Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Death Penny

The starting point for my interest in WW1 etc was the Death Penny sitting on the mantlepiece at my grandparents house in Harold's Cross in Dublin. My Gt Grandfather Joseph Niland was employed as a cooper at St James's Gate, Dublin by Guinness. For reasons unknown he enlisted as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers in April 1915 and was posted to 179th Tunnelling Company. This unit was involved in digging the tunnels and laying the mines that signalled the start of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916. Y Sap and Lochnagar crater being the end results of the huge explosions.

Work is currently being undertaken by the La Boisselle Study Group to excavate some of the tunnels dug by the unit.

Joe Niland was killed in March 1917 when 2 German shells landed on his section pay parade. The War Diary gives the time of death as 7:10pm and lists Joe and his colleagues He and his colleagues are buried in Faubourg D'Amien cemetery in Arras in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery.

A downside of the CWGC website is that you can't add any more information to the entry that they have so Joe Niland now has an entry on the website where I've added photos of his wife and 4 children.

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