Tag Archives: Gaffaney

At the going down of the sun and in the morning ~ Remembrance Sunday

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

This is how the Tower of London is commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red is an installation created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, and has involved the help of hundreds of volunteer ‘poppy planters’. The Tower’s moat is being progressively filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies – each representing a British forces death during the war. The last poppy is being placed on November 11th, the date the Armistice was signed.

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

Every day since August 5, the names of 180 Commonwealth troops who were killed in the war have been read out at sunset, followed by the Last Post. These names are nominated by the public, and I nominated my two ANZACs, Peter Gaffaney and Edward Tunnecliff. Their names were read out on Thursday, September 25, and our whole family went up to London to hear them.

My (very short) video of their names being read out:

You can read more about these two soldiers in previous posts:

The official video of the full ceremony of September 25 including the Last Post is available on the Tower of London Roll of Honour website.

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

We will remember them.

My Genealogy Year 2013 ~ Accentuate the Positive!

February already and I’m only just getting round to my first post of the new year. Too late to join in GeniAUS’s Accentuate the Positive geneameme?? I hope not! Last year Jill came up with this great way to celebrate the genealogical highs of the previous twelve months, rather than dwell on any lows.

Here’s how 2013 panned out for me…

Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary

Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary

An elusive ancestor I found was a likely candidate for my 3 x great grandmother. Her son Henry John Forrest Florey had a different mother’s name on each of three vital records: “Henrietta Florey (formerly Byford)” on his birth registration in 1862, “Elizabeth Ann Florey” on his 1863 baptism record, and “Henrietta White” on his marriage record in 1885. My ancestors seem adept at the ol’ smoke and mirrors game, but I think I have finally discovered who Henry’s real mother probably is.

An ancestor’s grave I found was that of my 3 x great grandfather Thomas Gaffney. To be exact, I think we have found the record of his burial and the plot location. To find his actual grave will require a spike, a spade, and a large amount of elbow grease. Unless, of course, it was one of the graves that was washed away in Manchester’s great flood of 1872.

An important vital record I found was my 3 x great uncle John Burke’s baptism record. This broke down a huge brick wall and has helped pinpoint the area in Co Mayo from where my Burke family emigrated in the 1850s. It was wonderful to share the discovery with a Burke cousin, who was just as excited as I was!

My 2013 blog post that I was particularly proud of was the one commemorating the gallantry of my (first, three times removed) cousin, Peter Gaffaney, mostly because of the research involved.

My 2013 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was my Revisiting the Brosnahans post, marking my two year blogiversary.

A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Google’s Hangout on Air. I haven’t quite figured it all out yet, but I managed to participate in one of Jill Ball’s GeniAUS hangouts in December and it was a lot of fun. My second attempt to join one last month didn’t work out so well, but I’ve since watched Mike Delagado’s immensely helpful video tutorial How to Join a Google+ Hangout for the First Time, so I am hopeful for the next time!

A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was all of them! I attended workshops at WDYTYA? Live in February, an IHGS tutorial weekend in March, the Exodus conference in September, and best of all – Back to our Past in Dublin with my father in October. I also learnt a lot from Relative Roots‘ three Genetic Genealogy Demystified webinars.

A genealogy book that taught me something new was Simon Fowler’s Tracing Your Army Ancestors.

The National Archives, Kew, London

The National Archives, Kew, London

A great repository/archive/library I visited was the Aldershot Military Museum‘s archive (by appointment only), and also the Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock, both of which I hadn’t visited before. Even more exciting was my first trip to The National Archives at Kew, followed up by two more visits during the year. I made good use of the Society of Genealogists‘ library while attending several talks there, and checked out the new Kent History and Library Centre. And not forgetting my quick visits to the Valuation Office and National Library of Ireland while in Dublin. 2013 was a great year for ‘out and about’ research!

It was exciting to finally meet an O’Rourke cousin in Cork, a Burke cousin in London, and some Brosnahan cousins from New Zealand.

A geneadventure I enjoyed was my trip to the Brosnan Clan Gathering held in Castleisland, Co Kerry, in July. I think this would have to be the genealogical highlight of my year, meeting the aforementioned Brosnahan cousins and enjoying the amazing hospitality of our Irish kinfolk. It was a truly magical journey back to our “homeland”.

