Places to Visit in Flanders with Irish Connections

Flanders Fields A place to remember

Friday, June 2, 2017 — Places, Exhibitions and Events for Irish visitors in 2017

(includes places associated with the Battle of Messines & The Battle of Passchendaele)

Over half the number of deaths on Belgian soil fell during late spring and summer of 1917. The Battles of Messines and Passchendaele (also known as The Third Battle of Ypres) caused over half a million casualties from more than 50 nationalities.

National Remembrance ceremonies will take place to commemorate these centenaries. The local areas where the battles were fought have collaborated to provide a series of exhibitions and information points to explore the landscape and its heritage, and discover, experience and understand what took place in 1917 - ‘1917: Total War’. Each exhibition will tell the story of 1917 from the perspective of the locality concerned.

Places, Exhibitions and Events for Irish visitors in 2017

(includes places associated with the Battle of Messines & The Battle of Passchendaele)

Over half the number of deaths on Belgian soil fell during late spring and summer of 1917. The Battles of Messines and Passchendaele (also known as The Third Battle of Ypres) caused over half a million casualties from more than 50 nationalities.

National Remembrance ceremonies will take place to commemorate these centenaries. The local areas where the battles were fought have collaborated to provide a series of exhibitions and information points to explore the landscape and its heritage, and discover, experience and understand what took place in 1917 - ‘1917: Total War’. Each exhibition will tell the story of 1917 from the perspective of the locality concerned.

Battle of Messines

The successful precursor to the Battle of Passchendaele, The Battle of Messines was fought across the high ground of Wytschaete-Messines Ridge. The ridge lay in a north to south direction a few miles south of the town of Ypres. Two of the villages on the ridge were Wytschaete (called “Whitesheet” by the British troops) and Messines (now known by its Flemish name of Mesen). Planning started a year before, when tunnelling began and explosive was laid for 21 mines, of which 19 were blown at 3.10am on 7 June 1917, leaving 19 enormous craters and a roar that was said to have been heard in London. The lighting up of the sky as the detonations ran across the ridge was likened to a 'pillar of fire'. Numerous relics of this battle can be found in the landscape of the Heuvelland/ Wytschaete hilly area.

Battle of Messines Centenary National Remembrance Ceremony Ireland & UK

  • Opening Ceremony at Island of Ireland Peace Park 2.00pm
  • Closing Ceremony at Wytschaete Military Cemetery 4.00pm - remembering the Irish soldiers W. Redmond and J. Meeke. Catholic, Major Redmond MP was carried off the battlefield by the Protestant soldier, Private John Meeke, who was awarded the Military Medal for his remarkable act of bravery in tending the wounds of Major William Redmond under heavy fire.

Battle of Passchendaele

One hundred years ago, the landscape between Ypres and Passchendaele, was the scene of the bloodiest battle of the First World War in Flanders, The Third Battle of Ypres, commonly known as ‘Passchendaele’. Between 31 July and 10 November 1917, the Allies and the Germans suffered together more than 450,000 casualties. The battle consisted of a serious of smaller attacks, with brief intervals in-between. Yet, waterlogged conditions, caused by frequent periods of rain, an artillery barrage of more than 4.2 million shells left the battlefield a swamp, and the strongly fortified German defence lines enclosing the Ypres Salient made an Allied advance impossible. The ‘Battle of Passchendaele’, which ended with the capture of Passchendaele village, merely widened the Ypres Salient by 5 miles.

 

Passchendaele Centenary UK Government Official Events Ypres 30 – 31 July 2017

The public ballot closed on 24 February for the UK Government Centenary event at Tyne Cot, however, you can still register for the event at the Market Square, Ypres on the evening of 30 July. At 8pm the traditional Last Post ceremony held at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Menin Gate will be an intimate service with a limited number of attendees. Members of the public will be able to watch this event live, on large screens, just a few hundred metres away in the Market Square (Grote Markt). This will be followed by a multi-media cultural event, combining live performance with projection mapping on the iconic Cloth Hall, which will tell the story of the First World War on the Ypres Salient. As it will be a free event, it is expected to be very popular. People interested in attending should register with the organisers here

Events

  • 7 June: The centenary of the Battle of Messines

02.00pm: National Remembrance Ceremony Ireland & UK at the Island of Ireland Peace Park

04.00pm: Closing Ireland & UK Ceremony at Wytschate Military Cemetery remembering the Irish soldiers W. Redmond and J. Meeke. Catholic, Major Redmond MP was carried off the battlefield by the Protestant soldier, Private John Meeke, who was awarded the Military Medal for his remarkable act of bravery in tending the wounds of Major William Redmond under heavy fire.

