01 July 2016
Library of Trinity College Dublin launches online resource giving free access to photographs and transcriptions of its collection of letters, diaries and memoirs of Irish officers serving in the British Army in WW1
To mark the Battle of the Somme centenary, the Library of Trinity College Dublin has today launched an online resource giving free access to photographs and transcriptions of its collection of letters, diaries and memoirs of Irish officers serving in the British Army in WW1.
‘[British gas] is more merciful than the German gas, as it is so deadly and there is very little suffering or struggling for breath with it….’
So wrote Irishman Charles Howard-Bury, who fought at the Battle of Somme during the First World War, his gut-wrenching words brought back to life 100 years later on a free commemorative website launched today by the Library of Trinity College Dublin.
The library has digitised 1,600 pages of diaries, letters and memoirs from seven Irish officers who fought on the Western and Eastern Fronts, on the new ‘Fit as fiddles and as hard as nails’ – Irish soldiers’ voices from the Great War website.
The youngest soldier featured on the site was 20-year-old Charles Wynne from Wicklow, whose sister Emily Wynne’s writings on the Home Front in Dublin are also included.
Three of the men featured were Trinity graduates; two never came home and two received the Military Cross. Among them are Lieut Henry Crookshank, father of Trinity’s History of Art Professor, Anne Crookshank, and Captain William ‘Pat’ Hone, descended from the famous Hone family of artists Nathaniel and Evie Hone. He was father of author Leland Bardwell, who died this week.
In contrast to the diaries of hardship and loneliness from the men fighting on the Front, some of the extracts from Emily Wynne’s diary shed light on the restricted civilian life back home.
‘Lovely day. I went off to Dublin, cycling to Greystones & on by rail, leaving at 6.30am,’ she writes. ‘Eagars came up about 1 ocl. They report that 60 more policemen & a detachment of soldiers have been drafted into Arklow. The women & children have been sent out of the coastguard station & the soliders installed. No one may be out after a certain hour 7pm.’
The website is freely accessible to researchers and members of the public alike from today.
Principal curator Jane Maxwell said: ‘Until recently there was an eerie silence associated with the history of the role played by Irish men and women in the British Army. The events of Easter week 1916 overtook them; their subsequent silencing in Irish historical narrative has come to an end in this decade of centenaries, and their voices are being brought to bear on the growing Irish investigation of this pivotal experience.'
The officers featured are Lieut Arthur Nickson Callaghan; Lieut Henry Crookshank; Major Richard William George Hingston; Captain William Patrick ‘Pat’ Hone; Lieutenant Colonel Charles Kenneth Howard-Bury; Captain Cyril Stanley Beresford Mundey; Private William Raws and Lieutenant Charles Wyndham Wynne.
The photo above includes Charles Wynne, Avoca, Co Wicklow, (front row, 3rd from left).
Find out more by watching the video below.
Discover your ancestor at the Somme and get started researching your WW1 soldier in the July issue of Family Tree, out in UK shops until 6 July. Get your copy from our store or subscribe and save!