O'Rourke cottage, Ballymacdonnell, Co Kerry

O’Rourke cottage, Ballymacdonnell, Co Kerry

Another positive I would like to share is I got to see the O’Rourke family’s cottage in Ballymacdonnell, Co Kerry, where my 2x great grandfather Bartholomew was born, and the family’s grave plot where Bartholomew’s father, uncles and grandfather are all buried.

Thanks again to Jill for the opportunity to share my year of family history research and learning. You can read about the 2013 highlights of other geneabloggers through her GeniAUS website.

For Acts of Gallantry in the Field ~ Sgt P.M. Gaffaney M.M.

I’m not related to any famous generals or admirals (that I know of!), but I am immensely proud of those servicemen in my family who fought with courage and fortitude in their own way, and I honour one of them this ANZAC Day.

Sgt Peter Gaffaney M.M. (1893-1918)

Sgt Peter Gaffaney M.M. (1893-1918)

My (first, thrice removed) cousin Peter has appeared in a few posts now on this blog, and no, there was no happy ending for him.  Yet, I wanted to know about his Military Medal, and why it was awarded to him.  No published accounts mention his name or deeds, so I looked to his battalion and its account of the war in its diaries.

2nd Battalion NZRB - War Diary, March 1918

2nd Battalion NZRB – War Diary, March 1918 (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London)

On March 9th, 1918, Sgt Peter Gaffaney rejoined the 2nd Battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (NZRB), after two weeks’ leave in the UK. On that day the battalion had route-marched from Houlle (France) to Watten, and then travelled by rail to Ypres, so that may be where he joined up with them, before marching to Forestor Camp.

After moving to Lankhof Farm camp six days later, the battalion were then moved on to Halifax camp at short notice on March 21st, being fitted out and organised for active operations.

By March 22nd the NZRB had received orders to get ready to move south at three hours’ notice, along with other Brigades in the NZ Divison.

On March 23rd, instructions were issued for the move by rail the following day.

2nd Battalion NZRB - War Diary, March 1918

2nd Battalion NZRB – War Diary, March 1918 (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London)

March 24th
Battn route-marched to HOPOUTRE Siding & entrained there at 11.15pm for an unknown destination

March 25th-26th
Detrained at AMIENS at about 1pm 25th and bivouacked in public gardens. All surplus gear was stored and Battalion was equipped in Battle order.

…At midnight Battn proceeded by motor lorries to PONT NOYELLES arriving there at 2am 26th. Started marching forward at 2.30am via FRAUVILLERS BAIZIEUX WARLOY to HEDAUVILLE arriving there 7am after a hard dusty march. The Battn. bivouacked in a paddock in the village & the men enjoyed a hot meal and rest till midday. At 1pm marched on to MAILLY MAILLET at which village orders were received for an attack to be made by the Battn.

A large gap existed in our line at this time extending roughly from HAMEL to PUISIEUX and only two Battns of the Division had arrived – 1st CANTERBURY and 1st Battn N.Z.R.B. These Battns were astride the MAILLY MAILLET-SERRE Road – 1st CANTERBURY on right, 1st N.Z.R.B. on left in line with the windmill at Q.1.d (57.d) At this time certain batteries were evacuating MAILLY MAILLET and situation was obscure – no shelling and no sign of enemy excepting a little m.g.[machine gun] fire and sniping.

New Zealand soldiers around a billy in a strong post, near Mailly-Maillet, France, during World War I.

New Zealand soldiers around a billy in a strong post, near Mailly-Maillet, France, during World War I. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013081-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22780897

1st AUCKLAND arrived in village about same time and about 13 tanks were reported in neighbourhood of COLINCAMPS. Objective given Battn was SERRE Village north along road SERHEB to K.23. Central. 1st AUCKLAND K.35.a to SERRE Village. Four VICKERS guns were allotted to Battalion and no artillery support beyond the assistance of a 4.5 Battery in the orchard behind windmill. This Battery came into action at 5pm.

New Zealand soldier using a captured machine gun at the front line at La Synge Farm, France, during World War I.

