Researching your family history: Irish men who fought in WW1
Published on 10th March 2021
Welcome to the 4th week in this second series. Last week we looked at the McLeod brothers from Gorey and how the Irish Army had awarded them medals for the part they played in the War of Independence.
This week we will be looking at Irish men who fought in WW1. The website states that the National Archives holds “9,000 wills of the enlisted and non-commissioned soldiers from the thirty-two counties of Ireland who fought in the British Army in World War 1 and in the South African War of 1899-1902”.
Soldiers in the British Army were encouraged to make a will in case they died in battle. These wills are a great source for family history. Unfortunately the soldier’s will I intended to use as an example, WO number E344727/1, Record number 256/455572/ 17/18 cannot be shown here because the National Archives hold the copyright for these wills and written permission from the Director is needed to reproduce them.
The intended example will was written by James Callen from Dublin and is dated the 18th July 1916. It is written in James’s own hand and states that in the event of his death he leaves the [hole] of his property and [affects] to his mother. His mother’s name is K. Callan and she is lives at 46 Marlborough Street, Dublin. The level of literacy at this time is highlighted by the spelling mistakes James makes when writing his will.
The details in James’s will allow the researcher to trace him and his family through the 1901 and 1911 census of Ireland. James died in France or Belgium on 25th February 1917 approximately seven months after making his will. He was nineteen years of age. His rank was Private 26192 and he served in 9th batt of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
Below is the record of the medals awarded to James Callan. British Army medal index cards 1914-1920, reference WO372/3/239617