Magheramason Presbyterian Church
Victoria Road
Magheramason
Londonderry
BT47 2RX


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In grateful memory of the Men of the Congregation of Magheramason who lost their lives in the service of their country in the Great War of 1914-1918, and of their comrades who returned, having done their duty manfully

The War Memorials and Roll of Honour of MAGHERAMASON Presbyterian Church bears the following names of those who Fell and of those who served in the two World Wars.

Home

A burst of sudden wings at dawn,

Faint voices in a dreamy noon,

Evenings of mist and murmurings,

And nights with rainbows of the moon.

And through these things a wood-way dim,

And waters dim, and slow sheep seen

On uphill paths that wind away

Through summer sounds and harvest green.

This is a song a robin sang

This morning on a broken tree,

It was about the little fields

That call across the world to me.

Belgium July, 1917

 

This poem is by Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge who died in battle at Pilchem Ridge on the 31st July 1917 as the Allied lines held in the final stages of the German Spring Offensive of that year. Francis, 29 on his death, was the son of Patrick and Anne Ledwidge, of Slane, Co. Meath. He was a prolific poet noted for his pastoral pieces about Ireland; his last poems made subtle reference to war.

Francis was attached to the 5th Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he died, having originally enlisted with the 1st Bn and served in Ebrington Barracks, Londonderry. He wrote this two weeks before his death. He lies now in grave II. B. 5. ARTILLERY WOOD CEMETERY, near where he fell.

He was a friend and protege of Captain The Lord Dunsany, also of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who survived the war and ensured that the poems of Francis Ledwidge were published. Francis lies now in grave II. B. 5. ARTILLERY WOOD CEMETERY, near where he fell.

Lance Corporal Ledwidge was of course thinking of his home near Slane as he wrote this poem. He had noticed that the birds continued singing through the mayhem of battle.

And five young men of the Congregation of Magheramason would leave the fertile valley of the River Foyle, never to hear the birds singing in the “little fields” of their homeland again.

They were;

Sapper Joseph Dougherty Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Private Robert Hamilton Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Private Samuel Mitchell. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Private Joseph Montgomery Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Private Robert McKinlay Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

This is the story of Sapper 545 Joseph Dougherty, who died in The Great War while serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Joseph Dougherty died in a UK hospital on 4th Jan 1918 as a result of injuries received in battle.

Joseph was born on 28th Sept 1883, to William and Jane, nee’ Thompson, at their home at Upper Tully, near Newbuildings, County Londonderry. In his early years he had worked as a general farm labourer around local farms. It is possible that his work would have included time on one of the four railway yards around Londonderry at that time.

Joseph emigrated to Canada a short time before war was declared on 4th Aug 1914. He left his wife and four children behind, presumably intending to settle in employment before they would join him. Lizzie, his wife, lived at Bready Post Office, then at Tamnakeery, Bready. She may possibly have been the Postmistress. The children were William, Jeanie, David, and Annie. They were, respectively,12, 10, 8, and almost seven when their father died.

Sapper Joseph Dougherty enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Toronto on 3rd May 1915. He is described as 6ft tall, of good health and physique, with blue eyes and brown hair. He received the necessary inoculations and vaccinations in a matter of days and was posted to a unit of the Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps. (This suggests some knowledge of railway working). He departed Canada by troopship on 14th June 1915 and arrived in England on 25th June 1915. His unit immediately began intensive training for their role as railway engineers and construction workers.

Joseph seems to have been an average soldier of the time. In March 1916 he received 28 days Field Punishment for being drunk at 5.30 pm, and also spent a few days in hospital having treatment for haemorrhoids. Otherwise he appears to have been fit and healthy

In late October 1917 Joseph received a gunshot wound to the left leg while working near Hazebrouk, causing a severe fracture of the Tibia. He was evacuated through 53 Canadian Casualty Station and 63 Field Ambulance, and eventually on 2nd Nov 1917 back to England and Frodsham Auxiliary Hospital in Cheshire. The decision was made to amputate and Joseph was transferred to 1st Western General Hospital, at Fazakerly, Liverpool. This was a primary hospital in the UK Military medical system. The leg was amputated on 5th Nov 1917, apparently successfully, and Joseph was transferred to a ward to recuperate.

