On this day 100 years ago: Michael Desmond died in Gallipoli

7004 Private Michael Desmond, 1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers was born in Millstreet on January 9th in 1884 to John and Mary Desmond of Claramore, and was baptised the following day in St.Patrick’s Church Millstreet.  Michael was from a large family who lived in Claramore, until they  moved to Liscahane in 1906 (?). At 17 Michael was working as a farm labourer in Caherbarnagh, and was working for Charles McCarthy on Feb 2nd 1902 when he enlisted to the British Army in Mallow. 48 days later he joined the Royal Munster Fusiliers. We have no account of him from there on. Records say that he later enlisted in Tralee, Kerry, and landed at V Beach on the first day of the Gallipoli landingsMichael Desmond Medals on 25 April 1915 only to be killed in action on the following day 26th April aged 31. He is buried at V Beach Cemetery, Gallipoli, Canakkale, Turkey. Plot: Special Memorial A. 36.

* His posthumous war medals (pictured right) were sold last year. Here are the details from the online sale: “1914-15 Star officially named to 7004 Pte. M. Desmond R. Muns. Fus and Memorial Plaque (considerably pitted) to Michael Desmond. Also with badly damaged and erased British War Medal disc and WW2 mounted miniature group comprising of Defence Medal, War Medal and 1953 Coronation Medal. Both the latter awarded to members of the same family. (4 items)7004 Private Michael Desmond, 1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers was born in Millstreet, Cork anenlisted in Traled e, Kerry. He landed at V Beach on the first day of the Gallipoli landings on 25 April 1915 and was killed in action on the following day aged 31. He is buried in V Beach Cemetery.”

2015 Headstone for Michael Desmond at V-Beach Cemetery Gallipoli
Michael Desmond’s headstone at V-Beach Cemetery in Gallipoli (many thanks to his grand niece Bridget Kelly who allowed us to use her photo)

1915 - Off to War - Michael Desmond is third from left in the second rowMichael Desmond is in the second row, third from the left


Civil birth Registration (11th Jan 1884) of Michael Desmond [ref]
Baptism of MICHAEL DESMOND of CLARAMORE on 10 January 1884
Area – KERRY (RC) , Parish/Church/Congregation – MILLSTREET
Date of Birth 9 January 1884
Further details in the record
Father Occupation NR
Priest A S G (Very Rev Arthus S Canon Griffin)
About the record
Book Number Page Entry Number Record_Identifier
Millstreet 5 59 N/R KY-RC-BA-401129

Above is the Baptism Registation for Michael Desmond  [ref]

1901 Census: Family are living in Liscahane [ref], and Michael looks like he was working as a Farm Labourer in Caherbarnagh [ref]

1902 Draft Registration: He was working as a farm labourer for Charles McCarthy


Family Census in 1901

Residents of a house 10 in Liscahane (Drishane, Cork)
Surname Forename Age Sex Relation to head Religion Birthplace Occupation Literacy Irish Language Marital Status Specified Illnesses
Desmond John 34 Male Head of Family Roman Catholic Co Cork Agricultural Labourer Read only Irish and English Married –
Desmond Mary 44 Female Wife Roman Catholic Co Cork House Keeper Cannot read Irish and English Married –
Desmond Hannah 12 Female Daughter Roman Catholic Co Cork Scholar Read and write – Not Married –
Desmond Mary 9 Female Daughter Roman Catholic Co Cork Scholar Read and write – Not Married –
Desmond Timothy 8 Male Son Roman Catholic Co Cork Scholar Read and write – Not Married –
Desmond Kate 2 Female Daughter Roman Catholic Co Cork – – – Not Married –
Desmond Cornelius 1 Male Son Roman Catholic Co Cork – – – Not Married –
Desmond William Male Son Roman Catholic Co Cork – – –

There was another older brother John, born 1887 [ref]

(TODO: there may be more)


Michael’s parents, John and Mary, are interred in the graveyard adjoining Millstreet church. John died on April 21st. 1921 as a result of a gunshot wound the previous day. [ref]
* note (mdc 13 Nov 16): the civil registration doesn’t support the gunshot wound. it says that john desmond of liscahane (wife mary) died on June 16th 1932 of aortic incompetance (3 months) – Mary Desmond widow present at death [ref] – .

Family Grave in Millstreet Church Graveyard is here

Two more Millstreet men died in Gallipoli. James Murphy (d. 9th August 1915), and Denis Hickey (d. 27th Nov 1915).


1902-02-michael-desmond-attestment-form-01 1902-02-michael-desmond-attestment-form-02 1902-02-michael-desmond-attestment-form-03 1902-02-michael-desmond-attestment-form-04


michael-desmond-medals-rolls-index-1000 michael-desmond-1915-soldiers-effects__rsz michael-desmond-uk-wwi-service-medal-and-award-rolls-1000


The SS River Clyde holds dead of the Royal Munster Fusiliers who were killed while attempting to get ashore at Sedd el Bahr during the Gallipoli Campaign.


