The Last General Absolution of the Munster Fusiliers, Saturday 8th May 1915.
I read with interest the above subject matter which appeared back in August 2005. I have been researching this event for some time, hoping I could find the location of the Shrine in the Matania painting. The clues so far to date, the history of the Munster Fusiliers by Capt. S. McCance, page 127 vol 2, states as follows-
'..On the 8th the Battalion marched through Rue du Bois and halted on the side of the road about 500 yards away from the trenches..'
I have a photocopy of Chaplain Father Francis Gleeson's diary, covering the dates Friday 7th May to Wednesday 12th May another clue is contained in the diary as follows:-
Diary heading, 8 Saturday.
We march out from xxx billet (Locon) about 900 strong, our Commanding Officer being Major Rickard and the Adjutant, Captain Filgate - two of the kindliest men I have come across. We leave about 7.00. The scenes of enthusiasm are outstanding. I ride my horse. Give Absolution to Batt. during rest on road. Opposite La Contin Church between the shrine of 'N.D. de la Bonne Mort' and another shrine we xxx. The men all sing hymns 'Hail Great St. Patrick'. I go further up - near the trenches and bid good bye to all. So Sad !!.
I suspect they may have been close to a village by name of Richebourg L' Avout.
Some of the writing is difficult to decipher and I am following this up with the Archivist of the RC Diocese Dublin.
I carried research on the location of the original painting, I was advised by the Documentation Officer Department of Art, Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London, as follows:-
According to our records, the painting was destroyed by fire during the Second World War. It was one of a number of Matania First World War works that were in the hands of the Illustrated London News and other publications. Matania was an artist who produced work for use in such publications and as a result much of his original work was purchased by, or belonged to, these publications. It was whilst with them that they appear to have been destroyed during the Second World War. Our Matania collection consists of two original works, one poster, several lithographs and four reproduced prints. We have an old newspaper cutting relating to his painting of the Munsters, but this contains only a small black and white, poor quality image of the work.
Fortunately prints from the mentioned publications survived to remind us of that poignant moment, I am fortunate as I have had a copy of one of those prints of the 'The Last General Absolution' for some years now. At the moment I am revising my web page about this event and hope to have it posted to my web site shortly.
The original Shrine I believe was destroyed during the ebb and flow of battles around Neuve Capelle. It was rebuilt in 1935 and paid for by a local landowner. Unfortunately modern progress saw it removed for road widening, some reports say it was destroyed in the process. All that remained was a plaque that was attached to the base.
I am interest in photos of the Rue du Bois area to aid my research, any submitted to me by interested persons will be appreciated.
A fine statuette of Father Gleeson was commissioned by the Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain to the Army. It is available in three
standard finishes: golden bronze, hand-painted or silver-plate. The overall height of the mounted figurine is 11 Â½ " from the hooves of the horse to the top of Father Gleeson's head.
Produced by Ballantynes of Blackburn.
See web site:-http://www.ballantynes-walkerburn.com/acat...Department.html