County Louth Servicemen in the Great War 1914 -1918
Early 20th century views of Dundalk Barracks
If Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, in an effort to put as much distance between himself and his Irish origins, ever actually maintained that being born in a barn did not make one a horse, by the same criterion being born in Co Louth does not make one a Louth man or woman. Louth had a large transient population at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century made up of industrial, commercial and agricultural labourers, also soldiers and policemen, who stayed for relatively short periods, had children, and then moved along elsewhere. Realistically their connection with County Louth was tenuous and temporary, however the demands of army enlistment required that the place of birth of each recruit should be recorded, and it is on that criterion that many names are included. Conversely, by accident rather than design, men may be excluded who were born elsewhere but established themselves in the county, raised families and still have direct descendants in Louth. There are also, particularly in the Drogheda area, those whose postal address may have been in Louth, but in fact lived in Co Meath, like Major Francis Cairnes or Captain Thomas Cairnes of Stameen, whose family was enmeshed with the business and social life of Drogheda and County Louth, and continued to be for decades. Inclusion of such people in this list might have some reaching for the smelling salts, but arguing about inclusion can become an exercise in pedantry; the objective of this list is not only to commemorate but also to highlight the impact that the War had on the community in general, and communities are not conveniently defined by county boundaries.
These so-called outsiders form only a small portion of the overall. I have begun to use online resources to flesh out the original information: so far I have tackled A to C. Of the 347 names in that group, 10 are non-resident or have no connection with County Louth; 58 have no address indicated; 140 have been confirmed by census returns or enlistment declarations to have been born in or resident in Louth; unconfirmed addresses are given for 139.
The origins of this nominal list lay in the research undertaken for my book The Unreturned Army, County Louth Dead of the Great War 1914-1918. In all 816 local fatalities were identified and I also recorded approximately 1,400 other servicemen from Co Louth who were serving in various branches of the armed forces. While the dead were remembered in my book, those who survived were not. This list is an attempt to record those who served and survived, and it is not exhaustive.
There are three major sources. Firstly there were casualty lists, which were published each week in the local newspapers. Secondly, local contemporaneous publications have been important sources of information. For example, the Drogheda Advertiser in the early months of 1916 published on a weekly basis an alphabetical list of men from Drogheda and its environs, then serving in the armed forces. One version of this list, that of 22 January 1916, has been published in the Journal of the Old Drogheda Society (JODS) 1996 under the title ‘Drogheda men who went to war’. The information published here was drawn from the list published in the Drogheda Advertiser of 15 April 1916. Tempest’s Annual, a Dundalk business directory, published lists annually of servicemen from the Dundalk region of Co Louth, which has also been drawn on extensively.
Thirdly has been recent local research, such as that carried out by Lynn McDonnell of Drogheda who compiled War Service list from St Peters (C of I), for the JODS, 2000. I am very grateful to Lynn for her permission to include this material, and for her enthusiasm for this project.
Having said that there are some on the list whose links to Louth are lost to me – for instance Malcolm K Acheson or B R Anderson – but I justify their inclusion here by the fact that they originally appeared on contemporaneous lists.
Information from the attestation papers of some 100 County Louth-born volunteers or conscripts to the Canadian Army is now included. Being attested did not necessarily mean acceptance into the forces, there is plentiful evidence elsewhere of recruits being discharged within days or weeks of attestation due to unsuitability. I have not included details of height, eye colour, chest measurements and tattoos, for space reasons. This information is available without charge, online from the Canadian National Archives website. Library and Archives Canada will also copy military service records at reasonable cost if you wish to know more about individual recruits. Also included are service records details of some 60 Australian servicemen with Louth connections that can be read in full in the National Archives of Australia website.
This list is an evolving project. If you are aware of someone who should be added, please contact me at Louthgreatwar@gmail.com . I am extremely grateful to those who have contacted me with suggestions, amendments and new information.
Finally, there are still a few copies of The Unreturned Army available for details contact me at Louthgreatwar@gmail.com for details.
1 October 2012
Biographies are in alphabetical order over the next four pages: