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Irish Internationals who Died in World War 1


 

In the early twentieth century tensions were growing in Ireland particularly after a home rule bill was vetoed by the House of Lords in 1893. The Government of Ireland Bill was passed three times by the Commons in 1912, 1913 and 1914 and three times it was rejected by the Lords. Then, as specified in the Parliament Act, it automatically became law, receiving King George V’s Royal Assent on 15th September 1914. Six weeks before the bill was due to be signed the United Kingdom declared war on Germany , and the implementation of the 1914 Government of Ireland Act was postponed. The British Government chose to postpone the Act because of the inadvisability of major constitutional change at the start of the war, coupled with the real prospect of civil war between the unionists and nationalists in Ireland

All soldiers from Ireland volunteered. It did not have conscription during World War 1 although there was an attempt to enforce it in Ireland in 1918 (conscription in Britain started in January 1916). On 18 April 1918, acting on a resolution of Dublin Corporation, the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Lawrence O'Neill) held a conference at the Mansion House, Dublin . The Irish Anti-Conscription Committee was convened to devise plans to resist conscription, and represented different sections of nationalist opinion. A huge backlash followed. A general strike was called in protest, and on 23 April 1918, work was stopped in railways, docks, factories, mills, theatres, cinemas, trams, public services, shipyards, newspapers, shops, and even Government munitions factories. The British Government dropped the plan on 20th June 1918.

 

 

 

The first United Kingdom engagement in World War One was made by the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards on 22nd August 1914. They encountered several German cavalrymen on patrol near Mons , when Corporal Edward Thomas fired the first British army shot in Europe in the War, during which some of the Germans were killed and others captured.

The Irish National War Memorial notes that 300,000 Irishmen volunteered to fight and 49,400 died in World War 1. There are nine Irish International rugby players listed by the Commonwealth & War Graves Commission as having died in World War 1. They are

 

Captain Basil Maclear 24th May 1915

Aged 34

Royal Dublin Fusilers 2nd Battalion

Commemorated at Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

He was born on 7th April 1881 in Portsmouth , England and was educated at Bedford Grammar School . He was one of five sons of a Bedford Doctor, Major Henry Wallich Maclear and his cousin Mary (nee Casey). He was grandson of Sir Thomas Maclear, the Astronomer Royal at Cape Town Observatory, who was born in Newtownstewart, Tyrone , Ulster .

 

Above his grandparents Sir Thomas Maclear and his wife Mary (nee Pearse)

 

Above an older Sir Thomas Maclear

 

His grandfather, Sir Thomas Maclear, became close friends with David Livingstone, and they shared a common interest in the exploration of Africa . He was knighted in 1860 for his achievements as an astronomer. The crater Maclear on the Moon is named after him, as is Maclear's Beacon on Table Mountain , the town of Maclear , South Africa and Cape Maclear in Malawi .

Basil played in an England trial but was rejected as “not good enough”.

He wore white kid gloves when playing. He won 11 caps for Ireland .

Games played for Ireland

Date

Opposition

Venue

Attendance

Result

Score (HT)

11th February 1905

England

Mardyke, Cork

12,000

Won

17-3 (6-0)

25th February 1905

Scotland

Inverleith, Edinburgh

 

Won

11-5 (5-0)

11th March 1905

Wales

St. Helen’s, Swansea

 

Lost

3-10 (3-10)

25th November 1905

New Zealand

Lansdowne Road , Dublin

12,000

Lost

0-15 (0-5)

10th February 1906

England

Welford Road , Leicester

10,000

Won

16-6 (8-0)

24th February 1906

Scotland

Lansdowne Road , Dublin

 

Lost

6-13 (0-10)

10TH March 1906

Wales

Balmoral Showgrounds, Belfast

 

Won

11-6 (8-3)

24th November 1906

South Africa

Balmoral Showgrounds, Belfast

15,000

Lost

12-15 (3-12)

9th February 1907

England

Lansdowne Road , Dublin

10,000

Won

17-9 (14-0)

23rd February 1907

Scotland

Inverleith, Edinburgh

 

Lost

3-15 (3-0)

9th March 1907

Wales

National Stadium, Cardiff

 

Lost

0-29 (0-6)

 

Above Basil Maclear

 

He played rugby for Blackheath, Monkstown, Cork County, Munster and the Barbarians v Cardiff, 1905; v Cardiff, 1907; v Devonport Albion, 1907; v Exeter, 1907 (converted a try by H H Vassall). His brother Ronald played rugby for Bedford and the East Midlands .

Bedford School says

Basil Maclear Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Born in Hampshire on 7th April 1881. At the School 1893 to 1899. Killed in action at Ypres , 24th May 1915, aged 34.

From an article by E A Rolfe in the Old Bedfordians Year Book, 1929:-

He was the youngest of five sons who all served overseas in the First World War, three being killed in action. During his schooldays at Bedford , he lived with his Mother in the ‘Crescent’ district of the town. As a youngster at the Priory School he signalized himself by winning every event in the athletic sports. Entering Bedford School in May 1893, he soon showed promise in the playing fields. At the early age of 15 he played for Blackheath and the records of the time describe him as ‘a promising forward, tall, heavy, strong and fast, a resolute tackler and a reliable place-kick’. He was in the School 1st XV in 1895-6, 1896-7, 1897-8 (Captain), 1898 (Captain). In the Easter Term of 1899 he was still captain, but was prevented from playing by an operation.

 

He was in the 1st XV in 1896, 1897, 1898 and 1899. In the Athletic Sports in 1898 he won no les than eight open events (cricket ball, weight, long jump, hurdles, 120 yards house race, pole vault, 100 yards and quarter mile) – and, as a final exercise, came 2nd in the sack race! In the Beds County Championships in 1899 he was beaten by a foot in 10 ¼ seconds in the 100 yards (he won this event the following year), and won the hurdles by 8 yards in 16 ¼ seconds. Nicknamed ‘Shiner’ at school. Deputy Head of the School.

 

At Sandhurst he represented the College at cricket, rugby football, athletics and shooting and won the Sword of Honour in 1900. He served with his regiment in the Boer War from 1900 to 1902 and received the Queen’s Medal with 5 clasps. He saw further active service at Aden in 1903 during the operations in the interior.

He was gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant, to the Royal Dublin Fusilers. in 1895, promoted Capt in 1900, Brevet Major in 1901. He served throughout the Boer War, 1899-1902 (mentioned in despatches). He was appointed second in command and Adjt. of the Lagos Battn WAFF in 1903, and to the full command 1905.

 

Above Officers of the 2nd Btn Royal Dublin Fusilers who embarked for Aden (Feb 1902) during the Boer War. Back Row (L-R): 2nd Lieut. H. St. G. S. Scott ; 2nd Lieut. B. Maclear; 2nd Lieut. E. St. G. Smith; 2nd Lieut. J. P. Tredennick. Standing: Bt. Major E. Fetherstonhaugh; Lieut. A. H. D. Britton; Lieut. and Qr.-Mr. Burke; Major S. G. Bird, D.S.O.; Lieut. Haskard; Lieut. Wheeler; 2nd Lieut. R. F. B. Knox; 2nd Lieut. J. P. B. Robinson; 2nd Lieut. A. W. Newton. Front Row: Lieut. C. Garvice, D.S.O.; Capt. G. N. Cory, D.S.O.; Capt. M. Lowndes; Lieut.-Col. H. T. Hicks, C.B.; Lieut. L. F. Renny; Capt. H. W. Higginson; 2nd Lieut. E. F. E. Seymour; Lieut. A. de B. W. W. Bradford (absent).

 

On returning home he resumed his place in the football field. He was a man of magnificent physique nearly six feet in height and weighing close on 14 stone, yet retaining most of the great speed of his school days and his resolution was equal to his physical powers. A forceful rather than subtle player, he was dangerous in attack and formidable in defence, running straight and hard, and handing off with a force which was only equalled by the tremendous vigour of his tackling.