  • The Last Post - Every evening since 1928 (apart from WWII) at exactly 8 o'clock, the police halt the traffic passing under the Menin Gate to allow the buglers to play their simple but moving tribute to the memory of the soldiers who fought and died here so many years ago. The daily Last Post ceremony is free and open to everyone, without the need for prior reservation. Upon request, the Last Post Association allows individuals or groups who support our mission to take part in an extended version of the ceremony. During this extended version, the participants can lay a wreath (which they must provide themselves) to commemorate the fallen. Bands, choirs, etc. who wish to perform as part of the ceremony must submit an application in advance. This extended version of the ceremony also takes place at the usual time of 8 o'clock, but lasts considerably longer than the normal ceremony, when only the Last Post is played.

You can take park in an extended ceremony during your visit  http://www.lastpost.be/en/ceremonies/participation

6th Feb Royal British Legion – Republic of Ireland are taking part

7th Feb mainly Australians and New Zealanders

8th Feb mixed

 

Exhibitions

  • ‘1917, Total War in Flanders’ – Exhibition 'Irish blood on Flemish soil', Kemmel Church - The church in Kemmel is the setting for the thematic exhibition 'Irish blood on Flemish soil'. Ireland has had a troubled history. Yet during the Mine Battle of Messines the 16th (Irish) Division and the 36th (Ulster) Division fought side by side. In view of their underlying political differences, it is justified to regard this as a unique act of partnership and co-operation. Even today, this collaborative participation in the battle has a strong symbolic value. More info: www.flandersfields.be/en/1917 E-mail: toerisme@heuvelland.be Website: www.toerismeheuvelland.be 03/06/2017 to 31/12/2017 09.00 to 17.00
  • 'Zero Hour 07-06-1917: the archaeology of a battle', Heuvelland Visitor Centre - Illustrates the material heritage left behind by the Mine Battle of Messines, in which a selection of excavated artefacts occupy a central position. The visitor will learn about the function of these objects during the battle and how they were rediscovered many years later. The exhibition also demonstrates how the wartime heritage has been dealt with in the years since the Great War came to an end. You can also see a documentary which is 20 minutes, and is a rough introduction to what happened on June 7th 1917. It gives an overview of the battles that took place between June 7th and June 14th and shows the impact of the Battle of Wijtschate-Messines Ridge on the landscape.
  • 1917: Total War, In Flanders Fields Museum - The exhibition in the Royal Hall gives the visitor a general introduction to the Mine Battle of Messines and the Third Battle of Ypres.
  • From mine explosions till a floating sea of mud, Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 - The exhibition in Zonnebeke considers the story of Passchendaele and offers a deeper experience through the museum’s permanent collections. ‘Tactics in the mud’ shows how the Battle of Passchendaele led to a completely new attitude towards modern war tactics by the military. This military history exhibition looks at the materials and tactics. Passchendaele 1917 is the first major battle in which both the British and the Germans apply their new tactics against each other. The solider is no longer seen as a small part of a group, but as an individual fighting machine whom can also take the initiative. The change in mentality led to individual courageous acts and consequently, the most Victorian Crosses were earned during the Battle of Passchendaele. Open every day from June 2017 to November 2017, from 10.30 am to 17.30pm.