However, by early January he was deteriorating. He died on 4th Jan 1918. The Post Mortem indicated the onset of Diphtheria and Tetanus.

It was the practice of the War Department then for a death from wounds in the United Kingdom to offer the next-of-kin (his wife in this case) the option of a burial in a Military Cemetery near the hospital in which he died, or having the casualty shipped as cargo to a railway station near his home. Lizzie would have asked for the latter. While the War Department would bear most of the cost of this some expense would be borne by the family. Joseph’s body was sent by train to the docks, by ship to Belfast, and from there to Waterside Station.

Joseph, whose family worshipped at the nearby Magheramason Presbyterian church, was interred in Grange Old Graveyard near Bready in County Tyrone, now Northern Ireland. It is not known if there was a military presence.

In due course the Commonwealth (then Imperial) War Graves Commission erected on his grave the grave marker of a style so familiar to most of us. It is of locally hewn slate*, not the more recognisable Portland stone. He is believed to be the only soldier of recent centuries buried there.

This is his grave.

Joseph Dougherty, you travelled many miles in search of a better life for yourself and your family, you answered the call of the mother country in its time of need and, having done your duty, lie now in the land of your birth forever.

(*It is not unusual to find Commonwealth War Grave headstones of material other than the better known Portland limestone of the battlefield cemeteries of the Western Front.

There are graves of the Fallen (generally those who died of their injuries after returning to the UK), to be found in Churchyards and public cemeteries all around the British Isles. The grave marker, while identical in every other way, may be hewn from local stone. And the material would often bear some regional significance. For example grey granite, sometimes with rough-cut edges, will be found in Scotland, sandstone and granite appears in many parts of England, and slate and granite is common in Wales and Ireland).

Private Robert Hamilton was the son of Robert and Catherine Hamilton, nee McCrea, of Cloughogle, Bready. He had emigrated to Canada before 1911 and was hoping to find work and to forge a future in the wide open spaces of Alberta. When the call came he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and returned to Europe as a soldier of C Coy 49th Bn (Edmonton Regiment) of the CEF. He died at the age of 28 on 5th June 1916 in the Battle of Mont Sorrel and the struggle for mastery of the area around Hill 62. The Canadian Corps once again proved in a few short days their warrior spirit.

Robert, born at Dunalong on 3rd April 1989, has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the Missing, on panel 24/28/30

The Canadian Memorial at Hill 62 is signposted and accessible from the Menin Road. This is on Tor Top, right in the middle of the Mount Sorrel battlefield, and the views across to Ypres will explain why this position was so important to hold.

Between 2 June and 14 June 1916, the Canadian Corps lost a total of 73 officers and 1053 other ranks killed; 257 officers and 5010 other ranks wounded; 57 officers and 1980 other ranks missing, a total of 8430.

Private Samuel Mitchell, serving with 1st Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died from wounds on 15th October 1918. He was 37 years old. Samuel was the son of David and Annie Mitchell, of Craigtown, Cullion and the husband of Elizabeth, nee Curry, also of Craigtown. Samuel and Margaret had two daughters, Margaret, ten when her father died, and Letitia, seven in 1918.

Samuel is interred in Dunhallow ADS Cemetery, in grave IV.F.4. Dunhallow was an Advanced Dressing Station just behind Allied lines in West-Vlaanderin, Belgium.

