McQuire J

JOSEPH McGUIRE 1887 – 1915

2587 Private Joseph McGuire 1/9th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 14 July 1915 and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium. [1]  He was 28 years old, the son of James and Bridget McGuire of Witton Park and husband of Jane McGuire of West Stanley.

He is possibly the J. McQuire commemorated on the St. Helen’s Colliery Memorial Cottages but no direct connection with St. Helen’s Auckland and St. Helen’s Colliery has been identified.  No other family named McGuire or McQuire has been traced living in the Bishop Auckland area.  It may seem unlikely that a family would move from Tyneside to rural County Durham where there would be fewer employment opportunities but that may have been the case.  In the absence of any other information an assumption has been made that 2587 Private Joseph McGuire is the soldier commemorated on the St. Helen’s Colliery Memorial Cottages albeit the link is somewhat tenuous.

Family Details

Joseph was born 1887 in Ireland, [2] the son of James and Bridget McGuire who lived at Witton Park, near Bishop Auckland, County Durham.  In 1891, 24 year old Bridget lived with her mother Catherine Docherty at 10 Thompson Street, Witton Park with her young family:

  • Catherine born c.1884
  • Joseph born c.1886
  • John Henry born c.1889
  • James born c.1891

All children were born in Ireland.[3]  At this time, their father 30 year old James was living and working in the upper Gaunless Valley, near Woodland.  He boarded with Owen and Mary McQuillan and their family along with Patrick Boylan and Michael McCoy.  Owen, Patrick, Michael and James were all Irish and they worked as coal miners and coke drawers at Crake Scar Colliery and lived in an isolated settlement called Crake Scar Huts where there was a strong Irish contingent.[4]  By 1901, 39 year old James lived with his wife Bridget and their children at the Old Brewery, Stanley, County Durham.  He worked as a coke drawer.  Their children were:

  • Catherine
  • Joseph, now 17 years old and worked as a colliery labourer
  • Patrick aged 7 born at Tanfield, Co. Durham
  • James aged 2 born Ireland

John Henry (born c.1889) and James (born c.1891) are not recorded.  Catherine (aged 17) was married to 20 year old Patrick Taggart (from Ireland) and they had a 3 month old son, James born at Stanley, Co. Durham. [5]  In 1901, Joseph’s grandmother Catherine Docherty, a widow aged 66, is recorded as an inmate of the Union Workhouse, Bishop Auckland.[6] She died aged 73 in 1908 at Auckland.[7]

In 1909, Joseph McGuire married Jane Coggon at Lanchester, County Durham.[8]  By 1911, Joseph and Jane lived at Swalwell, Gateshead where he worked as a coal miner.  They had a 1 year old daughter Florence Theresa who was born at West Stanley.  Their niece, 4 year old Catherine Taggart was with them at the time of the census.[9]  Patrick and Catherine Taggart still lived at West Stanley and by 1911 had 7 children. [10]  After Joseph’s death, Jane returned to West Stanley and lived in Theresa Street close to her sister-in-law, Catherine Taggart.[11]

Service Record

The service record of Private J. McGuire has not been traced and the 9/DLI war diary has not been researched.  The 1/9th DLI was a territorial battalion and in August 1914 it was raised at Gateshead as part of the DLI Brigade, Northumbrian Division.[12]  The battalion landed in Boulogne in April 1915 and became part of the 151st Brigade in the 50th (Northumbrian) Division in May 1915.  At that time, other battalions in the 151stBrigade were:

  • 1/6th, DLI
  • 1/7th, DLI
  • 1/8th, DLI
  • 1/5th, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, joined 11 June 1915
  • 1/5th, Border Regiment joined from 149th Brigade December 1915

By 23 April 1915, the Division was at Steenvoorde and arrived just as the German Army attacked nearby Ypres using poison gas for the first time.  The Division was rushed into battle and took part in the following engagements, the Second Battles of Ypres:

  • 24 April – 4 May: Battle of St. Julien
  • 8 – 13 May: Battle of Frezenberg
  • 24-25 May Battle of Bellewaarde [13]

Private Joseph McGuire arrived in France 14 April 1915[14] and survived this baptism of fire but was killed in action 3 months later, 14 July 1915.[15] The 151st Brigade occupied trenches to the south of Ypres opposite Messines Ridge and in front of Kemmel Hill.  Enemy shelling and sniping were constant threats but then there was the underground war.  The Germans blew a mine under a sector of trenches immediately to the north and very close to the battalion’s position.  In total 5 men were buried and despite rescue attempts, all were dead when their bodies were uncovered. [16]  Private J. McGuire and 4 other men were killed in action that day.  The others were:

  • 2080 Corporal J. Barker
  • 1682 Private C. Harris
  • 2092 Private G McLeay
  • 2662 Private N. Towler

All of whom enlisted at Chopwell, County Durham [17] and all of whom have no known graves and are commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. [18]

Private J. McGuire was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory medals.[19]

Commemoration

The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial bears the names of more than 50,000 officers and men who were killed prior to 16 August 1917 and whose graves are unknown  It was unveiled 24 July 1927. [20]

References

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[3] 1891 census

[4] 1891 census

[5] 1901 census

[6] 1901 census

[7] England & Wales BMD Death index 1837-1915 Auckland Vol 10a p139

[8] England & Wales BMD marriage index 1837-1915 Lanchester Vol 10a p647

[9] 1911 census

[10] 1911 census

[11] Commonwealth War Graves Commission and 1911 census

[12] http://www.1914-1918.net/dli.htm

[13] www.1914-1918.net/50div.htm & http://www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1915.htm

[14] Medal Roll card index

[15] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[16] “The Gateshead Gurkhas: a history of the 9th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry 1859-1967” H. Moses (2001) p.28

[17] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[18] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[19] Medal Roll card index

[20] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Photographs

McGuire J Medal Roll

McGuire J. Menin Gate Memorial Ypres

One thought on “McQuire J

  1. Pingback: ST.HELEN’S AUCKLAND | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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