Trooper William Reid. Pic. Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry.

Remembering Trooper William Reid aged 21 from Inchicore in Dublin.

Regimental badge

A member of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, he was killed 75 years ago on Sunday 10th September 1944 when his C Squadron tank was hit at the Doornboom crossroads during the battle to secure the bridgehead over the Albert Canal at Geel in Belgium.

Captain John E. Mann MC

The rest of the crew, the commander Captain John E. Mann MC, Trooper Ernest Winchester and Trooper John Saunders, were also killed. All were buried by the unit’s chaplain Reverend Leslie Skinner in St Apollonia’s churchyard at Stelen two days later, where they still lie.

CWGC Cemetery Stelen Pic. Ricky van Dyck (

The padre was the first chaplain to land on the Normandy beaches on D-Day in June 1944 with the unit.
Geel is twinned with Tydavnet and Monaghan.

Grave of Trooper William Reid (

Rank: Trooper
Regiment/Service: Royal Armoured Corps
Unit Text: Nottinghamshire Yeomanry
Age: 21
Date of Death: 10/09/1944
Service No: 14427894
Additional information: Son of John and Annie Reid; husband of Kathleen Reid, of Inchicore, Dublin, Ireland.
Grave/Memorial Reference: Brit. Plot, grave 15.
Cemetery: GEEL (Stelen) Churchyard

A tank of the Sherwood Foresters Yeomanry at Stationstraat Geel on 10th September 1944. Pic. Willem van Broeckhoven in ‘September Helden’ (Geerings G).

75th anniversary of Battle of Geel is marked by the Belgian Defence Forces


On the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Geel we remember those members of the Irish Guards and others buried in the CWGC cemetery in Geel.

They were killed in the advance across Belgium (following D-day in June 1944) establishing a bridgehead across the Albert and the Meuse canals in Geel in September 1944. Fourteen are buried at the CWGC British cemetery in Geel. Twelve headstones are pictured here. They include a Guardsman Simpson from Portadown Co. Armagh. Thanks for the pictures Leo Haeseldonckx We will remember them.

Guardsman E. Shearer

21 yr old Guardsman Edward Shearer (no family details) died on 14/09/44 3rd Battalion Irish Guards.

Guardsman William Simpson from Portadown

Guardsman William Simpson aged 20 from Portadown 3rd Bn Irish Guards died 07/09/44.

Guardsman J. Barlow

24 yr old Guardsman Jack Barlow from Macclesfield 3rd Bn Irish Guards died 07/09/44.

Guardsman E. J. Breslin

28 yr old Guardsman Edward Joseph Breslin 3rd Bn Irish Guards (a Donegal name).

Captain William R.R. Bruce, aged 32, 3rd Bn Irish Guards died 07/09/44.

Lance Serjeant T. Davidson

Lance Serjeant Thomas Davidson aged 29 from Nottingham 3rd Bn Irish Guards died 07/09/44.

Lance Corporal W. Houghton

Lance Corporal Wilfred Houghton, aged 24, 3rd Bn Irish Guards died 14/09/44.

Guardsman L. Hutchman

Guardsman Lawrence Hutchman aged 35 from Pontypridd 3rd Bn Irish Guards died 14/09/44.

Sgt Tom Johns aged 28 3rd Bn Irish Guards died 07/09/44.

Lt Humphrey O. C. Kennard

Lt Humphrey Oscar Coleridge Kennard from Chelsea, London 3rd Bn Irish Guards died 14/09/44.

Lance Corporal JJ O’Neill

Lance Corporal John James O’Neill aged 22 from Liverpool 3rd Bn Irish Guards died 14/09/44.

Guardsman Alan Parsons aged 22 3rd Bn Irish Guards of Tydd St Giles Cambridgeshire died 07/09/44.

Lance Serjeant John Proe

Lance Serjeant John Proe of Whiston, Lancashire aged 23 died 07/09/44 3rd Bn Irish Guards buried in Geel.

Guardsman Rudolph Edwin John Stone died 3rd Bn Irish Guards (no age or family details) died 07/09/44. We will never forget them.


