Sunday, 30 March 2014

4525 Corporal Frank CONDRON (1894 - 1915)

The Battle of Loos took place on the Western Front between 25 September 1915 and 14 October 1915. It was part of a larger plan by the French and British to break through the German defensive lines and take a major offensive action which would also give some relief to Russia, which was embattled with Germany on the Eastern Front.

Amongst the western Allies at this time, France had superior numbers of men and artillery in the field, and the British Expeditionary Force was very much the junior partner. When Commander-in-Chief Joffre proposed the plan, British commander Sir John French had little choice but to comply. Joffre contended that the British attack would “find particularly favourable ground between Loos and La Bassée”. When the Commander of First Army, Sir Douglas Haig, inspected the area, he reported back to Sir John that the ground was quite unsuited to a large attack. Sir John French, under strong pressure from Joffre, ignored Haig’s advice. The attack (“the Big Push”) around Loos, north of the mining town of Lens, went ahead, with the British First Army and the French Tenth Army to their south attacking eastwards against the entrenched German Sixth Army.

The German trench defences consisted of a front line and a second line. British bombardment of the German lines started on 21 September and continued until the ground assault began on 25 September. The Battle of Loos was the first occasion that the British used chlorine gas as a weapon. The Germans had used it earlier in 1915 first against the Russians and then in April and May on the Western Front. However, delivery of the gas depended on wind direction, and on this occasion it probably impacted the British troops as much as the intended targets. At 06:30 on 25 September, British infantry units moved out from their front lines and advanced across no-man’s land. Casualties were severe as the advancing troops came under heavy fire, though in places the British did achieve their first objective of taking the German front trenches. Troops involved on that first day included the 2nd Battalion of the Border Regiment, which as part of 7th Division formed part of I Corps of the British First Army. They were engaged in the attack near Hulluch, to the north-east of Loos.

The early successes could not be capitalized upon. Two divisions of reserve troops, which Haig had requested to be stationed close to the front line for quick deployment, were instead stationed 16 miles behind the front. The reserves were therefore not able to join battle until the afternoon of 25 September and the opportunity to push the attack on had been lost. Strong resistance in the German second line had brought the attack to a halt. The Big Push had broken into the German positions, but not through them.

The British suffered 60,000 casualties in the Battle of Loos including over 2,000 officers. Nearly 8,000 British troops died. The Scottish Divisions (9th and 15th Divisions) suffered particularly heavy casualties.  By the end of the year, Sir John French had resigned and Sir Douglas Haig had been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force.

Acting Corporal Frank CONDRON (service no. 4525) was killed in action on 25 September 1915 in the Battle of Loos, northern France.

Francis John (Frank) CONDRON was born in 1894 in the West Derby registration district of Liverpool. He was the son of Francis Patrick and Mary Ellen (née HAY) CONDRON. In the 1911 census of England and Wales, Frank is living in Salford with his parents and seven younger siblings (four brothers and three sisters): his occupation is given as “cart lad” on the railway. Frank joined the Border Regiment and served in its 2nd Battalion.

Francis Patrick CONDRON and Mary Ellen HAY married in 1893 in the West Derby registration district of Liverpool. Francis’s occupation is given as “furniture porter” in the 1901 census and as “ships boiler scaler” in 1911. The couple had at least nine children: Francis John (born 1894) and Robert (1896) born in Liverpool; Lilian Winifred (1898), Thomas Baden P. (1900, possibly died 1902) and William Daniel (1901) all born in Colwyn Bay; Mary Jane (1903) born in Liverpool; and Michael (1905), Thomas (1907) and Amelia (1910, died 1912) all born in Salford.

Frank CONDRON’s grandfather was Francis CONDRON, who was born in Dublin in about 1842 and died in Salford in 1921. Francis was a color sergeant in the army, as recorded in the censuses for 1871 and 1881. Francis married Ellen BOURKE in Limerick in 1863, and the couple had at least seven children: Anne (born 1864 in Limerick), Amelia Emily (born in about 1866 in the East Indies), John Joseph (born 1869 in Chatham), Francis Patrick (born 1871 in Aldershot), Thomas Michael (boon 1874 in Devonport), Albert Edward (born 1877 in Newport, Monmouthshire) and William Henry (born 1882 in Liverpool).

Frank CONDRON is memorialized on the Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, 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

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