Sunday, 13 April 2014

A/7579 Private Patrick CONDRON (1894 - 1916)

The Battle of the Somme (1 July – 18 November 1916) still has a particular resonance, especially in the United Kingdom. It was one of the costliest battles of the First World War in human lives, with more than one million casualties and more than 300,000 killed or missing. On the first day alone, British forces suffered 57,000 casualties including more than 19,000 men killed.   

The location of the Somme offensive in northern France was chosen in large part because it was planned as a join French-British action where the forces of the two allies were both engaged on the front line. It was not ideal militarily, since the German front line was strong there and commanded the high ground. British Commander-in-Chief General Haig would have preferred to mount an attack further north in Belgium. In fact, the Somme offensive was largely a British military action because the German offensive of 1916 against Verdun drew French efforts away to defend against that.

The area of the Battle of the Somme, showing the Allied front line on 1 July 1916 (solid line) and on 19 November (dashed line). Image courtesy of Cruttenden Connections.
The initial battle plan was founded in the optimistic conceit that the bombardment of the German lines by Allied artillery would cut the barbed-wire defences and leave no-one alive in the opposing trenches, meaning that the infantry troops of the British Fourth Army would be able to cross no-mans land and take the German trenches unopposed. In fact, many German troops saw out a week of artillery bombardment sheltering in dug-outs. Thus on the fateful morning of 1 July 1916, as the British infantry advanced from their trenches at 7.30am and walked across no-mans land, they were assailed by machine-gun fire from the German front line. The British battalions advanced at a slow walk, wave after wave in slow formation, their rifles held aslant in front of them with bayonets upwards. By the end of the day, many of the battalions (initially one thousand men strong) were left with hardly one hundred men.

Although the British barely made any advance around Thiepval, on the left and right flanks they had greater success. The British commanders were slow to capitalize on those successes in the coming days, but General Rawlinson leading the Fourth Army subsequently formed a plan to break through the German defences on the right in the area of Longueval. Advancing under cover of darkness after a brief artillery bombardment, the British troops started an assault early on 14 July against the Bazentin Ridge, and eventually captured Longueval on 18 July. The 33rd Division, including the 1st Battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), were part of that action and the attack on High Wood on 20 July.

I shall write more of the Battle of the Somme in my next posting.

Private Patrick CONDRON (service no. A/7579) was killed in action on 20 July 1916 in the Battle of the Somme.

Patrick CONDRON was born in Queen’s County, Ireland, in late 1894, and baptised in Doonane Roman Catholic parish. His parents were Michael and Catherine (née KELLY) CONDRON. He moved with his family to Scotland, where he is listed in the 1901 census for New Monkland, Lanarkshire. In the 1911 census he is a coal miner (hewer) living in New Monkland with his father, two brothers and four sisters. Patrick enlisted in Maryborough, Queen’s County, with the Leinster Regiment (service no. 3157). At the time of his death he was serving in the 1st Battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).

Michael CONDRON and Catherine (Kate) KELLY married on 22 October 1893 in Mayo church in the parish of Doonane, Queen’s County, Ireland. Michael is recorded as a miner in the 1901 Scottish census and as a coal miner (hewer) in the 1911 census. Catherine, who was born in about 1874, died in the first months of 1911. The couple had the following children: Patrick (1894), Mary (1896), Elizabeth (1898) and Bridget (1900), all born in Ireland; and Catherine, John and Michael, all born in New Monkland, Scotland.

Patrick CONDRON’s grandfather was also a Michael CONDRON. It seems likely that Patrick’s father Michael was baptised in Doonane in 1870. In that case, Patrick’s grandmother was Mary KEATING. Michael CONDRON and Mary KEATING married in Doonane in 1857. They had a number of children, including Mary (1858), John (1859), Michael (1870), Alicia (1872), James (1874), John (1876), Catherine (1878) and Bernard (1882). Michael CONDRON senior was a farmer, according to Michael CONDRON junior’s marriage certificate.