He was captain of Munster against the All Blacks on 28th November 1905. The 1905 Original All Blacks were the first New Zealand national rugby union team to tour outside Australasia . Captained by Irish born Dave Gallaher, they toured the British Isles, France and the United States during 1905–1906 and became known "The Originals". Their match with Munster was played at Markets Field in Limerick on Tuesday 28th November and the touring side defeated Munster 33–0. The eight tries witnessed by the 3,000 strong crowd included a penalty try after Fred Roberts was tripped close to the line.

Munster A. Quillinan, A. Newton, B. McLear, W.O Stokes, R.M McGrath, F. McQueen, J. O'Connor, J. Wallace, T.S Reeves, S.K Hosford, M. White, R. Welply, T. Acheson, T. Churchwarden.

New Zealand Booth, Smith, McGregor, Deans, Abbot, Mynott, Stead, Gillet, Newton , Tyler , Mackrell, Cunningham, Nicholson, McDonaldson, Glasgow, Roberts

No international in which he took part could ever be dull. His powerful form, in green jersey and white shorts, with white kid gloves cut down to mitts; his fair hair and moustache; his evident delight in the fray, together with his great reputation as a daring individualist gave spectators and players alike an exciting sense of anticipation, for there was always the chance that he might, by some unaided effort, some sudden rush, completely change the fortunes of a game. Nor were they often disappointed.

 

In place kicking, at which he was an adept, his most successful match was that against the Old Paulines in 1906, for which his brother, Ronald, had brought together a powerful Old Bedfordians XV of International and County players. The OB score was 12 goals, 1 try. Ronald Maclear took the first kick, but failed to convert; Basil took the remaining twelve and converted them all, many from very difficult angles.

 

After playing nearly always as a forward at School, he finally took to the ¾ line, playing first as a centre and then on the wing. For reasons best known to themselves, the authorities of the English Rugby Union in spite of strong recommendations, could not be persuaded to give him a trial – an error of which they no doubt repented when on three occasions, Basil Maclear was one of the chief agents in the defeat of the English team. The Irish Rugby Union was wiser and in 1905 – for he was qualified both by birth and by residence to play for Ireland – chose him to play against England, Scotland, Wales and New Zealand (the famous first ‘All Blacks’); in 1906 against England, Scotland and Wales. Then, unfortunately, knee trouble diverted his energies from Rugby to Hockey, in which game he also excelled.

 

Of all his international matches, the one by which he is best remembered is, perhaps, that against the South Africans on the Balmoral Ground at Belfast in 1906, at the end of which, playing as a fifth ¾ with a roving commission, he almost succeeded in snatching victory from defeat by making his way single-handed from his own ‘25’ through an unusually powerful opposition and securing a historic try. The scene which followed will never be forgotten by any who witnessed it. Such frantic and long-continued excitement has probably never been displayed, even on an Irish football ground. Even after the decisive kick at goal by J C Parke had failed, the storm of applause still continued.

 

In 1912 he joined the Staff of the Royal Military College , Sandhurst , as Inspector of Physical Training, a post in which he won the admiration and the affection of cadets and officers alike. In February 1915, he rejoined his regiment and the following month was sent out to France . He took part with his regiment in all the heavy fighting at Ypres during April and May. Until about May 8th, he was Second in Command of his regiment, and for four days in full command in most trying circumstances. Every day, in brief intervals snatched from the fighting, he wrote to his mother, his last letter being dated May 23rd. The next morning he was killed. Seven months later he was mentioned in Despatches in the following terms:-

 

‘Captain Basil Maclear, who showed great coolness in handling the Reserve Company of the Battalion, which he was able to bring up almost intact under very heavy fire; and also the great power of command which he showed himself to possess when suddenly called upon to command the Battalion for four days during a trying situation’

 

Those who remember him on the football field can well imagine Basil Maclear in battle – the big, cheery, heartening presence, cool, resolute, formidable, a tower of strength, the born soldier and leader. One of the thirty-odd survivors of his Battalion wrote of him as follows:- ‘No words can 117 describe his loss; he was a man every single one of us would have risked our lives to save. There is a blank in our regiment now which will never be filled’.

 

When the news of his death reached England there was not a newspaper or periodical which did not contain some tribute to this great sportsman and soldier, whose personality had made so deep an impression on so many minds. The following appreciation appeared in the Ousel at the time of his death:- ‘To all friends of Basil Maclear the news of his death came as a great shock. It was hard to realise that one so vitally alive was dead. A keen soldier, a great athlete, a great gentleman was gone. Had he only been a great athlete, our sorrow would have been less deep and less needed. It is his loss as a man that his friends deplore. For this was no mere trifler with the realities of life, but one who saw life steadily and saw it whole…’

 

The Basil Maclear table and chair in the Bedford School Memorial Hall were given in 1928 by an Old Bedfordian ‘in affectionate admiration of a devoted son, a gallant solder and a great athlete.’

 

His name is still remembered with affection and admiration in Ireland . In 1928 the officials of the Irish Rugby Union, and the Irish International Players, presented to Mrs Maclear a ‘Maclear’ football which had been used in an international trial match, and which bore the signature of all the senders, telling her how the name of Basil Maclear was still remembered with love in Ireland, and asking her ‘to do them the honour of accepting it in memory of her illustrious son’.

Extract from an article by O L Owen (Rugby correspondent of the Times, Editor of ‘Rugby Football Annual’), which was written in the Twickenham programme of the England v Ireland match on 13th February 1954:-

“The unique unrivalled Basil Maclear appeared so often on the roll of fame that one sometimes finds it hard to believe that he played in only 11 international matches.

But what 11 matches they were! One was against the original All Blacks at Cork , where the New Zealanders had reason to note his formidable running and tackling. Against the first Springboks a year later (1906), Maclear, picking up in his own ‘25’, scored about the most sensational try ever seen in an international match. He very nearly equalled the effort in the seame game, when he made the run which sent in one of his fellows for an equalising try, which forced South Africa into making a desparate recovery in order to win by 15 points to 12.

England encountered Maclear three times, and on each occasion Ireland – one very nearly wrote Maclear – won. In those three matches Ireland scored 13 tries to 2… No sportsman would grudge Ireland their possession of Maclear, son of an Irish father if born in Hampshire, a heroic Dublin Fusilier, a casualty at Spion Kop, and granted a soldier’s death in the first Great War. But the fact remained that Maclear learned his rugby at Bedford , and… might well have won a cap for England before Ireland spotted him. Incidentally, Maclear was a natural rugby player in any position on the field. Today he would have been a terror as a break-away forward. Darkie Sivright himself once tried to crash-tackle Maclear and met a hand-off that nearly dropped him unconscious.

Extract from ‘Fifty-Two Famous Tries’, by J R G Thomas:-

“In 1905 he helped to beat his native country and became the toast of Ireland – the handsome, dashing young officer, who frequently played in white mittens on the wing, ran extremely fast and with great power.

In the Ireland v South Africa match at Belfast in November 1906, when hopes were at their lowest ebb, the English army officer rallied the lost cause with as brilliant an individual try as has ever been scored for Ireland. The tempo of the match changed immediately, and the famous Irish fervour revealed itself. Later in the same match Maclear made another brilliant run”.

 

Above the Irish side that beat South Africa sides in 1906. Maclear standing 3rd from the right.

 

Extract by R T Gabe (famous Welsh centre and captain, who played 24 times for Wales between 1902 and 1908) from ‘Fifty Years of the All Blacks’:-

“The match between Munster and the All Blacks in November 1905, afforded Basil Maclear the opportunity of creating a unique record – that of playing against the All Blacks four times. What the extent of Munster ’s defeat would have been without the heroic deeds of Maclear is a matter of conjecture. Captain Maclear was a charming personality and persona grata, with all his opponents on and off the field. I was delighted to exchange jerseys with him after a memorable Ireland v Wales game, when we were Captains and opposite numbers at Centre ¾.”

Gabe refers to Maclear in another chapter as ‘the Herculean Irish Centre’.

Extract from ‘Rugger: the Man’s Game’, by E H D Sewell:-

“Maclear could do the 100 yards in evens (10 seconds) and when wearing white gloves as he often did, possessed the hand-off in ten thousand; a try getter if ever there was one, he was equally determined in pulling off some mighty tackles.

