John Hussey – From Sneem, County Kerry to Guillemont at the Somme

Above : Vincent Casey with Eamon Delaney, holding the medals of Private John Hussey.

Name of soldier : John Hussey

Name of descendent : Vincent Casey

Vincent Casey lives in a beautiful and dramatic landscape : near Sneem on the scenic Ring of Kerry. On one side, are the green mountains and, on the other, Kenmare Bay stretching across to the Beara Peninsula of West Cork.

The land is remote and unspoilt and looks much as it did when Vincent’s granduncle John Hussey lived here, before he set out for World War One and for the equally dramatic landscape of the Somme – although dramatic for different reasons.

John Hussey came from Bohocogram, near Sneem, as does Vincent Casey, who practises today as a local painter and decorator. John Hussey, was with the 8th Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers and died at the Battle of Guillemont on 3 September 1916.

Above : Irish soldiers taking in German prisoners at Guillemont, September 1916.

The Battle of Guillemont, from 3 to 6 September, was in the second month of the Somme. Like the similiar Battle of Ginchy a week later (9 September), it was an important advance in which the 16th Irish Division drove back the Germans and captured key villages.

Many soldiers were killed. On the day Hussey fell, eight other Munster Fusiliers were killed. The fighting at the Somme was also so intense and in such terrible conditions that the bodies of the killed were often never recovered and declared missing.

Instead, like John Hussey, they are remembered on the Thiepval memorial (above) erected near the scene of the fighting. It is a huge memorial, composed of 16 redbrick arches and faced with Portland stone.

The memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the same architect who designed the Memorial Park at Islandbridge. (And the Barings house on Lambay Island, off the coast of Dublin).

A staggering 72,000 soldiers went missing in the Somme area, from 1915 to 1918.

Even today, human remains are still being found, and when a body has been identified, the relevant name is removed from the Thiepval Memorial and a burial is arranged.

Perhaps one day even John Hussey’s remains will be found.

Above: Vincent Casey with his sons, Michael and Padraig.

Your name : Vincent Casey

Your relative : Grand Uncle John Hussey

Period of activity : World War One

Specific regiment: Royal Munster Fusiliers, 8th Battalion

Areas served in: France, the Somme.

Do you have any mementos of him?

Yes, we have his medal (above), without the ribbons and looking a bit tarnished.

We also have the metal memorial plate (below) given to families of the fallen, with his name on it, as well as a scroll of honour.

There is also a memorial poster (pictured at bottom), listing the significant World War One battles, although sadly this is damaged and torn. These items are all precious to us.

There is no photo of John Hussey. He was aged 25 when he died and the son of Julie and Patrick. His father Patrick died on 1 December 1922 and his mother Julia was in receipt of her son’s pension.

Above : The beautiful landscape near Sneem, where John Hussey grew up.

And, below, the scorched landscape near Guillemont where he ended up. Note the Shamrocks painted on the Irish Division field ambulances.

A list below of the many Royal Munster Fusiliers who died on 3rd September 1916.

Below: Today in Sneem, and in Waterville, a sign in the main street lists the many local men from the area who died in World War One , including John Hussey.

Among the names is Private Patrick Burns, from a well known local family. His house is pictured below, situated between Burns famous butchers and the family ‘s bicycle shop.

Patrick Burns served with the South Wales Borderers, and died on 10 November 1917, aged 27. His body was not found and he is remembered on Tyne Cot Memorial. His parents were Bridget and John.

Below is a close up of John Hussey’s memorial plate, colloquially as ‘The Dead Man’s Penny’.

Commemorative poster (below) listing the major battles of the Great War. It has been handed down in John Hussey’s family, along with his medals and memorabilia.

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