Patrick CONDRON is buried in the London Cemetery and Extension, Longueval, northern France.

The London Cemetery and Extension, Longueval (courtesy

For other blog posts about CONDR*Ns in the First World War, click on "First World War" in the Labels list on the right of the blog web page. Comments and corrections welcome, either by leaving a comment below or by email to me: CONDRAN[AT]ONE-NAME.ORG

Saturday, 15 March 2014

3015 Private Lawrence CONDREN (1877 - 1915)

I have written previously about the Gallipoli campaign from its beginning through June 1915. In July 1915, the British government decided to send a further five divisions of troops to strengthen the seven divisions already on the Gallipoli peninsula. The land forces commander, Sir Ian Hamilton, planned an operation to  sever the middle of the peninsula with attacks from both Anzac Cove and Sulva Bay, five miles to the north of Anzac. Troops landed at Sulva Bay on 6 August and initially took the Turkish forces by surprise, but the offensive failed and the Allied forces found themselves pinned down. New Australian troops landed at Anzac in August and September. But soon the autumn rains came, and in London the British government began to explore withdrawing Allied forces from Gallipoli. Hamilton opposed the withdrawal plan, and was promptly replaced as commander by Sir Charles Munro. Lord Kitchener visited the peninsula in November and decided that evacuation was inevitable. Troops were withdrawn from Anzac and Sulva in mid-December 1915, and the last Allied troops were withdrawn from Helles on the night of 8 January 1916. The Gallipoli campaign was over.

In his History of the First World War, Liddell Hart writes, “Thus the curtain rang down on a sound and far-sighted conception, marred by a chain of errors in execution almost unrivalled even in British history.”

Estimates of the total casualties in the Gallipoli campaign vary, but one source estimates that the Allied casualties (excluding those due to illness) were 56,700 dead (including nearly 9,000 Australians and over 2,700 New Zealanders) and 123,600 wounded. The numbers of casualties amongst the Turkish troops were similar.

Private Lawrence CONDREN (service no. 3015) was killed in action on 15 August 1915 in Gallipoli. Lawrence CONDREN was born in 1877 in Cardiff, Wales, and was christened on 12 September of that year at St. David’s Roman Catholic church. He was the son of David and Sarah (nee ROSSER) CONDREN.

David CONDREN (born 1850, died 1916) married Sarah ROSSER (born about 1849, died 1909) in Cardiff in 1870. David was a ships’ rigger. The couple had a number of children in Cardiff, including Rosavena (born 1872), Mary Jane (1875), Lawrence or Laurence (1877), William (1883) and Arthur (1890). Other children could be David, Albert and Violet.

Lawrence’s grandfather was William CONDREN (born about 1824), who married Jane NEWTON in 1849 at St. Mary the Virgin’s church, Cardiff. I have written previously about this family.

Lawrence CONDREN joined the Royal Munster Fusiliers, and served in “C” Company, 6th Battalion. He was killed in action on the Gallipoli peninsula on 15 August 1915. He is memorialized on the Helles Memorial, Turkey.

For other blog posts about CONDR*Ns in the First World War, click on "First World War" in the Labels list on the right of the blog web page. Comments and corrections welcome, either by leaving a comment below or by email to me: CONDRAN[AT]ONE-NAME.ORG

Sunday, 2 March 2014

9249 Private John CONDRON (1898 - 1915)

I wrote previously about the beginning of the Gallipoli campaign (see here). The Allies had missed what opportunity there might initially have been on 25-26 April to make rapid advances inland from the less well-defended landing beaches. Now, with the Turkish defenders reinforced, the campaign became one of trench warfare, much like on the Western Front. The conditions as experienced by the ordinary soldier are well described in the original diaries of Private Horace Bruckshaw (Royal Marine LightInfantry).