He was the making of those grand Irish sides of 1904-5 and 1905-6. He looked the part. A handsome, fair-haired, well built player, without an atom of side in his make up. In all his 11 internationals he never played other than well.

Much of the best of the really fast wings was Basil Maclear; he would tackle anything and go down to any forward rush. His was THE hand-off.

My ideal rugger man, for a Man he was – Chevalier, sans peur et sans reproche. He had the most powerful hand-off I have ever seen”.

(Written in 1944 when Sewell had watched 187 international matches.)

Another writer refers to Maclear on the field as ‘immaculately turned out, with his white kid gloves and a khaki puttee which he wore round his middle for no reason anyone ever discovered.’

Extract from ‘Rugger’s an Attacking Game’ by P H Lawless:-

“With the torso of Hercules, fair moustache and white gloves, Maclear played some memorable games against the All Blacks of 1905”.

Extract from ‘The History of the English Rugby Football Union ’, by O L Owen:-

“At Cork in 1904/5 Ireland produced a phenomenal runner and tackler in Basil Maclear. He had been noted by the English selectors as a prospective forward: Ireland cleverer or luckier, used him as a back who proved to be a team within a team”.

Extract from ‘The Standard’, 13th February 1905 about the England v Ireland match at Cork 1904/5:-

“A finer first appearance in an International match than that of the Old Bedfordian Basil Maclear, has probably never been seen… His tackling was perfection, and several times, having spoiled the man who was passing, he followed up and collared the man who took the pass. Such handing off 119 as his was a revelation. His own try was a masterpiece, as, receiving the ball about the centre of the ground, he handed off two men and beat Simpson for pace… Such a magnificent ¾ back as Maclear has not for very many years made his bow in the highest football”. (Quoted in the Ousel of 28th February 1905).

Extract from ‘The Sportsman’ reporting on the Ireland v New Zealand match in Dublin, 1905:-

“Certainly Maclear was the hero of the Irish ¾ line and did a lot of brilliant saving, while he was often grand in attack”.

Extract from ‘The Athletic News’ concerning the same match:-

“The outstanding figure in the line was Maclear. He was ubiquitious. When the New Zealanders attacked it was Maclear who invariably did the bulk of the collaring. He was all over the field, and his fine turn of speed, his exceptional strength and the vigour of his style did much to harass the colonists.”

A comment by E H Dasent in the Ousel of 9th March 1905:-

“All the School must be delighted to see the success of Basil Maclear. It is no exaggeration to say that this season will be remembered in history as ‘Maclears year’. It must be annoying to the English Selection Committee to remember that they were specially written to last year, and asked to keep an eye on Maclears play.”

Extract from C B Fry’s Magazine of March 1905, on the Old Bedfordian XV’s defeat of the Old Paulines by 63 points to 5:-

“Basil Maclear converted 12 tries into goals, a great place-kicking record… Standing close on 6 feet and scaling over 13 stone, he possesses every requirement for a first class centre ¾.” (Ousel 9th March 1905). (Note: Maclear scored 4 of the tries in this match played on 10th January 1905).

Ireland v England 1905/6:-

“Basil Maclear unfettered is a better man for his side than he is in the centre of a ¾ line, excellently as he plays in that position. Maclear was, therefore, let loose, and he was always conspicuous. He did his work right well. He scored once, and his pace and strength were of much use to him on that occasion.” (Major Philip Trevor)

Ireland v England 1905/6:-

“Basil Maclear found a position at last after his own heart; he was ‘flying man’ and in the glorious spirit of independence, he gave free scope to his energy and his enterprise.” (The Tribune)

Ireland v South Africa , 1906, from ‘The Daily Mail’ 26th November 1906:-

“The try scored by Basil Maclear in the second half of the game, when Ireland were to all intents and purposes a badly beaten side, was one of the most remarkable ever obtained in the history of the game. There is certainly no other player in Great Britain who could have scored such a try. He was well inside his own ‘25’ when he got possession of the ball from a loose melee, promptly disposed of his opponent and handed off Loubser, who tried to stop his progress. Getting up steam, he made for the left touch-line with the view of beating Joubert for pace. The Springbok full-back however, is no mean sprinter, and getting level with his man, promptly threw himself at the burly soldier as he dashed past. Maclear however, adopted his favourite tactics of handing off, 120 and these were repeated when Joubert made a second attempt to bring him down. With indomitable perseverance the plucky South African tried for a third time to stop the now almost inevitable score, but the Irishman had by this time got up a terrific speed. He was too strong for Joubert and he crossed the line and grounded the ball, having run fully eighty yards and handed off three opponents – one of them three times. It was an epoch-making event, and it is safe to say that the run will live for ever in the annals of the game.” (Quoted in the Ousel of 5.12.06).

Ireland v South Africa , 1906, from ‘The Globe’ of 1st December 1906:-

“Basil Maclear’s run will go down to posterity. It is not at all likely to be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to be present. It was altogether out of the common in an international match for a man to score after running from his own ‘25’ and the incident gathered particular force from the fact that Ireland then were apparently in a hopeless position. Maclear’s try gave Ireland a new lease of life.” (Quoted in the Ousel of 20.12.06)

Ireland v England , Dublin 9th January 1907, from ‘The Sportsman’:- “In the Irish ¾ line, most conspicuous was Malear, whose extraordinary powers of tackling were never seen to finer advantage. The home defence was equal to the strain, Maclear in particular showing what a wonderful defence player he is.” (Quoted in the Ousel of 25th February 1907)

Ireland v England , January 1907, from ‘The Athletic News’- “The amount of work which Maclear did was marvellous. Whenever the ball was bouncing about among the backs, the gallant member from Cork was always in the vicinity. His tackling was something to remember, and his dashes towards the English goal magnificent. His efforts roused the spectators to a state of frantic excitement.” (Ousel, 25th February 1907)

From ‘The Tribune’ of 9th January 1907, reporting on the victory of the Old Bedfordians over the Old Paulines by 64 points to 5:-

Basil Maclear with his great stature, superb physique, with the intensity of his skill and pace, already stands by himself as a lion in the game: once seen, always remembered. And yesterday we saw Maclear at his very best. Every attribute in the game was his; he raced through the defence, handing off men who attempted to arrest his course.” (Note: In this match, Maclear converted 11 of the 13 OB tries, and also placed a goal from a mark. He scored 5 of the tries himself and was thus responsible for 40 of the 64 points scored by the OBs)

From an appreciation in the Ousel of December 1898, when Maclear was Deputy Head of the School:-

“A light coloured moustache adorns his upper lip, but as it never grows any bigger, his friends have advised him to cut it off. He is a skilled musician on the penny whistle, and a very fair actor, usually having taken one of the leading parts. He vamps.”

From ‘The Morning Post’, quoted in the Ousel of 8th June 1915:- “He was one of the greatest ¾ backs who ever played Rugby for Ireland , or for any other National XV. He possessed fine physique and symmetry of limb and was accomplished in every sport that he took up. But Rugby was the game that he loved best.” 121 From an Old Bedfordian, in the Ousel of 8th June 1915:- “To meet him was a sincere pleasure; and to meet him on the football or cricket field, whether as friend or foe, was an honour. An honour, not only because he always ‘played the game’, but because of his whole-hearted courage and chivalry. The grief which will be felt at the “School by the River’ will be shared by all the sporting world. He has died as he ever lived, a brave officer and a gentleman.”

E H Dasent, in the Ousel of 20th July 1932:- “He was perhaps the greatest athlete of his day and with it all a man so modest and unassuming that none would ever have guessed it.”

 

 

Volume 2 of the book “Bond of Sacrifice” says

He was the youngest son of the late Major Henry Wallich Maclear, “The Buffs”, and of Mrs Maclear, of Bedford .

