TYNE COT R.IRISH RIFLES

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Tyne Cot Cemetery

At Tyne Cot Cemetery, the graves can be seen of six members of the Royal Irish Rifles who died at the Battle of Passchendaele on 15th and 16th August 1917. I have now researched their background using the CWGC website and discovered that three came from Co. Down and one from Belfast. The fifth was from Luton and there are no details available for the sixth soldier, Rifleman W. Witterick. We will remember them.

Lance Corporal Samuel Coffey

COFFEY_SAMUEL

18/1063 Lance Corporal Samuel Coffey, 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Died on 15th August 1917 (Passchendaele), aged 21. Son of John and Mary Coffey of Killyleagh Street, Crossbar, Co. Down.

Lance Corporal William Gihon

GIHON_WILLIAM

14701 Lance Corporal William Gihon, ‘B’ Company, 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. Died on 16th August 1917 (Passchendaele), aged 24. Son of John and Jane Gihon of no.5 Adela Place, Antrim Road, Belfast.

Rifleman Arthur Hawes

HAWES_ARTHUR

41477 Rifleman Arthur Hawes, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Died on 16th August 1917 (Passchendaele), aged 26. Son of Thomas and Kate Hawes of 18 Dudley Street, Luton, England.

Rifleman Hugh McDonald

McDONALD_HUGH

16744 Rifleman Hugh McDonald, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Died on 16th August 1917 (Passchendaele), aged 23. Son of George Francis and Margret McDonald of Gallows Street, Dromore, Co. Down.

Lance Corporal Henry Greer Mills

MILLS_HENRY_GREER

18479 Lance Corporal Henry Greer Mills, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Died on 16th August 1917 (Passchendaele), aged 27. Son of John and Annie Mills of Marino, Holywood, Co. Down.

Rifleman W. Witterick

WITTERICK_W

42590 Rifleman W. Witterick, 14th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Died on 16th August 1917 (Passchendaele).

Unknown soldier from the Royal Irish Rifles

TYNE COT MEMORIAL

Tyne Cot memorial and cemetery

Tyne Cot Memorial bears the names of some 35,000 men of the British and New Zealand forces who have no known grave, nearly all of whom died between August 1917 and November 1918. This area on the Western Front was the scene of the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele. It was one of the major battles of the First World War.

Cross of Sacrifice at Tyne Cot cemetery

  • It was designed by Sir Herbert Baker with sculpture by Joseph Armitage and Ferdinand Victor Blundstone. He designed many of the CWGC memorials and cemeteries in Belgium and France.
  • The memorial was unveiled by Australian soldier and veterans’ rights activist Sir Gilbert Dyett, on 20th June 1927.
  • The names are carved on the memorial on panels of Portland stone, set in high flint walls which have been built in a half circle.

Tyne Cot cemetery

The memorial is a semi-circular flint wall 4.25 metres high and more than 150 metres long, faced with panels of Portland stone. There are three apses and two rotundas. The central apse forms the New Zealand Memorial and the other two, as well as the rotundas and the wall itself, carry the names of United Kingdom dead.

Australian Division memorial at Tyne Cot cemetery

Two domed arched pavilions mark the ends of the main wall, each dome being surmounted by a winged female figure with head bowed over a wreath. The following inscription is carved on the frieze above the panels which contain the names:

1914 – HERE ARE RECORDED THE NAMES OF OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE ARMIES OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE WHO FELL IN YPRES SALIENT, BUT TO WHOM THE FORTUNE OF WAR DENIED THE KNOWN AND HONOURED BURIAL GIVEN TO THEIR COMRADES IN DEATH – 1918

At each corner of the structure there are carved wreaths. Atop each of the pavilions is a winged figure in grief surmounting a globe. The globe itself is ringed with symbols including a Fleur-de-Lys, a shamrock, an anchor, a rose, an eagle and an oak leaf.

Tyne Cot memorial and cemetery

The sculptors Ferdinand Victor Blundstone and Joseph Armitage were commissioned to work with Baker on the memorial. Blundstone carved the angels surmounting the chapels and record building, and Armitage did the wreaths carried by the angels. There was concern about the fragile state of the sculptures and Blundstone arranged for them to be completed from a scaffold after they were hoisted into place.

Tyne Cot cemetery July 2017

Tyne Cot cemetery cross of sacrifice