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

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