Geel group ready for departure from Tydavnet

Geel group ready for departure from Tydavnet

Gift from Geel to Tydavnet: statue of St Dympna

Gift from Geel to Tydavnet: statue of St Dympna

 They came here as part of The Gathering. A group of fourteen visitors from Geel led by Mayor Vera Celis has returned to Belgium following a five day stay in Tydavnet, County Monaghan, with which the town in Flanders is twinned. The common connection is St Dympna, whose story is reflected in both areas.

Geel Mayor Vera Celis & Cllr Nadine Laeremans collect water from St Dympna's Well, Tydavnet Photo: © Patricia Cavanagh

Geel Mayor Vera Celis & Cllr Nadine Laeremans collect water from St Dympna’s Well, Tydavnet Photo: © Patricia Cavanagh

The well of St Dympna at Culdavnet has had access restored and the visitors went there to collect some of the water. The Mayor of Geel Vera Celis also planted a tree at the former national school at Cornagilta, which the local community hopes to open as a heritage centre.

The group also visited the mens’ shed project in Monaghan town and were given a tour of the new educational complex on the site of the former military barracks, as well as a tour of the new Garage Theatre. It was an interesting programme put together by the hard-working local committee of volunteers in Tydavnet, with the support of Monaghan County Council. On Sunday morning the visitors attended the 10am Mass at St Dympna’s church in Tydavnet and they were brought afterwards to the community centre for refreshments.

Geel Mayor Vera Celis planting tree at Cornagilta school Photo: © Paudge Connolly

Geel Mayor Vera Celis planting tree at Cornagilta school Photo: © Paudge Connolly

The visitors stayed with local families and in return, visitors from Tydavnet are hosted by local people when they travel to Geel. An invitation was made by Vera Celis and Councillor Nadine Laeremans for the Tydavnet group to travel to Geel in May 2015 when the next St Dympna pageant (“Omegang”) will take place, a celebration held every five years.

Before they departed, Mayor Vera Celis presented Marie McAree representing the Tydavnet group with a gift: a statue of St Dympna from Geel. A suitable place must now be found to display it, perhaps in the chapel.

Flag of Geel

Flag of Geel


Civic reception by Monaghan County Council for Geel group

Civic reception by Monaghan County Council for Geel group

Geel group led by Mayor Vera Celis visits Leinster House

Geel group led by Mayor Vera Celis visits Leinster House

WELKOM! Tydavnet in County Monaghan has welcomed a group of fifteen visitors from Geel in Belgium, led by the new Mayor Vera Celis. Tydavnet is twinned with Geel in the province of Antwerp through the common link of St Dympna (Davnet). The group, some of whom have been here before, are staying with host families in the parish. They flew in to Dublin airport from Brussels and were then taken on a tour of Leinster House organised by Cllr Paudge Connolly, followed by lunch in the members’ restaurant. During the visit the Taoiseach Enda Kenny met them briefly, which was appreciated as it was a busy day for him in the Daíl.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and Burgemeester van Geel Vera Celis, New Flemish Alliance party, Flemish Parliament

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and Burgemeester van Geel Vera Celis, New Flemish Alliance party, Flemish Parliament

I met the group as they departed for Tydavnet, where they were entertained last night in the community centre, having stopped to visit the restored workhouse building in Carrickmacross en route . Last August I joined a group from Tydavnet and Monaghan that went to Geel for the “Eurofeesten” involving twelve European countries. On Thursday the visitors were taken on a walking tour of the St Davnet’s complex in Monaghan. They were then given a civic reception at the Westenra Hotel, hosted by the Mayor of County Monaghan Hugh McElvaney and the Monaghan town Mayor, Seamus Treanor, both of whom participated in the visit to Geel last year. Councillor McElvaney presented Vera Celis with a framed piece of Clones lace and the Burgemeester made presentations to Tydavnet group organiser Sheila McKenna and to the county Mayor. This afternoon the group was taken to visit the new educational campus and the Garage theatre on the Armagh road and they were then due to be taken on a walk around Monaghan town. They will visit Derry on Saturday and will attend Sunday Mass in Tydavnet.

