Aidan Byrne – From North Circular Road to the North African campaign

Soldier’s name : Aidan Asquith Byrne

Descendent : Frank Keane

Aidan Byrne was living on Dublin’s North Circular Road (NCR) when he joined the Second World War as a doctor with the Royal Medical Army Corps. He worked with the field ambulance in North Africa for which he was awarded the Military Cross, and later in Europe. After the war, he worked with the British civil service in Malaya.

His nephew Frank Keane also has an interesting story, connected to the war : or at least to its aftermath. Frank worked fitting artificial limbs in 1950s Germany, where disability was now common after the intense bombing raids. His patients were very appreciative of this pioneering work, including one lady who gave him a present of a Nazi medal, awarded to German mothers when they had given birth to six children!

Today, Frank lives in a large house off the NCR, with a motorcycle collection in the basement and a first floor decorated in the style of 19th century Vienna. By coincidence, his home faces a house (visible over his left shoulder below) once occupied by Corporal Digby Burns who was, also an army doctor, but in the First World War. Digby Burns died in the sinking of the RMS Leinster in 1918.

Your own name :Frank Keane

Your relative : Uncle Aidan

Period of activity: World War Two

Specific regiment: Royal Medical Corps Service

Areas served in: The North Africa Campaign : Egypt and Libya. Picture below.

Did you have much contact with Uncle Aidan ?

Yes, we saw him a lot when we were kids.

What are your most striking memories of him?

One day, in the back garden, he told us that he was throwing away his medals and mementos. He was angry because he said that the Americans gave demobbed soldiers an education, whereas the British gave you a civilian suit and sent you on your way.

Where is he buried?

In Alberta, Canada where he had settled. He died in 1997.

Do you have any mementos of him?

Not many. We might have got his medals but he threw them away!

Aidan is listed here :
British Army Officers 1939-1945  — B

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