The New Zealand batteries firing at Germans near Mailly-Maillet, France. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013075-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23081425

..The attack was launched from the line of the two Battns holding the SERRE Road at 5.30pm. We advanced on the left of road and 1st AUCKLAND on right – soon to in front. These two lines extended on a two Coy. frontage, balance of two Coys in artillery formation. ‘C’ Coy was on right – ‘D’ Coy on left – and ‘B’ Coy. acting as a left flank guard. All went well until the line of the road Sugar Refinery – EUSTON was reached, when m.g. fire from direction of LA SIGNY Farm and Right flank about One Tree Hill became so heavy that the advance ceased, – also partly because AUCKLAND were not so far forward on the right and the left flank was not in a favourable state for pushing on. 1st AUCKLAND reported being held up at 6.45pm.

2nd Battalion NZRB War Diary March 1918 - APPENDIX A

2nd Battalion NZRB War Diary March 1918 – APPENDIX A (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London). Larger version

At this time a gap existed between ‘D’ and ‘B’ Coys – ‘B’ Coy being refused along the EUSTON – COLINCAMPS Road (APPENDIX – SKETCH ‘A’). In the dusk a connection was made with ‘B’ Coy and line was joined up & ‘B’ Coy flank was left to help defend COLINCAMPS as a report was received stating that parties of the enemy were marching on that place. The enemy had been in HEBUTERNE and COLINCAMPS early in the day but were driven out at 11am by the tanks previously mentioned, but just how far we did not know, nor how far the enemy had crept back when the tanks retired before 3pm.

The Battn. started digging in at 6.45pm. At 7pm 1st AUCKLAND came forward and took up a continuation of our line to the Right. During the latter stages of the attack small parties on Huns using m.gs up to the last minute were met with about EUSTON and K.33.a.33. Three light m.gs and one heavy were captured by us and 37 prisoners taken. ‘B’ Coy took two guns and ‘C’ Coy two guns.

New Zealand soldier using a captured machine gun at the front line at La Synge Farm, France, during World War I.

New Zealand soldier using a captured machine gun at the front line at La Synge Farm, France, during World War I. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013100-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22691198

As far as is known 10 enemy were killed and 6 wounded but the advance was too rapid to enable him to get any stretcher cases away. About 20 to 30 enemy retired to this next line – WATERLOO BRIDGE Hedge, but owing to the dark it is hard to state exactly how many.

Our casualties were 9 killed and 35 wounded. All but two were caused by mg. fire – the two by shell fire as the enemy has at this time practically no artillery and it is estimated that he has only two guns on the front which kept firing on the large dump at K.33.a.00,00. For acts of gallantry & good work 3 O/R [Other Ranks] were recommended for decoration. (SEE APPENDIX ‘B’)

March 27th
The night of 26/27 was spent in digging in and was very quiet and at 5am the Battn was relieved successfully by 2nd Bn. AUCKLAND Regiment and returned to support of 1st Brigade at MAILLY MAILLET.

2nd Battalion NZRB, War Diary March 1918 APPENDIX B

2nd Battalion NZRB, War Diary March 1918 APPENDIX B (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London)

APPENDIX B

Recommendation for Awards

24/431 Sgt Peter Michael GAFFANEY

During the advance B Coy, to which this sergeant belonged, had considerable difficulty in getting forward owing to the heavy mac[hine] gun fire. Platoons got mixed and disorganised and several were wounded. Gaffaney disregarding danger moved along platoon, reorganised his sections, and led them forward rushes. A German machine gun about 50 yds in fron[t] of him was causing much trouble. He went forward w[ith] a few men and rushed it, capturing the gun and the prisoners.
Whilst the consolidation was proceeding an enemy was near on the exposed left flank. Sgt Gaffaney immediately hastened a Lewis Gun forward, & secured the position.
For his initiative and gallantry he was recommended for the DCM.

Peter was posthumously awarded the Military Medal for his actions on March 26th, 1918.  He was 24 years old when he died on April 5th, 1918, and is buried at Louvencourt Military Cemetery, Somme, France.

I wonder if any of Peter’s family visited his grave?  Perhaps the brother listed as his next-of-kin, Francis,  a captain in the Wellington Infantry Regiment.  Did he ever see his brother during their time fighting on the other side of the world? How would it feel to have your son, brother, uncle, cousin, buried so far far away? Is there anyone left now to mourn him?

Yes, there is.