He was educated at Bedford School , passing thence into Sandhurst, where he gained the “Sword of Honour”, and was gazetted to the Royal Dublin Fusilers, in August 1900, becoming Lieutenant in July 1904. From May, 1905, to May, 1908, he served as Adjutant to his battalion, and in February, 1911, he obtained his company, and was appointed an Inspector on the Staff of the Royal Military College – where he took charge of the gymnasia – which post he held till 1915, when he rejoined his battalion at the front.

Captain Maclear saw much active service taking part during the South African War, in the operations in the Orange River Colony from December, 1900, to February, 1901, and in the Transvaal from February, 1901, January, 1902, and being awarded the Queens medal with five clasps. He also saw service in the Hinterland of Aden in 1903, and in the present war was mentioned in Sir John French’s Despatch of the 30th November, 1915, and recommended for honours. He was killed at Ypres on 24th May, 1915, while gallantly leading a bombing attack.

Though known best in sport as the famous Irish International, Captain Maclear was yet a great all-round athlete, excelling in all branches of the sport that he took up. At school, besides being a good bowler, he also showed his capabilities as a batsman, by making 133 v. the M.C.C., and in later years 143 for the Royal Dublin Fusilers against Cork , and 98 against Cork County . He also played for Bedfordshire County whenever possible. He once won eight events at the School sports in 1898, and later won the 100 yards in 10½, and the 120 yards hurdles in 163/5 seconds, both on grass, at the Bedford County Championship meeting. Amongst other events at the Royal Military College sports, he won the long jump at 20 feet 6½ inches, and represented the College against Woolwich at athletics, as well as football and cricket, being Captain of the latter. But it was Rugby football of which he was most fond, and he became the most famous of all Ireland’s Rugby Internationals, with the reputation that was world-wide, not only for the great game that he played but the spirit in which he always played the game, and for his whole-hearted courage and chivalry. He started his football career in the “pack”, but soon became a three-quarter, a position he never afterwards left, and where his great weight and speed and keen knowledge of the game made so difficult an opponent, both in attack and defence. He played for Ireland in the Internationals v. England , Scotland , and Wales in the seasons 1905-06-07, gaining eleven International caps. He also appeared three times against the famous New Zealand team of 1906, and for Ireland against the South Africans the following season. His best known performance was the memorable try he scored for Ireland v. South Africans at Belfast in 1906. Playing on the left wing, he saw the ball lying close on the right, near his own goal line, and dashing across and picking it up, he ran through the whole South African team and scored, after an eighty yards’ run. He was also a great “kick”, and once converted eleven out of twelve tries against the Old Paulines, and inevitably took the “kicks” for Ireland . The way he “handed off” will long be remembered.

 

His regiment records a rugby match Maclear refereed just before he died.

Wednesday 14th April 1915

On April 13th a Rugger match was played at Pont de Nieppe between teams representing the 4th and 48th Divisions, and resulted in a victory for the latter. Here Lieut. Ronald Poulton-Palmer of the 1st/4th, who captained the side, played his last game. He had been an England international threequarter. He commented in a letter:-

The match was quite amusing. We won 14-0 and there were millions of Generals there.

Actually the score was 17-0.

In his journal he wrote:-

After breakfast drove into Nieppe in a motor lorry to see an exhibition of bomb throwing. After that we drove in a motor ambulance to Armentieres to have lunch and to shop. This town seems none the worse and there is plenty of business, though everything is expensive. After lunch we moved to Nieppe and I played rugger for the South Midland Division against the 4th Division. It was an amusing game; we had opposite us players like W J Tyrrell (Ireland captain), H J S Morton (Cambridge and England); J G Keppell (Ireland trials); W P Hinton (Ireland full back) and were refereed by Basil Maclear (Ireland) I had a goodish side, mostly 5th Gloucesters and we won 14-0 but they stuck it well considering their condition. Several of the Liverpool Scottish from Ypres came over including Dum Cunningham and Dick Lloyd. It was splendid to see so many rugger players about. I changed in the room of the Captain of the 4th Divisional Staff. They lived in great style, quite unnecessary I thought. In fact they rather bored me. They ought to do a turn in the trenches with us all. Back to bed.

They played only 25 minutes each way as the 4th Division players had come from active duty in the trenches. The referee, Capt Basil Maclear of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and Ireland was killed a few weeks later. One of the touch judges was Lt Col G F Collett DSO who had played for Cambridge and Gloucestershire he supplied Ronald's father with a full team list:-

48th Division

full back Pte C Cook 1/5 Glosters wounded

three quarters Pte Washbourne 1/5 Glosters

Pte S Hamblin 1/5 Glosters

Lt R W Poulton-Palmer 1/4 R Berks Liverpool & England - killed

Pte F Webb 1/5 Glosters wounded

half backs Pte S Sysum 1/5 Glosters killed

L Cpl A Lewis 1/5 Glosters MC & Bar

Forwards Lt C R M F Cruttwell 1/4 R Berks Oxford trials

Lt L R C Sumner 1/5 Glosters MC - wounded

Capt F H Deakin 1/5 Warwicks Moseley & Midland Counties - wounded

Pte J Harris 1/5 Glosters Gloucester - wounded

L Cpl Millard 1/5 Glosters killed

Pte A Cook 1/5 Glosters Gloucester - wounded

Pte S Smart 1/5 Glosters Gloucestershire & England - wounded

another unnamed

4th Division

Full back W P Hinton Ireland

Three quarters J N Thompson London Scottish

unknown W J Tyrrell Ireland

H J S Morton Cambridge U & England

J G Keppell Ireland trials

R Fraser Cambridge U and Scotland

D Cummingham Liverpool Scottish

R Lloyd Liverpool Scottish

7 unkown

Maclear died during the 2nd Battle of Ypres on 24th May 1915. His body was never recovered.

His obituary in the 1915 edition of Wisden said

CAPT. BASIL MACLEAR (2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers) was killed on May 26, whilst serving with the Expeditionary Force. In 1897 and 1898 he was in the Bedford Grammar School XI, in the latter year (when the side did not lose a School match) taking most wickets--35--at a cost of 13.91 runs each. He was one of the most famous of Irish International Rugby footballers.

 

 

Above Maclear’s name on the St. Martins Church, Memorial, Bedford . Image copyright Martin Edwards

 

His two brothers were also killed during World War 1

Lieutenant Colonel Percy Maclear, was killed on 30th August 1914 in the Cameroons while in a command of a battalion of the Nigeria Regiment and is also listed on the St. Martins Church, Memorial, Bedford. He is commemorated on the Lokoja Memorial.

Lieutenant Colonel Harry Maclear was killed on 15th March 1916 at the Pas De Calais, France . He is buried at Mazingarbe Communal Cemetery .

Captain Ernest Cotton Deane MC 25th September 1915

Aged 28

Royal Army Medical Corps, Leicestershire Regiment (attd. 2nd Battalion)

Buried at Rue-Du-Bacquerot No. 1 Military Cemetery , Laventie

He was born on 4th May 1887 in Limerick, the third son of Thomas Stanley and Aileen Annie Deane, of Bank House, Rathkeale, co. Limerick, was educated at Corrig School , Kingstown , and at the Adelaide Hospital , Dublin , and took the licences of the two Irish Colleges in 1909.

 

Above the Adelaide Hospital , Dublin

 

 

 

 

He won one cap for Ireland in 1909 against England at Lansdowne Road . He also played for the Army in 1909

Games played for Ireland

Date

Opposition

Venue

Attendance

Result

Score (HT)

13th February 1909

England

Lansdowne Road , Dublin

 

Lost

5-11 (5-0)

Above the Irish side that played England in 1909. Deane standing extreme left.

