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 .