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1892-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1893-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Further reading:
Austin, Lieut-Col W. S., “Part 2 – The New Zealand Rifle Brigade into the Gap“, The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, L.T. Watkins Ltd (Wellington: 1924), digitised by New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Stewart, Col. H., “Chapter IX – The German Offensive, 1918“, The New Zealand Division 1916-1919: A Popular History based on Official Records, Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd (Auckland: 1921), digitised by New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

O’Connor, Paul, “The German Offensive March 1918“, From Papanui to Passchendaele,  (http://www.pap-to-pass.org/ : accessed 23 Apr 2013).

Posted as part of the 2013 Trans Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge.

NB. Any errors in transcription or interpretation are all mine.

In celebration of Marriage ~ Wedding Wednesday

A post to commemorate the passing of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill in New Zealand today, which ensures that all people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity will have the opportunity to marry if they so choose (and in doing so, will create some interesting scenarios for us family historians!).

The wedding of William Hally and Margaret Gaffaney, 20 November 1900.  This photo was taken in front of Belper House, the home of Margaret's parents, Michael and Margaret.

The wedding of William Hally and Margaret Gaffaney, 20 November 1900. This photo was taken in front of Belper House, the home of Margaret’s parents, Michael and Margaret, in Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ.  (Larger version 1.4Mb)

Wedding Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

In Remembrance on this Day ~ Arohanui, Peter

95 years ago today, Peter Michael Gaffaney was wounded in action during a German offensive at the Somme. He died en route to hospital from shell wounds to the face and neck.

After our visit to Ypres, we took a three hour detour through France to visit his grave site at Louvencourt Military Cemetery.

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1892-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1893-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Louvencourt Military Cemetery - April 2013

Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France – April 2013

The cemetery, containing 230 graves, is beautifully kept by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and there is a register of those buried there, and a visitors book you can sign.

Louvencourt Military Cemetery - April 2013

Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France – April 2013

 

To Flanders Fields

Yesterday I posted a photo of my cousin (first, thrice removed), Peter Michael Gaffaney.  I’ve shown the image before, in a post commemorating ANZAC Day – Australia and New Zealand’s “Remembrance Day”, on April 25th.

In that previous post, I gave some of the information I had gleaned from Peter’s service record.  However, the details of his time fighting on the Western Front during the Great War are merely a collection of dates and places and not much else, and I’ve often wondered about what happened out there, what battles he was involved in, what it was actually like for him and his comrades in the NZ Rifle Brigade.  I’ll never come close to really understanding, but a glimpse would be a start.

So, when a trip to visit friends in Belgium at Easter was in the offing, I decided to organise a little detour.  We’re planning to stop for one night in Ieper/Ypres, and will hopefully get time to visit both the Memorial Museum Passeschendaele 1917 and In Flanders Field Museum, and attend the Last Post at Menin Gate.  I won’t get to see everything that I’d like on this fleeting visit, but I guess that’ll give me a good excuse to go back!

 

A fallen hero ~ Wordless Wednesday

Peter Michael Gaffaney (on left)

Peter Michael Gaffaney (on left)

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1893-1918) is my first cousin, three times removed.

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Revisiting the Brosnahans (plus two year blogiversary!) ~ Thankful Thursday

Early last year I began a series of posts on the Brosnahan family. Well, “one” of the Brosnahan families, as there were a few that settled in South Canterbury, New Zealand, around the same time. My great great grandmother, Margaret Brosnahan, emigrated to New Zealand with her older brother John in 1862, travelling aboard the Echunga. Their parents and siblings joined them a couple of years later.

Margaret’s grandson, my grandfather Dom Gaffaney, went to boarding school with his “cousin” James Brosnahan, who became a Marist priest and married my grandfather and his bride, Agnes Burke. What I wanted to find out, and the reason I started looking into the Brosnahans in more depth, was how Father Jim was related to the family – what level of “cousinage” (and if that’s not a proper term, it should be) was he to my grandfather?

James Brosnahan of Morvern and (Michael) Dominic Gaffaney of Waimate - St Bede's College Athletic Sports 1928, Christchurch, NZ

James Brosnahan of Morvern and (Michael) Dominic Gaffaney of Waimate – St Bede’s College Athletic Sports 1928, Christchurch, NZ

So, I began tracing all of my great great grandmother’s siblings, mainly focussing on her only brother John, and you can follow my series of posts from the beginning.

