Let Right Be Done

IRA MURDER VICTIMS
The forgotten men killed in Ireland in 1921

The article shown below was published in "The Globe & Laurel" (The Royal Marines Journal) in June 1921. It reports the deaths of five Royal Marines killed or murdered by "Irish Rebels" in May 1921 & provides details of their demise:-

RMA/14710 Gnr. Bernard Francis, RMA, murdered 14/5/21.
RMA/14560 Gnr. William Parker, RMA, murdered 14/5/21.
PO/15586
Pte. Ernest Williams, RMLI, kidnapped & murdered 17/5/21.
CH/19831 Pte. Henry Chandler, RMLI, killed in an ambush 21/5/21.
CH/21743 Pte. Isaac Robert Bolton RMLI, killed in an ambush 21/5/21.

It may surprise readers to learn that all five of these men are entitled to be commemorated by the CWGC. Any man who died in Military service from 4/8/1914 until 31/8/1921 qualifies for commemoration, as the final closure date for WW1 casualties was not until 31st August 1921 (the date the war was officially deemed to be ended by the signing of the peace treaties after the Armistice of 11th November 1918).

The case of CH/19831 Pte. Henry Chandler RMLI, was presented to the Commission in late 2003 & he was accepted for commemoration in May 2004.

The cases of PO/15586 Pte. Ernest Williams, RMLI, & CH/21743 Pte. Isaac Robert Bolton RMLI were presented to the Commission in late 2004 & were accepted for commemoration in March 2007.

The cases of RMA/14710 Gnr. Bernard Francis, RMA, & RMA/14560 Gnr. William Parker, RMA, were only discovered when the above clipping from The Globe & Laurel was forwarded to us by a Royal Marine specialist researcher. Since then, an Irish Researcher has presented their cases (along with many others) & they were both accepted for commemoration in April 2007.

 

WHY WERE THESE FIVE MEN OVERLOOKED?

This is the question most often asked of us. We do not really know the answer, but it appears that the Commission has never 'gone in search' of casualties & that it was left to 'others' to notify the Commission of deaths occurring in service at this late date. Perhaps the Royal Marine Records or The Admiralty themselves were responsible for such notification? More often than not it would appear that the Next-of-kin championed such cases.

The fact that they died in circumstances which even today are a political "hot potato" would not appear to be the cause of their omission. The Commission records the death of at least two other Royal Marines of the 8th R.M. (Irish Battalion), although they died from other causes (disease & drowning) & were not murdered, but the cause of death should not be an issue. It is sufficient merely to show by example that men of the 8th Royal Marine Battalion did qualify for commemoration:-

PO/15709 Corporal William Joseph Wilkie RMLI, 8th Royal Marine Bn. (No.3 Company), Accidentally drowned whilst bathing at Rosmoney, Ireland 15/4/21. Buried in Crookham (Christ Church) Churchyard, Fleet, Hampshire.
(The Commission record his date of death as 12th April 1921, but his service papers state he died on the 15th. The Commission also incorrectly record his unit as "(Portsmouth)" which is just short of nonsense).

PLY/14419 Pte. Edward Austin Whyman RMLI, 8th Royal Marine Bn., Died from Enteric Fever 2/12/20. Buried in Nottingham General Cemetery.
(The Commission incorrectly record his unit as "8th Reserve Bn.
").

The fact that both these men's Battalion/unit is incorrectly recorded by the Commission makes you wonder if there was some attempt to disguise their true unit. The Commission's Record for CH/19831 Pte. Henry Chandler RMLI, who was accepted for commemoration in May 2004, has no Battalion/unit details whatsoever.