Sunday, 16 November 2014

3956 Rifleman Michael CONDRON (1895 - 1917)

Unfortunately I do not know the circumstances of Michael CONDRON’s death, except that he died on 2 December 1917 and his name appears on the Tyne Cot Memorial in West Flanders, Belgium. I think it likely that he was killed in action near Passchendaele. The Battle of Passchendaele (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres) took place between July and November 1917 for control of the ridges south and east of the city of Ypres. The Allied forces captured Passchendaele in November, and the official end of the battle was 10 November 1917. However, states that on the 2 December 1917 there was “further fighting north of Passchendaele”. I suspect that it was in this action that Michael CONDRON was killed.

Rifleman Michael CONDRON (service no. 3956) was killed in action on 2 December 1917 in West Flanders, Belgium.

Michael Joseph CONDRON was born in 1895 in the Dublin City. He was the son of Patrick and Bridget (née MURTAGH) CONDRON. In the 1911 census he is living in his parent’s household in Summerhill, Mountjoy, Dublin, and his occupation is recorded as a “vanboy” delivering mineral water. The family was likely in a difficult financial situation: both his father and elder brother are recorded as being unemployed, while his other siblings are recorded as being at school; so Michael’s would have been the only salary coming into the household. Michael enlisted in the Royal Irish Rifles at Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. At some point he was awarded the Military Medal. At the time of his death in 1917 he was in the 1st Battalion, attached to the 25th Trench Mortar Battery.

Michael’s father Patrick CONDRON was born in about 1870. He married Bridget MURTAGH at St. Nicholas’s Roman Catholic Church, Dublin, on 9 February 1890. At the time of his marriage, Patrick’s occupation was “tobacco labourer”. His occupation is recorded in the 1901 and 1911 censuses respectively as “factory labourer” and “general labourer unemployed”. Patrick and Bridget had eight children: Margaret (born 1890), William Patrick (1892), Michael Joseph (1895), Patrick (1896), Terence Joseph (1899), Joseph (1901), Mary Jane (1904) and Christopher Joseph (1906).

Michael’s grandfather was William CONDRON. I know nothing of him except that, on Patrick CONDRON’s marriage certificate in 1890, William’s occupation is recorded as “shoemaker”.

Michael CONDRON is memorialized on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

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 .  I would particularly welcome further information about Michael CONDRON's war service and where he died.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

3045 Private Humphrey CONDRAN (1893 - 1917)

The Battle of Messines was an offensive conducted by the British Second Army against the Germans near the village of Messines in West Flanders, Belgium. The objective was to capture the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge to the south of Ypres, which was in German possession and which threatened the south flank of the Allies-held Ypres salient. In preparation for the attack, British sappers dug tunnels and laid mines under the German front lines. The battle started early on the morning of 4 June 1917, the mines were detonated, British artillery began a creeping barrage of fire against the German defenses, and British tanks and infantry troops (including Australian and New Zealand forces) began the assault on the front lines.
The assault secured its objectives in the first twelve hours, and in the following days a German counter-offensive was resisted. The battle is generally reckoned to have been a tactical and operational success for the Allies. Nonetheless, by the end of battle on 14 June, casualties on each side amounted to about 25,000 men. The Allied losses included nearly 5,000 New Zealand casualties and 6,000 Australian casualties.
The Battle of Messines was a prelude to the much larger Third Battle of Ypres, which began the following month.

Private Humphrey N. A. CONDRAN (service no. 3045) was killed in action on 9 June 1917 in the Battle of Messines.

Humphrey Neville Austin CONDRAN (his second name is variously recorded as Neville, Netherval and Netwille) was born in Bundarra, New South Wales, in 1893, the sixth child of Thomas Henry and Ellen Winifred (née O’HERAN or O’HERAU) CONDRAN. Humphrey ("Humpsy") was a stock inspector at the time he enlisted in the Australian Infantry, 25th Battalion. He left Australia on the ship HMAT Itonus on 30 December 1915. At the time of his death, he was serving in the 47th Batallion. Sergeant White of 47th Battalion C Company reported, “Condran and Randall were both in my section XII platoon and were with Pte. T. Hara killed outright whilst on the advance at Messines going over to Owl Trench. They were killed by one shell and the pioneers buried them where they fell and erected crosses. I saw them killed.”

Humphrey’s father Thomas Henry CONDRAN was born in 1854, and died in 1911 in Murwillumbah, NSW. He was a policeman. He married Ellen Winifred O’HERAN in Maitland, NSW, in 1876. The couple had twelve children: Frederick (born 1877), Edwin Thomas (1878), Albert Clarence Clive (1880), Gertrude Jessie (1885), Pearl (1891), Humphrey Neville Austin (1893), Louis Osric (1895), Evelyn (1899), Dulcie (1902), Alma (1904), Victor (1908) and Roma Jean (1909).