In the following weeks, the Allied troops who had landed at Cape Helles made painfully slow advances up the tip of the peninsula. The 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers (the “1st Dublins”) suffered such grave losses between 25 April and 30 April that they were reduced to a single officer and 374 men (from an initial strength of 25 officers and over 900 men). The numbers of casualties were so great that on 30 April the 1st Dublins and the 1st Battalion Munster Fusiliers, who had also suffered enormous casualties, were amalgamated. The composite battalion became known as the “Dubsters”. On 19 May, some reinforcements arrived and the 1st Dublins were reconstituted as a separate unit.

The Allies slowly advanced on Krithia, a small town on the slopes of Achi Baba. Private Bruckshaw described Krithia as looking “very quaint and picturesque from our front line of trenches”. But he went on to explain, “I have not yet had the privilege of seeing it from a nearer point owing to the strenuous resistance of the Turks”. The Irish troops were very much in the midst of the action. Another witness  recounts in late May: “We got to the spot at Achi Baba where the Munsters and the Dublin Fusiliers, during a gallant advance, had been enfiladed by machine-gun fire, and literally mown down. From the trench we had occupied we could see the men lying just as they had fallen, while trying to take cover. There they were, on the open ground, absolutely riddled with bullets … .” A witness account for 21 June reads, “I passed in The Gully what remained of the Dublin Fusiliers, less than a company”.

Private John CONDRON (service no. 9249) was killed in action on 15 June 1915 in Gallipoli. John CONDRON was born in 1898, south of Dublin. He was the son of John and Mary (née WALSHE) CONDRON. John is described as a “labourer” in the 1911 census for Edmondstown village, Whitechurch, Dublin, where he is living with his parents, four brothers and two sisters. Subsequently he joined up in the 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

John’s father, also John CONDRON (born about 1853), married Mary WALSH(E) (born about 1870) on 14 November 1892, south of Dublin. The couple had at least ten children, of whom I know of eight: Michael Joseph (born 1893), Bridget Mary (1895), Mary Teresa (1896), John (1898), Patrick (1901), James (1905), William (1907) and Susan (1910).

John senior is described as a labourer in the 1901 and 1911 censuses. I believe that Mary WALSHE was probably his second wife, and that he previously married a Margaret CROTTY in 1885. That couple had a daughter, Margaret Mary, born in 1886. This child as well as Bridget Mary and Mary Teresa were all baptised at Bohernabreena church, south-west of Dublin.

John CONDRON was killed in action on the Gallipoli peninsula on 15 June 1915, aged 16, and is buried in the Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery, Turkey.

For other blog posts about CONDR*Ns in the First World War, click on "First World War" in the Labels list on the right of the blog web page. Comments and corrections welcome, either by leaving a comment below or by email to me: CONDRAN[AT]ONE-NAME.ORG

Sunday, 16 February 2014

7401 Private Martin CONDRON (1889 - 1915)

I wrote last time about the Gallipoli Campaign. For more details of the origins and first days of that campaign, click here.

Private Martin CONDRON (service no. 7401) was killed in action on 26 April 1915 at Cape Helles, Gallipoli. Martin Andrew CONDRON was born on 26 November 1889, at Newarthill Bridge, near Holytown, Lanarkshire, in Scotland. He was the son of Patrick and Mary (née LAWLOR) CONDRON.

Martin came from a long line of coal miners. His father died in the Holytown registration district when Martin was 7 years old, and his mother remarried in 1899, to a James O’NEILL. In the 1901 census for Holytown, Martin is living with his mother and stepfather, two sisters and a half-sister. Two years later, when Martin was 13, his mother died. In the 1911 census for Prestonpans, near Edinburgh, Martin is boarding in the household of a Michael Corrie and his occupation is given as “coal miner – hewer”. It was in Prestonpans that Martin enlisted in the 1st Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

Martin’s parents, Patrick CONDRON and Mary LAWLOR, were married in Cleland, Lanarkshire, on 30 October 1886. Patrick’s occupation is given as coal miner, both in the 1881 census and on his marriage certificate. The couple had three children: Martin Andrew (1889), Maria (1895) and Catherine (1897).

