Let us remember the resilience shown by soldiers in the Great War

As we enter the month of December 2015, I remember my father who died 50 years ago on December 5.

Let us remember the resilience shown by soldiers in the Great War

Just 50 years before that, he was a soldier in the First World War. He joined the East Lancashire Reserve in August 1913.

He became a member of Battalion 2 of the East Lancashire Regiment and was sent to France to replace the casualties from that regiment in France.

He took part in the Battle of Loos in 1915 and was on trench duties until mid-1916.

He was deployed to Flanders next and from there was sent to the trenches on the Somme from March 1918 until Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.

Mustard gases were used for the first time in 1918 leading to terrible suffering before their deaths — may those times never come again.

Flamethrowers were also used against them on the Somme.

Records show that my father spent a single spell with the same regiment with no break for almost four years.

It is miraculous that he survived. He was honourably discharged when this battalion was dissolved in 1920.

He was a man who lasted a long time in a hard-fighting infantry battalion.

It has been suggested to me that he must have been in a role which gave him a marginalised improved prospect of survival. For example, he may have worked with the battalion transport which would have meant that he did not have to go over the top of the trenches.

He did have three minor wounds which were treated in the field hospital.

Jerry Lynch recorded that poignant song ‘Christmas 1915’ which tells of the truce in no-man’s land. However, that truce took place on Christmas Day 1914.

As we approach Christmas 2015 let us hate all war — while remembering with pride all the Irish men who fought in the Great War, especially those from Limerick and Munster.

Let us hope that we and I, his youngest daughter, will leave a legacy of decency, integrity, and hope for the future.

Therese [O’Farrell] Fennessy



Co Tipperary

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