Full information on www.flandersfields.be/en/1917

The cemeteries, memorials and museums

  • Messines - The Tourist Information Point & Museum (http://www.mesen.be/website-en/116-www.html. This interpretative centre tells the story of Messines, especially focused on World War One. There is a white room, where information is given on the sights of the town and the area around Messines. The black room gives a detail overview of what happened during the First World War in Messines.
  • The Peace Carillon - The carillon in Messines church tower has 59 bells. The first bell of peace (weighs more than 280 pounds) was inaugurated on 17th May 1985 in Ypres by Pope John Paul II. The carillon can be heard every 15 minutes, ringing out hymns from the nations that took part in World War I.
  • Messines Ridge British Cemetery- 1,534 soldiers are buried here with 957 being unidentified: British, Australian, New Zealand and 56 South-African soldiers. It stands on ground that belonged to the 'Institution Royale' (the Cross of Sacrifice is on the site of the Institution's windmill). It was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefield around Messines and includes the following small burial grounds:-
    •  BRISTOL CASTLE MILITARY CEMETERY, MESSINES, on the Wulverghem road near Wulverghem, where 32 United Kingdom soldiers of the 36th (Ulster) and 14th (Light) Divisions were buried in September and October, 1918.
    • ONRAET FARM CEMETERY, WYTSCHAETE, between Wytschaete and St. Eloi, in which 29 soldiers of the 36th Division were buried in June-August, 1917.
  • Wytschaete - Known to the troops as "Whitesheet", and now marked on maps as Wijtschate, this small village is about a mile north of Messines, on the main N365 road that leads from Ypres to Armentieres. As you approach from the north, you can see the church of Wytschaete dominating on the high ground. This ridge was obviously of great benefit to the Germans, in that they overlooked the British positions on the lower ground, and hence the operation to take this ground.  Wytschaete lay more or less in the centre of the front on which the attack was made. The village of Wytschaete was taken, and the British advanced around a mile beyond it on June the 7th. In the village square is an information board with a suggested walk to see some of the craters.
  • Wytschaete Military Cemetery - a post-war concentration cemetery where over two thirds of the 1002 buried or commemorated are unidentified. There are three sets of special memorial stones set behind the Stone of Remembrance to the right of the cemetery, commemorating soldiers originally buried in other cemeteries but whose graves were destroyed. For each of the three cemeteries, an additional standard 'headstone' gives details. The left set is for two men originally buried at the intriguingly named 'Rest and be Thankful Farm'. This, as well as the other two cemeteries named, R.E. (Beaver) Farm and Rossignol Estaminet. The graves of other men buried in these three cemeteries (as well as others) were concentrated here.
  • Memorial to 16th Irish Division - Located to the left hand side of the cemetery (outside its walls) is a memorial to the 16th Irish Division. The inscription reads "In commemoration of victory at Wytschaete June 7th 1917. In memory of those who fell therein, and of all Irishmen who gave their lives in the Great War RIP". The Irish Division requested that they erect a memorial here in 1923, and so this memorial, like the other to the Division at Guillemont, is some 70 years old.
  • Memorials to 16th Irish Division and one to the 36th Ulster Division - If you continue along this road, away from Wytschaete, there is a new memorial in the form of two stones, one set on each side of the road.  The new memorials were unveiled in 2007, and inscribed on each is the date 7th June 1917, and also the words "Irish comrades-in-arms". The Divisional insignia are engraved on the tops of each. The memorial is located roughly where the two Divisions joined in their successful attack to take Wytschaete.
  • Island of Ireland Peace Park, was officially opened on Armistice Day 1998, by King Albert II of Belgium, Irish President Mary McAleese and Queen Elizabeth II. The central feature is a tower, which is approached by a pathway leading past granite slabs on the right, on which are inscribed quotations and poems from Irish soldiers, including Francis Ledwidge. Around the tower are standing stones with the numbers wounded, killed or missing from the 37th Ulster, 16th Irish and 10th Irish Divisions. The figures make sobering reading: 32,186 killed, wounded or missing from the 36th (Ulster) Division; 9,363 from the 10th and 28,398 from the 16th Irish Divisions respectively. At the entrance are inscriptions dedicating the tower in Gaelic and English to all soldiers from Ireland who fought and died in the First World War This monument was erected by the Journey of Reconciliation Trust, with support from the people of Messines, and inside the base of the tower are three registers listing alphabetically those commemorated. Separate standing stoned list the battalions, including those of Munster, Leinster, Ulster and Connaught. To the south of the Peace Tower stand