His grandfather, Patrick CONDRON, was born in about 1837, probably in Ireland. He married Maria GORMLY on 21 February 1859, in Linlithgow, Scotland. The couple had at least two children: Mary (born 1859) and Martin’s father Patrick (1861).

Martin’s great-grandparents were Patrick CONRAN and Dorothia (alternatively Dora, Dolly) BYRNE. Patrick was a coal miner in Doonane, Queen’s County, Ireland, and the couple were married there in 1816. Patrick died sometime before 1859; his widow, Dolly, died in Shotts, Lanarkshire, in 1874. (Her maiden name is recorded as BURNS, more familiar than BYRNE in Scotland.) Several of their children moved to Scotland and lived in the mining community of Shotts.

The 1st Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, sailed from Avonmouth, England, on 18 March 1915 and landed at Cape Helles on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Martin CONDRON was killed in action there on 26 April 1915, and is memorialized on the Helles Memorial, Turkey.

For other blog posts about CONDR*Ns in the First World War, click on "First World War" in the Labels list on the right of the blog web page. Comments and corrections welcome, either by leaving a comment below or by email to me: CONDRAN[AT]ONE-NAME.ORG

Saturday, 1 February 2014

11362 Private John CONDRON (1894 - 1915)

The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, was conceived by the British at the start of 1915. The war on the Western Front had become deadlocked with the combatants on both sides entrenched. The Allies (Britain, France and Russia) planned the Gallipoli Campaign to get around the Central Powers’ (German, Austro-Hungary and Turkey) entrenched western defences. If successful, the campaign would provide relief to Russia’s army by diverting the Turkish forces and threaten the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (Istanbul). Finally, it would open a sea route for supplies to and exports from Russia’s Black Sea ports.

But the campaign was a major failure for the Allies. Historian Liddell Hart described it as “a sound and far-sighted conception, marred by a chain of errors in execution almost unrivalled even in British history”.

The initial plan was to force the Dardanelles strait with a naval attack on the Turkish fortifications guarding it. But following the sinking of three Allied battleships by mines on 18 March 1915, plans were reformulated to make an attack by land. The plan involved landing British forces at five beaches around Cape Helles at the tip of the Gallipoli peninsula, named from east to west as S, V, W, X and Y Beaches.  French forces were to land on the Asiatic side of the strait as a diversion from the main attack. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) were to land at a small cove – now known as Anzac Cove – to the north of ‘Y’ beach.

The first landings took place on the morning of 25 April. It is a date commemorated annually in Australia and New Zealand as Anzac day. The landings at some sites on that first day were initially relatively unopposed, but the main landings at V and W Beaches were chaotic and bloody, with great loss of life. Allied soldiers disembarking from their landing craft were caught up in submerged barbed wire and were shot by the Turkish defenders who were situated on high ground overlooking the beaches.

Several CONDR*Ns died in the Gallipoli campaign, and I shall write more of the progress of the campaign and of those men in subsequent postings.

Private John CONDRON (service no. 11362) was killed in action on 26 April 1915 on V Beach. He was born on 3 February 1894 and baptised the following day in the Roman Catholic parish of Rush, County Dublin. He was the son of Michael and Mary CONDRON.

John CONDRON was described as a “labourer” in the 1911 census, when he was living at home with his widowed mother, four brothers and a sister. He joined the 1st Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, also known as “Torquay’s Regiment”: the regiment was billeted at Torquay until St. Patrick’s Day 1915, and left their regimental colours there for safe-keeping when they set sail for the Mediterranean. The “1st Dublins”, as part of the 86th Brigade of the 29th Division, landed at V Beach on 25 April.

