Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Judge Law Smith and his Chauffeur

In the foregound of the above photo is the remains of the O'Rahilly's car.

In the background is a car with the registration TI 334. This is a Limerick registration but finding the name of the owner was proving difficult as the online versions of the Irish Motor Directory only goes up to 1915 and the Limerick list only goes up to TI 296.

(I generally use the Lennon Wylie page for the 1915 Motor Directory as it covers all counties but there are Limerick specific versions available to view online too).

Looking through the Rebellion Claims Committee, I thought that the car might belong to the Thompson Motor Company as the claim for the 15HP Landaulette damage description seemed quite close to the damage seen on the car and the car looks similar to a Napier Landaulette. No registration number is mentioned in the claim.

I am grateful to input from members of the Facebook group "Irish Vehicle Registrations Past & Present" who were able to identify the owner from the registration number as Limerick County Court official Judge  Law Smith. 

It appears the Judge Phillip Henry Law Smith had a claim into the Rebellion Claims Committee for a Sunbeam Landaulette and Chauffeurs uniform. Again, no registration number is mentioned in the claim.

There is a note in the claim to the effect that the Chauffeurs outfit was damaged as a result of his confinement in the GPO during the Rising and that the Chauffeur was arrested by the military after the Rising as a Sinn Feiner until his identity was ascertained.

Michael Staines witness statement indicates that the Chauffeur was detained and that he was one of the men who carried James Connolly's stretcher when the GPO was evacuated.

Father Patrick Doyle's witness statement suggests that the Chauffeur stayed with the Volunteers and fought with them in the GPO.

Luke Kennedy's witness statement suggests that the car was used during the Rising in an attempt to collect chemicals and that the car was driven by the chauffeur.

None of the witness statements or the claim form give the name of the Chauffeur. However, a 1916 Roll of Honour website lists M Keilly of 22 Ailesbury Road (the address of Judge Law Smith), a Chauffeur as being detained in Richmond Barracks and transferred to Knutsford Prison on 30th April 1916. The 1916 Rebellion Handbook lists Reilly M of 22 Ailesbury Road, Chauffeur as being detained in Richmond Barracks and transferred to Knutsford on the 20th April.

A Martin Reilly is listed as being released between 13th and 22nd May 1916. Nothing so far to confirm that Martin Reilly was the chauffeur.

Philip Henry Law Smith died 5th January 1920 and is buried in Bath, England.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Those of Us Who Must Die - Quick quiz

Having done an Easter Rising Mastermind quiz a while back, I thought I'd offer up a quick quiz on some of the material from "Those of Us Who Must Die". Nothing too difficult in here.

1. Volunteers were deported to England on the cattle ship TSS Slieve Bloom. What does TSS stand for?

2. How many .303 rifle bullets were fired in the executions in Kilmainham and Cork?

3. On leaving Kilmainham Gaol, what song did Commandant Ceannt start to sing?

4. How many of the executed were shot in the head?

5. As Eoin MacNeill was brought into Dartmoor prison, who called the Volunteers to attention ("'shun") and gave the order "eyes left"?

6. What nationality was rebel Tony Makapaltis?

7. In what year before the Easter Rising did Kilmainham Gaol cease to be used as civilian prison?

8. When Gary Holohan gave his name to an officer at Richmond Barracks, what surname did the officer mistakenly record?

9. It was suggested to Richard Mulcahy that he and the 5th Battalion volunteers should surrender to District Inspector Smyth at Ashbourne. Why was this not possible?

10. Cavanagh, Barton, Hoey, and Love belonged to which organisation?

11. FGCM is an abbreviation for what?

12. Members of which British regiment retrieved the last letter of the O'Rahilly?

13. Who whistled on the way to his execution?

14. Which of the executed Volunteer leaders was already a dying man at the time of his execution?

15. Which priest converted Grace Gifford to Catholicism?

16. Which DMP constable went out of his way to help, concerned that relatives of those to be
executed would not get to see the condemned men before they were shot?

17. Which officer found himself in charge of a firing party that would execute his childhood friend?

18. What Royal Navy ship brought prisoners from Galway to Kingstown?

19. What nickname was given to the British Officer in charge of Frongoch by the Volunteers?

20. How many firing squads were commanded by a Royal Navy officer?

Send your answers to

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Those of us Who Must Die

Popped over to Dublin last week for the launch of "Those of Us Who Must Die", the second book by Derek Molyneux and Darren Kelly.

Very well attended event with Marcus Howard doing the honours re officially launching the book.

Just finished reading "Those of Us Who Must Die" and have to say it's another great read. While I languish in the dry world of facts, figures etc, Derek and Darren are able to string a story together that delivers facts in a well paced and entertaining roller coaster of a ride. The range of emotions stirred reading this book is worrying - anger, pride, sadness and a few tears welled up as events unfold following the Easter Rising.