 

He entered the R.A.M.C. as Lieutenant on July 28th, 1911, and was promoted to Captain, with all the other lieutenants in the corps, on March 30th, 1915. In his case this special promotion came only four months earlier than he would have been entitled to it in the ordinary course of events. Before the war he was serving in India , at Lucknow ; he came to Europe with the Garhwal Brigade, and was attached to the second battalion of the Leicester Regiment when killed. He was a well-known Rugby football player having been captain of the Monkstown and Adelaide Hospital fifteens, and an Irish International. The announcement that the Military Cross had been conferred upon him appeared in the London Gazette on October 2nd, the same day on which his death in action appeared among the obituary notices. It was in the following terms: Captain Ernest Cotton Deane, R.A.M.C. (attached 2nd Battalion the Leicestershire Regiment). For conspicuous gallantry on August 22nd, 1915, near Fauquissart.

a standing patrol 120 yards in front of our line was bombed by the enemy at about 10p.m., the only notification being two loud bomb explosions. Captain Deane, without any knowledge of the enemy's strength, at once got over the parapet and ran by himself to the spot, under rifle and machine gun fire. Finding four wounded men, he returned for stretchers and got them back into safety. This is not the first time that Captain Deane's gallantry under fire has been brought to notice.

He died at Neue Chappelle on 25th September 1915. The Battalion War Diary for that day records.

At 5.30am the Battn was in positions of readiness in accordance with orders in four lines opposite their objective with bombing parties, sandbag parties and carrying parties all arranged and in position. At 6.00am the first line got over the parapet quickly followed by the second, the left had to right form to get in line with the right as the trench ran back from a salient near the centre. As the first two lines went out the third and fourth filed into the vacant positions in the firing line. The gas affected a number of our men, and the smoke caused a dense fog and direction was difficult. Casualties began at once and the third line was ordered out to fill up gaps. Owing to the thick smoke it seemed likely that gaps would occur on the flanks and at 6.07am the fourth line was sent out with special instructions to maintain touch with the units on either flank. At about 6.10am the left were over the German parapet and our flag was seen flying on their lines. The left went forward with such dash that they outstripped the 2nd/8th GURKHAS and came in for a lot of fire from rifles and maxim guns from our right. This caused a good many casualties including all the officers and most of the NCO’s of A Coy which was the extreme left. Undeterred the men went on, got over the uncut wire and reached the road with parties of the 2nd/8th GURKHAS and gained their objective. In the meantime our right had not fared so well. They went forward in good line under a heavy fire till held up by the German wire. A number of our men here were collected in the ditch in front of the German wire waiting for developments.

One of those killed was Capt E. C. Deane R.A.M.C. Died of wounds

2nd Lieutenant Vincent McNamara 29th November 1915

Aged 24

Royal Engineers

Buried at Lancashire Landing Cemetery

He was born on 11th April 1891 at Blackrock, Co. Cork, the son of Patrick Joseph and Margaret McNamara (nee O'Connell), of "Analore," Castle Rd., Blackrock, Cork. He was educated at and played rugby for Presentation Brothers College , Cork , Christian Brothers College , Cork , University College , Cork and Munster . A graduate of the Engineering School of Cork University College . He won three caps for Ireland in 1914.

Games played for Ireland

Date

Opposition

Venue

Attendance

Result

Score (HT)

14th February 1914

England

Twickenham, London

40,000

Lost

12-17 (7-6)

28th February 1914

Scotland

Lansdowne Road , Dublin

 

Won

6-0 (?-?)

14th March 1914

Wales

Balmoral Showgrounds, Belfast

 

Lost

3-11 (3-3)

 

He was a 2nd Lieutenant in 136th Fortress Company of the Royal Engineers.

 

Above British troops at Sulva Bay in August 1915

 

 

 

He was killed by a gas explosion at Suvla Bay , Gallipoli on 29th November 1915 and is buried at the Lancashire Landing Cemetery , Galipoli.

 

Above Lancashire Landing Cemetery , Galipoli.

 

Captain Robert Balderston Burgess 9th December 1915

Aged 24 or 25 (his birth is listed as 1890 or 1891)

Royal Engineers

Buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord)

He was born on Christmas Day 1890 the only son of Henry and Agnes Burgess, of 6R, Bickenhall Mansions , Gloucester Place , Portman Square , London . Native of Kingstown, Co. Dublin . His father was Manager of LMS Railway Company. In Dublin they lived at Eglinton House, Eglington Park , Kingstown . He was educated at Portora School and Trinity College , Dublin , and afterwards called to the bar. He worked on the North East circuit but had limited time to practice because he enlisted soon after being called to the Bar.

As well as winning one cap for Ireland in 1912 against South Africa he played for the Barbarians.

Games played for Ireland

Date

Opposition

Venue

Attendance

Result

Score (HT)

30th November 1912

South Africa

Lansdowne Road , Dublin

20,000

Lost

0-38 (0-12)

 

 

Above the Irish and South African sides that played each other in 1912. Burgess standing under the letter D.

He enlisted in November 1914 as Captain in the Inland Water Transport Unit of the Royal Engineers. At the outbreak of war he undertook special work for the French government. He served in the casualty depot at North Wall in Dublin during mobilisation in 1914 and obtained a commission in the Army Service Corps, and was rapidly promoted to a Captaincy in the Royal Engineers.

 

 

He died on 9th December 1915 in a casualty clearing station after a shell hit him as he was cycling through rue de Dunkerque at Armentieres.

 

Above rue de Dunkerque at Armentieres

 

 

Above the St. John's , Mounttown memorial, Monkstown Parish Church, Co. Dublin with Burgess’s name.

 

He is commemorated on Four Courts War Memorial In Dublin, Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast and Portora Royal School Memorial, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.

His name also appears on the war memorial on the entrance to the reading room at Trinity College , Dublin which opened in 1937.

 

Above reading room Trinity College , Dublin .

 

Above plaque at the entrance to the 1937 reading room at Trinity College , Dublin with Burgess’s name

 

On 24th April 1916 members of the Irish Volunteers seized key buildings in Dublin . After six days they surrendered.

Francis (Frank) Henry Browning, the President of the Irish Football Union was the only rugby IFU official or player to be killed during the uprising. On the day of the rising, the Irish Rugby Union Football Corps headed by Browning had returned to Dublin from a route march and drill practice with drums beating and standards held a loft and marched straight into the middle that was the Rising, totally unaware of the events that were unfurling around them. The Corps in civilian clothes with arm-bands were carrying rifles but not ammunition; in the ensuing encounter with the "Rebels" seven members of the Corps were wounded, four fatally. Browning was shot in Haddington Road , (Beggars Bush) and died of his wounds two days later. He was buried in Deansgrange Cemetery , South Dublin .

Casualties were 62 rebels killed, 132 British Army and Police dead and 368 wounded. Another 270 civilians were killed and over 2,000 wounded. All 16 police and 22 of the British soldiers killed were Irishmen. Another 16 rebels were executed after the Rising.

The aftermath of the uprising caused a great deal of resentment towards the British Government who diverted soldiers from the front to Ireland .

 

William Hallaran 23rd January 1917

He was born on 19th April 1861 in ?, the son of the Venerable Thomas Tuckey Hallaran, Archdeacon of Ardfelt and formerly Canon of St. Mary's, Limerick . His mother was Lizzie (nee Dawson ) the daughter of Richard T. Bunbury Isaac, of Leggagowan, county Down , and of Woodville, county Cork . His parents married on 17th November 1858 at Glanmire Church . His father remarried Kathleen Hallaran (nee Lee), who was 34 years his junior.

William was educated at Dublin University . He played once for Ireland against Wales in 1884. He played under the name R.O.N. Hall so that his father would not know.

 

Above the team announced in Freeman’s Journal on 8th April 1884

William played rugby for Dublin University and Leinster .

Games played for Ireland

Date

Opposition

Venue

Attendance

Result

Score (HT)

12th April 1884

Wales

Cardiff Arms Park

 

Lost

0-1DG,2Tr

 

Above Hallaran in 1884

 

The match report from the Belfast News-letter on 14th April 1884 said

 

 

He joined the R.A.M.C. and became Surgeon afterwards Surgeon General on 27th July 1887, Major on 27th July 1899, Lt. Col. On 1st March 1912 and Colonel on 1st March 1915. He served in Burma from 1887-1889, Chin Lushai, India 1899-1900, South Africa 1900-1901 when he took part in the relief of Kimberley.

His father had died two years earlier on 16th January 1915 at ?.

He died in Jabalpur , India on 23rd January 1917 where he was Director of Medical Services.

His name is on the Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital Great War Memorial, Dublin .

