The Minute Book of the "Comrades of the Great
War Society" records that the first meeting of the society was called by
Lieut-Colonel Browne-Clayton on Monday, 30th December, 1918.
It was held in the Deighton Memorial Hall,
The meeting was attended by 67 men, many of them
ex-soldiers of the British Army, wearing the Discharge Silver Badge.
Also among the attendance were a number of men
wearing Khaki, home on leave or invalided out. There were also a number
of civilians present who had relatives in service.
The meeting was addressed by Sapper B. W.
Bagenal, 10th Field Company, Australian Engineers.
It was decided to establish a "Post" in Carlow
Sapper Bagenal stated: "that it was imperative
that rooms or a building should be procured in order to establish a
meeting and recreation place for members.”
"Other desirable arrangements in the interests
of members would include a Library and Reading Room with a plentiful
supply of quality newspapers, a Licence to sell Beer would be sought and
a canteen established where members who have stood "shoulder to
shoulder" in the Great War on the Sea, Land and in the Air, would be
able to spend leisure time among old comrades and friends".
Mr. W.J. Webster, late C.Q.M.S., Royal
Inniskilling Fusiliers, and Organising Secretary for central Ireland
The following Officers and Committee were
- Trustees: Viscount French, Lord Beresford, Colonel John Ward,
M.P. Rev. S. Ridgeway.
- President: Lieut-Colonel Robert Browne-Clayton, D.S.O.
- Officers: General Lewis, D.S.O. Commander Forbes.
- Medical Advisor: Dr. W.H. O' Meara, M.D. Carlow Pensions
Committee Medical Referee.
- Captain: Sergeant-Major Trundle
- Chairman: Rev. S. Ridgeway.
- Chairman: Mr. B.F. Bagenal. D.L.
- Hon. Treasurer: John Norris.
- Secretary: John Connolly.
- Committee: Ex-Sergeant Bigley, Graigue; Sergeant Rea, Sergeant
Bigley, Carlow; J. Bryan, J. Connolly, M. Geoghegan, C. Burke, J.
Morris, P. Geoghegan, P. Shaw, C. Connell, W. Curran, T. Walker. M.
Millar, P. Nolan, J. Kelly.
Addressing the meeting Colonel Browne-Clayton
"Members could travel to any town in the Empire
and ask for the nearest "Comrades Club" there they would find a friend
who will help them in any way he can.”
Tonight we have a "Post" but when we have 100
members we will be enlarged to a Branch. Posts are already established
in Rathvilly, Tullow and Bagenalstown.
We are non-political and non-sectarian; we have
won the right to have a voice in the affairs of Ireland and a
responsibility which will be wisely used. We must help the men who are
due to be discharged and welcome them settle into new conditions which
may have arisen during their long absence.
To help them settle down to everyday civilian
life and work and to help them fight reaction.
We will parade on Victory Day on a date yet to
be decided, men will want to look sharp and presentable on the day".
Standing on the table, General Lewis then
addressed the meeting:-
As an old soldier, who followed the drum for
forty years, I tell you the success of the movement will depend upon us
all sticking together, we should be comrades, in sickness and in health,
in bad times and good times, as we were in the trenches of which I have
had experience, remember the trenches and we shall achieve victory for
our cause and glory for our comrades, remember the trenches, men.".
Mr Geoghegan told the meeting that there were
plans to hold a Social and Dance in the Deighton Hall in February, he
said he would welcome any support from the members.
Mr. Curran said that he knew of a building in
Burrin Street that could be restored and made of use for meetings. Rev.
Ridgeway replied that Mr Slocock had contacted him earlier that day in
relation to the vacant building referred to by Mr. Curran, and he would
be asking the committee to look at it next week.
Colonel Browne-Clayton offered to pay the rent
for the first twelve months if the building was suitable.
The meeting concluded with the singing of the National Anthem and three
rousing cheers for the King.
Source: Michael Purcell
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