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Belfast, Ireland (now Northern Ireland)
|Died||2 March 2002 (aged 102)|
Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland
|Service/||Royal Irish Rifles|
|Years of service||1914; 1916–1919|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
Thomas Shaw (June 1899 – 2 March 2002) was the last known Irish World War I British Army veteran. He served in the Royal Irish Rifles after joining up in 1916 and fought in battles such as Passchendaele.
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as, "the war to end all wars," it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.
The Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele, was a campaign of the First World War, fought by the Allies against the German Empire. The battle took place on the Western Front, from July to November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders, as part of a strategy decided by the Allies at conferences in November 1916 and May 1917. Passchendaele lay on the last ridge east of Ypres, 5 mi (8.0 km) from a railway junction at Roulers, which was vital to the supply system of the German 4th Army. The next stage of the Allied plan was an advance to Thourout–Couckelaere, to close the German-controlled railway running through Roulers and Thourout.
Shaw was born in Belfast, Ireland (now Northern Ireland), in June 1899. He first enlisted as a rifleman at 15 in 1914 and went into battle, but was sent home after his brother, a military policeman, met him by chance while in France. In 1916 he joined the 16th battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles and fought in battles such as Messines and Passchendaele. He stayed in Germany as part of the Army of Occupation for six months after the war ended and returned home in April 1919.
Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. It is the second-largest city on the island of Ireland, after Dublin. It had a population of 333,871 as of 2015.
Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.
Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom in the north-east of the island of Ireland, variously described as a country, province or region. Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland. In 2011, its population was 1,810,863, constituting about 30% of the island's total population and about 3% of the UK's population. Established by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement, the Northern Ireland Assembly holds responsibility for a range of devolved policy matters, while other areas are reserved for the British government. Northern Ireland co-operates with the Republic of Ireland in several areas, and the Agreement granted the Republic the ability to "put forward views and proposals" with "determined efforts to resolve disagreements between the two governments".
During World War II he was in charge of meat rations in Belfast. In 1942, he married his girlfriend Nell; they spent the last 12 years living at sheltered accommodation in Savoy, Bangor, County Down. He died on 2 March 2002 at the age of 102 and was buried in Clandeboye cemetery in Bangor.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
A plaque in honour of Thomas Shaw was put up at the front door of the Savoy in Bangor on 4 August 2014
Photo of plaque at Savoy
The Royal Welch Fusiliers was a line infantry regiment of the British Army and part of the Prince of Wales' Division, founded in 1689 shortly after the Glorious Revolution. In 1702, it was designated a fusilier regiment and became The Welch Regiment of Fusiliers; the prefix "Royal" was added in 1713, then confirmed in 1714 when George I named it The Prince of Wales's Own Royal Regiment of Welsh Fusiliers. After the 1751 reforms that standardised the naming and numbering of regiments, it became the 23rd Foot.
The 10th (Irish) Division, was one of the first of Kitchener's New Army K1 Army Group divisions, authorized on 21 August 1914, after the outbreak of the Great War. It included battalions from the various provinces of Ireland. It was led by Irish General Bryan Mahon and fought at Gallipoli, Salonika and Palestine. It was the first of the Irish Divisions to take to the field and was the most travelled of the Irish formations. The division served as a formation of the United Kingdom's British Army during World War I.
The 14th (Light) Division was an infantry division of the British Army, one of the Kitchener's Army divisions raised from volunteers by Lord Kitchener during the First World War. All of its infantry regiments were originally of the fast marching rifle or light infantry regiments, hence the title "Light". It fought on the Western Front for the duration of the First World War.
The division was disbanded by March 1919, and was not reformed in the Second World War.
The 36th (Ulster) Division was an infantry division of the British Army, part of Lord Kitchener's New Army, formed in September 1914. Originally called the Ulster Division, it was made up of mainly members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, who formed thirteen additional battalions for three existing regiments: the Royal Irish Fusiliers, the Royal Irish Rifles and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. However, regular Officers and Soldiers and men from all around the United Kingdom made up the strength of the Division. The division served from October 1915 on Western Front as a formation of the British Army during the Great War.
The 16th (Irish) Division was an infantry division of the British Army, raised for service during World War I. The division was a voluntary 'Service' formation of Lord Kitchener's New Armies, created in Ireland from the 'National Volunteers', initially in September 1914, after the outbreak of the Great War. In December 1915, the division moved to France, joining the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), under the command of Irish Major General William Hickie, and spent the duration of the war in action on the Western Front. Following enormous losses at the Somme, Passchendaele and Ypres, the 16th (Irish) Division required a substantial refit in England between June and August 1918, which involved the introduction of many non-Irish battalions.