Humphrey’s grandfather was Michael CONDRAN, who settled in Australia from Ireland. See CONDRANs in New South Wales.  

Humphrey CONDRAN is memorialized on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.

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, 28 June 2014

1914: one hundred years on

Exactly one hundred years ago today, on June 28th 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip. It was an event that quickly precipitated the start of the First World War (1914-1918).

I shall be taking a short summer break from my series of blog posts commemorating the 17 CONDR*Ns who gave their lives serving in that war. I have seven more still to write about.

On a happier note, I see from my database that there were 30 CONDR*Ns born in the British Isles in 1914: 15 in Ireland, 11 in England, 3 in Scotland and 1 in Wales. Of these, two were CONDRENs (one each in Northumberland and in County Kilkenny) and 28 were CONDRONs. The greatest concentration was in Dublin, with two born in Dublin North and three in Dublin South. The most popular boys' name was James (3) and the most popular girls' name was Margaret (3). Other names included Cecil, Herbert, Hubert, Irene, Ivy, Jessie and Olive.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

24941 Private Thomas CONDRON (1880 – 1917)

On 9 April 1917 the British armies in northern France embarked on what they hoped would be the decisive, final campaign of the war. On that date, British forces (including Canadian and Australian forces) attacked the German defensive lines to begin the Battle of Arras.

The shaded area shows the ground gained during the Battle of Arras. Courtesy of .
The first day was a great success for the Allies. The Canadians attacked and captured a large part of Vimy ridge. Elsewhere, almost the whole of the German first-line front was captured. In particular, the 4th Division of the Third Army pushed forward and captured Fampoux, about 3 miles to the east of Arras.

The early successes were not sustained. From 10 April onwards, the Allies came up against renewed German resistance, and initially the artillery of the Third Army was too far back to support its infantry. Tanks were deployed but were too few in number to be effective. The 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, with a fighting strength of 20 officers and 617 men, was part of the 4th Division. The Battalion’s war diary notes that 11 April was a snowy morning. On that day, the Battalion was to push forward from a point north of Fampoux in an advance of over 2000 yards. However, the troops came under heavy fire and suffered severely. The Battalion lost 11 officers and 307 men in the action.

By the time the battle officially ended, the British had made significant advances but had failed to make the decisive breakthrough.

Private Thomas CONDRON (service 24941) died on 11 April 1917 in the Battle of Arras.

Thomas CONDRON was born in Dublin in about 1880 (possibly early 1881), the fourth child of Thomas and Anne (née WHELAN) CONDRON. In the 1911 census of Ireland, Thomas is recorded as a coal labourer and is living at home in Dublin with his widowed father, one brother and a married sister. Thomas moved to Scotland and married Susan COURTNEY in 1914 in Glasgow. The couple had three children: Thomas (born 1914), Michael (1915) and James Patrick (1917). Thomas joined the Royal Irish Fusiliers and was subsequently transferred to the 1st Battalion.

Thomas’s father was Thomas CONDRON, born in about 1853 in County Wexford. Thomas (senior) married Anne WHELAN in 1873 in the registration district of Gorey. The couple had seven children: Anne (1873) who married Patrick MITTEN, Michael (1876), Julia (1878) who married Denis McGRATH, Thomas (1880), Mary (1884) who married Michael CONNOLLY, Peter (1888) and Sarah (1891). Thomas (senior) was listed as a general labourer in the 1901 census and a brewery labourer in the 1911 census.

Thomas CONDRON is buried in Brown’s Copse Cemetery, Roeux, in northern France.

(Note that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has him wrongly listed as J. CONDRON and has his date of death as 16 April, though other sources give 11 April).

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, 11 May 2014

3046 Private Hugh CONDRON (1890 – 1916)

For my earlier postings about the Battle of the Somme, including the Battle of Pozières, click here.

Private Hugh CONDRON (service no. 3046) was killed in action on 18 August 1916 in the fight for Pozières during the Battle of the Somme.

Hugh Hume CONDRON was born in Boorhaman, Victoria, Australia, in 1890. He was the son of John CONDRON and Anne Maria WRIGHT.  He married Maud Agnes HAMILL in 1912. The couple had three children: Harold, Alan Thomas and Gladys Evelyn. Hugh enlisted on Jul 27, 1915, in Melbourne. After first being assigned to the 4th Depot Battalion, he was eventually transferred to the 8th Battalion, Australian Infantry (Australian Imperial Force - AIF).