two bronze plaques, which describe the battle of Messines, and the Ypres salient in 1917. At the south-east corner of the site, on the largest standing stone, is a peace pledge, which reads: "As Protestants and Catholics we apologise for the terrible deeds we have done to each other and ask forgiveness. We appeal to all people in Ireland to help build a peaceful and tolerant society. Remember the solidarity and trust between Protestant and Catholic soldiers when they served together in these trenches". On the reverse of this stone are the names of towns in Ireland from which soldiers came to fight. The site of the memorial is not the actual location where the two Irish divisions fought next to one another in the Battle of Messines Ridge in June 1917. Nevertheless, visitors can look to the west from the memorial across to the battle area of Wijtschaete / Wijtschate where they were in action.
  • Spanbroekmolen British Cemetery. This was almost exclusively used for burying some of those who fell on the first day of the Battle of Messines, June the 7th, 1917 (three graves are from June the 8th). All except one grave are those of men of the 36th Ulster Division (the Royal Irish Rifles and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers), and this cemetery was actually lost in later fighting, and only rediscovered after the Armistice. This small cemetery has no register on the site, and consists of just five rows of graves, comprising 58 burials. Of these, 52 are identified, and there are also special memorials at the front of the cemetery for six soldiers known to be buried in the cemetery. All six are from the Royal Irish Rifles, as are many of the other graves here. This lonely aspect and the small size of the cemetery somehow brings the massive conflict down to a human level. A track leads west to this, which encircles another mine-crater, Spanbroekmolen.
  • Spanbroekmolen ‘The Pool of Peace’ - The largest of the mines which were blown at the start of the assault on Messines Ridge. At the entrance to the site is an information board, giving facts about the mine and the crater. Before it was blown, the mine was 88 feet deep, containing 91,000 lbs of ammonal. Once it was blown, the crater was 250 feet wide (with a 90 feet wide rim), and 40 feet deep. The crater was purchased in 1929 by Toc H and has thus been preserved. It was renamed "The Pool of Peace". Towards the north-east of the crater the protruding remains of a bunker can be seen. From the aspect of the entrances, which are visible, plus the location, this would probably have been a German bunker.
  • Lone Tree Cemetery - The cemetery is shaped like a cut off Y, with two arms and contains 88 burials (six of whom are unknown), and these are graves mainly of the Royal Irish Rifles, killed on the 7th of June, some actually by the explosion of the Spanbroekmolen mine (which was blown around 15 seconds later than planned) as they advanced. Three graves stand by themselves, one of an unknown soldier and two of Royal Field Artillery soldiers killed later on the third of July 1917. A single grave at the edge of the cemetery is also RFA, killed on the 11th of July 1917.
  • Locre Hospice Cemetery - (now Loker) was in Allied hands during the greater part of the war, and field ambulances were stationed in the Convent of St. Antoine. The village changed hands several times between 25 and 30 April 1918, when it was recaptured by the French. The hospice, or convent, was the scene of severe fighting on 20 May, but was not retaken until first week in July.The Hospice Cemetery was begun in June 1917 by field ambulances and fighting units, and was used until April 1918. After the Armistice four graves were transferred to it from the garden of the Hospice, which was ultimately rebuilt. The cemetery now contains 244 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 12 of the burials are unidentified and ten graves destroyed by shellfire are now represented by special memorials.
  • Major Willie Redmond Grave - Locre.  A Celtic cross, marking the grave of Major W H K (Willie) Redmond, Member of Parliament for Wexford, stands 100 meters along a grass track on the northern side of the Locre Hospice Cemetery. Major Redmond was mortally wounded at the battle of Messines and was buried in the Convent garden of the Locre hospice and his widow erected this memorial to mark his grave. Until the late 1950's the grave was maintained by a Sister from the (new) Locre hospice. In the 1990's the land was purchased by the Belgian State and is now maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
  • Menin Gate - The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates casualties from the forces of Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and United Kingdom who died in the Salient. In the case of United Kingdom casualties, only those prior 16 August 1917 (with some exceptions). United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot and New Zealand casualties that died prior to 16 August 1917 are commemorated on memorials at Buttes New British Cemetery and Messines Ridge British Cemetery. The YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, was unveiled by Lord Plumer on 24 July 1927.

