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Royal Irish Regiment, Pt Thomas Fleming-need some help!


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#1 lochgarman

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 03:58 PM

Hello, I have just found this website and it looks great with a lot of knowledge and useful information.
I have just joined so still learning how this all works.

I am researching my ancestor Pt. Thomas Fleming 9777 who was in the Royal Irish Regiment.
I am from County Wexford, Ireland.

I have some questions below - maybe someone could be kind enough to help me with some answers?

I have visited the National Archives at Kew twice but have not found any information - probably because I am looking in the wrong place!, get stressed & run out of time!! I also have some information from a handwritten notebook by Thomas's father who kept some notes on Thomas's progress and career in the war. So here is all the information that i have:

Summary:
Pte. Thomas Fleming, born 7/12/1891 at Maudlin Street Kilkenny, enlisted in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in Naas Depot on 25/07/1908 - 3rd Battalion, number 4840. His family then moved to Carlow.
He later transferred to the Royal Irish Regiment and served for a time in India from 1910.
He went to France in August 1914 at the outbreak of the war and was killed at Hooge near Ieper, Belgium on May 7th 1915. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ieper.
~~~~~~~~
Private Thomas Fleming - War Certificate
This is to certify that Thomas Fleming of Carlow, entered on active service to defend the liberty of his country in August 1914, Private 1st Royal Irish Regiment, Killed in Action at Hooger 7th May 1915
~~~~~~~~
Postcard: 9777, Private Thomas Fleming
1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment,
Killed in action, France & Flanders, 07/05/1915
Born: St. Johns, Kilkenny, Enlisted: Carlow
~~~~~~~~~
Postcard/Picture with Thomas in the centre of the picture
at the bottom it says "2nd Battln "THE ROYAL IRISH REGT" raised in Ireland in 1684"
~~~~~~~~~
Address in his fathers notebook:

9777 A Company
Thos Fleming, 2nd Royal Irish Regiment
Blackdown, Hants, England
~~~~~~~~~
Note from his fathers Notebook:
My son Thomas sailed for India on 19/11/1910 on board his majesty's ship S.S. Gondola.
Address in India was: No 9777, Pte T Fleming, 1 Batt Royal Irish Regt, Agra, Newmich, India.
~~~~~~~~~
Note from his fathers Notebook:
My son Thomas killed at Hooge near Ypres in action on the 7th May 1915, RIP got notified from War Office 10th June 1915
~~~~~~~~~
Questions !!!

1) Thomas joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in 1908 3rd battalion. Was this a reserve battalion? Would he have trained at Naas, Co. Kildare and then be shipped to England for futher training? or what would have happened next?

2) Why would he have transferrred into the Royal Irish Regiment? Did Royal Irish Regt need more men?

3) Thomas has two army numbers 4840 (RDFusiliers), 9777 (RIRegt) - is it common for a soldier to have more than 1 army number?

4) Anyone know what was happening in India in 1910? Why did the royal irish regiment go there? When did they come back?

5) Anyone got any pictures of or heard of the steam ship SS Gondola?

6) Thomas is given as serving in the "A" company, and also 1st and 2nd battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment at different times. Would he have moved between the two at different times? Why? Was it manpower?

7) I take it Thomas was a regular soldier; having joined up before 1914, so I would assume he had reasonable training and expertise. He was shipped to the front in August 1914. died in May 1915, so he would have taken part is some battles/action until his death. Would he have experienced the first gas attacks?

8) The 1st battalion is given as landing at Le Harve on 20 dec 1914. Then the 2nd battalion on the 14th March 1915 transferred to the 12th Brigade 4th division. Given that Thomas died on the 7th May - exactly what battalion would he have been in?

9) Does anyone have any war diary information from around the 5th-10th May 1915 or just prior to this?

10) What action had the regiment seen? Did they experience gas attacks? Could Thomas have taken part in the Battle of St Julian (25th April-4th May) or Battle of Frezenberg Ridge (8th-13th May); it says he was killed in action - but I don't see any battles happening on the 7th May so:
a) he was hurt from another battle and died of wounds
cool.gif killed in action e.g by a sniper or something
c) took part in a skirmish/battle and died or
d)other?
Not too sure if the dates are 100% accurate given the war was happening and everything so possibly the war office just gave the 7th of May as the date on the certificate with the real date of death being a few days later or earlier.

11) Address of Blackdown, Hants, England - was this an army depot/training camp?

Lot of questions here - any help/direction/information is greatly appreciated!

Wishing you all a pleasant & peaceful new year.

Thanks Gerard Fleming (Grand nephew of Thomas)


#2 sotonmate

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 04:43 PM

GF

Welcome to the Forum !
As I live in Hampshire I will start with:
Q11 -by saying that Blackdown Barracks is in the area of the Home of the British Army-Aldershot,and doubtless densely occupied in WW1,with all it's accommodation and training facilities.
He was in India with 1 Battalion RIRegt and returned to Devonport England on 18 Nov 1914 and attached to 82 Brigade of 27 Division,sent to France,arriving 19 Dec 1914.
War Graves details show died 7 May 1915 with 1 RIRegt.Parents William and Alice, of Railway Cottages, Carlow. Soldiers Died in the Great War (SDGW) shows killed in action 7 May 1915 with 1 RIRegt,shows born St Johns,Kilkenny. Medal Index Card on Ancestry UK shows only one service number 9777 and one Regt, RIRegt. His medal entitlement was 1914-15 Star,British War Medal and Victory Medal.
27 Division was at the Battles of Second Ypres and gas attacks were part of the Germans armament there. I can't yet give you a War Diary reference as the National Archives site is not allowing access for the moment. Once you have it you can order parts of the Diary to see what happened for the few months of his war,and specifically what happened on the day of his death.

Sotonmate

#3 lochgarman

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 07:31 PM

Hi Sotonmate,

thats great information. At least i know another bit to add to the puzzle. Brilliant.
Thanks for your help.

Gerard

#4 Les Turner

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 07:49 PM

Here's his entry from the Ancestry entry regarding men with "Irish connections". The original image is a full page of about 20 men. Once you hit 10 posts you'll be able to use the PM system.... let me know then if you would like the full image.




#5 David Underdown

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    Also remembering my Great-Great-Uncle Pte 30649 Frederick John Holbrook, 2nd Bn, Welsh Regiment, Died of Wounds 26 July 1916, buried Heilly Station Cemetery, II D 11 aged 19 according to CWGC, but born 5 May 1898. Entered France 12 May 1915. (Avatar)

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 08:26 PM

At the period in question, the number given to a man was a regimental number, so if he changed regiments (and sometimes even battalion with regiment) he would be allotted a new number. You'll find more information on number on the "Long long trail" website, see for example http://www.1914-1918...numbering20.htm With most regiments, one battalion would be based in the UK, and one abroad, often in India. Postings were rotated from time-to-time. With regard to the death date, as previous poters have said the wr diary is probably key here, but remember even if major actions weren't going on there was constant sniping and harassing artillery fire going on, for any unit, any time they were actually in the trenches there's normally a steady trickle of men getting killed and wounded, and even if they were not int he frontline, parties were sometimes sent up to help with various tasks.
Again, according the "Long long trail" 3 RDF was indeed a reserve battalion, he probably spent some time as a reservist before decided to become a regular, http://www.1914-1918.net/dubs.htm. Similarly there's some info on what 1 Royal Irish were up to there as well, http://www.1914-1918.net/rireg.htm