Duhallow Advanced Dressing Station, believed to have been named after a southern Irish hunt, was a medical post 1.6 kilometres north of Ypres (now Ieper). The cemetery was begun in July 1917 and in October and November 1918, it was used by the 11th, 36th and 44th Casualty Clearing Stations. The cemetery contains many graves of the artillery and engineers and 41 men of the 13th Company Labour Corps, killed when a German aircraft dropped a bomb on an ammunition truck in January 1918, are buried in Plot II. After the Armistice, the cemetery was enlarged when graves were brought into this cemetery from isolated sites and a number of small cemeteries on the battlefields around Ypres. Special memorials commemorate a number of casualties known to have been buried in two of these cemeteries, Malakoff Farm Cemetery, Brielen, and Fusilier Wood Cemetery, Hollebeke, whose graves were destroyed by shellfire. There are now 1,544 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery, 231 of the burials unidentified. There are also 57 war graves of other nationalities, mostly German, and one Commonwealth burial of the Second World War, which dates from the Allied withdrawal ahead of the German advance of May 1940.

Pte Joseph Montgomery, son of William Montgomery and his wife Mary, nee Love, of Gortmesson, Bready died, probably of wounds received earlier, on 5th December 1917 at the age of 22. He is interred in Ramleh War Cemetery, Tel Aviv, in grave H.49. He was serving with 6th Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, in 10th Irish Division. At the time Robert died the Division, part of XX Corps, was steadily driving the Turkish Army back in the battle described as “The Capture of Jerusalem”. Joseph had two younger siblings, George and Margaret.

The cemetery dates from the First World War, when Ramleh (now Ramla) was occupied by the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade on 1 November 1917. Field Ambulances, and later Casualty Clearing Stations, were posted at Ramleh and Lydda from December 1917 onwards. The cemetery was begun by the medical units, but some graves were brought in later from the battlefields and from Latron, Sarona and Wilhema Military and Indian Cemeteries.

During the Second World War, this cemetery was used by the Ramla Royal Air Force Station and by various Commonwealth hospitals posted in turn to the area for varying periods.

RAMLEH WAR CEMETERY contains 3,300 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 964 of them unidentified. Second World War burials number 1,168. There are also 892 war graves of other nationalities from both wars, and 525 non-war burials, many from the RAF and garrison stations that were at Ramleh in the inter war years and until the end of the British Mandate in Palestine in 1948.

Within Ramleh War Cemetery will be found:

The RAMLEH 1914-18 MEMORIAL, erected in 1961 to commemorate more than 300 Commonwealth, German and Turkish servicemen of the First World War who lie buried in cemeteries elsewhere in Israel where their graves could no longer be maintained. Only 74 of the casualties are named.

The RAMLEH 1939-45 MEMORIAL, commemorating 28 Jewish and non Arab servicemen of the Second World War, and six non-war casualties of the Palestine Police Force, who lie buried in cemeteries elsewhere in Israel where their graves could not be maintained in perpetuity.

Private Robert McKinlay, serving with 11th Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died on 20th November 1917. He was 22 years old. Robert was the son of Thomas and Emma (or Emily) McKinlay, of Ardmore, Cullion. The McKinlay family were living at Desertone in 1911. Robert, who had six siblings, is described as an agricultural labourer.

Robert died in the opening hours of the Battle of Cambrai. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, at Louverval, on the Bapaume to Cambrai road.

The CAMBRAI MEMORIAL commemorates more than 7,000 servicemen of the United Kingdom and South Africa who died in the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 and whose graves are not known.

Sir Douglas Haig described the object of the Cambrai operations as the gaining of a 'local success by a sudden attack at a point where the enemy did not expect it' and to some extent they succeeded. The proposed method of assault was new, with no preliminary artillery bombardment. Instead, tanks would be used to break through the German wire, with the infantry following under the cover of smoke barrages.

The attack began early in the morning of 20 November 1917 and initial advances were remarkable. However, by 22 November, a halt was called for rest and reorganisation, allowing the Germans to reinforce. From 23 to 28 November, the fighting was concentrated almost entirely around Bourlon Wood and by 29 November, it was clear that the Germans were ready for a major counter attack. During the fierce fighting of the next five days, much of the ground gained in the initial days of the attack was lost.

For the Allies, the results of the battle were ultimately disappointing but valuable lessons were learnt about new strategies and tactical approaches to fighting. The Germans had also discovered that their fixed lines of defence, no matter how well prepared, were vulnerable.