Battle of Passchendaele

  • Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 – Presents the historic story of the First World War in a poignant and vivid way, with a particular emphasis on the Battle of Passchendaele. It combines the interactive design of a modern museum with the exceptional aspect of experiencing the Dugouts & Trenches. The museum section provides an overview of the five battles of Ypres, including the Battle of Passchendaele. Using historical objects, authentic letters, posters and other documents, uniforms of the various armies and video clips etc. both young and old get an insight into how life must have been on and around the battlefields. The tour then continues through the unique Dugout Experience. As a visitor, you discover how the British went to live underground in 1917. An oppressive experience that creates a disconcerting picture of the miserable and claustrophobic living conditions at that time. The visit concludes at the faithful reconstruction of German and British trenches, along which original shelters have been replicated. Experience the terrifying feeling that befell the soldiers when they were ‘imprisoned’ here.
  • Artillery Wood Cemetery - Until July 1917, the village of Boesinghe (now Boezinge) directly faced the German front line over the Yser canal, but at the end of that month, the Battle of Pilckem Ridge pushed the German line back and Artillery Wood, just east of the canal, was captured by the Guards Division. They began the cemetery just north of the wood when the fighting was over and it continued as a front line cemetery until March 1918. At the time of the Armistice, the cemetery contained 141 graves (of which 42 belonged to the Royal Artillery), but it was then greatly enlarged when graves were brought in from the battlefields and small burial grounds around Boesinghe, including the following:-
    • BOESINGHE CHATEAU GROUNDS CEMETERY, on the South-West side of the road between the village and the station, containing 19 graves of soldiers from the United Kingdom (mainly of the Guards Division) who fell in June-August 1917.
    • CAPTAIN'S FARM CEMETERY, LANGEMARCK, 3 Km West of Langemarck village, a group of graves in which 63 soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried in July 1917-March 1918, chiefly by the Guards and 29th Divisions.

There are now 1,307 First World War casualties buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 506 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate 12 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Visitors to Artillery Wood Cemetery looking for the grave of Francis Ledwidge will also be interested to know that the comrades who died with him on that day are also buried near him in Plot II. Lance Serjeant Harte (grave reference II.D.20); Private Evans (grave reference II.D.10); Private Mattingley (grave reference II.E.14); Private Robert Sharman (grave reference II.D.4.).

  • Francis Ledwidge Memorial – Located close to Artillery Wood Cemetery, the Ledwidge memorial is inscribed with lines from a verse of his poem “Lament for Thomas MacDonagh”:

“He shall not hear

The bittern cry

In the wild sky

Where he is lain.”

  • Tyne Cot Cemetery - 'Tyne Cot' or 'Tyne Cottage' was the name given by the Northumberland Fusiliers to a barn which stood near the level crossing on the Passchendaele-Broodseinde road. The barn, which had become the centre of five or six German blockhouses, or pill-boxes, was captured by the 3rd Australian Division on 4 October 1917, in the advance on Passchendaele.

One of these pill-boxes was unusually large and was used as an advanced dressing station after its capture. From 6 October to the end of March 1918, 343 graves were made, on two sides of it, by the 50th (Northumbrian) and 33rd Divisions, and by two Canadian units. The cemetery was in German hands again from 13 April to 28 September, when it was finally recaptured, with Passchendaele, by the Belgian Army. There are now 11,961 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in Tyne Cot Cemetery. 8,373 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to more than 80 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate 20 casualties whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. There are also 4 German burials, 3 being unidentified.