==== The story of the Munster Fusiliers in Gallipoli ====

The ship ran gently ashore, its exit bows facing the beach, for what was to be the grossly mismanaged British “V” beach landing at Cape Helles. Small boats first carried companies of Dubliners to the beach, when four hidden Turkish machine gun posts opened fire and decimated them. Lighters to the shore were roped together, two companies of Munsters pouring out on to the bow’s gangway also to be ‘literally slaughtered like rats in a trap’.[13] Those who jumped to one side, drowned under their heavy equipment. The withering fire continued as they came down the gangways and were mown down until all boats and lighters were filled with dead and the bay a red sea of blood. The ship’s commanding officer on being informed that they were not succeeding, replied “in British military tradition, offensives once begun are never called off”. That day the Munsters lost 70% of their men and many of their longest serving veterans.

At daybreak next day just three companies of Munsters, two of Hampshires and one company Dubliners had made it to the shelter of some dunes. On the 26th they took fort Sedd-el-Bahr overlooking the bay, charging and taking the village behind. It was in this attack that the heroic actions of William Cosgrove won the battalion’s first Victoria Cross (VC). Turkish counter-attacks were held off. The 28th saw a renewed attack in the Battle for Krithia village, but by the 29th withdrawn due to heavy losses and amalgamated with the surviving Dublin Fusiliers, to form the “Dubsters” battalion of 8 officers and 770 men.[14]

On the night of 1 May the Turks, almost out of ammunition but spurred by the then young Ataturk carried out a tremendous attack. “They crept up in the dark into our trenches bayoneting our men before we knew it had begun. Bayoneting on both sides was terrible. At dawn the Turks were mowed down, and heaps of bodies and streams of blood remaining everywhere.” [15] The battalion was reduced to 4 officers and 430 men, who attempted further attacks the following days, but by the 11th were down to 372 men. Receiving new drafts on 29 May, the Munsters and Dubliners were separate units again, the Munsters by 4 June numbering 40 officers and 500 other ranks, though handicapped by the new recruits being much too young and inexperienced. Shelling absolutely demoralised them. They withheld a further attack on 17 June killing 300 Turks. New drafts replenished officers to 23, other ranks to 588. They took part in the Divisions assault on 28 June securing five trench lines. This provoked a general attack by the Turkish side along the Cape Helles front on 5 July, the Turks losing heavily.[16]

(from wikipedia)
The excellent RTÉ Documentary “Gallipoli – Ireland’s Forgotten Heroes” broadcast on April 21st 2015 gives a great idea of what happened 100 years ago:


by the Ataturk: “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”




Interview with Private W Flynn 8365 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers, 86th (Fusilier) Brigade, 29th (Regular) Division, regarding his participation in the amphibious landings at ‘V’ Beach, Sud el Bahr, Helles, Gallipoli in the early hours of 25th April 1915:

This documentary explores the planning, operation and ultimate failure of the attempt at the Dardanelles to force Turkey out of the Great War. It also explores the lessons learned and how they were applied to the D-Day landings in 1944.

4 thoughts on “On this day 100 years ago: Michael Desmond died in Gallipoli”

  1. The family always believed that Michael boarded a lorry “under pressure” in the Square in Millstreet and his parents were later notified that he had enlisted. If anyone knows where those medals are, I would be very grateful if they could contact me directly. If the buyer would like to return them to the family, I will gladly reimburse him/her.
    Thank you
    Email: <email>

  2. The article on Michael Desmond a young man from Claramore on the Millstreet website made for an interesting read
    Of a brave one who died fighting in the war supposed to end all wars that to other wars only did lead
    In the Spring of nineteen fifteen on a British warship he sailed out of Hibernia’s shore
    Never more for to return to his family home in view of Clara in Claramore

    And the comment by his blood relative Margaret Sheehy does leave us with some food for thought
    War medals of deceased soldiers should not be offered for sale for non relatives to be bought
    The medals he paid with his life for to his family of origin ought to belong
    To the many wrongs of war one can add this as obviously another war wrong

    The three young Millstreet men who died in Gallipoli Michael Desmond, James Murphy and Denis Hickey thought they were dying for the freedom of Ireland
    That they fought under the flag of Britain in Gallipoli one ought to understand
    Since the then Prime Minister of Britain Lloyd George promised freedom from British occupation to the Nations who fought on Britain’s side
    Because of the promise he made to them and after the war broke thousands of young Irishmen died

    Michael Desmond, James Murphy and Denis Hickey gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom this ought to be known
    Amongst the bravest of Duhallow they surely were Millstreet’s own
    The promise made to the thousands of young Irish soldiers by Lloyd George they did believe
    But with his words the one known as the Welsh Wizard the brave young men of Ireland did deceive

    The war that was supposed to end all wars was fought a century ago
    And nowadays the enemy back then is no longer considered to be the foe
    But wars are still being waged in the twenty first century World of Today
    And for the lies that are being told young men with their lives are made to pay.

    “On An Article On Michael Desmond” is by Francis Duggan

    (added by mdc)

  3. Thank you Francis. I am moved beyond words by your tribute to our men from Millstreet. I have been in touch with the auctioneer and have asked that the items either be sold back to me, or sent anonymously to Millstreet Museum which is where they should be to begin with.These items belong to all our people. I completely agree with your sentiments on war. There is no doubt that the solution to one war is the cause of the next. I have an old photo which I will forward to Michael C as soon as I get permission. I think I can identify Pvt. Desmond and maybe someone can point out Pvt. Murphy and Pvt. Hickey. May the Lord have mercy on their souls. Thank you again.

  4. The man in the back row 1st. from the right is James Newman, would be grateful for any information you may have on him Regards Seán Ryan

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