper give variations of the spelling of his surname too, evidence that spelling was often at the mercy of the person documenting it, even in the media.

Daniel was buried in Somerset and Annie travelled to England to attend the funeral. Again, newspaper reports suggest that Daniel’s brothers also attended, although he had only one male sibling.

Bombardier Daniel Mcauley died on 13th March 1915, aged around 33 years old. He was laid to rest in the Vallis Road Burial Ground in Frome, also known as the Dissenters’ Cemetery (for those who did not follow the English Protestant faiths.

McAuley (McCauley), Daniel, Bombardier, Royal Field Artillery, 7 Wall Street Belfast, Died, March 1915