#6 johnny_doyle

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 08:51 PM

Failte Gerard,

based on Ancestry's version of Soldiers Died - 1st Battn RIR suffered a small number of casualties around 7th May 1915 so it doesn't look like they were in a full scale assault at the time of Thomas's death :

Peter Hendrick from Ferns, Co Wexford. KIA 6th May 1915. No 9164
http://www.cwgc.org/...asualty=1613747

John Newcombe from Bradford, Yorkshire. DoW 7th May 1915. No 8721
http://www.cwgc.org/...?casualty=48250

Michael Fitzhenry from Mulrankin, Co Wexford. KIA 8th May 1915. No 4423
http://www.cwgc.org/...asualty=1612475

Patrick Walsh from Waterford. DoW 9th May 1915. No 5665
http://www.cwgc.org/...casualty=202051

Martin Luther Moore from Portsmouth, Hampshire. KIA 9th May 1915. No 8533
http://www.cwgc.org/...casualty=907329

Michael Sullivan from Gorey, Co Wexford. KIA 9th May 1915. No 5320.
http://www.cwgc.org/...casualty=915390


7th May 1915 saw the sinking of the Lusitania.


copy of Thomas's medal card :
Attached File  T_Fleming_MIC.jpg   79.93KB   0 downloads

#7 sotonmate

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 09:14 PM

GF

The War Diary is now showing itself on the National Archives Catalogue,it is WO95/2266 which runs from Nov 1914 to Nov 1915. You can pay 3.50 for a digital download in normal working hours:

http://www.nationala...;accessmethod=0

When ther page loads click on Request this centre right and you get to select the digital copy and the buy screen.

Sotonmate


#8 lochgarman

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 10:07 PM

Everybody - thankyou so much. Go raibh mile maith agaibh.
This information is absolutely great. I have learned more in the past few hours about Thomas & his war effort. it will be great to share this the rest of the family. I have all his war pictures and some of his medals. Thank you all so far for your contributions i am thrilled !!

Best regards
Gerard Fleming

#9 lochgarman

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 10:10 PM

Info: War Museum in Carlow, Ireland

If anybody is visiting Ireland, in Carlow Town, Co.Carlow - they have a small military museum in the hospital grounds (main focus is WW1). Opening times are limited but i think it is written on the door. I will check and see if there is a website.

Gerard

#10 lochgarman

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 10:16 PM

Here is the info on Carlow County Museum:

www.carlowcountymuseum.com

Opening Hours:
"March to 30th November from 2.00pm to 5.00pm at the Old Church, St Dympna’s, Athy Road, Carlow Town". One of the museums main displays features the uniforms of the Irish Defence Forces. The Defence Forces service in UN peacekeeping missions in the Congo, Lebanon and Somalia is the focus of other displays.

Another feature of the museum is the reconstruction of a World War One
trench. One of the museum directors has recently written a book on Carlow Soldiers in the Great War entitled: 'Follow Them Up From Carlow'. Other displays include the Irish War of Independence, Irish Civil War. Our Audio/Visual feature includes footage of the War of Independence and Civil War in Ireland.




#11 lochgarman

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 03:43 PM

QUOTE (sotonmate @ Dec 28 2009, 09:14 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
GF

The War Diary is now showing itself on the National Archives Catalogue,it is WO95/2266 which runs from Nov 1914 to Nov 1915. You can pay 3.50 for a digital download in normal working hours:

http://www.nationala...;accessmethod=0

When ther page loads click on Request this centre right and you get to select the digital copy and the buy screen.

Sotonmate

Hi Sotonmate - thanks for this bit of information. I took your advice and got the war diary for this period. Very interesting it really brings it home to read the war diary. Lots of lists of wounded & KIA (3-4 pages) but did'nt find Thomas's name in the lists even for the dates he died. Other soldiers were listed as dying that day etc but no mention of him. The mystery deepens..... but thanks for the helpful link. Much appreciated. Gerard

#12 corisande

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 10:41 AM


QUOTE
Lots of lists of wounded & KIA (3-4 pages) but didn't find Thomas' name in the lists even for the dates he died.


War Diaries were (usually) written at the time, and depended on the colonel/adjutant writing it as to how much detail they put in. Many just give officers killed. You can get a certain cross-check by looking at Brigade War Diary if it is the bunch you have. They will have daily casualty figures which may (or may not) be more detailed. There was no prescribed format for War Diaries, and I have found they differ greatly in content.

Certainly SDGW has

Name: Thomas Fleming
Birth Place: St. Johns, Kilkenny
Residence: Carlow
Death Date: 7 May 1915
Rank: Private
Regiment: Royal Irish Regiment
Battalion: 1st Battalion.
Number: 9777
Type of Casualty: Killed in action

If he joined the RDF in 1908, then the number looks about right, and he would have joined at Naas, which is where they had their depot. Ireland did not have Territorial Battalions. So he may have joined the Resrves at this time as a part time activity. Difficult to say from the info if he joined full time in 1908 or not, but certainly was a Regular full time soldier when he went to India in 1910

#13 lochgarman

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 09:57 PM

QUOTE (corisande @ Dec 31 2009, 10:41 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
War Diaries were (usually) written at the time, and depended on the colonel/adjutant writing it as to how much detail they put in. Many just give officers killed. You can get a certain cross-check by looking at Brigade War Diary if it is the bunch you have. They will have daily casualty figures which may (or may not) be more detailed. There was no prescribed format for War Diaries, and I have found they differ greatly in content.

Certainly SDGW has

Name: Thomas Fleming
Birth Place: St. Johns, Kilkenny
Residence: Carlow
Death Date: 7 May 1915
Rank: Private
