Private 15481 Hugh Callaghan

Callaghan Hugh 96 356x600Callaghan Hugh 96 400x600

Killed in Action on Friday, 20th July 1917, age unknown.
Buried in Grave II. H. 49. at Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

9th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment (Pioneers). Pioneer Battalion of 23rd Division.

Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed Balkans, 21st July 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the St. John's Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/103105/

Genealogical Data

1891 Census
4 House 1 Court, Wednesbury Oak Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Elizabeth Callaghan (46, widow, born Tipton), and her 6 children: Ellen (22, Breeze Runner (Coal), born Tipton), Owen (19, Coal Miner, born Tipton), Alfred (14, Breeze Runner (Coal), born Tipton), Bernard (11, born Tipton), Mary (6, born Tipton), and Hugh (1, born Tipton).

1901 Census
20 Queens Street, Princes End, Tipton, Staffs.
Elizabeth Callaghan (53, widow, born Tipton), and her 3 children: Bernard (21, Boat Builder, born Tipton), Mary (17, born Tipton), and Hugh (12, born Tipton). Also her married daughter Nellie Timmins (32, born Tipton), and her husband Henry Timmins and their 4 children: Sarah, Walter, Bernard and Simeon.

1911 Census
Mere Green Road, Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield.
Alfred Timms (34, Coal Merchant, born Stafford), Hugh Callaghan (21, Wagonner for Coal Merchant, born Tipton), Elizabeth Callaghan (66, widow, Servant - Domestic General, born Tipton).

Personal Data

Hugh Callaghan first landed in Gallipoli in July 1915 which indicates that he first served with the 7th Battalion, South Staffs. As he died whilst serving with the 9th (Pioneer) battalion, it is reasonable to assume that he was either wounded or sick, and no longer considered fit for infantry duties. This may have been as a result of the following incident.

Hugh was admitted from Gallipoli to the Public Health Department at Ramleh (possibly Hospital Glmenopoulo) on 9th September 1915, this is in current-day Israel. He was admitted for "Intestinal Synopsis", basically intestinal examination, and for a slight headache. It is not recorded how long for how long Hugh was hospitalised.

After Hugh's death his outstanding army pay and allowances was paid to his sister and sole legatee, Mary Nicholls, in November 1917; this amounted to £9/7/10d (9 pounds, 7 shillings and 10 pence). His War Gratuity of £12/10/0d (12 pounds and 10 shillings) was also paid to his sister, Mary Nicholls, in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Hugh had enlisted in November 1914.

It appears that Hugh's sister, Mrs Mary Nicholls of 3 Short Street, Princes End, Tipton, applied for a Dependant's Pension in respect of Hugh. This does not appear to have been granted, but a Gratuity of £22/16/3d (22 pounds, 16 shillings and 3 pence) was paid to Mary on 12th January 1922.

Action resulting in his death

The 9th South Staffs were the Pioneer Battalion for the 23rd Division; they landed in France in August 1915. After a spell in the Loos area, they moved to Vimy, then to the Somme. During the Battle of the Somme the 23rd Division were involved in the Battles of Albert, Bazentin Ridge, Pozieres, Flers, Morval, and Le Transloy. In 1917 they moved to the Ypres Salient, where they took part in the Battle of Messines.

On 28th June 1917, 9th Battalion South Staffs (9/SS) moved from Berthen to Hallebast Farm near Dickebusch. They were then involved in trench digging, road digging and other construction tasks, often at night. The War Diary for 20th July records:
- ‘A’ Company: Clearing trenches damaged by rain and draining.
- ‘B’ Company: Repairing damage to bridge and road done by shelling. Bridge again hit in morning.
- ‘C’ Company: 50 yards track completed. 100 yards formation laid.
- ‘D’ Company: Clearing Image Avenue. Work interrupted by shelling.
3 Other Ranks were killed in action, and 1 Other Ranks wounded.

It is not known which company Hugh Callaghan belonged to, but from the above it would seem that ‘B’ and ‘D’ are possible as these were on the receiving end of enemy shelling. ‘D’ Company seems most likely as this Company was working on Image Avenue and Callaghan and Darby were initially buried (at map reference I.30.d.1.7.) very close to Image Avenue. The initial burial location was at the west end of Shrewsbury Forest, near Klein Zillebeke.

The 9/SS War Diary records that 3 Other Ranks were killed that day. It would seem that they were killed in the same incident as they were buried together. The 3 men were exhumed and re-buried side-by-side in Perth Cemetery (China Wall) on 4th April 1919. The 3 men were Hugh Callaghan and Samuel Darby both from Tipton, and Samuel Bull from Pattingham.

Newspaper Cuttings

Midland Counties Express August 25th 1917
The late Private Hugh Callaghan was with the South Staffordshire Regiment and rendered excellent and patriotic service in the Army. A letter to relative, Mrs. H. Timms, of 10 Lorne Street, Princes End, Tipton, says that Private Callaghan was killed by a shell, to the regret of members of his platoon, as he was most popular.
"I have" says an officer "offered him a stripe several times, as I considered him one of the best and one of the steadiest fellows in the company. He had a stripe when he joined us, but for some reason or other he always refused to take one. His steadiness under fire was an example of splendid value to his comrades, and he was always straight and relaible."