Local links to ‘The Devil’s Own’ marked by visit to Roscommon

Members of the Friends of the Somme Association (Mid Antrim Branch) who visited The Connaught Rangers Museum in Boyle, County Roscommon.
Members of the Friends of the Somme Association (Mid Antrim Branch) who visited The Connaught Rangers Museum in Boyle, County Roscommon.

The connections between a long-disbanded Irish regiment of the British army and the Ballymena area were commemorated recently when members of the Friends of the Somme Association (Mid Antrim Branch) visited The Connaught Rangers Museum in Boyle, County Roscommon.

Following a tour of the Museum, led by Paul Malpas of the Connaught Rangers Association, the Friends of the Somme laid a Poppy Wreath in memory of those Connaught Rangers who gave their lives during WW1.

Paul Malpas presented Kenny. Allen with a beautiful bronze plaque from the Connaught Rangers Association.

Paul Malpas presented Kenny. Allen with a beautiful bronze plaque from the Connaught Rangers Association.

This was carried out in conjunction with five members of The Connaught Rangers Association including flag bearer, bugler and attendants.

Paul Malpas presented Kenny Allen of the Mid-Antrim visitors with a beautiful bronze plaque to mark the visit.

Members of The Connaught Rangers Association are expected to visit Ballymena in early 2018.

The Connaught Rangers (‘The Devil’s Own’) were an Irish line infantry regiment of the British Army formed by the amalgamation of the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers) (which formed the 1st Battalion) and the 94th Regiment of Foot (which formed the 2nd Battalion) in July 1881.

A gallantry certificate won by Ballymena man Frank Loughran. From the date it would appear the award was granted for the notorious 'tunnel trench' action carried out as a diversionary raid at the time of the Battle of Cambrai.  Ballymena Observer, January 11, 1918: Private F. Loughran, Connaught Rangers, has had his name entered in the record of the Irish Division for gallant conduct and devotion to duty in the field, notification to this effect having been received by his wife, who resides at Alexander Street, Ballymena.  This is the second occasion on which Private Loughran has been commended for gallantry. He joined the colours in February 1915 and has two brothers in the army, one being discharged recently owing to wounds received in action.

A gallantry certificate won by Ballymena man Frank Loughran. From the date it would appear the award was granted for the notorious 'tunnel trench' action carried out as a diversionary raid at the time of the Battle of Cambrai. Ballymena Observer, January 11, 1918: Private F. Loughran, Connaught Rangers, has had his name entered in the record of the Irish Division for gallant conduct and devotion to duty in the field, notification to this effect having been received by his wife, who resides at Alexander Street, Ballymena. This is the second occasion on which Private Loughran has been commended for gallantry. He joined the colours in February 1915 and has two brothers in the army, one being discharged recently owing to wounds received in action.

Between the time of its formation and Irish independence, it was one of eight Irish regiments raised largely in Ireland.

It was disbanded following the establishment of the independent Irish Free State in 1922, along with the other five regiments that had their traditional recruiting grounds in the counties of the new state.

During the Great War, many men from the northern part of Ireland, including many from Co. Antrim, served with The 6th (Service) Battalion, which was formed in County Cork in September 1914, landed at Le Havre as part of the 47th Brigade in the 16th (Irish) Division in December 1915 for service on the Western Front.

In just over a week’s fighting in the Battle of the Somme in September 1916, the 6th Battalion lost 23 officers and 407 other ranks.

McAnally/McNally,  6/2795, Lance Corporal,  6th Connaught Rangers, died of wounds in March 1916 at Bellahoustin Military Hospital, Glasgow. Aged 34, he was born, enlisted and lived in Ballymena. His wife Sarah lived at Railway Place, Ballymena and his parents, John and Margaret McAnally, lived in Cullybackey. He is buried in St. Mary's (Aughnahoy) Cemetery,  Ahoghill Road, Portglenone.

McAnally/McNally, 6/2795, Lance Corporal, 6th Connaught Rangers, died of wounds in March 1916 at Bellahoustin Military Hospital, Glasgow. Aged 34, he was born, enlisted and lived in Ballymena. His wife Sarah lived at Railway Place, Ballymena and his parents, John and Margaret McAnally, lived in Cullybackey. He is buried in St. Mary's (Aughnahoy) Cemetery, Ahoghill Road, Portglenone.

On March 21, 1918, the same Battalion was “practically annihilated” during the German Spring Offensive breakthrough.

In one week the battalion lost ‘22 officers and 618 other ranks’.As a result of these heavy losses, the survivors were transferred into the 2nd Battalion, the Leinster Regiment.

O'DORNAN, Samuel, 4301, Private,  6th Connaught Rangers, died of wounds on the 11th September 1916. He was born in the Braid, the area around Broughshane.  He was a member of Irish Volunteers and enlisted in the British Army in May 1915. His wife and two children lived at 11, William Street, Ballymena. He is buried in Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L'Abbe, Somme.

O'DORNAN, Samuel, 4301, Private, 6th Connaught Rangers, died of wounds on the 11th September 1916. He was born in the Braid, the area around Broughshane. He was a member of Irish Volunteers and enlisted in the British Army in May 1915. His wife and two children lived at 11, William Street, Ballymena. He is buried in Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L'Abbe, Somme.

HUGHES, MM, 2727 Private James, Connaught Rangers, 6th Bn., was killed in action on the 21 March 1918.  He was the son of the late Michael Hughes and Bridget Hughes (stepmother), of 7, Suffolk Street, Ballymena, Co. Antrim. He is buried in Ste. Emilie Valley Cemetery, Villers Faucon, France.    Ballymena Observer, April 20. 1918 - Mrs. Michael Hughes, 7 Suffolk Street, Ballymena, has received an official communication that her only son Private James Hughes, Connaught Rangers, has been killed in action.  The deceased was a son of the late Mr. Michael Hughes, formerly manager in Messrs. James McAllister's wine and spirit stores in Bryan Street. In October of 1917 he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in carrying despatches when all other means of communication were cut off.

HUGHES, MM, 2727 Private James, Connaught Rangers, 6th Bn., was killed in action on the 21 March 1918. He was the son of the late Michael Hughes and Bridget Hughes (stepmother), of 7, Suffolk Street, Ballymena, Co. Antrim. He is buried in Ste. Emilie Valley Cemetery, Villers Faucon, France. Ballymena Observer, April 20. 1918 - Mrs. Michael Hughes, 7 Suffolk Street, Ballymena, has received an official communication that her only son Private James Hughes, Connaught Rangers, has been killed in action. The deceased was a son of the late Mr. Michael Hughes, formerly manager in Messrs. James McAllister's wine and spirit stores in Bryan Street. In October of 1917 he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in carrying despatches when all other means of communication were cut off.

Enjoying the museum tour

Enjoying the museum tour

members from Ballymena took a keen interest in the artefacts on show at the Connaught Rangers Museum

members from Ballymena took a keen interest in the artefacts on show at the Connaught Rangers Museum