From Guillemont Road cemetery you can look across the fields to what was once known as Trônes Wood, outside the village of Ginchy. Although the scene today is that of a beautiful rural landscape, it would have been very different during the Somme offensive in 1916.
The trees in the wood would have been burned down and just scarred and scorched trunks remained.
It was in this area that Lt Tom Kettle met his death. He was a temporary Captain with ‘B’ Company of the 9th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
Kettle (then aged 36) was involved in an attack on German lines on 9th September 1916, near the village of Ginchy. During the advance Kettle was felled when the Dublin Fusiliers were ‘struck with a tempest of fire’. Having risen from the initial blow, he was struck again and killed outright.
His body was buried in a temporary grave by the Welsh Guards, but it could not be located when hostilities ceased. His name is etched on the huge monumental arch for the missing of the Somme at Thiepval.
The erection by of a commemorative bronze bust of Kettle in Dublin, commissioned from the sculptor Albert Power and finished in 1921, was beset for almost twenty years by controversy and bureaucratic obstruction owing to the antipathy of the state authorities post-Independence towards Irishmen who had fought in World War 1. It was finally raised in 1937, without an unveiling ceremony, in St Stephen’s Green.
A stone tablet commemorates him in the Island of Ireland Peace Park at Messines in Belgium.
He is listed on the bronze plaque in the Four Courts in Dublin which commemorates the 26 Irish barristers killed in the Great War. Kettle is also commemorated on the Parliamentary War Memorial at Westminster Hall in London, one of 22 present and former Members of Parliament that lost their lives during World War 1 to be named on that memorial.
A further act of commemoration came with the unveiling in 1932 of a manuscript-style illuminated book of remembrance for the House of Commons, which includes a short biographical account of the life and death of Kettle.