The Post Office Rifles was a unit of the British Army, first formed in 1868 from volunteers as part of the Volunteer Force, which later became the Territorial Force. The unit evolved several times until 1921, after which the name was lost during one of many reorganisations.
The West Yorkshire Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army. In 1958 it amalgamated with the East Yorkshire Regiment to form the Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire which was, on 6 June 2006, amalgamated with the Green Howards and the Duke of Wellington's Regiment to form the Yorkshire Regiment.
The Rifle Brigade was an infantry rifle regiment of the British Army formed in January 1800 as the "Experimental Corps of Riflemen" to provide sharpshooters, scouts, and skirmishers. They were soon renamed the "Rifle Corps". In January 1803, they became an established regular regiment and were titled the 95th Regiment of Foot (Rifles). In 1816, at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, they were again renamed, this time as the "Rifle Brigade".
The Dorset Regiment was a line infantry regiment of the British Army in existence from 1881 to 1958, being the county regiment of Dorset. Until 1951, it was formally called the Dorsetshire Regiment, although usually known as "The Dorsets". In 1958, after service in the Second Boer War along with World War I and World War II, the Dorset Regiment was amalgamated with the Devonshire Regiment to form the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. In 2007, it was amalgamated with the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment, The Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets to form a new large regiment, The Rifles.
The Larne gun-running was a major gun smuggling operation organised in April 1914 in Ireland by Major Frederick H. Crawford and Captain Wilfrid Spender for the Ulster Unionist Council to equip the Ulster Volunteer Force. The operation involved the smuggling of almost 25,000 rifles and between 3 and 5 million rounds of ammunition from the German Empire, with the shipments landing in Larne, Donaghadee, and Bangor in the early hours between Friday 24 and Saturday 25 April 1914. The Larne gun-running may have been the first time in history that motor-vehicles were used "on a large scale for a military-purpose, and with striking success".
The Royal Irish Rifles was an infantry rifle regiment of the British Army, first created in 1881 by the amalgamation of the 83rd Regiment of Foot and the 86th Regiment of Foot. The regiment saw service in the Second Boer War, the First World War, the Second World War, and the Korean War.
The Royal Winnipeg Rifles are a Primary Reserve one-battalion infantry regiment of the Canadian Army. Nicknamed the "Little Black Devils", they are based at Minto Armoury in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Royal Winnipeg Rifles are part of 3rd Canadian Division's 38 Canadian Brigade Group.
Henry John Patch, dubbed in his later years "the Last Fighting Tommy", was an English supercentenarian, briefly the oldest man in Europe and the last surviving combat soldier of the First World War from any country. He is known to have fought in the trenches of the Western Front. Patch was the longest-surviving soldier of World War I, but he was the fifth-longest-surviving veteran of any sort from World War I, behind British veterans Claude Choules and Florence Green, Frank Buckles of the United States and John Babcock of Canada. At the time of his death, aged 111 years, 1 month, 1 week and 1 day, Patch was the third oldest man in the world, behind Walter Breuning & Jiroemon Kimura, the latter of whom would become the oldest verified man ever.
The 38th (Irish) Brigade, is an infantry brigade formation of the British Army that served in the Second World War. It was composed of Irish line infantry regiments and served with distinction in the Tunisian and Italian Campaigns. A similar formation, the 38th Brigade had served in World War I, but contained no Irish connection.
The Royal Irish Fusiliers was an Irish line infantry regiment of the British Army, formed by the amalgamation of the 87th Regiment of Foot and the 89th Regiment of Foot in 1881. The regiment's first title in 1881 was Princess Victoria's , changed in 1920 to the Royal Irish Fusiliers . Between the time of its formation and Irish independence, it was one of eight Irish regiments.
107 (Ulster) Brigade was based in Ballymena and was, most recently before its disbandment, the British Army Regional Brigade responsible for administering the Territorial Army within Northern Ireland.
During World War I (1914–1918), Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which entered the war in August 1914 as one of the Entente Powers, along with France, and the Russian Empire. In part as an effect of chain ganging, the UK decided due to geopolitical power issues to declare war on the Central Powers, consisting of the German Empire, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria.
Major General Sir Eric Stanley Girdwood, KBE, CB, CMG (1876–1963) was a British military officer who served as General Officer Commanding the Northern Ireland District from 1931 to 1935.
The 44th Battalion was an infantry unit of the Australian Army. Originally formed in 1916 for overseas service during World War I, the battalion fought in the trenches along the Western Front in France and Belgium between late 1916 and 1918, before disbanding at the conclusion of hostilities. During the inter-war years, the 44th became part of the part-time Citizens Force, based in Western Australia. During World War II, it undertook garrison duties in Australia but was not deployed overseas to fight. In the post-World War II period the 44th was amalgamated with the 11th Battalion, before being subsumed into the Royal Western Australia Regiment in 1960.