Group from Geel at Leinster House

Group from Geel at Leinster House

Monaghan Mayor Hugh McElvaney presents a gift of Clones Lace to Geel Mayor Vera Celis

Monaghan Mayor Hugh McElvaney presents a gift of Clones Lace to Geel Mayor Vera Celis

Tydavnet Group organiser Sheila McKenna is presented with a gift by Mayor of Geel Vera Celis

Tydavnet Group organiser Sheila McKenna is presented with a gift by Mayor of Geel Vera Celis

Flag of Geel

Flag of Geel


Extraordinary discovery in Geel (Het Nieuwsblad)

Extraordinary discoveries in Geel                   (Het Nieuwsblad)

St Dympna is the connection between Tydavnet (Tigh Damhnait) in Monaghan and the town of Geel in the province of Antwerp in Belgium, with which it is twinned.  I have visited Geel on a number of occasions, most recently in August last year. So I was interested to see an online article in the Belgian paper Het Nieuwsblad about an important archaeological discovery showing evidence of prehistoric remains, including a large graveyard from the Bronze Age. The find was made in the area called Sint-Dimpna, close to the church of that name, I think, at a site being excavated to make room for a new sports centre. I have used Google to attempt to translate the article, to find out a bit more about the discovery. This is what the report says, give or take a phrase or two!

Extraordinary discoveries in Geel (caption for photo).
Unique archaeological traces at St. Dympna:
Geel Historical Society has worked with the city archives to organise a lecture on the results of the excavations at St. Dympna. The archaeologists will explain how their research was done, what traces were found and what they mean. The excavations were carried out for the construction of the new sports and play park. During the investigation many archaeological traces from different periods came to light. The researchers found four main buildings from the Iron Age (circa 800-50BC), a yard from the Middle Ages (10th-12th century AD) and numerous smaller outbuildings or nails that served as storage for food. There were also some wells found (dating from) the Middle Ages. Besides these traces of habitation there were also traces of a large graveyard from the Bronze Age (2000-50 BC) that came to light. And it is this last discovery that makes the archeological site so unique and interesting. Finding such burial sites is extremely rare for archaeologists in Flanders. “The combination of the cemetery and a settlement is truly exceptional. In Geel everything was also very well preserved, “said Connie Leysen from the Geel city archives. The lecture will take place on Friday 25th January at 8pm in the Winery.


For the past 20 years, Tydavnet in Co.Monaghan has been twinned with the town of Geel in the Antwerpen province of Flanders in Belgium. The connection is through the story of St Dympna (Tigh Damhnait in Irish means Dympna’s house). Some groups have gone over for the five-yearly St-Dimpna Ommegang or procession in May. More recently Monaghan delegations have participated in the Geel Euro Festival in August every five years. I was there in 2007 and went back for this year’s events, reporting for the website. I have put my diary pieces over the six days into one article to give you an idea of how the group of 22 (including the Mayor of Monaghan and three Councillors) spent their time with the host families who provided free accommodation for them.


A group of eighteen people from the parish of Tydavnet  has headed off (Wednesday morning 15th August 9am) for the town of Geel in Belgium, with which we have been twinned for the past twenty years. Some of those on the trip have visited Geel before and for others it will be their first trip to see Flanders. The group will be accompanied by the Mayor of Monaghan Cllr Hugh McElvaney from Corcaghan, along with Councillors David Maxwell, Seamus Treanor and Pat Treanor. They will receive a welcome from the Mayor of Geel and the local council. Thursday is the day for “It’s a Knockout” games or “Spel zonder Grenzen” involving all twelve participating European countries. Sounds like we are in for a dunking as we have been advised by Sheila to bring our swimsuits! Friday is the day for a conference on active ageing. Saturday is the day for cultural trips and a big show. On Sunday the day begins with a church service and there is usually a procession afterwards. The event is usually held every five years. Each person or couple is given hospitality by local residents, some of whom have visited Tydavnet since the link was established. For more about the St Dympna connection see the section under “History of Tydavnet”. Hopefully we can keep you informed of progress on this news page. Translate “geel” from Flemish into English and you get “yellow” so here is the news about EUROFEESTEN 2012 from Geel aka Yellow!


All arrived safely in Geel and were met by the host families. André and Mia are hosts once again for Evelyn and myself; Donagh is staying nearby and tonight Hermann and Annie gave us dinner. Regards from all to Harry & Deirdre. Plenty of good Belgian beer when we arrived. I led a sing song  briefly in the festival tent before we went our separate ways. Plenty of excitement tomorrow in the “It’s a knockout” games involving twelve European countries. Good night all until Thursday.


