TOM BARRY - WW1 Service
Courtesy of History Ireland
Thomas Bernard Barry, with an address at The Arcade, Roscarberry, Co. Cork, enlisted in the British Army on 30 June 1915 and was posted to the Royal Field Artillery depot at Athlone on 1 July 1915. He was 5ft 71⁄4ins tall, and according to the record he declared himself to be over nineteen years old, although on discharge from the army in 1919 he recorded his correct year of birth as 1897.
The service record indicates that he was posted to Iraq on 21 January 1916 as part of the Mesopotomia Expeditionary Force with the 14th Battery, 4th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, and remained there for two years until 20 May 1919.
He was involved in the attempt to relieve the British army besieged at Kut-al-Amara. Barry’s unit was part of the 3rd (Lahore) Division of the Tigris Corps.
Image Caption:‘VOLUNTEERED AT SIXTEEN. Bombardier T. B. Barry, RFA, Athlone, who has shown a very patriotic spirit by volunteering at the early age of sixteen. He was offered a commission in the Munsters but refused it. He is son of Mr T. Barry, Bandon.’ (Cork Examiner, 10 November 1915
In January 1917 his battery was in action at the Hai salient, south of Kut, where they supported an assault by the 13th and 14th Divisions on Turkish trenches. In March they were at Falluja and Baquba and suffered heavy casualties in tough fighting on 21 March 1917.
By late 1918 his unit was continuing its progress up the Tigris valley, north-east of Baghdad, attacking Samarra and eventually forcing the Turks back to Tikrit. In the meantime, with experienced forces leaving Palestine for France because of the German offensive of March 1918, more units were required in Palestine and the forces there were reorganised in summer 1918.
The 33rd (Lahore) Division was sent from Iraq to Egypt, and Gunner Barry’s 4th Artillery Brigade went with them in June 1918. After eighteen days by boat he was in Egypt on 8 June 1918, and remained there until 20 February 1919. Then he set sail for home, where he arrived on 4 March 1919.
Barry never attained the rank of sergeant, as claimed in some works. He was attested as a gunner and was appointed bombardier on 1 March 1916, but at his own request he reverted to the rank of gunner on 26 May 1916, remaining at this rank for the remainder of the war.
Barry’s life in the British Army was not without incident. On 28 October 1915 he was reprimanded for ‘when on active service being absent from 6 a.m. parade until 6.20 a.m.’ and ‘not complying with an order’. On 27 May 1916 he was reprimanded again for ‘irregular conduct’. On 7 June 1918 he was guilty of being late for parade, stating a falsehood and disobedience of battery orders, enough to warrant ‘field punishment No. 2’ (being shackled for up to two hours a day).
On 19 December 1918 he was given seven days’ field punishment No. 2 by Major Reynolds RFA for ‘creating a disturbance and improper reply to an NCO’. Nevertheless, when he was finally discharged from the army he was described as sober and ‘a good hardworking man’.
Barry’s career in the British Army ended on 7 April 1919. He was awarded a small pension for suffering malaria and DAH (Disordered Action of the Heart, a medical condition on his file). He was granted a pension for 66 weeks from 3 September 1919. His address at this time was given as Convent Hill, Bandon, Co. Cork.
Barry’s discharge form—in spite of his earlier breaches of discipline he was described as ‘a good hardworking man’. (National Archives, UK)