John’s parents were married in 1881, in the Balrothery registration district in which Rush is situated. Michael CONDRON was baptised in Rush in 1835. His bride, Mary CASHELL (or KESHAN or KESHELL) was 25 years his junior, born about 1860, also in Rush. Michael is described as a farmer in the 1901 census: he died in 1905.  The couple had nine children: Patrick (born 1882), Margaret (1884), William (1887), Mary Ellen (1889), Michael (1891), John (1894), Sarah (1896), Christopher (1898) and Joseph (1901).

It appears that John’s grandparents were Patrick and Mary (nee ARCHBOLD) CONDRON. The couple were married in Rush on 6 December 1834. Patrick, who was a labourer, died in 1876: his wife Mary died in 1887.

John CONDRON’s death was reported in the Western Times for Tuesday 8 June 1915, under the headline, “Heavy Losses in the Dardanelles Fighting”.  He is memorialized on Special Memorial A.26 at the V Beach Cemetery, Turkey.

For other blog posts about CONDR*Ns in the First World War, click on "First World War" in the Labels list on the right of the blog web page. Comments and corrections welcome, either by leaving a comment below or by email to me: CONDRAN[AT]ONE-NAME.ORG

Saturday, 18 January 2014

295103 Petty Officer Stoker Edward CONDRON (1881 - 1914)

In the early months of the First World War, HMS Aboukir was part of a cruiser squadron assigned to patrol the North Sea in defence of the supply route between England and France. On 22 September 1914, the squadron was spotted by the German submarine U-9. The German U-boat closed in and fired a torpedo at the Aboukir. The boat sank within 20 minutes, with the loss of 527 lives. Its sister ships HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy rushed to assist the stricken Aboukir. As they were picking up survivors, the U-9 fired two torpedoes into the Hogue, sinking it. Seeing the submarine’s periscope, the captain of HMS Cressy realized that the squadron was being attacked by a submarine and tried to flee. However, the U-9 fired a further two torpedoes into the Cressy, sinking that ship also.

The engagement lasted only two hours. Britain lost three warships, and with them 62 officers and 1,397 other men. A complete list of the casualties and survivors can be found here . The losses shocked Britain and led to an official court of inquiry. The three warships, which were all Cressy-class armoured cruisers, were becoming obsolete by the start of the war. With their limited speed, they were supposed to progress in a zig-zag course to offer some protection from enemy attack. The court of inquiry held the two admirals of the cruiser squadron responsible for failings including disregard of advice that the ships should take a zig-zag course and that, on the torpedoing of the Aboukir, the other two ships should have steamed away in opposite directions rather than coming to the Aboukir’s aid.

Petty Officer Stoker Edward CONDRON (service no. 295103) lost his life on 22 September 1914 on board HMS Aboukir. He was born on 29 June 1881 in Battersea, Wandsworth, London, the son of Daniel and Hannah CONDRON.

Edward was admitted to the Sleaford Street School, Battersea, aged 3 years. Sleaford Street School opened in 1874 and was one of the 'Board Schools', which were established by the Elementary Education Act of 1870 and allowed children from poorer families to have a free education. 

Edward served in the South African War, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and at the time of the 1911 census was a petty officer stoker aboard HMS Nubian. He married Sophia JACKSON in 1907 in the Wandsworth district of London. In the 1911 census Sophia is at home with their two children: Edward Daniel (born 1908) and Robert (1910).

Edward’s father Daniel CONDRON (or CONDRAN: this form appears in several records) was born in Maryborough, Queen’s County, Ireland, in about 1850. The modern name of Maryborough is Portlaoise. Daniel married Hannah WILSON in the Wandsworth district in 1880, and raised a family of at least five children. Their children were: Edward (born 1881), Mary (1883), Robert Daniel (1884), Florence (1886) and Hannah Ethel (1887): all were born in Battersea.

