Wednesday 24 May 2017

Historian salutes families after war-graves appeal

Jason O'Brien

Jason O'Brien

AN APPEAL for information on 43 Irish soldiers who were buried in unmarked graves while serving with the British army met with immediate success yesterday.

By last night, the families of five of the soldiers had come forward. Their detailed information will now become "a part of history", according to historian Shane Mac Thomais.

"Five families have already come forward and have been able to give me some wonderful detail," Mr Mac Thomais said last night.

"Some of them had done genealogical searches and knew that they had a family member who served in the British army.

"But it was great to have such a great response so quickly."

The families will be present at an ecumenical service at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin on Remembrance Day, November 11, when the graves will be recognised.

The soldiers' graves will be marked under a project by the Glasnevin Trust and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

"These people are somewhat the forgotten people, anonymous people who joined the British army and lost their lives," Mr Mac Thomais said. "They were buried in unmarked graves and forgotten about."

The majority of the 41 men and two women were in their late teens or early 20s. Many were poor, and died from the Spanish flu or infections to combat wounds.

Mr Mac Thomais revealed other soldiers were gassed in the trenches of France and Gallipoli. They were then discharged and came home to Dublin, where they later died from diseases of the lungs.

Rising

Among those listed on the Glasnevin Trust website is the case of Robert Glaister, a 55 year old, who died after being shot in Amiens Street, Dublin, during the Easter Rising.

Mr MacThomais has now learned that Mr Glaister was actually, in fact, an Englishman whose boat was stationed in Cobh. He had travelled to Dublin for the Easter weekend. Ironically, he was shot by another British soldier who in fact was an Irishman.

More than 200 soldiers who served with the British army are buried in Glasnevin.

Irish Independent

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