Regiment: Royal Irish Regiment
Battalion: 1st Battalion.
Number: 9777
Type of Casualty: Killed in action

If he joined the RDF in 1908, then the number looks about right, and he would have joined at Naas, which is where they had their depot. Ireland did not have Territorial Battalions. So he may have joined the Resrves at this time as a part time activity. Difficult to say from the info if he joined full time in 1908 or not, but certainly was a Regular full time soldier when he went to India in 1910


Hi Corisande,
thanks for the info. Yes - agree it seems the war diaries do vary and its pot luck if you find a relative's name mentioned.
Logged onto the website for the The Times archive to see if there was any mention in the newspaper reports but did'nt find anything either.
My next try will be to see if i can get his war record in kew.
I have learned quite a lot in the last few days from everybody here which is great.

Gerard

#14 corisande

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Posted 01 January 2010 - 12:14 AM

QUOTE
Logged onto the website for the The Times archive to see if there was any mention in the newspaper reports but did'nt find anything either.


"Irish Times" not "Times" !!

#15 lochgarman

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Posted 01 January 2010 - 03:54 PM

QUOTE (corisande @ Jan 1 2010, 12:14 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
"Irish Times" not "Times" !!



Agree !! worth a try. I assumed it was "The Times" would have all the war info. Did'nt think about the Irish Times!

Thanks
Gerard

#16 zulu45

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 01:18 PM

Hi Gerard
This may be a long shot question but do you know the Ancestry of your Thomas Fleming, I have seen his father mentioned in the post as William just wondering if you have more. It maybe possible your Fleming and the Fleming in my family tree are the Same.

all the best for now Terry

#17 lochgarman

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 01:01 PM

Hi Terry, yes i do know the ancestry of my Thomas Fleming Royal Irish Regiment. His father was William Fleming born in Ballyhale, Kilkenny. William Fleming was involved in the railways in Kilkenny, William then moved to Carlow in the early 1900's with his family. They lived at Railway Station Carlow. I have more info. It would interesting to see what or if you have a connection.....! My flemings are originally from kilkenny city going back to the 1830's etc. hope this helps. If you think you have a connection private mail me so we can exchange emails/info. thanks Gerard


QUOTE (zulu45 @ Mar 27 2010, 02:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hi Gerard
This may be a long shot question but do you know the Ancestry of your Thomas Fleming, I have seen his father mentioned in the post as William just wondering if you have more. It maybe possible your Fleming and the Fleming in my family tree are the Same.

all the best for now Terry


#18 Paul Nixon

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 03:05 PM

I've just come across this post and thought I'd add a little to it.

Regarding post #5, the 3rd RDF was a Special Reserve battalion and we should be careful not to confuse a member of the Special Reserve with a Reservist. "The Special Reserve" and "The Reserve" were two entirely different entities; the former were part time soldiers whilst the latter were regular, career soldiers who had served their time on the Colours and were now placed on the Reserve, to be called upon if needed.

As far as his Royal Irish Regt number is concerned, it dates to around March 1909 and so he obviously decided, soon after joining the RDF Special Reserve, that he liked Army life enough to make a full-time career of it.

Paul





#19 lochgarman

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Posted 05 May 2010 - 10:35 PM

Thanks Paul for your note. Its great to get this info. i have had two wasted trips to the national archives in Kew searching for my soldier Thomas Fleming and left very fustrated after going there; I have got so much information from everyone here it is great.

Off finding about another 2 brothers who are relations - soldiers in the family that I did'nt know were in the 1st world war either!

Cheers Gerard

QUOTE (Paul Nixon @ May 2 2010, 04:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've just come across this post and thought I'd add a little to it.

Regarding post #5, the 3rd RDF was a Special Reserve battalion and we should be careful not to confuse a member of the Special Reserve with a Reservist. "The Special Reserve" and "The Reserve" were two entirely different entities; the former were part time soldiers whilst the latter were regular, career soldiers who had served their time on the Colours and were now placed on the Reserve, to be called upon if needed.

As far as his Royal Irish Regt number is concerned, it dates to around March 1909 and so he obviously decided, soon after joining the RDF Special Reserve, that he liked Army life enough to make a full-time career of it.

Paul


#20 Mount Temple

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 07:56 PM

HI Gerard Fleming - I have just discover that I had a relation in the Royal Irish Regiment and I have been looking for information as I am building a family tree. I found that there is a monument in Carlow which has a Thomas Fleming on it who was age 24. I traced this back on the census 1901 to William Fleming in Kilkenny who is my Great Grandfather .........................................unless I am wrong we are related. I originally come from Carlow. My Grand Father William was your Grand Fathers brother .......................Henry or Walter or Michael or John. I do not know if you visit this page still or by me placing a comment in it ...that it notifyies you. I have searched all day for you ....I am on Face book
John Fleming --- son of Robert Fleming (RIP) whos father was William Fleming (RIP) of Staplestown Road Carlow whos father was William Fleming who worked on the railway

QUOTE (corisande @ Jan 1 2010, 12:14 AM) "Irish Times" not "Times" !!


Agree !! worth a try. I assumed it was "The Times" would have all the war info. Did'nt think about the Irish Times!

Thanks
Gerard