Above the Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital Great War Memorial, Dublin .

 

Captain Alfred Squire Taylor 31st July 1917

Aged 29

Royal Army Medical Corps. Highland Light Infantry (attd. 10th/11th Battalion)

Buried at Ypres Town Cemetery

He was born on 6th July 1889 the son of the Rev. David Alexander Taylor, D.D., of " Eastbourne ," Windsor Avenue North , Belfast . He was educated at Campbell College , Belfast , Belfast University and Edinburgh University where he graduated M.B., and Ch.B. in 1914. At Edinburgh he was president of the University Union and captain of the University football fifteen (1911-12)

He played four times for Ireland between 1910 and 1912.

Games played for Ireland

Date

Opposition

Venue

Attendance

Result

Score (HT)

12th February 1910

England

Twickenham, London

14,000

Draw

0-0 (0-0)

26th February 1910

Scotland

Balmoral Showgrounds, Belfast

12,000

Lost

0-14 (0-3)

12th March 1910

Wales

Lansdowne Road , Dublin

 

Lost

3-19 (3-3)

1st January 1912

France

Parc des Princes, Paris

18,000

Won

11-6 (11-6)

 

 

Above Taylor captain of Edinburgh University XV in 1911-12

 

 

He took a temporary commission as lieutenant in the R.A.M.C. on October 12th, 1914, was promoted to captain after a year’s service and on January 11th 1917, took a permanent commission in the R.A.M.C. as lieutenant and temporary captain. He had earlier been invalided home from Mesopotamia . He returned to France with the Highland Light

 

 

He was dressing a brother officer’s wound in France , when both were killed instantly by the bursting of a shell.

He was killed on the first day of 3rd Battle of Ypres, 31st July 1917 and is buried in Ypres Town Cemetery Extension (ref III B 21), Flanders, Belgium .

 

 

Above the Comber and District War Memorial, Co. Down, Northern Ireland with Alfred Taylor’s name.

 

Major Albert Lewis Stewart 4th October 1917

Aged 28

Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) 22 Battalion

He was born on 19th February 1889, the son of James, a solicitor, and Isobella Stewart of 43 Eglantine Avenue , Belfast , later of 101 Wellesley Avenue, Belfast . He was educated at The Royal Belfast Academical Institution. He was a member of the Windsor Presbyterian Church.

He played as a Centre for: Royal Belfast Academical Institute, Northern Ireland Football Club, Ulster , and was capped three times for Ireland between 1913 and 1914.

Games played for Ireland

Date

Opposition

Venue

Attendance

Result

Score (HT)

8th March 1913

Wales

St. Helen’s, Swansea

 

Lost

13-16 (8-8)

24th March 1913

France

Mardyke, Cork

6,000

Won

24-0 (8-0)

1st January 1914

France

Parc des Princes, Paris

25,000

Won

8-6 (0-3)

 

He was a Chartered Accountant.

 

Above the NIFC XV 1908-09 with Albert Stewart, middle row, second from right

Above the NIFC XV 1909-10 with Albert Stewart, middle row, second from left

 

He captained NIFC in 1913-14.

 

 

He applied for a commission on 24th September 1914, having been a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force.


He was killed in action on 4th October 1917 during the Battle of Broodseinde (3rd Ypres ). Amongst his effects when he died was a Nicaraguan 10 cent note. He is buried at Hooge Crater Cemetery .

 

The Battle of Broodseinde (3rd Ypres ) was the last successful attack of the Battle of Passchendaele. Using the "bite and hold" tactic (where the objective was limited to what could be captured and successfully held), the attacking Allied forces conducted an attack on well-entrenched German forces, and showed that it was possible for the allies to successfully attack even the stoutest German defenses.

 

Above the Windsor Presbyterian Church Memorial with Stewart’s name.

 

Above Albert Stewart’s name was added to his father’s grave at Holywood Cemetery ,

 

Captain William Victor Edwards 29th December 1917

Aged 30

Royal Dublin Fusilers 7th Batallion

Buried at Jerusalem War Cemetery , Israel

He was born on 16th October 1887 at Strandtown, Belfast . The son of Mary Edwards, of The Laurels, Strandtown, Belfast , and the late Alfred Edwards. His father had been a cabinet maker and upholsterer with Maguire & Edwards. He was educated at Thanet College , Margate ; Academical College , Coleraine; Campbell College , Belfast and Queen’s University, Belfast .

He played for Malone RFC and gained two caps for Ireland in 1912. He was also the Irish 200 yard swimming champion and a water polo champion. He is said to have been the first man to swim Belfast Lough.

Games played for Ireland

Date

Opposition

Venue

Attendance

Result

Score (HT)

1st January 1912

France

Parc des Princes, Paris

18,000

Won

11-6 (11-6)

10th February 1912

England

Twickenham, London

25,000

Lost

0-15 (0-3)

 

He was an accountant, being a Company Officer in the 6th Battalion East Belfast Regiment of the Ulster Volunteer Force; gazetted 2nd Lieut. 22nd September 1914; promoted Lieut. December 1914, and Captain April 1915. He served with the expeditionary force in France and Flanders from May 1915.

He had been wounded on the right side of the head by a machine-gun bullet (which left a 4" scar) on 9 September 1916 at the capture of Ginchy. This resulted in him suffering from dizziness, headaches and insomnia.

He went to Egypt in September 1917, and took part in the Third Battle of Gaza between 1st and 7th November 1917, and took part in the capture of Jerusalem on 9th December and its defence for the rest of that month.

He assumed command of 'D' Coy, 7th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers on 26th December 1917.

 

 

He was killed in action near Deir Ibzia, Palestine on 29th December 1917. He was initially buried 700 yards from the south-east corner of the village of Deir Ibzia , ten yards left of the track leading down the hill to the trees. He was then reburied east of the village of Deis Ibsis , close to Mount Horeb at the Jerusalem War Cemetery, Israel.

Amongst his returned possessions were a cigarette case, three devotional books, a (damaged) watch, his whistle and strap, and pipe and pipe lighter.

Above his name is also on the Strandtown War Memorial, Belfast .

 

On base of small war memorial near the old Gobbins cliff path on Islandmagee, a peninsula on the east coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland it referred to a soldier of the Black Watch – Capt. W V Edwards – Royal Dublin Fusiliers killed in action in Palestine 29/12/1917.

Major William John Beatty OBE 10th February 1919

Royal Army Service Corps

Buried at Charleroi Communal Cemetery

He was born between 1888 and 1890 the eldest son of seven children born to George, a Rate Collector, and Ellen E. Beatty of 21 University Street , Belfast . He played rugby for Sydenham, NIFC, Ulster , Richmond and the Barbarians. He won three caps for Ireland in 1910 and 1912.

Games played for Ireland

Date

Opposition

Venue

Attendance

Result

Score (HT)

28th March 1910

France

Parc des Princes, Paris

10,000

Won

8-3 (8-3)

1st January 1912

France

Parc des Princes, Paris

18,000

Won

11-6 (11-6)

9th March 1912

Wales

Balmoral Showgrounds, Belfast

 

Won

12-5 (0-5)

 

 

 

Above the Ireland side that played France in 1910 with Beatty seated second right.

He died of Pneumonia following war wounds on 10th February 1919 at the 20th Clearing Station, Charleroi .

 

 

 

 

 

Above the NIFC 1914-1918 Memorial with the names of Beatty and Stewart

There are two players listed by several books as Irish Internationals who died in World War 1. They are not however listed by the Commonwealth & War Graves Commission. Both were invalided home and died some time later

 

Major Robertson Stewart Smyth MD 5th April 1916

Aged 36

Royal Army Medical Corps

Buried at Banbridge Municipal Cemetery

He was born on 18th August 1879 at ‘Seaview’ in Warrenpoint, the fourth son of William and Jane Robinson Smyth. Known to his family as Robbie. He was educated at Dungannon Royal School and then entered Trinity College Dublin where he received a Doctorate in Medicine. He afterwards became House Surgeon on the resident staff of Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital, Dublin .