Killylough won the gold in another European tug-of-war competition led by Paddy Sherry. The Tydavnet team representing Ireland finished eighth out of ten, ahead of Portugal and France (wooden spoon). Poland were the champions in the Spel zonder Grenzen (It’s a Knockout), represented by Czestochowa. Martin McKenna led our team and Sheila put on a swimsuit for some water-based game. I ended the final game dressed in a wig and yellow/red trousers as a symbol of Geel. All great fun. Cllr David Maxwell led the quiz and jigsaw team. He was also interviewed by local TV (as was Martin after the tug-of-war victory). David was left confused in a game where the Irish currency produced was a copy of an old Allied Irish Bank £20 sterling note with a picture of Queen Elizabeth!

Maybe these Belgians with their good connections in Brussels have some inside knowledge of the future of the Irish economy……..!!! This evening I led a sing-song of Irish favourites and Flemish melodies at Ten Aard parish centre, close to where we are staying. Plenty of rabble-rousing songs including “A Nation Once Again” led by the Mayor Hugh McElvaney who has to be up early am for a conference on active ageing. Eugene & Mary Sherry have just arrived (staying next door) but took a wrong connection on a train so their arrival was delayed a bit. They will join us tomorrow Friday for a trip to a museum in Antwerpen. Oiche mhaith.


Owing to a technical glitch, this report is coming to you from Geel slightly later than the previous ones…….well that’s my excuse anyway. In reality, my kind host André produced a glass or two of Powers and we did not get to bed until late after solving the problems of the world (especially Belgian politics!!). So starting backwards, we returned home to the peaceful suburb of Ten Aard at 2am, having said farewell to the Mayor of Geel Frans Peters and his wife, who were catching up with old friends. They spotted us sitting outside the Irish pub in the Grote Markt (town square) and came over to speak to Martin McKenna and Sheila. She left us temporarily to be introduced to a Cork man in the building industry here in Geel. He told us there were a few Monaghan people working with him, so if you happen to know any, send them along to the square tonight (Saturday) and you will find us there. Earlier the group joined representatives of nine other European countries at the official opening of the EUROFEESTEN. A great spectacle, very lively and colourful. Ireland was mentioned at the start of the presentation…..20 years of twinning Tydavnet:Geel. But we were the last country to be introduced and welcomed from the stage, and as Amhran na bhfiann was played, Sheila McKenna in true Katie Taylor style (much better in fact than the Olympian!) waved the tricolour, while the Mayor of Monaghan Hugh McElvaney wearing his chain of office

Seamus Treanor & Hugh McElvaney

Seamus Treanor & Hugh McElvaney

sat in the front row with Cllr Seamus Treanor. Instead of staying for the concert we went for a lovely meal at the museum restaurant where I sampled a local speciality of a pot of mussels in white wine and chips. As for the mixed grill which some of the others had, the plate was huge and the food generally has been excellent. Heading off for a trip soon to Vaals so no time to tell you how we got on with the window shopping (with a slight difference) in Antwerpen. Those in our small group of eleven will know exactly what happened as we left St Paul’s (Dominican) church having heard the story of Mary Magdalene and then headed for the River Schelde and the old port area……….


This was the day when guests are usually taken away for a trip by their host family and it has been the warmest so far, up to 35C. Tydavnet parish where the show was being held is close to the three county hollow on Sliabh Beagh. Today André drove us to the “Drielandenpunt” where the three countries meet. We travelled from Belgium into the Netherlands and came within a short distance of Germany. From the Wilhelmina observation tower we got a wonderful view, looking across to Aachen and beyond. We also stopped in the nearby village of Vaals to visit a posh hotel for coffee and cake. The reason we went to the Hotel Castle Bloemendal is because it used to be a finishing school for girls, run by the Sacred Heart nuns. My mother left Castleblayney as a 16 year-old having been a boarder at the Sacred Heart convent in Armagh and was sent to Vaals a year or two before the outbreak of the second world war. She learned to speak German. So it was fascinating to see around the hotel and grounds, where a wedding was being held. Another coincidence is that a neighbour of ours in Dublin got married there a few years ago. Time afterwards to return to Flanders via a French-speaking province in Wallonia where the signs said “Police” rather than “Politie”.