The memorial stands on a terrace at one end of LOUVERVAL MILITARY CEMETERY. The chateau at Louverval, was taken by the 56th Australian Infantry Battalion at dawn on 2 April 1917. The hamlet stayed in Allied hands until the 51st (Highland) Division was driven from it on 21 March 1918 during the great German advance, and it was retaken in the following September.

COMMUNAL CEMETERIES, CONCENTRATION CEMETERIES, and COLLECTIVE GRAVES

It was not unusual for casualties of war to be interred in civilian cemeteries. This could happen after a minor battle or engagement. If no military cemeteries were in the vicinity casualties would be interred in the local graveyard. Although many of these were moved to Concentration Cemeteries after the Armistice considerable numbers were left in their original resting places. Ailly-Sur-Somme is one such communal cemetery.

A Concentration Cemetery is a formal military cemetery to which small scattered burial plots and individual graves were brought by special teams who, after the Armistice, searched the battlefield for temporary burials.

Every combatant nation endeavoured to give each casualty some form of recognition. The fallen of Britain and the Commonwealth were, when possible, given individual graves. However the searches produced many unidentified burials as sometimes the remains of a number of soldiers might be found in a single shell-hole. Often as official identity discs had been lost many were identified only by unit from regimental buttons or badges, or as British only by rags of khaki uniform. Personal property such as engraved cigarette boxes and autographed diaries or bibles sometimes aided the searchers. Sadly many thousands were beyond identification and would receive only that simple but poignant memorial "An Unknown British Soldier" and, "Known unto God". Their name, rank, and unit would appear in due course on one of the many memorials to the Missing.

A Collective grave will often hold the remains of two or more casualties. Many such grave markers simply state "Two Unknown British Soldiers" (or three or more), indicating the difficulty which faced those tasked with identifying scattered body parts which had lain on the battlefield for months and even years.

French casualties were often interred in "Ossuaries", which are very elaborate mass tombs. Germany, at some disadvantage, gathered many of theirs into mass graves with rather more sombre memorials. All nations tried where possible to respect the differing religious beliefs of each soldier when placing gravestones or memorials on individual burials. Jewish, Hindu, Chinese, and other symbols appear among the predominantly Christian markings.

The words "Known unto God" were suggested by Rudyard Kipling during discussions about the best way to mark the last resting place of the unidentifiable remains of what had once been a young vibrant human being.

Kipling's only son Jack is among those whose last resting place is, "Known unto God".

The admonition reiterated at every commemoration to the Fallen, and which appears in almost every CWGC cemetery, is also from Kipling. The words "Lest We Forget" are from his great hymn "Recessional" where he reminds us that true greatness and success can only come from humility and honest endeavour.

A church service at the 10th (Irish) Division's Basingstoke camp, 1915. Most of the men we see here would not survive the war.

They shall grow not old

They went with songs to the battle; they were young,

Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted:

They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,

Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;

As the stars are starry in the time of our darkness,

To the end, to the end they remain.

Laurence Binyon

Island of Ireland Peace Park

The memorial site is dedicated to the soldiers of Ireland, of all political and religious beliefs, who died, were wounded or missing in the Great War of 1914-1918. Irish men and women served with the Armies of Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. The memorial site is also known as the “Irish Peace Park” or the “Irish Peace Tower”. The tower was built as a symbol of reconciliation by an All-Ireland Journey of Reconciliation Trust and the support of the people of Messines (now called by its Flemish name Mesen). The design is that of a traditional Irish round tower dating back to the 8th century. It is 33.5 metres (110 feet) high. As part of the design the inside of the tower is lit up by the sun only on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This is the time at which the Armistice was declared and the guns fell silent on the Western Front after four years of fighting. The Island of Ireland Peace Park was officially opened on 11th November 1998 by the President of Ireland Mary McAleese in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth II and King Albert II of Belgium. Each year a commemorative Remembrance Day service is held at the Tower at 11.00 hours on 11th November.

At the going down of the sun,

And in the morning

We will remember them.

A cross of sacrifice stands in all Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries on the Western Front.

 


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