Castleknock College Union

Francis M. D. Morrogh, class '99

In Memoriam

Jun 19, 1915
Francis M. D. Morrogh, class '99 -

The news of the death of Lieutenant Morrogh came as a great shock to all who knew him and his brothers, for eight of the latter were students here.

Frank Morrogh was well-known throughout Cork for after his father's untimely death, he was co-opted in his place on the Cork County Council and had already settled down like one with the experience of years to his important position of Chairman of MORROGH's Mills, Douglas, Cork. He showed considerable business ability and tact, and if energy and go are guarantees for success in commerce, there was but one opinion of the future before him. He was prominently identified with the South Union Hunt, and had taken part in cricket matches with the County Cricket Club. He was very popular with all classes for his many amiable qualities and local activities.

On the declaration of war he joined the Munster Fusiliers and was sent to the Dardanelles. His letter from the front sent home by him just a few days before his death is reproduced below. It is impossible to read this letter and not be struck by his genuine characteristics, his interest in his men, his ready acknowledgement of their pluck and courage, and his anxiety that their bravery should not go unknown and unrewarded. It is the letter of a brave, conscientious and generous mind.

On the news of his death the Cork Corporation passed a vote of sympathy with his relatives. The Community in Castleknock wish to join in that vote and to express their sincerest sympathy with his mother, brothers and sisters; and we know we are voicing the feelings of a great many past students when we include their sympathies with ours.


JUNE, 1915 - A Letter from the Front

The shelling we have had here is simply awful. Within the last few days they have mounted what we believe is one of the big Goshen's (?) gun. The hole the shell makes is just a wee bit bigger than a tea-cup. I know if there had been many such on the Douglas Road I would not have got home many a night. This morning I had to make my way up to the fighting lines to see where we are to take up positions tonight. Words can not describe the sight. You cannot tell the wounded or dead from the living. Men lie in all positions, just drop anywhere to snatch a moment's sleep. Dead are everywhere about the parapets, and the sun does its work quickly. It is as hot as #*$% in the day and cold as a Kerry mountain at night.

What I really want to tell you about is what I think will be known as one of the bravest deeds performed out here. The two heroes are Private Twomey, Limerick City, 1st R.M.F., and Corporal Slattery, of Bruree, 1st R.M.F. It was yesterday mid-day. We were in the dug-outs in the reserve. The Dublins had occupied a line of trenches on a ridge about 600 yards behind us. Close to the crest of the ridge a road runs, by which supplies are brought up to the firing trenches. The enemy, not knowing the Dublins had moved out, had been shelling the ridge all the morning, and had the range pretty good. A transport wagon came slowly into view on the skyline when slap came a Turkish shell and down came the two wheelers. Another and another followed. It was an inferno—dust and smoke and flying earth. A gust of wind swept the cloud away, and we saw the wagon was still intact, but both drivers gone, and the two leading horses—one a beautiful chestnut—plunging madly in their harness. Shell after shell followed of every kind—high explosives, shrapnel, etc. All their efforts were concentrated on wiping the wagon out. Then it dawned upon us why they were hurling so much ammunition. It was a telephone repairing cart, and carried a number of telephone poles which projected over the dash-board, and gave the appearance, from a distance, of a gun being brought into action.

It seemed a miracle, but both horses (the leaders) remained unhit. Suddenly I saw a figure, one of the machine gunners —Twomey—dash from his dug-out to race across a typical Irish heather mountain to the rescue of the horses 600 yards away. We watched him—every trench watched him. Cigarettes dropped from lips and field glasses were glued on him as he raced forward. It was grand to give a good Irish cheer. He got to the wagon, and a shell hit it seemingly fair and square at the moment. The smoke and dust cleared, and Twomey, dazed and blinded, was hanging to the horses heads. Another and another shell came screaming along, and Twomey rolled into one of the deserted Dublin trenches just by. I was turning away with a feeling of nausea wishing the poor brutes (the horses) would soon be put out of their misery, when another figure appeared from our machine gunners' dug-out. It was Corporal Slattery. He started the first few yards cooly tightening his belt; then pulling his Tack-knife out, started at a run on his journey. As he ran I could see him opening the knife blade with his teeth. As before, we watched him dash into his racing stride. He got to the team, and we lost him in the vortex. Then from the smoke and dust two figures emerged, one on the right and one on the left, and each a horse—Twomey, who had gone back again, and Slattery. Back they came by a wide detour. We were too fed up to cheer. Our C O . had them before him at once. Slattery, who had been mentioned before at the original landing for jumping into the sea, kit and all, to save a wounded, drowning man, was made a full sergeant on the spot. Both names have been sent to the Commander-in-Chief. I believe the story has been sent to the " Daily Mail," and thought you might like to have it. You have full liberty to use it, only keep my name out of it. I told the two chaps I would send an account to the “Cork Examiner." If you care to print it, would you send a copy to me, and also one to the Adjutant. I have my C.O.'s permission to tell the story.

We have a splendid priest here. He goes all over the show, carries his kit just as an ordinary Tommy to the trenches. The fight here is a big one, but the men are splendid. Hilaire Belloc in " Land and Water" has hit the nail on the head. If he had been here he could not have described the position better.

I am tip top; have had my baptism of fire. I would not change places with anyone.


Munster Fusiliers.

(a few days after writing this letter Lieut. Morrogh was killed)