Had a short walk alongside a lock on the wide Bocholt-Herentals canal and had a nice meal in Geel before returning to André and Mia’s. There will be an international Mass in town in the morning. There is a European market in the centre and also Ria’s photographic exhibition to visit, then a Eurovision song contest….no sorry that should read a European sing-song when we will be singing (appropriately perhaps) The Wild Rover. Time for some sleep now so oiche mhaith from Geel.


The visit to Geel by a group of 22 from Tydavnet ended tonight in great style with a European sing-song in the newly refurbished market square. This was also the hottest day so far, up to 38C and even tonigh the reading coming home to Ten Aard in André’s car was 25C at 1:30am! So this must have been one of the hottest places in Europe. It was certainly one of the most exciting. The day began with the Irish representatives inluding the Mayor of Monaghan assembling for 11am Mass at St Amand’s church in the town centre. Designed to make the service as inclusive as possible for ten nations, the Mass was celebrated in the three main languages of Belgium: Flemish, French and English; some of the music was in Latin; at the Our Father the priest encouraged us to join in in our own language so I prayed in Irish. In his introductory remarks the celebrant (vicar of several parishes in the greater Geel area) spoke in diverse tongues including Spanish, Portugese and Romanian; he apologised for not being able to master Polish! The Mass ended with Beethoven’s ode to joy, the European anthem, again a multi-lingual experience and I have rarely experienced such an uplifting end to a Mass. The group has enjoyed the stay in Geel with a number of first-timers already talking about returning. There will be one change later this year. Frans Peeters who I met in the main square this evening will no longer be Mayor as he is retiring from politics before the October election. All in Tydavnet wish him well for the work he has done to make 20 years of twinning with Tydavnet/Monaghan a success.


The wild rovers have returned and I hope by this stage all are settled back in their homes in Tydavnet and Monaghan (and Granard). I am writing this from Dublin and already my mother is awaiting with interest the news of my visit to Bloemendal/Vaals where she went to finishing school in 1936 for a year,  having set off on her own from her parents’ home at Conabury, Castleblayney, aged 16. So I filled in a bit of family history on Saturday, as did Cllr David Maxwell’s wife Jill. Their host family in Geel brought them to the first world war battlefields near Ypres in Flanders (a trip I had made five years ago with our Belgian hosts). There they found the grave of her great grandfather from Louth (village), who was a soldier in the Irish Guards and died in 1917. Some visited the second world war cemetery in Geel this morning where a number of Irishmen are buried,  from the Irish Guards and other British Army regiments. At 1pm it was time to say farewell to our hosts who waved us goodbye as the coach left for Brussels airport. Among those on our flight was a man from Clones who immediately recognised Cllr Pat Treanor. I also spotted the Conservative unionist MEP and Agriculture Committee member Jim Nicholson from Armagh. He might well have been interested to see some of the large dairy farms around Geel which some of our group were taken to see. Owen McNally took time to check out the quality of the potatoes and the maize, which was planted alongside the roads without any of the hedges we are used to. A big thank you once again to all our hosts in Geel for the wonderful six days we spent with them. They have been invited to send a group or representatives over for the Gathering in 2013 and hopefully Tydavnet will be ready to welcome them. Photos of the visit and other memorabilia will be collected over the next few weeks so that we can show them sometime at the community centre. I also hope to expand on this diary at some stage. I hope you have enjoyed the reports and your comments (subject to approval!) are welcome at the end of the individual articles. Now to get back to watching the Rose of Tralee….!!!                                       Michael Fisher Monday 20th August

                                             GEEL GOLD FOR KILLYLOUGH

The It’s a Knockout/Games without Frontiers involving ten European countries in Geel last week was covered by a television crew from the local news channel. You can see how the men from Killylough including Paddy Sherry and the women led by Sheila McKenna took the twelve points by finishing first in the tug-of-war (the second game). Martin McKenna was interviewed as team captain. However the joker was reserved for another game (the quiz) and had we played it on the tug-of-war we could have improved our overall place by doubling the points awarded. The main thing is that it was fun participating. No bales of straw to be shifted in wheelbarrows this time! You can watch the video here.