Over the years of hosting this blog, I have heard from many descendants of British soldiers who were stationed in Ballincollig. I thought I would try to portray some of the photos and family histories of the men who found themselves in Ballincollig. These pictures, documents and notes were kindly provided by individuals who are related to these army men and I would like to extend a big thank you to them for allowing me to use them.
George Willett (b.c. 1793-1840)
“George Willett was wounded during the famous charge of the Royal Scots Greys at the Battle of Waterloo. During the early afternoon of the battle, a column of French infantry was threatening the centre of the British line and pressing Pack’s infantry brigade. The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton on his initiative ordered the Scots Greys forward and this movement restored the confidence and rallied the wavering British infantry. The Scots Greys then fell upon the French infantry column and putting it to flight with Sergeant Charles Ewart capturing the Eagle Standard of the 45th Regiment. The Scots Greys became disorganised after routing the column and instead of reforming, they continued their advance deeper into the French lines. The next French infantry they encountered had time to form squares and scythed the Scots Greys down with musket fire. Some of them moved on to attack some French artillery, but their horses were now exhausted and they were no longer a cohesive unit when they were counter charged by French lancers and cuirassiers and the Scots Greys and the rest of the Union Brigade were harried back to the British lines suffering heavy casualties. It was during this counter charge by the French Lancers that George Willett was wounded, receiving a lance wound in his back and was further injured by his horse falling on him. At Waterloo the Scots Greys suffered 104 killed and 97 wounded and lost 228 horses.
George Willett was born in Nantwich circa 1793, he enlisted on the 31st July 1811 and was discharged on the 24th June 1839 at Ballincollig in Ireland having served 27 years, 309 days. He also received a pension uplift of an additional 2 years for his service at Waterloo. He sadly did not live long to enjoy his retirement, where he appears to have been employed as the Master Tailor to the regiment while they were stationed at Ballincollig. He died on 28th January 1840 and is buried in the British Military Graveyard, Ballincollig, where his headstone still remains. A scarce casualty medal to the most iconic unit at Waterloo.”
See Willett headstone in Ballincollig Military Cemetery on this blog. Also see the information on the Ballincollig Military Cemetery relating to the headstone (no. 34) on this blog. [added April 2015]
Ralph Whiffen (1877-1965) Serial No. 11300
Ralph was born on the 9th May 1877 in Mapperton, Dorset, the sixth child of a family of fourteen. By the age of 13, he worked on a farm near his parents’ home. By 1901, he was at Topsham Artillery Barracks, Devon, where he was described as being a private soldier, single aged 22 years. He was married in 1907 in Exeter, to Cecilia (Ciss) Rosina Miller. In 1911, Ralph Whiffen was in the RFA, in Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland. He was living in married quarters.
Below are two photos taken outside the Officers’ Mess, Ballincollig.
Below is a copy of the postcard sent by Ralph Whiffen to Harvey Whiffen from Ballincollig (note reference to photo of Ralph’s dog).
Ralph and his wife Ciss eventually retired to Exmouth after many years of military service, including being in France in the Great War. Ciss, died in 1957 and two years later, at the age of 82, Ralph married 47 year old Lilian Ellen Pilley.
Ralph died in March 1965. His second wife died in January 2006, aged 96 years of age.
Thomas Hewett Johnson (1809-1833)
Thomas was the first child of Mark and Mary Johnson ( née Lewis). He was born on the 2nd of March 1809 at Canterbury, Kent, England. This information was found on Thomas’s father’s army record at The National Archives in Kew, England. Thomas’s father, Mark Johnson was an officer in the 3rd Kings Own Light Dragoons 1800-1833. He was English and his wife Mary was from Wales. Mark and Mary were married at St Iberius church Wexford, Ireland on the 2nd September 1804 (while Mark was there with the army). They are buried in the Glasgow Necropolis. One of Thomas’s brothers Charles Dublinus Johnson was born in Dublin (again while his father was there with the army) and one of his sister’s, Mary was also born in Ireland, at Dundalk.
Thomas Hewett Johnson was in the 7th Dragoon Guards. He died in Ballincollig on the 13th March 1833, aged 21 years and was buried in the Ballincollig Military Cemetery where there is a headstone which was erected to his memory.
His headstone reads:
to the Memory
Thomas Hewitt Johnson
Cornet and Riding Master
7th Dragoon Guards
who died at Ballincollig Barracks
on the 13 th day of March 1833
aged 21 years.