Robbie was a member of Dublin University 's 2nd XV when they won the Junior League in the 1898/1899 season, captain of the University XV in 1903-04 and won three caps for Ireland in 1903 and 1904. He was also in the 1903 British Lions tour of South Africa where he played three games. He also played for Wanderers and the Barbarians.

Games played for Ireland

Date

Opposition

Venue

Attendance

Result

Score (HT)

14th February 1903

England

Lansdowne Road , Dublin

 

Won

6-0 (6-0)

28th February 1903

Scotland

Inverleith, Edinburgh

 

Lost

0-3

13th February 1904

England

Rectory Field, Blackheath

 

Lost

0-19 (0-3)

Games played for Britain

Date

Opposition

Venue

Attendance

Result

Score (HT)

26th August 1903

South Africa

Wanderers Ground, Johannesburg

5,000

Draw

10-10 (5-10)

5th September 1903

South Africa

Athletic Club, Kimberley

5,000

Draw

0-0 (0-0)

12th September 1903

South Africa

Newlands Stadium, Cape Town

6,000

Lost

0-8

Above the Ireland side that played Scotland on 28th February 1903 at Inverleith, Edinburgh. (L-R) Back Row: F.H.R. Alderson (Referee) (England), H.J. Anderson (Old Wesley), G.T. Hamlet (Old Wesley), C.E. Allen (Derry), Jas, Wallace (Wanderers), F. Healy (Garyowen), R.S. Smyth (Dublin University), J. Sealy (Touch Judge). Middle Row: L.M. Magee (Bective Rangers), J. Fulton (North of Ireland), S.T. Irwin (Queen’s College, Belfast ), A. Tedford (Malone), H.H. Corley ( Dublin University ), J.R. Allison (Dungannon), J. Coffey (Lansdowne). Front Row: C. Fitzgerald (Dungannon), A.D. Harvey (Wanderers).

 

Above Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital, Dublin 2010

Above Robbie in the 1899-1900 St. Duns Rugby XV that won the Dublin Hospitals Cup. Standing (L-R): Dr.D.G.Taylor (Hon Sec), M.Brice-Smith, W.Hassard, R.Tyrrell, W.G.Joynt, R.Halahan, R.S.Smyth, F.Blackley. Seated: C.A.Boyd, E.J.Watson, G.R.Harman (Captain), J.H.Brunskill, Dr.Ball (President). On Ground: H.O’H.May, J.A.Valentine, J.Wallacem W.Benson. Reproduced by kind permission of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland .

 

In 1900 they beat Mater by 1 goal to nil to win the Dublin Hospital ’s Cup.

Malcolm Brice Smyth in the above photo was a cousin of Robbie's, Malcolm and his brother Sidney Brice Smyth were both doctors. One of Malcolm's patients was the Marquis of Londonderry. Their father Brice was also a Doctor and along with John Fagan founded the Belfast Hospital for sick children.

 

Above Robbie in the 1900-01 St. Duns Rugby XV that won the Dublin Hospitals Cup. Standing (L-R): C.A.K.Ball M.B., J.Sibthorpe, J.Wallace, E.Watson M.B., H.Creery, R.Kelly, O’B.Kennedy, G.H.Stack. Seated: R.Smyth, R.E.Halahan, C.A.Boyd (Captain), M.Brice Smyth M.B., J.Magee Finney M.D. (President). On Ground: E.V.Collen, T.J.Wilmot. Reproduced by kind permission of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland .

In 1901 they beat the City of Dublin by 2 goals to nil to win the Dublin Hospital ’s Cup.

In 1902 they lost the final of the Dublin Hospital ’s Cup to Meath by 1 dropped goal to 2 goals and a try. Robbie was a substitute.

 

Above Robbie in the 1902-03 St. Duns Rugby XV XV that won the Dublin Hospitals Cup. Standing (L-R): Dr.Jolly (House Surgeon), M.K.Acheson, F.O’B.Kennedy, E.J.Watson, H.A.Emmerson, W.H.Kennedy, J.C.P.Beatty. Seated: J.A.Sibthorpe, J.Wallace, R.S.Smyth (Captain), W.Hassard, G.H.Stack. On Ground: J.S.Millar, T.H.Robinson, E.D.Caddell, T.J.T.Wilmot. Reproduced by kind permission of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland .

In 1903 they beat Vincents by 1 goal and 2 tries to 1 goal and a try to win the Dublin Hospital ’s Cup.

 

Above the Resident Medical Staff of Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital, Dublin 1903-04. Standing (L-R): R.A.Askins, R.S.Smyth, F.C.D.Fawcett. Seated: ?, F.Creaser, ?. On Ground: ?, ?. Reproduced by kind permission of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland .

 

Above Robbie in the 1904 St. Duns Rugby XV that won the Dublin Hospitals Cup. (L-R) Standing: T.H.Gibbon (House Surgeon), F.Usher, J.B.Jones, H.A.Emerson, D.A.H.Solomons, C.B.Huthison, F.C.Graham. Seated: H.Dugare, R.S.Smyth, W.Hassard (Captain), M.Greene, Sir A.V.Macan. On Ground: J.C.F.Beatty, C.H.Stack, F.H.Robinson. Reproduced by kind permission of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland .

In 1904 they beat Adelaide by 2 goals to 1 goal to win the Dublin Hospital ’s Cup.

 

Above the Resident Staff of Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital, Dublin 1904-05 (L-R) Back Row: F.J. Usher BA, C.H. McComas BA, W.C. MacFetridge, T.H. Robinson BA. Middle Row: G. M. Millar BA, R.S. Smyth MD (House Surgeon), H.A. Emerson BA. Front Row: M.D. Furguson BA, W.J. Powell BA.

 

Above Robbie in the 1905 St. Duns Rugby XV that won the Dublin Hospitals Cup. Standing (L-R): R.S.Smyth M.D. (House Surgeon), J.C.P.Beatty, H.L.Sugars, H.A.Emerson, M.Greene, W.H.Kennedy, N.Jewell. Sitting: D.Clement, C.A.Boyd, T.H.Robinson (Captain), B.A.H.Solomons, H.C.Drury M.D. (President). On Ground: J.B.Bones, E.D.Caddell, G.H.Stack, Reproduced by kind permission of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland .

In 1905 they beat Richmond by 1 goal and 1 try to nil to win the Dublin Hospital ’s Cup.

 

Above Robbie Smyth

 

 

Above two portraits of Robbie from Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital. Reproduced by kind permission of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland .

He joined the Royal Army Medical Corp on the completion of his studies in 1905, was commissioned as a Lieutenant on 31st July 1905 and promoted to Captain on 31st January 1909. Robbie served in India from 1907-1912.

On his return from India , he was one of a group of three local men who, on 18th September 1913, welcomed and led Sir Edward Carson into Banbridge.

Upon, the outbreak of War in 1914, he followed the British Expeditionary Force to France , where it is stated that he served with "rare devotion". He was mentioned in Dispatches by Field Marshal Sir John French, Supreme Commander of the British Expeditionary Force and later Viceroy of Ireland, for "gallant and distinguished service in the field."

Robbie rose rapidly through the ranks and was promoted to Major on 2nd December
1915, continuing in active service until later that month when he was invalided as the result of gas poisoning. He returned to active service and was again invalided due to gas poisoning on 1st January 1916, after which he was then sent to a nursing home in London where he relinquished his commission on 22nd February of that year. He died at 20 Endsleigh Gardens , London on 5th April 1916 aged 36 years, his body being brought home and buried in Banbridge Municipal Cemetery .

 

Above the grave of Robbie Smyth at Banbridge Municipal Cemetery .

Above plaque at the entrance to the 1937 reading room at Trinity College , Dublin with Smyth’s name

 

Above his name also appears on the Banbridge War Memorial along with his brother Edmund

Above the Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital Great War Memorial, Dublin .

His brother Major Edmund Fitzgerald Smyth was killed in action on 3rd December 1917 at Marcoing, West Cambrai , aged 31 years. Teddy was buried 2,000 yards south of Marcoing. On 26th January 1920 his body was exhumed and re-interred in Fifteen Ravine British Cemetery , Villers, Plouich (Row 2c, Grave 6).