Edward CONDRON is memorialized on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

By coincidence, another stoker on the Aboukir who lost his life that day was married to a CONDRON. That man was Stoker James FLYNN, who married Mary CONDRON in 1898 in the West Derby district near Liverpool. As far as I am aware, there is no family link between Edward CONDRON and Mary CONDRON.
For other blog posts about CONDR*Ns in the First World War, click on "First World War" in the Labels list on the right of the blog web page. Comments and corrections welcome, either by leaving a comment below or by email to me: CONDRAN[AT]ONE-NAME.ORG

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Lest We Forget

Tyne Cot Cemetery near Passchendaele, West Flanders, Belgium (image credit:
2014 is the centenary of the start of the First World War.

The First World War began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. They called it the Great War, the war to end all wars. The war pitched the Allies (Britain, France and Russia, later joined by the United States and others) against the Central Powers (Germany and Austro-Hungary, later joined by the Ottoman Empire [Turkey] and Bulgaria). Many factors contributed to the start of the war, including: the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s territorial ambitions in the Balkans, leading to its annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908; the arms race between Britain and Germany; the “bellicose utterances and attitude” of the German Kaiser (to quote Liddell Hart); and the various treaties between the big powers that linked them into joining the war. The trigger for war is generally taken to have been the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on 28 June 1914 during a visit to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 28 July, Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Other major powers mobilized their troops in the subsequent days: Russia on 29 July, Germany on 30 July, France on 2 August. Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August following the German invasion of Belgium.

In all, more than nine million combatants were killed. Britain and Ireland lost nearly 900,000 men, while the loss of combatants from the British Empire as a whole was more than 1.1 million men. Many more were casualties. The names of the campaigns and battles where so many lives were lost – Gallipoli, the Somme, Passchendaele, … – still have a resonance today. In some countries, we remember those who died each year on the anniversary of the Armistice, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and wear red poppies like those that grew in the fields of Flanders where such slaughter occurred.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

– From ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae

In 2014 I shall use this blog to remember those CONDR*Ns who gave their lives in the First World War, devoting one post to each of them in the chronological order in which they died. I have researched carefully and believe this is a complete list of CONDR*Ns (with their service numbers) who were killed in the war:

Arthur CONDRON, Private, 4/8173, died Aug. 1916
Edward CONDRON, Petty Officer Stoker, 295103, died Sep. 1914
Frank CONDRON, Corporal, 4525, died Sep. 1915
Herbert CONDRON, Private, 36779, died Dec. 1917
Hugh CONDRON, Private, 3046, died Aug. 1916
Humphrey N. A. CONDRAN, Private, 3045, died June 1917
John CONDRON, Private, 11362, died Apr. 1915
John CONDRON, Private, 9249, died June 1915
Lawrence CONDREN, Private, 3015, died Aug. 1915
Martin CONDRON, Private, 7401, died Apr. 1915
Michael CONDRON, Rifleman, 3956, died Dec. 1917
Michael CONDRON, Corporal, 26919, died Apr. 1918
Patrick CONDRON, Private, A/7579, died July 1916
Thomas CONDRON, Private, 24941, died Apr. 1917
Thomas CONDRON, Private, 32396, died Feb. 1920
Thomas Arthur CONDRON, Serjeant, 15901, died Feb. 1918
Thomas Denis CONDRON, Private, 7045, died Aug. 1918

All these are listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) among those who died in the First World War, with one error that Thomas CONDRON (died 1917) is listed there as “J. CONDRON”. Following the CWGC, I have included Thomas CONDRON who died in 1920, even though his death occurred after the end of the war.

If I have erroneously omitted anyone from the above list then I sincerely apologise and ask readers of this blog to let me know the name and details of the deceased (my contact details are below). Also I would greatly appreciate receiving photographs of any of the above men who died in the war.

Of course, many other CONDR*Ns served in the First World War, and numerous of them were casualties of the war. I would welcome receiving information about them. If I receive enough contributions I will write a future blog post about those who served without sacrificing their lives.

Please contact me by leaving a comment below, or by emailing me at CONDRAN[AT]ONE-NAME.ORG

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

– From ‘For the Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon