Martinsart visit 1956


This very poignant photograph from the 1956 pilgrimage shows the veterans standing by a mass grave, that is the resting place of their friends and fellow Riflemen.

On the evening of 28th June 1916, a few days before the Battle of the Somme, men of the 13th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles were moving out of the French Village of Martinsart to take up forward positions on the Somme when they were hit by a German artillery shell. Fourteen men died immediately and a further nine died in the days that followed as a result of their wounds.

The 13th Royal Irish Rifles War Diary entry for 28th June states;

The Battalion left MARTINSART by half platoons at about 10pm, in the following order D, A, and C Coy’s. On arrival A Coy took over the front line from the 11th Royal Irish Rifles and remained in the assembly trenches. D Coy went into the left of the line and C Coy into ANTRIM VILLAS. Just as the last platoon of C Coy was fallen in and going to march off, a large shell struck their faces, and there were 14 Rank and file killed on the spot, 7 died of wounds later and 32 were wounded amongst them Major R.D.P. Maxwell and the Adjutant Lieut. W. M Wright.

Those killed on 28th June 1916 and buried in 1 A 1 are:
Regimental Sergeant Major Jimmy Beatson, 1469 former 1st Battalion RIR
Company Sergeant Major Joseph McCoy, 1470 former 1st Battalion RIR from Monaghan
Rifleman Richard Crawley, 17379, husband of Edith living Glenarm Road, Larne
Rifleman George Heenan 17856 aged 20 from Hillsborough
Rifleman Thomas Mercer 16841 C Company from Hillsborough
Rifleman Albert Victor Crangle, 17492, C Company from Hillsborough
Rifleman Joseph Martin, 16867 C Company from Dromore
Rifleman Joseph George Thompson, 2370 from Hillsborough
Rifleman S Hamilton, 16567, C Company
Rifleman William Darragh, 16425 C Company from Dromore
Rifleman Alexander Jones, 16641 C Company from Dromore
Rifleman James Carson, 87 C Company from Banbridge
Rifleman David Dale, 137 C Company from Banbridge
Rifleman Thomas John Bell, 16230 C Company from Dromore

Buried alongside them in 1 A 2 is:
2nd Lt Charles Frederick Craig 3rd July 1916, 10th Bn Royal Irish Rifles from Newry, age 24
2nd Lt David Bertram Corbett 3rd July 1916, 17th Bn attached. 10th Bn.