Thurles Author Tom Burnell – A Second Book – The Wicklow War Dead

ThFlanders Fields 1urles author Tom Burnell colaberates with his brother Seamus Burnell to produce his second book entitled The Wicklow War Dead.

This new book contains a full record, for the first time, of some 840 soldiers, officers, sailors, airmen, nursing sisters from County Wicklow, 752 from WW1, together with the names of casualties who listed their next of kin as residents of Co.Wicklow.  Casualties named, died during WW1 and WW2 while in the service of the British Army, the Australian Army, the NewZealand Army, the American Army, the Indian Army, the Nursing Service, the Canadian Army, Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, the South African Army, the Royal Navy and lastly the Mercantile Marine.

There were seven children born to Patrick (Pakie) and Peggy (Margaret) Burnell in Finglas, Dublin during the 1950s. Margaret, Paddy, Tom, Seamus, Paul, Greg and Michelle and four of the lads served in the Irish Defence Forces here at home, on the South Armagh, Monaghan, Cavan, and Louth borders, during the ‘troubles’ and overseas with the United Nations on peace keeping duties. Their relations have fought in World War 1 and World War 2 and two of them died during the Irish Civil War. It is therefore no mystery that  the author and his brother still hold an interest in all things military.

Like most Dublin families at least one of their parents came from outside The Pale, so it was not surprising that every one of Pakie Burnell’s children moved out of Dublin to the countryside to enjoy a more peaceful and a slower pace of life. Some things are taken for granted by people who reside in rural areas, not least of which is that they are surrounded by history and solitude.

This new book contains not only all the casualties of two World Wars buried in County Wicklow but also includes those who were not native to Irish soil. The disproportionate amount of Wicklow casualties sent to watery graves by German torpedoes, mostly men from Arklow in Co.Wicklow, were one of the major surprises in this research, as were the number of unfortunate airmen who came to rest here in the Garden of Ireland from places far afield. Wicklow men were involved in every action of both wars on land, sea and in the air. Some of them died of their wounds in England after receiving a ‘blighty wound’. However the majority of them died on varying battlefields. A surprising amount of these have no known graves and remain just a name on a cold stone memorial.

If no one-else remembers these unfortunate men and women, their sacrifice will at least be recorded thanks to this little book ‘ The Wicklow War Dead’.


21 comments to Thurles Author Tom Burnell – A Second Book – The Wicklow War Dead

  • Tom Burnell

    George .
    I came across this item and thought it would be of interest.

    Limerick Chronicle, August, 1915.
    A soldier’s Welcome. Sergeant Somers, 1st Battalion, Inniskilling Fusiliers, who has been recommended a V.C for holding a trench with the aid of grenades against the Turks in the Dardanelles, on Saturday evening on a brief visit to his parents. A large crowd of people met him at the station, and accorded him an enthusiastic reception. Later a public meeting was held, presided over by Lord Dunally, Lieutenant of the County, who read an address of welcome. Several speakers congratulated Somers on his gallantry, and Mr B B Trench, said his Victoria Cross was the first to be won by a native of Tipperay.

  • Lord Dunalley served as Lord Lieutenant of County Tipperary from 1905 to 1922. Would not be first Victoria Cross won by a native of Tipperay. However, it’s interesting that the name Somers has associations with the John Dunne/Dwan family I spoke to you about. However I am sure this article refers to James Somers born in Belturbet, County Cavan and buried with full military honours in Modreeny Church of Ireland cemetery between Borrisokane and Cloughjordan, Tipperary. I visited his headstone which reads “He stood and defended. The Lord wrought a great wonder.” The late Henry Sommers related to the Dwan Family could be a relative. Remember the Moyaliffe house/Captain Kemmis connection with the Inniskilling Fusiliers. Benjamin Bloomfield Trench lived at Cloughjordan, County Tipperary also. He held the office of Justice of the Peace (J.P.) for County Monaghan.

  • Tom Burnell

    Hello George.
    I came across this and thought your readers might like it. It was written by an Athlone man in January 1915.

    Munsters Officers “Absolutely Splendid” Sergeant Major’s Adoration. Priests Heroism.
    A sergeant Major of the 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers writes home from the front.