Hugh's father was John CONDRON, who was born about 1835 and died in 1908 in Wangaratta, Victoria. John married Anne Maria WRIGHT in 1864 and the couple had a number of children, including Isabela (born 1871), Elizabeth (1873), William (1876), Robert (1879), George (1881), Henry (1884), James (1887), Hugh Hume (1890) and Harold Reginald (1893). All of the above children were born in Wangaratta, Victoria, except for Isabella who was born in Oxley, Victoria. According to one of my correspondents, the couple also had children Mary Agnus (1866) and John Thomas (1869), both born in Oxley. The report of John CONDRON's death in the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (November 20, 1908) states, "Mr. John Condron, aged 73 years, died at his residence in Templeton Street. The deceased served as a gunner in the Indian mutiny." The Indian mutiny  took place in 1857.

Hugh's grandparents were Thomas and Elizabeth CONDRON. According to various online family trees, this couple are the same Thomas and Eliza (née McGOVERN) CONDRON who migrated from Co. Cavan, Ireland, and about whom I have blogged previously.

Hugh CONDRON is memorialized on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, in northern France.

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 .  I would particularly like to receive firm evidence that John CONDRON is indeed the son of Thomas and Eliza (née McGOVERN) CONDRON.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

4/8173 Private Arthur CONDRON (1897 – 1916)

I wrote in my last blog post about the first weeks of the Battle of the Somme. After the initial phase, the offensive evolved into a series of battles for prominent towns, woods and high grounds. Significant amongst these were the Battle of Delville Wood (14 July – 3 September 1916) and the Battle of Pozieres (23 July – 7 August 1916).

The Battle of Delville Wood, which involved an Allied offensive and German counter-offensive, was one of the last examples of close hand-to-hand infantry fighting on the Western Front. Casualties were high on both sides. Notable is the heroic action of the South African 1st Infantry Brigade, which suffered 80% casualties but held the wood. Amongst the British troops involved in the battle were the 3rd Division of the Fourth Army under General Rawlinson, including the West Yorkshire Regiment.

The Battle of Pozières involved the 1st Australian Division (Australian Imperial Force) as well as British troops. The fortified village of Pozières was captured by the Australian forces early in the battle, and the village was held against heavy German bombardment in the days that followed. The Australians lost as many men in the Battle of Pozières as in the whole of the Gallipoli campaign.

The Somme offensive was also notable for the first deployment of tanks on the battlefield by the British. Tanks were used in the battles of Flers-Courcelette, Morval and Thiepval Ridge.

The Battle of the Somme continued through September and October until the middle of November. Particularly in the latter stages of the battle, the Allied forces made what by then seemed significant advances. But overall, the gains by the Allies amounted to advancing the front line by a few miles. The total combined casualties on both sides in the battle, though still debated, undoubtedly amounted to more than one million men, including three hundred thousand killed. In human lives, it was one of the costliest battles in history.

Private Arthur CONDRON (service no. 4/8173) died on 18 August 1916 in the Battle of the Somme.

Arthur CONDRON was born in Leeds in 1897, the third child of Thomas and Mary Ann (née THAXTER) CONDRON. In the 1911 UK census, Arthur is recorded as a steam hammer driver and is living at home with his parents, brother and two sisters. Arthur enlisted in the West Yorkshire Regiment (“Prince of Wales’s Own”) in Leeds and, at the time of his death, was serving in its 12th Battalion.

Arthur’s father Thomas CONDRON was born in Aldershot in 1858: his birth is registered as Thomas CONDRAN in the registration district of Farnham in the second quarter of that year. In the 1871 census he is recorded as a valet in Portsea, near Portsmouth. In 1877 he enlisted for a 12-year term of duty in the British Army, at which time his occupation was recorded as seaman, and he served in India (1877-78, 1880-85, 1887-89), Afghanistan (1878-1880) and Burma (1885-87). Thomas was discharged from the army in 1889, and married Mary Ann THAXTER on 2 June 1890 at St. George’s church, Leeds. The couple had four children: Thomas Francis (born 1891), Elsie Margaret (1894), Arthur (1897) and Gladys (1901). All four children were baptised at Christchurch, Leeds. Thomas is recorded as an inspector of telegraph messages (1891), town postman (1911) and attendant (1920): he died in 1938, and Mary Ann died the following year.

Arthur’s grandfather was also a Thomas CONDRON, and according to Arthur’s parents' marriage certificate, Thomas CONDRON senior was a tailor.

Arthur CONDRON is memorialized on the Thiepval Memorial in northern France.

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, 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