  • Tyne Cot Memorial - Those United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after 16th August 1917 are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war. The TYNE COT MEMORIAL now bears the names of almost 35,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial forms the north-eastern boundary of TYNE COT CEMETERY, which was established around a captured German blockhouse or pill-box used as an advanced dressing station. The original battlefield cemetery of 343 graves was greatly enlarged after the Armistice when remains were brought in from the battlefields of Passchendaele and Langemarck, and from a few small burial grounds. It is now the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world in terms of burials. At the suggestion of King George V, who visited the cemetery in 1922, the Cross of Sacrifice was placed on the original large pill-box. There are three other pill-boxes in the cemetery. There are now 11,961 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in Tyne Cot Cemetery, 8,373 of these are unidentified.

For more information on the above www.visitflanders.com/en/passchendaele-sites/

Some of the personal stories

  • Patrick Alphonsus Hanratty - Born in 4 October 1895 in Drogheda, Ireland and died in 1958. He enlisted on 29 October 1915 and served in several units: the 3rd Royal Irish Regiment (29 October 1915 – 8 July 1916), the 10th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (16 July 1916 – 16 January 1918) and the Machine Gun Corps (20 January 1918 – 1 May 1918). On 14 June 1917, Alphie wrote a remarkable letter from the front which has been preserved. He described to his mother his impressions of the first day of the Mine Battle. Together with his comrades in the 10th Battalion (South Belfast Volunteers), Royal Irish Rifles (part of the 107th Brigade in the 36th Ulster Division), he advanced resolutely up the Wijtschate ridge. The battalion was able to capture all its objectives with relatively light losses (three casualties in his platoon). His company commander, Lieutenant Robert McLaurin, aged 31, was killed and now lies buried in Dranouter Military Cemetery. Alphie survived the war and became a doctor. He was awarded the McArdle Gold Medal for Surgery. His only son Brian is still actively involved in commemorating events in which his father took part. www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVBEzdPfx8U&index=3&list=PLBasit19z4oMEhGd2qd9P-a0iSWouo05k
  • Major William Hoey Kearney Redmond was born on 15 April 1861 into a Catholic gentry family of Norman descent that had been associated with County Wexford for seven centuries. His father, William Archer Redmond, was the Home Rule Party MP for Wexford Borough from 1872 to 1880 and was the nephew of the elder John Edward Redmond who is commemorated in Redmond Square near Wexford railway station. Willie Redmond's older brother was John Redmond who became leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. Willie Redmond became also became an MP and was elected MP for the Clare East constituency, from which he was returned unopposed from 1900 until his death. With the advent of the First World War, John Redmond, then the leader of Irish Parliamentary Party, called on Irish Volunteers to enlist in the Irish regiments of the Kitchener's New Service Army, namely the 10th and 16th (Irish) Divisions, in the belief that it would strengthen the cause to later implement the Home Rule Act, which had been suspended for the duration of the war. At 53 years of age, Willie Redmond was one of the first Nationalist Volunteers to volunteer for the army after hearing that a German Zeppelin had bombed civilian targets in Britain. In doing so, he addressed vast gatherings of fellow Volunteers, Hibernians and the UIL, encouraging voluntary enlistment in support of the British and Allied war cause and "for the greater good". In November 1914 he made a famous recruiting speech in Cork; "I do not say to you go, but grey haired and old as I am, I say come, come with me to the war. If Germany wins we are all endangered."He felt that he might serve Ireland best in the firing line and was one of five Irish MPs who served with Irish brigades.

