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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Carlow Soldiers Story


D" Company of the 2nd Battalion. Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

12 September 1914

The following soldiers from Carlow all served with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in 1914

Private John Brophy of Carlow
Private Denis Parr of Carlow
Private Patrick Hennessy of Carlow-Graigue

The following was told by Pte Denis Parr of Carlow. Each man had to tell a similar tale of generous treatment at the hands of the French. There was no exception to this rule.

"I'm anxious to go back to the front again", Pte. Parr, of Carlow, told me, "If they'd give me two hours first to go and see my people at home." Perhaps he will get the chance he so ardently desires. At any rate, he is fit and sprightly and well "Would you like this as a souvenir?" he asked handing me a little book of cigarette paper hearing the name on the cover "Papier Goudron Lax." "It was given me by a Frenchmen when were in hiding in a wood near Lews, but of course, it was no good to me, as I had no tobacco. But the French people keep pressing things on you over there - whatever they may have, and if you are writing anything about us don't forget to say that anything like the hospitality of the French people to the British soldiers it is impossible to imagine.

CARLOW SOLDIERS STORY - 12 September 1914

"We were at La Cateau," said Private Parr, "and had to retire to a village - I can't remember the name of it - and in the retirement we were again attacked some of us went to the right of the village and some to the left, while others went straight on. We had run into an ambush it seemed and we were in a tight corner. About 25 of us found ourselves crossing a railway line and after crossing we met Captain Clarke with about 18 men near the village of Ligay. The Captain managed it beautifully, and we broke through the enemy's line of communication and marched to Lens, from that to Fervent, and from that came back by train to Boulogne.

From there we were taken across to Folkestone. During the time we spent travelling before we got the train we worked all day in the fields for the farmer and walked all night. We captured two Germans on our way and found that one of them was armed with one of our rifles. Some of the fellows who joined us had been captured and had escaped. Once we caught a German soldier, who was either cut off or scouting. We blindfolded him lest he should tell which way we had gone, and tied him to a tree, telling the natives to release him after we had gone.

He had "one of our rifles" and a Bayonet and one round of ammunition. "Some fellows of the Royal Scouts told us that ten of them had been captured by the Germans, who stripped them of their clothes, motioned them to run off and fired after them as they ran. They escaped - all ten of them - Scot free. But there's no mistake about it they're terribly bad shots, these Germans. Before we fell in with captain Clarke's company a chap names Morgan and I while crossing a Bridge were fired on by the Germans. We could not see them and I don't know how many of them were firing at us, but there must have been quite a number. But they hit neither of us.

"One of our chaps who was captured and managed to escape told us the Germans had made him march in front of their firing line when attacking us. I don't know where he got to eventually, but "he escaped from the enemy that time".

Lance-Corporal Ormsby told me a corroborative story, their idea in making for Boulogne in the first instance, he said, was to rejoin the troops. When they reached Boulogne, however, they found that the base had been changed and were sent to England. Private Lawler (Athy) told me of a rather humorous, but withal pathetic, little incident that occurred after they became detached from their comrades. "At Le Caudry (Courtois), a village, "He said a party of Germans pounced upon us and opened fire. There were only two of us there, but I suppose they didn't know that. We returned the compliments and fired like devils, as we made up our minds to die game. Joe Salinger, of Carlow, was my comrade, and between us we shot eight Germans. Don't forget to say that. Poor Joe got a Bullet in the knee and was taken to hospital, but "we polished the beggars off". We were both nearly satisfied to die then we had eight of them to our credit between us. But what do you think happened? We were fighting them near the hospital and had finished our work when a full corporal rushed up to me, caught me by the back of the neck and asked me did I want to get the hospital destroyed."

The poor fellow spoke as if he felt an undeserved slight had been thrown upon him after his notable accomplishment.

Corporal Walshe (Limerick) had an exciting story of his adventures. "We were at Le Caudry, he said eight of us altogether, who had become cut off from our regiment. The major thought it desirable, as the Germans were about, that we should hide. We lay in a cave for five days, and while there got information that the German were searching the wood for us. Two of our fellows used to go up a tree to see what was going on and how the land lay the people about used to bring us food and leave it inside a wall close to the cave. One day our scouts found food left there as usual and attached to the cork of one of the bottles was a note telling us to be prepared to leave the village in disguise as the position was becoming dangerous. On that day - Tuesday - civilian clothes were sent in to us and we were warned to be prepared to leave that night. We left - 17 of us in all, made up of our eight and nine others belonging to different crops. From which they had been cut off.

"At daybreak we arrived at another village and were informed by the inhabitants that in a village on our left the Prussians had an hospital. We managed to procure a map and compass and made our way as best we could until passing along the road to Cambrai we got in contact with a "German Convoy 3 miles long". We were of course, disguised as French peasants, and our only chance seemed to be to start work, so we went a little further on beside the Convoy and turned into a field where we set to work making up storks of corn. The Germans paid no attention to us and we pushed on to another village that night. Coming near the village the Sergeant-major in charge of us - Sergt.-Major O'Connor - went to look for some food at a house, but the French man in charge of the house did not want us and told us to go. We went and lay under some trees, when suddenly we heard a noise that alarmed us. Almost immediately two motor transports with provisions for the enemy passed close by to where we were. We then decided to cross the main road and make for the shelter of some storks of corn on the opposite side, while two of our party agreed to go back to the village to try to get some food. They went to the village, but could get nothing. Suddenly they came in contact with the German sentries near the village and had to beat a hasty retreat.

Next morning we started away at five o'clock and walk to the village of Mons, where the inhabitants gave us a good reception and food. The chief magistrate sent to Arras to ascertain if any of the enemy were there. A French paper chanced to come in calling up the French Reservists - the second French army. The chief magistrate of Mons decided we could remain till one or two o'clock and be accompanied by "some French Reservisit". He procured us a car, which carried us to another village, where we were joined by the French Reservists. They had a few cyclists with them who patrolled the roads. Between the different villages to see the coast of clear.

"We stopped at a village called Beaumetz that night and left at 4.30 the following morning for St. Pol. when we arrived at St. Pol. a woman, who spoke very good English, met us and took us to the mansion house, and there we got some food. We left St. Pol. by the 6 o'clock train that evening for Boulogne and reported to the Vice Consul., who directed us to proceed by the 9 o'clock boat the following morning and we landed at Folkestone safe and sound".

"Well told - like a book," said another soldier, who, like the corporal, still wore the French peasant costume supplied them after their cave life. Both he and the Corporal, I discovered, were reservists of the 2nd Battalion and both had been through the Boar war together. Nor are they yet tried of service on the Frontier. They are in high hopes of being sent away with the men of the next detachment leaving for the front.


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