    “The Battalion had a very nasty knock on Christmas Eve. I had some narrow escapes myself. However, I got through all right with the exception of a slight wound on the knuckle of the forefinger, right hand, hardly worth speaking about.
    At present we do forty-eight hours in the trenches and forty-eight hours rest. The weather is very wet, and the trenches are in a terrible state with water. Still, one never hears a grumble. The cold is kept away with a good issue of rum and a change of clothing. Everything imaginable is done to keep us fit—no lack of anything.
    The officers share the same hardships as the men, and in fact, a little more. They are absolutely splendid, everyone of them. This will just tell you the class they are.
    Colonel Bent got wounded trying to save a wounded private who lay in front of his trench, and when the stretcher-bearers went for him he refused to be removed till all the wounded men were taken first.
    It was the same with major Thompson. He lay outside his trench all day wounded, and still issued orders to his men till he died from exposure.
    Major Day’s last words were; “Write to my wife and let her know I died a happy death.”
    Captain O’Brien left his bit of cover and gave it to a private, and was killed a few minutes afterwards.
    Other officers were killed and wounded during the advance; still the men went forward and took the trenches at the point of the bayonet thanks to our brave colonel, one of the best officers living — he is small but good. The regiment was specially mentioned for their work, and they deserve every credit. It was a splendid bit of work; even the German machine-guns did not make us stop.
    The order rang out; “Advance at the double, men.” You should have seen how the order was obeyed! I could not find words to express how everything was carried out. We may have suffered a bit, but the Germans suffered a lot more. When you have officers like those I have mentioned fear nothing. A man was killed to-day, who volunteered to take a corporal’s body out of the firing line.
    Brave Tipperary Priest.
    We have a priest attached to the battalion, father Gleeson. A Thurles man. He said Mass for us on Christmas Day actually in the firing line. Where his little altar was peppered with bullets. He is a grand priest, and knows no fear. He is never finished doing all in his power for everyone, even those who are not of the same religion. It is only natural that this Tipperary man should be brave, he is here now, only fifty yards from the trenches, with some neat crossed which he made himself to place over a few of our brave Fusiliers who died last night.
    Nothing gives him greater pleasure than saying a Mass in the open in cold and rain, or hearing confession in some old barn that has been half blown away by German shell-fire. He even went to the little church near the village where we are, and took two statues out of it. Everything in it was blown to atoms except the altar.
    A sergeant major gave him a “telling off” over going in such dangerous places. However, we never practice what we preach, as the sergeant major parades the same road every day with his upright way and never seems to “bob.” His main worry is, “Have the men in the trenches enough ammunition?” he is a fine fellow and you can always be sure of a cup of tea at four every morning if he is about. All the old hands who left Aldershot with the battalion are dwindling away.
    Our supplies of rum have just arrived. We are not very short, as the South Wales Borderers left two jars after them last night.”

  • Thanks Tom, this puts 21st century greed into real perspective.

  • Brid Ni Ghriofa

    Hi Tom

    I have just ordered your book but it hasn’t arrived yet. I did get to see it a while ago. I am wondering where the photo of William Byrne came from and whether you have any more information on how this man died.

    I have his records. He is the only Irish Guard to die on 1 Dec 1914 that day. It is actually unlikely that that is the day of his death. The Irish Guards were in barracks since about 23 of November. In such circumstances it is strange how no body was found. We assume that he died a while before this in battle but the 1 Dec is the day they came to that conclusion rather than when he actually died.

    The family have no photo’s of him. We have assumed that the army had the photo. However a copy was not sent with his records. If you have any further info we would be delighted. I have already spoken with Irish Guards HQ and read Kippling.

    Brid Ni Ghriofa (Grand niece)

  • Tim Heenan

    Tom, I have read some of your work and research and fair play to you, ye auld heur. Tim.

  • Tom Burnell

    Good man Tim. You must be an very old man now. Friend me on facebook and make contact.

  • Margaret Deeves-Egan

    Hi Tom, Thank you so much for issuing your book Tipperary War Dead. My grandfathers brother John Henderson Deeves is mentioned in it and I was delighted to see his details in print. I’ve spoken to your sister Margaret as the Gorey library – gave me her number. She is such a bubbly lady. I also live in Gorey so I hope to meet up with her soon. My father John Deeves and all his ancestors are buried in Kilcooley in Tipperary.

  • Tom Burnell

    Happy to help. While trawling the Dublin newspapers for Dublin casualties I came across him again;-The Weekly Irish Times. Ireland’s Roll of Honour. December 15, 1917. Private John Henderson Deeves, Canadian Contingent, who was killed in action on 11th November, 1917, aged 22 years, was the second son of Mr Matthew Deeves, Kilcooley, Thurles, County Tipperary.

  • Noel Bourke

    Didnt get an opportunity to meet with you yet, although some of my colleagues on the Kilkenny Great War Memorial Committee have. Like yourself, as a youngster, although a decade older, I remember those old British Army Pensioners including my uncle Jeremiah, living a lonely solitary life without too much sympathy from the so called neighbours. He was a professional Soldier with the 2nd.Battallion Royal Irish Regiment. He survived the war having lost an eye at the Somme.
    My interest in their plight and non remembrance spurred me into ensuring that they, at least, will be remembered in word if not in stone. After 100 years of oblivion their names are slowly being etched in stone in sporadic areas of the country.
    The most recent being Thurles, Mayo and Dungarvan.
    Unfortunately in my home town of Kilkenny no monumental record of their sacrifice exists.
    We hope that in the near future a fitting monument will be erected in Kilkenny to honour the memory of over 800 soldiers, sailors, airmen, medical corps and nurses who gave their lives in this horrific conflict.
    We are holding an open day at the City Hall Kilkenny on Saturday 2nd.August 2014 from 11am to 4pm.
    All are welcome.
    Keep up the good work Tom.