He served in the Royal Irish Regiment, and went to the Western Front with the 16th (Irish) Division in the winter of 1915-16 and was promoted to the rank of Major on 15 July 1916andreturned to his beloved 'A' Company of the 6th Battalion the night before the Battle of Messines on the 6 June 1917, where according to his commanding officer "he spoke to every man". One of the nineteen mines blown on 7 June was at Macdelstede Farm immediately in front of the Royal Irish Regiment's 'A' and 'B' companies, which then advanced shoulder to shoulder with men of 36th (Ulster) Division in the great attack on Messines Ridge and towards the small village of Wytschaete (now Wijtschate). On reaching their first objectives the remainder of the battalion ('C' & 'D' Coys) passed through them and took Wyteschaete. But Major Willie Redmond was hit almost immediately in the wrist and then in the leg; unable to carry on he could do no more than urge his men forward. Some distance away from where Willie Redmond lay, Pte John Meeke of the 36th (Ulster) Division's 11th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was searching the battlefield for the wounded and saw the Major fall. Using what cover he could, he made his way to the 16th (Irish) Division officer he had seen and as he tended the Major's wounds they came under heavy fire resulting in Meeke receiving a wound to his left side. The Major saw that the young Ulsterman was bleeding profusely and ordered him to return to the British lines. Pte Meeke refused and moments later was hit again. Again the Major gave Pte Meeke an order to return to the British lines and yet again he refused. The two men were repeatedly fired on until they were eventually rescued by a patrol from the 36th (Ulster) Division who were escorting German prisoners back to British lines. Major Redmond was carried off the field of battle to a Casualty Clearing Station located at a hospice in the grounds of the Locre (now Loker) Catholic Convent where, despite the efforts of field surgeons, died that afternoon. The nuns buried him in the grounds of the hospice and three months later a special service at the graveside was attended by Irish leaders along with members of both 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) Divisions. Later, the ground was fought over again and after the War the ruined hospice was rebuilt on a new site nearer to the village of Locre. Willie Redmond's grave was moved to the nearby war cemetery but at the request of his family it was moved once again to a spot outside the cemetery wall where it remains to this day.

  • Pte John Meeke from the Montgomery Estate in Benvarden, near Ballymoney, Co. Antrim was awarded the Military Medal for his remarkable act of bravery in tending the wounds of Major William Redmond under heavy fire.
  • Francis Ledwidge - Although a fierce opponent of British rule over Ireland, Francis Ledwidge joined up after his girlfriend had left him. He wrote many of his famous poems during this last phase of his life. He was killed during the Battle of Langemark in the summer of 1917. Ledwidge rests at Artillery Wood Cemetery and has his own memorial close by. Francis Edward Ledwidge was killed aged 29 on the battlefield at Boesinghe on 31st July 1917, the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres. He was serving with the 1st Battalion of the Irish Regiment the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  He was in a party of men carrying out repairs to the Boesinghe-Pilkem road at Rose Cross Roads. As Francis and his comrades were working on the road repairs a German artillery shell exploded near them. Ledwidge was killed as were several other men. He is buried in Artillery Wood British Military Cemetery at grave reference Plot II. Row B. Grave 5. The records listing Soldiers Died in the Great War list 5 soldiers of 1st Battalion Royal Irish Inniskilling Fusiliers being killed on that day: Lance Corporal Ledwidge aged 29 (no. 1638), Lance Serjeant John Harte (no. 4049), Private Henry P Evans (no. 41376), Private Frank Mattingley aged 29 (no. 41108) and Private Robert Sharman (no. 41312). Another soldier in the battalion, Private Henry Newman aged 23 (no. 41083), is recorded as having died of wounds on that day. It's possible that he was working with the same group of men when he was wounded. He evidently died before he made it to a medical facility because he is not recorded as having a known grave. He is commemorated on Panel 22 for the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing.
  • Fr William Joseph Gabriel Doyle was from Dalkey, a suburb of Dublin. He entered the Jesuit Novitiate at the age of 18 after reading St. Alphonsus’ book “Instructions and Consideration on the Religious State”. Soon after his ordination in 1907, his superiors appointed him on the mission staff for five years. From 1908 to 1915, he gave no less than 152 missions and retreats. His fame as preacher, confessor and spiritual director spread wide and far, and he had a special gift to hunt out the most hardened and neglected sinners and to bring them back with him to the church for confession. He was finally appointed during World War I chaplain of the 16th Irish Division, serving with 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 9th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 6th Royal Irish Rifles and the 7th Royal Irish Rifles. He was awarded the Military Cross in January, 1917 and took part in the attack on Wytschaete Ridge in June,1917. He had a number of close calls before he was killed by a shell along with three officers on 17 August, on Frezenberg Ridge during the Battle of Langemark. He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial (Panel 144 to 145).
Artillery Wood Cemetery
Lone Tree Cemetery
Major Willie Redmond's Grave
Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917  Trench Reconstruction
Peace Tower - Messines
The Pool of Peace
Tyne Cot Memorial