 

Above his brother Major Edmund Fitzgerald Smyth

 

Their mother, Jane Robinson Smyth (nee Wilson ), was the second wife of William Smyth of Brookfield House. During the First World War she was a member of the County Down Nursing Fund and the County Down Local War Pensions' Committee, being awarded the MBE for her work in this field. She was President of the Nursing Society from 1918-1928.

 

2nd Lieutenant Jasper Thomas Brett 4th February 1917

Royal Dublin Fusilers

Buried at Deansgrange Cemetery (South Section), Dublin

He won 1 cap for Ireland

He was born on 8th August 1895, Kingstown . He was the third son of William Jasper and Mary Eleanor Brett of Kingstown . He was educated at Monkstown Park School and Royal School , Armagh . Apprenticed to his father, W. J. Brett, Solicitor. He was a member of Monkstown Rugby Football Club, and played once for Ireland against Wales in 1914. He also played in Sir Stanley Cochrane's Cricket Team.

Games played for Ireland

Date

Opposition

Venue

Attendance

Result

Score (HT)

14th March 1914

Wales

Balmoral Showgrounds, Belfast

 

Lost

3-11 (3-3)

 

He was transferred to Machine Gun Section, "B" Company, 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, December 1914. Gazetted Second Lieutenant 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, September 5, 1915.

 

 

War service: Joined “D” Company, 7th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 30th Brigade, 10th (Irish) Division, along with other Dublin Rugby players in 1914. At the request of Mr F H Browning, the President of the Irish Rugby Football Union (who was killed during the 1916 Easter Rebellion whille returning from a route march with the 1st (Dublin) Battalion, Associated Volunteer Training Corps – he was a Sub-Commandant in this home defence organisation), the Commanding Officer of the 7th RDF agreed to keep open a special company for “Pals” from the IRFU volunteers. Known as “The Toffs among the Toughs”, it was a remarkable mix of volunteers – barristers, doctors, solicitors, stockbrokers, bankers, civil servants and the like, nearly all well known in Dublin ’s public and social life. Training in Ireland went on until, on the last day of April 1915, 7th RDF sailed for Holyhead and from there travelled to Basingstoke , the concentration area for the 10th Division. At Basingstoke the Division was visited by King George V on 28 and 29 May and inspected by Lord Kitchener at Hackwood Park on 1 June. The final period of training at Divisional level lasted to the end of June and a week later they were off to the Dardanelles, with advance parties boarding ship at Liverpool on 9 July and the Division concentrating on the Island of Lemnos by the end of July.


The 10th Division landed at Suvla Bay on the morning of 7 August. The first major battle for the 7th RDF was the attack on Chocolate Hill on the night of 7-8 August, when they were loaned to the 31st Brigade. Later there was protracted fighting on Kizlar Dagh Ridge. The 7th RDF was taken off the peninsula and brought to Mudros on 29/30 September and landed at Salonika by 24 October. The 10th Division spent two years in Macedonia , taking part in operations at Kosturino, north of Lake Doiran on 7 and 8 December 1915, at Karajaköis between 30 September and 2 October 1915, and the capture of Yeniköi by the 30th Brigade on 3 and 4 October. In this period the Division suffered heavy casualties


In December 1914 Jasper Brett transferred to the Machine Gun Section of “B” Company. He was Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant, 7th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers from 14 September 1915 – before being discharged after suffering shell shock. He attended Latchmere Military Hospital , Richmond , Surrey .

He left his home at 9 p.m. to go for a walk from his home at 18 Crostwaith Park Kingstown (now Dunlaogire) Dublin .  His body was found in a railway tunnel near Dalkey. He had been hit by a train.

 

 

He is buried at Deansgrange Cemetery (South Section), Dublin . No.240 which reads

In Fond and | Loving Memory of | ELEANOR MARY | eldest & dearly beloved daughter of | WILLIAM JASPER & MARY ELEANOR BRETT | who died on 11th November 1894 | aged 6 years and four months | also JASPER THOMAS BRETT  their 3rd son | who entered into rest 4th Feb. 1917 in his 22nd year | “Thy will be done” | also WILLIAM JASPER BRETT | died 1st Feb. 1921 aged 69 years | Also MARY ELEANOR BRETT | died 25th Feb. 1926, aged 62 years. Inscribed on the Cross: VIOLET MARTHA BRETT | died 12th June 1976(?) | “At Rest”

He appears on the Roll of Honour and War Memorial at Christ Church , Dun Laoghaire .

 

Above Christ Church , Dun Laoghaire

 

Above Roll of Honour at Christ Church , Dun Laoghaire

 

Above World War 1 Memorial at Christ Church , Dun Laoghaire

 

During the Second World War Latchmere House was used as a detention and interrogation centre (known as Camp 020) for enemy agents captured by MI5. Today it is used as a Category D men’s prison

After the War, a fourth Home Rule bill, the Government of Ireland Act (1920), proposed two Parliaments. Ireland became divided but rugby stays, to this day, united.

The Irish National War Memorial Gardens were intended to be opened in 1939 but completion was postponed the Trustees responsible said: "It is with a spirit of confidence that we commit this noble memorial of Irish valor to the care and custody of the Government of Ireland . They fell into disrepair and dilapidation during the 1970s and early 1980s, when it had become an open site for caravans and animals of the Irish Traveller community. From the mid-1980s restoration work to renew the park and gardens to their former splendor was undertaken by the OPW, co-funded by the National War Memorial Committee which is representative of Ireland , both north and south. On 10 September 1988 the Gardens were formally dedicated by representatives of the four main Churches in Ireland and unofficially opened to the public.

The first real, fully official "opening and dedication" took place with a state commemoration to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 2006, attended by the President of Ireland Mary McAleese, the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Members of the Oireachtas, leading representatives of all political parties in Ireland, the Diplomatic Corps of the Allies of World War I, delegates from Northern Ireland, representatives of the four main Churches, and solemnly accompanied by a Guard of Honour of the Irish Army and Army Band.

 

Above the Irish National War Memorial Gardens

The Island of Ireland Peace Park was opened on 11th November 1998 by President Mary McAleese of Ireland , HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and King Albert II of Belgium . Situated in Messines, near Ypres in Flanders , Belgium the Round Tower was partially built with stone from a former British Army barracks in Tipperary . The design has a unique aspect that allows the sun to only illuminate the interior on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the anniversary of the armistice that ended the war and the time for the minute's silence on Remembrance Day.

A bronze plaque near to the entrance of the Island of Ireland Peace Park is inscribed with a Peace Pledge:

From the crest of this ridge, which was the scene of terrific carnage in the First World War on which we have built a peace park and Round Tower to commemorate the thousands of young men from all parts of Ireland who fought a common enemy, defended democracy and the rights of all nations, whose graves are in shockingly uncountable numbers and those who have no graves, we condemn war and the futility of war. We repudiate and denounce violence, aggression, intimidation, threats and unfriendly behaviour.

As Protestants and Catholics, we apologise for the terrible deeds we have done to each other and ask forgiveness. From this sacred shrine of remembrance, where soldiers of all nationalities, creeds and political allegiances were united in death, we appeal to all people in Ireland to help build a peaceful and tolerant society. Let us remember the solidarity and trust that developed between Protestant and Catholic Soldiers when they served together in these trenches.

As we jointly thank the armistice of 11 November 1918 – when the guns fell silent along this western front - we affirm that a fitting tribute to the principles for which men and women from the Island of Ireland died in both World Wars would be permanent peace.

 

Above the Peace Park ’s Irish Round Tower

 

http://sites.google.com/site/caseybooks/

http://www.cliftonrfchistory.co.uk/

with the assistance of and thanks to Willow Murray IRFU, Paul McCandless, Nigel Henderson, Keith Haines.

Bedford School

Irish War Memorials http://www.irishwarmemorials.ie

Windsor Presbyterian Church

Martin Edwards www.roll-of-honour.com

Statistics www.scrum.com

 

© Patrick Casey, 2010
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