A wide range of things that were new to me and which will spin off a few little research projects.

Definitely a worthy addition to the library to sit alongside "When the Clock Struck in 1916".

Saturday, 13 May 2017

SMS Seydlitz

On the 24th April 1916, SMS Seydlitz was part of the German fleet that sailed from Germany to bombard the east coast of England as part of the German commitment to the leaders of the Easter Rising in Ireland.

It hit a mine several hours after sailing with the loss of 12 crew and was forced to return to port.

It was repaired and later took part in the Battle of Jutland.

The list of those killed in the Easter Rising raid and at Jutland can be found on the following site :

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Dublin - British Units on the opening day of the Easter Rising

Following up on a query on one of the groups on Facebook, there were a variety of units in Dublin on the opening day of the Easter Rising.

Sir John Maxwell's despatch following the Rising states :

The fighting strength of the troops avail- 
able in Dublin at this moment were:— 

6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment, 35 officers, 
851 other ranks. 

3rd Royal Irish Regiment, 18 officers, 385 
other ranks. 

10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 37 officers, 430 
other ranks. 

3rd Royal Irish Rifles, 21 officers, 650 other 

Of these troops an inlying picquet of 400 
men, which for some days past had been 
held in readiness, proceeded at once, and the 
remainder followed shortly afterwards.

Headquarters at Parkgate
Colonel Kennard - in charge of forces in Dublin
Colonel Henry Cowan - Adjutant and Assistant Adjutant General
Major Owen Lewis

Army Service Corps
615 MT Company were located in Parkgate. American Clive Wilson Warman was with this unit.

Ordnance Corps
At the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park

Pay Corps
A number of Pay Corps personnel were located in Linenhall Barracks

Royal Dublin Fusiliers
10th (Service) Battalion RDF were located in Royal Barracks (now Collins Barracks)
37 officers and 430 men

Royal Irish Rifles
3rd (Reserve) Battalion were located in Portobello Barracks (now Cathal Brugha Barracks)
21 officers and 650 men

Royal Irish Regiment
3rd (Reserve) Battalion were located in Richmond Barracks.
18 officers and 385 men
Commanding Officer : Lt Colonel Robert Owens
Adjutant : Major Edmund Roche-Kelly

6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment
Located in Marlborough Barracks.
35 officers and 851 men
Made up of 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers, 12th Lancers, 3/1st County of London Yeomanry, 3/1st City of London Yeomanry, 3/1st Welsh Yeomanry

Other soldiers were posted to positions at :

Dublin Castle (8 soldiers in the Guardroom)
GPO Telegraph Room (8 soldiers)
Ship Street Barracks (approx 25 soldiers)
Trinity OTC
Beggars Bush Barracks
Islandbridge Barracks

Friday, 9 September 2016

Film Clip : "The aftermath of the Dublin Easter Rising, Ireland, 1916"

The Imperial War Museum has a nice film clip of Dublin before and after the Rising labelled "The aftermath of the Dublin Easter Rising, Ireland, 1916"

Links in to a number of my interests :

1. no Brodie helmets visible on or being carried by any of the British troops

2. one of the improvised armoured vehicles on film (this snippet also appears in Mise Eire film)

3. an ambulance is visible with the number plate RI-2700. Not showing up in the Irish Motor Directory listing for 1915 unfortunately. Full page of 1914/15 directory data here.

Wilhelm Schramm

9th September 1916 saw the award of the Victoria Cross to William Leefe Robinson, an RFC pilot who shot down the first "Zeppelin" using newly designed bullets for dealing with the "baby killers" of WW1 propaganda. Leefe Robinson had previously been involved in the defensive operations against the Zeppelin raids supporting the Easter Rising.

The "Zeppelin" shot down was SL-11 - technically not a Zeppelin. All 16 crew were killed.

The twist in the tale is that the Captain of this airship, Wilhelm Emile Ludwig Schramm, was born in Old Charlton, Kent in December 1885, the son of Otto Schramm of 9 Victoria Road, Old Charlton.

Otto Schramm died in 1900 and it appears that Wilhelm then went to Germany where he eventually joined the German Army and later became commander of SL-11.

The crew of the SL-11 were buried in Potters Bar and a film clip of the funeral is available online.

They were moved to Cannock Chase in 1962 and Wilhelm Schramm is oddly noted on the CWGC site as being German Navy.

Leefe Robinson was later captured by the Germans and badly treated. He died shortly after his release in 1918.

No thanks to the Great War Forum. Sadly, no longer a forum worth visiting for WW1 research.