I didn’t do too bad a job I thought, had identified 10 out of 12 of John’s alleged children and their children. But, no Father Jim that I could see.

Several months later I was contacted by the wife of one of John Brosnahan’s descendents – she had some answers! (Don’t you love those kinds of emails?) Another of John’s descendents had compiled a family history in 2001, and my contact very kindly scanned and emailed it to me.

John Brosnahan

Caption in family album: John Brosnahan, brother of Mrs Margaret Gaffaney, Belper Farm, Temuka

I’m sure there are at least two readers who have been on the edge of their seats waiting since last February to find out about those missing two Brosnahan children. (Maybe?)  Here they all are:

  • Patrick
  • Ann
  • James
  • Margaret
  • Matthew
  • Ellen
  • Thomas William
  • Michael
  • Bridget
  • Mary
  • Catherine
  • John Joseph

So the two that I missed were James and Michael, and their children.

But there was no Father Jim.

A couple of months ago I purchased a second-hand copy of Seán Brosnahan’s book The Kerrytown Brosnahans, about his family who emigrated from Co. Kerry, Ireland to an area in South Canterbury that became known as Kerrytown, not far from my Brosnahans in Temuka.  I’d been waiting to get my hands on a copy for ages, ever since I’d heard about it. And it didn’t disappoint – Seán not only writes about his own Brosnahan family, but also the “other” Brosn(ah)ans, like mine. He couldn’t find a definite link between these different families, but doesn’t discount that they may be related further back, and they certainly intermarried once they were in New Zealand.

And there was Father Jim.

Sean’s great great grandfather Hugh with his brother Timothy, were the patriarchs of the Kerrytown Brosnahans.

  • Hugh Brosnahan and Deborah Butler
    • daughter Mary married Dennis Hoare
      • son Patrick Dennis Hoare, married Mary Brosnahan, my John Brosnahan’s daughter
      • daughter Margaret married James “Wigg” Brosnahan (from yet another Brosnahan family!)
        • son James became a Marist priest

John Brosnahan is my grandfather’s great uncle. So, how are my grandfather and Father Jim related? First correct answer wins a chocolate fish! (I may be some time working the answer out myself.)

On my two year blogiversary, I am thankful for Father Jim, cousins with answers, cousins with questions, awesome family historians who publish their research, and everyone who’s been reading and commenting on this blog.

Sources
Brosnahan, Seán G. The Kerrytown Brosnahans, R.J. & H.P. Brosnahan (Timaru: 1992).
Brosnahan, Tim. “Brosnahan Family History”, 2001; digital images scanned from original by [NAME & ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 2012.

Thankful Thursday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

The Three Sisters ~ Mystery Monday

This is one of the photographs I had dated at WDYTYA? Live by Maureen Taylor, so now I have a date of around the early 1910s.  However, that’s about all I know – I’m not even sure if these three are, in fact, sisters.  I’m wondering if the woman on the left could be my great grandmother, Margaret (O’Rourke) Gaffaney.  She married Peter Gaffaney in 1909, and a ring is quite prominently displayed on her left hand.  Margaret had three older sisters (another sister died in infancy), so two of them could be in this photo with her.  I need to go through my stash of family photos to see if I can positively identify them.

Three woman, c1910

Three woman, c1910

It’s a lovely photo, whoever they are!

Mystery Monday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Arohanui, Christchurch

On February 22nd 2011 at 12.51pm (NZDT), an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude hit Christchurch, New Zealand, causing the deaths of 185 people.

These postcards are from the album of my grandmother, Agnes Majella (Burke) Gaffaney, who was born, raised and buried in Christchurch.

Roman Catholic Cathedral, Christchurch, NZ 7582

Roman Catholic Cathedral, Christchurch, NZ 7582

Cathedral Square, Christchurch, NZ 7869

Cathedral Square, Christchurch, NZ 7869

Worcester Street, from Cathedral Square, Christchurch, 7875

Worcester Street, from Cathedral Square, Christchurch, 7875

Aerial View, Christchurch, NZ 7125 "National Publicity Studios Photo"

Aerial View, Christchurch, NZ 7125 "National Publicity Studios Photo"