William Munday (1884-1945) Serial No. 5295
William was born 29 March 1884 (Wycombe, Bucks). He served as a Private with the 3rd Dragoon Guards. His army record showed him as serving in South Africa till 28 August 1904. His discharge date was 13th October 1905, in Ballincollig, as shown on the Parchment Certificate of Character. He then became a reservist until being called up as a member of the BEF in August 1914.
Although William took up his previous trade as a French polisher after leaving the army, he was on the army reserve at the outbreak of WW1, and served with the BEF (3rd Dragoons attached to the 1st Life Guards). He was wounded at Zonnebeke Belgium on the 6 November 1914, the wounds serious enough for him to be discharged on medical grounds when he returned to his previous trade as a French polisher.
Here is a picture of William Munday:
William died 24 February 1945 in Shoreditch, London.
Arthur Harding (1835-1901+) Serial No. 6907
Arthur Harding, was a “Collar Maker” in the Royal Artillery, stationed in Ballincollig Barracks in 1866 when Arthur Harding (Jnr) was born. His sister, Elizabeth Harding, was born in the September quarter of 1833, in Croydon, Surrey, and later married James Allsop. Their daughter, Minnie Margaret, later married Arthur Harding (Junior). Minnie and Arthur Jnr were first cousins.
Arthur Harding and Margaret Long had at least one other child, Eliza, born in Ballincollig in 1864. However, Eliza’s birth certificate shows her father’s address as “Curragh of Kildare”, so it appears he was stationed at Curragh Barracks, County Kildare, in 1864. Arthur and Eliza were both baptised in the Ballincollig Catholic Church, Eliza on 24 July 1864 and Arthur on 18 May 1866. The sponsors on Eliza’s (“Elizabeth” on certificate) baptismal certificate are shown as Morgan O’Brien and Julia O’Brien. The sponsors on Arthur’s baptismal certificate are shown as Laurence O’Brien and Julia Manning. Julia Manning is also shown as present at the birth of Eliza in 1864. George Manning was the informant on Arthur Junior’s birth certificate. There therefore appears to be either a family or strong friendship link between the Long, O’Brien and Manning families.
Arthur Harding Snr’s army discharge papers show that he was also born in Croydon, Surrey and was aged 22 when he enlisted in the Royal Artillery on 25 August 1857. Therefore, his birth year was approx. 1835. Arthur served in the Royal Artillery for 21 years and 39 days, being discharged on 2 October 1878 in Rawul Pindi, East Indies. His age on discharge was “43 & 5/12 years”, which would make his birth date late April or early May 1835. His service record shows exemplary conduct – he was awarded the silver medal for long service and good conduct and a gratuity of five pounds in 1876. When discharged he held the rank of Sergeant. Although his service record states “He has no certificate of education”, Arthur could write clearly and his signature is appended to the discharge papers.
His service record shows he was in the 2nd Battalion, 8th Brigade, Royal Artillery as a “Gunner/Driver” on enlistment. He was promoted to Collar Maker on 1 February 1862 and to Corporal on 1 February 1867. This covers the period when he served in Ireland and when Arthur Junior was born in Ballincollig.
Arthur Harding re-enlisted in the Royal Artillery for a further ten years at Woolwich Barracks on 10 October 1867, only 17 months after Arthur Junior was born in Ballincollig and was almost immediately posted overseas, to India. No reference to his being married or receiving married quarters after his re-enlistment, could be found, and no further record of his wife Margaret (nee Long) has been found, so it seems he must have left her in Ireland with Eliza and Arthur Junior. He was promoted to Sergeant Collar Maker on 2 October 1869 and transferred to 3 Brigade on 1 July 1877. He was discharged in 1878 in the East Indies, with a record of almost 11 years of service in the East Indies.
Arthur married Ellen Young in Bengal, India in 1872. It seems certain that Margaret Long must have died previous to this date because she was Catholic and would not have agreed to a divorce. However, whether she died in Ireland or in England before Arthur re-enlisted in the army,is not known. His son Arthur (my grandfather who was born in Ballincollig) was raised in Ireland for long enough to gain a strong Irish accent (recollected by my brother) so since he was only 6 years old in 1872, I presume he must have been raised by his grandparents or other members of the Long family. However, he was living in England by the time he was 15. On census night, 3 April 1881, aged 15 years, he was boarding with Robert and Jane Higgs at 9 Frogmore Street, Wandsworth, London. His occupation given as “labourer”.
