Posted: 9 November 2008 18:05
Earlier this year I paid a visit to Rye and found the graves of three men who died within ten days of each other at the height of the invasion scare in 1940.
All three were serving with 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers who were stationed in the Rye area May-November 1940. The men were: Fusilier F.P. McNamee, and 2nd Lieutenants B.C.M. Ryan and M.G. Johnson MC.
I've done some research and, although the R.I.F.'s war diary makes no mention of Fus. McNamee, it does tell us the circumstances behind the loss of Lts Ryan and Johnson:
14/9/40: 2/Lieut B.C.M. Ryan killed on M/C motor cycle whilst employed as motor word illegible Officer at 134 Brigade HQ.
16/9/40: 2/Lieut M.G. Johnson MC killed while laying a minefield. A very great loss.
Both McNamee and Ryan were just 20 years old; the fact that Johnson's age is not given on his headstone and that he had won the Military Cross may indicate that he was an experienced soldier, perhaps having served during 1914-18.
The cause of Ryan's death is of no surprise; quite a few accidents on the narrow roads of East Sussex are mentioned in war diaries. The danger of minefields are something I mentioned previously in my posts about 1940 minefield incidents and my 2006 In Remembrance piece. I have no doubt that I'll be writing about more minefield casualties in a year's time.
This year's Remembrance ceremonies have rightly focussed on the 90th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice, particularly as the First World War has now all but passed from living memory.
World War Two will also inevitably slip deeper into history in the years to come, but I did see evidence of Remembrance crosses at the graves of those named above when I visited back in July. Serving with an Irish regiment, I assume their homes were far away from Sussex, so I don't know if these tributes were from family members, former comrades or placed by the local community in recognition of their sacrifice.
Whatever the case, I'm glad they have also been remembered.
A record of events kept by all units from the point of mobilisation. A diary's contents vary enormously from unit to unit; some give detailed entries by the hour on a daily basis while others merely summarise events on a weekly/monthly basis.
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Hibbs, Peter In Remembrance (2020) Available at: http://www.pillbox.org.uk/blog/216584/ Accessed: 8 August 2020
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