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  cap badgePrivate William Murtagh

1st Battalion Irish Guards No 4 Company
Service No: S/3291

William Murtagh grave

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Personal details

Family Information

Son of John and Josephine Murtagh of New Cottages, Duleek St, Drogheda, Co. Louth. From the 1901 Ireland Census - Address - Priests Lane, Westgate, Drogheda No. 3., Louth, Ireland - John Murtagh aged 35, Josephine Murtagh aged 30, William Murtagh aged 12, Thomas Murtagh aged 7, Josephine Murtagh aged 5, Mary Christina Murtagh aged 2. William left all his property and effects to his mother. William's Pension was awarded to his mother Josephine on the 16/05/1916.

Born / Resided

Drogheda, Co. Meath / 33 Dundyvan Rd, Coatbridge

Died

Killed in Action / Died of Wounds on the 17/02/1915 at Cuinchy

Enlisted

Drogheda 1914

Employed

Tube Worker in the British Tube Works

Age

24

Buried / Remembered

Cuinchy Communal Cemetery (II. D. 4), Nord, France

Cemetery / Memorial Information

Cuinchy remained during almost the whole of the War within range of German guns, and the cemeteries in the Commune were made, so far as British troops are concerned, by fighting units and Field Ambulances. There are now over 100, 1914-18 and a small number of 1939-45 war casualties commemorated in this site. Two graves from the 1914-18 War, destroyed by shell fire, are represented by special memorials.

Additional Information

The Battalion arrived at Le Havre on the 13/08/1914 and were part of the 4th (Guards) Brigade, 2nd Division. William arrived in France 2 weeks later. William is listed as Killed in Action on his Medal Index Card, his Pension Record and his listing in the Ireland Casualties WW1 but is listed as Died of Wounds by the CWGC. His company fought in the following : The affairs of Cuinchy, 1st and 6th February 1915 : At 2.30 am on 1st February, No 4 Company were attacked by bombs (grenades), and were forced to evacuate their end of the trench. They moved back behind a second barricade of sandbags positioned across the Hollow, between the two culverts. The "lesser culvert" was now behind the German line, but as they still held the "big culvert", the Coldstreams still had access to and from the tow-path. No 4 Company Irish Guards came up in support and a counter attack was organised, which took place about 4.00 am. The attack was made in three lines: the first, by a small party up the tow-path; the second, by a larger group up the Hollow on to the railway embankment; the third, against two barricades now erected by the Germans to protect their new position. But the counter-attack suffered serious losses. Men on the railway embankment were easily targeted by machine guns; while the ground in the Hollow was cut up with communication trenches and dugouts. This prevented any rapid charge being made, while men moving slowly across the various obstructions presented "a fine target" in the moonlight. Colonel Pereira (Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards) therefore cut his considerable losses and recalled the attack at 6.30 am, before dawn made things even worse. A further counter-attack was then ordered, but this time with artillery preparation. The position to be recaptured was subjected to intense bombardment for ten minutes, beginning at precisely 10.05 am. The counter-attack was then launched at 10.15 am. Once again No 4 Company was to advance up the tow-path and up the hollow; following was a bomb-party from Nos 3 and 4 Companies, then 30 Irish Guards with sandbags, spades, and more bombs, accompanied by a party of Royal Engineers, to consolidate ground won; and finally, a further company of the Irish Guards in reserve, to hold the existing British position. Cuinchy is a village situated 10 kilometres east of Bethune. The Cemetery is situated in the civil cemetery about one kilometre from the railway station. William returned home to his native Drogheda to enlist. He is also remembered on the Stewarts and Lloyds and St Augustine's Churches Rolls of Honour (see photos). See photos for William's Medal Index Card, his Newspaper clipping, his Army Register of Soldiers Effects, his listing in the Ireland Casualties WW1, his Service Medal and Award Rolls x 2, his CWGC Grave Registration x 2, his Headstone Report x 2, Cuinchy Communal Cemetery, the Irish Guards Cap Badge, Drogheda War Memorial and William's name on the Drogheda War Memorial (personally taken by myself) and finally William's Will x 3.

Photos
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