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  cap badgePrivate Luke O'Neill

1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers
Service No: 22128

Luke O'Neill grave

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Personal details

Family Information

Son of Roderick Roger O'Neill and Mary Ann O'Neill of Portglenone, Co. Antrim. They married on the 30/10/1889 in the district of Ballymoney. Although Luke was born in Portglenone he lived most of his life in Rasharkin. From the 1901 Census - Address - Lisrodden, Lisnagarran, Antrim, Ireland - Roderick O'Neill aged 42, Mary A O'Neill aged 31, John O'Neill aged 10 born 01/01/1891, Alexander O'Neill aged 8 born 21/04/1892, Luke O'Neill aged 7 born 25/03/1894, Hugh O'Neill aged 1 born 07/10/1899. Luke had another brother called Patrick born 23/03/1896 and died 12/03/1898. In his Will dated 14/07/1916 Luke left all his property and effects to his father. His Pension was awarded to his father on the 07/05/1917.

Born / Resided

Gortfad, Portglenone, Co. Antrim / 66j Coats St, Coatbridge

Died

Killed in Action 12/10/1916

Enlisted

Coatbridge 24/06/1915

Employed

Labourer in Tennents Foundry

Age

22 / DOB - 25/03/1894

Buried / Remembered

Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 15 A), Somme, France

Cemetery / Memorial Information

The memorial commemorates more than 72,000 men of British and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave, the majority of whom died during the Somme offensive of 1916. On the high ground overlooking the Somme River in France, where some of the heaviest fighting of the First World War took place, stands the Thiepval Memorial. Towering over 45 metres in height, it dominates the landscape for miles around. It is the largest Commonwealth memorial to the missing in the world. On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, 13 divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July.

Additional Information

Luke was Killed in Action near Eacourt and was 1 of 76 of his Battalion Killed on the 12/10/1916. His unit had received orders on the 11th October 'for an attack on German position 600 yards in front of main Le Transloy line on the 12th.' On the 12th 'The Battalion left the trenches in great style. Pressing too close to it [the barrage] as some were hit by our own shells. Suddenly machine guns opened through the barrage in front enfilading the whole line. They were forced to halt. This gave the Germans just enough time to bring up their machine guns and the Regiment then had no chance at all.' Chaos ensued and HQ did not know what was happening. Communications broke down as many officers were killed or injured and partly because 'the enemy put a very heavy barrage on our front line for over five hours.' At about midnight, however, news reached HQ that the men were in the objective, the trench taken from the British at the start of the Somme battle, and 'orders were received to consolidate on line and to push out patrol to Dewdrop trench'. They did so and were then relieved by the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders on the 13th October. Luke was confined to barracks for 1 week in Belfast after being absent for 24 hours on the 22/10/1915. Also remembered in the St Patrick's Roll of Honour (book). See photos for Luke's Medal Index Card, his name on the Ballymena War Memorial x 2, the Ballymena War Memorial and one of myself at the War Memorial taken by my friend Jay Beattie. Also see photos for Luke's Army Register of Soldiers Effects, his Service Medal and Award Rolls, his CWGC Grave Registration, his name on the Thiepval Memorial, the family on the 1901 Ireland Census, Luke's listing in the Ireland Casualties WW1, his Service Records x 6, Luke's Will x 2, his Pension Records x 3 and the Royal Irish Fusiliers Cap Badge.

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