    Noel J Bourke

  • Tom Burnell

    Thank you most kindly Noel. They were heroes, each and every one. The Kilkenny War Memorial Committee are making great strides, and in November your wish may come true. I am sure you know what I am talking about. At the moment the total of Kilkenny men and women who died in the Great War stands at 787.
    ‘800 soldiers, sailors, airmen, medical corps and nurses who gave their lives in this horrific conflict.’ perhaps you have access to some that are missed from this list?. I would welcome any additions you can add, please keep me informed. Unfortunately a previous commitment comes in the way of attending. Had I known sooner something could have been arranged.
    It has been most uplifting in recent years to see the veil of resentment of these heroes lifted. We live in enlightened times now. It took us long enough to get here but we got there in the end.
    “Nuair a théann an ghrian faoi, agus ar maidin, ‘Cuimhnímis iad’- At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we WILL remember them.
    I am proud of them all. God bless them, every one.
    Kind regards.

  • Charles Lyons

    Hi Tom. In 1971 when my grandmother Margaret Lyons (nee Nolan from Enniscorthy) died I was helping my father sort out her personal effects I came across a small brown paper bundle tied with twine. Inside were some items sent by her brother Private Patrick Nolan, Army number 4806, Royal Irish Regiment, 2nd Battalion while serving in France. Included were two photographs, several uniform buttons, a light infantry badge, and most importantly a handful of post cards. I have looked after these for 43 years and tomorrow I head over to Pa de Calais to see Patrick’s memorial as he has no grave. He was killed in action on the 21 August 1918. A date on one of the photographs (Jan 20th 1916) shows he had survived for two and a half years. I only found out about yours and Margaret’s work this last week and I would very much like to thank you both for all your efforts to record the names and stories of these fine Irishmen that deserve to be remembered and honoured.Perhaps we can make contact at some convenient time for you.

    Slán go fóill
    Charlie Lyons

  • Tom Burnell

    Hello Charles.
    Many thanks for your kind words. The project is an on-going one and with a little help from the powers that be the 26 counties might be completed in a reasonable time. If you try Ancestry and Findmypast you should be able to expand your knowledge of Patrick as they are increasing the quality and quantity of their databases.
    ‘Cuimhnímis iad’-We will remember them.

  • Brian Magaoidh

    Hi Tom,
    I noticed that a couple of people who wrote to you mention the 2nd Battalion RIR. I am interested in Timothy Dougherty(5480)2nd RIR who died of wounds on 04/05/1918 and is buried in Milltown, Belfast. I have his basic medical card info but would love to hear something about the 2nd B RIR and if anyone has came across his name?

  • Tom Burnell

    Hello Brian.
    If you contact Nigel Henderson on Facebook, he looks after the Belfast casualties and may have more information for you.

    You can access ‘The Campaigns and History of the Royal Irish Regiment’ in the local studies section of your local library.

    The war diaries are available for download here

    For £3.50 you get three months War Diaries for any unit.

    DOUGHERTY, TIMOTHY. Rank: Rifleman. Regiment or Service: Royal Irish Rifles. Unit; 2nd Bn. Date of Death: 4/05/1918. Service No: 5480. Born in Tipperary. Enlisted in Ballykinlar, Co Down while living in Belfast. Died at the Military Hospital, Clifton Street. Cause of Death, Gun Shot Wound, 5 months, Septicaemia. Age at Death, 35. Supplementary information; Fathers name was Daniel Doherty, gave his address on his marriage certificate as Tipperary Barracks. His father married Johanna Flynn (from Spittal, Co Tipperary) on 20th Jan 1881 and gave his address as 48th Regt, Tipperary Barracks. Timothy was married to Mary Dougherty, of No 12 ( Death cert says No 13) Cairns St, Belfast. Grave or Memorial Reference: B. NE. 11. Cemetery: Belfast (Milltown) Roman Catholic Cemetery.


  • Joan Heaphy

    Hi Tom, reading the Tipperary War Dead. I am trying to find details of my grandfather Edmond Ryan. I was excited to see the entry for Daniel O Brien, Royal Irish Regiment, of Cooladerry, Ballyporeen as I know that my grandfather joined with him. That is all I know. He did survive and apparently was decorated but he left the family home around 1928 to go to US and I have no record of him. How can I find details of his war record.

    Thanks for writing this book.

    Joan Heaphy

  • Ray Spence

    I am carrying out research into a family from Waterford by the name of Clarke. The father was a Lt Commander RNVR in WW2 and his daughter was the only Irishwoman to have died in WW2 whilst serving with the Forces. She died on the 28 Jan 1941 and is buried in Ballinakill cemetery Waterford. If anyone can give me any info on how she died I would be most grateful, also if anyone know or has an email for Tom Burnell.

  • Ray Spence

    Sorry didn`t see the remarks above, but was wondering if you have any details on Wren Margaret M Clarke who died on the 28th Jan 1941 whilst serving on board HMS Caroline. I am trying to research the family, but after as much as possible on Margaret.

  • Aidan T White

    Hello Tom, my Uncle James Threlfall (RIP), from Waterford was a Prisoner of War in the 1st World War. His daughter Patricia Taylor (RIP) gave his medals and memorabilia to somebody in Ireland and they never returned. Her last surviving sister has asked me to try and search for them and I was wondering if you could help. Regards, Aidan White, Shannon, Co Clare

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