Arthur Harding Senior returned to England with his second wife Ellen and their three children born in India (George, John and Sarah) sometime after his discharge in 1878. He settled in Barton Upon Irwell, Lancashire (source: 1881 census) and apparently ran a pub there. The Marriage Certificate for Arthur Harding (jnr) and Minnie Allsopp (1896) also shows his father’s occupation as ‘Licensed Victualler’.
It is not known when Arthur Senior died, but it was after the 1901 census because all the family was there, living in Salford, Lancashire.
Information about 68 Battery RA (the artillery battery that Arthur Harding was attached to):
“With the war over the Company moved back to Woolwich in July 1856 before moving on to Northampton in 1857 equipped as a Field Battery until moving to Aldershot in 1858.
In 1859 the organisation of the Royal Artillery was changed and the Company now became known as 4 Battery 8th Brigade Royal Artillery.
However in 1861 while at Davenport because it was a Field Battery its designation changed again to ‘D’ Battery 8th Brigade RA.
From 1863 until returning to Woolwich in 1866 the Battery moved about Ireland changing stations every few months. (That explains the information about Arthur being based in Curragh Barracks when Eliza was born and in Ballincollig when Arthur Jnr was born).
Finally in July 1866 the Battery embarked for India landing in Calcutta on 28th October before marching to Sitapore to arrive there on 14th December 1866. Before long it was on the march again to Bareilly in 1867 where they remained until 1871. From Bareilly they marched to Jubbulpore, Benares in 1872 and then Lahore. The system was to move the Batteries about to different stations quite frequently.
1877 whilst at Nowgong the organisation changed again and the Battery became known as ‘D’ Battery 3 Brigade RA but remained a Field Battery. During 1877 the Battery took part in an engagement at Jowaki.
The Battery returned to Woolwich in 1881.”
Joseph Ringwood Pain (1845-1881)
Joseph Ringwood PAIN was born 7 May 1845 in Ipswich, Suffolk. On 28 June 1865 he married Hannah Maria FISK at St Peter’s Church, Pimlico, Middlesex and was listed as a gun maker. By the 1871 census he was posted to Canterbury Barracks, Kent with his family and was an Armourer Sergeant with the 19th Regiment of Hussars.
When he wrote his will on 18 May 1880 he (and his wife) were at the Station Hospital, Ballincollig Barracks – Corps of Armourers and attached to H.M. 19th Hussars. Joseph died 12 July 1881 at Dundalk Barracks, County Louth and is buried in St Nicholas (Church of Ireland), Dundalk.
James Cassidy, Serial N0. 929
James Cassidy was born at Kingston, Ontario, Canada, in 1817. His parents were a soldier (Nicholas Cassidy) and his wife (Mary Mullan). When James was fifteen years old, and having earlier in life travelled from Canada, he was attested into the 37th Regiment of Foot – later part of the Hampshire Regiment – at BALLINCOLLIG, County Cork, on 4th September 1832.
Sergeant James Cassidy served in the military for almost twenty-four years (fifteen years of which at Jamaica, Halifax and Ceylon) and was discharged on 18th April 1856. He earned The Silver Medal and gained a gratuity of £5 for “long service and good conduct” as well as another three good conduct badges prior to promotion from private through to sergeant. In his discharge papers, he was described as being 5’6” in height with light brown hair and hazel eyes.
Three years after having been discharged at Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), James married 19-year-old Irish lady Catherine Gallagher in Glasgow on 4th February 1859, when he was forty-two years old. Their first child, Mary Catherine, was born on 2nd November, 1859 in Glasgow. They had seven children including John, born 25th June, 1872. Catherine died earlier than James at 43 years of age on 25th February, 1883 at Govan Poorhouse (now Southern General Hospital), Glasgow. They were married for just short of 24 years. Interestingly, James’ regimental captain, Captain John Lyon Clutterbuck, died at Barrackpore in India during the 1857 uprising, only one year after having discharged James in 1856 at Ceylon. James’ son John Cassidy (1872-1942) later became well-known among the southside Glasgow people as a pleasant, helpful and considerate General Manager at the Scottish Co-Operative Wholesale Society.
James died in Glasgow on Hallowe’en, 31st October, 1897. He was 80 years of age.