Taken from The Galway Genealogy Facebook Page, posted by Brian Leighton.
Patrick Nee (1897 – 21 Mar 1918)
Royal Irish Rifles Regimental number 7874
Royal Irish Regiment Regimental number 18231
British War Medal named to “18231 PTE. P-NEE. R.I.REG”
Patrick Nee was born in Co. Galway, Newvillage, Oughterard in 1897. He, his younger brother John and sister Mary was raised by step parents Thomas and Bridget Shaughessy, who had 7 children themselves. Probably they were related to Bridget who’s second name was formerly Nee as well but she had been married 20 years by 1911 and they had twins the same age as John Nee (2). They were Roman Catholic’s and their trade was listed on the Irish Census as farmers (herd) (10).
Because his age at the beginning of the Great War, Patrick most likely enlisted to the New Army (often referred as Kitchener’s Army) which was called up on 5 August 1914 by Minister for War, Field Marshal Earl Kitchener. Each man would sign up for new “general service” terms of three years or the duration of the war (whichever the longer) and would agree to being sent to serve anywhere the army needed them. On 6 August Parliament sanctioned an increase of 500,000 men of all ranks (12/13/14).
His brother John Nee enlisted in the Royal Irish Regiment 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion on the 16th August 1917 from Galway.
Because he has made a misstatement at his age on enlistment, he was discharged after 50 days of service. He was only 16 years old at this time (11).
Patrick Nee, being age 17-18 on the end of 1914, was accepted as fit for the Army and he was enlisted in Dublin as a private to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. His regimental number was 7874.
The 2nd Battalion was part of 7th Brigade in 3rd Division and saw action from 14th August 1914, when they landed in Rouen. 8th October 1915 all 7th Brigade was transferred to 25th Division. 26th October 1915 Battalion was transferred to 74th Brigade in the same Division. 13th November 1917 transferred to 108th Brigade in 36th (Ulster) Division and absorbed with the 7th Battalion (17).
Medal role indicates that at some point, Patrick was transferred over to the 7th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. However, it is impossible to say when he joined with the 2nd or 7th Battalion on the field and when he got his first combat experience, because his service record has not survived in the National Archive.
The 7th (Service) Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, formed in Belfast in September, 1914, was in the 48th Brigade, 16th (Irish) Division. It spent practically the first year of its existence at Mallow, Co. Cork, and Ballyvonare Camp, where it had excellent training-ground in the Ballyhoura Mountains (16).
The next move took place and Private Patrick Nee was moved to the “B” Company, 7th (South Irish Horse) Battalion at the Royal Irish Regiment. His new regimental number was 18231.
This Battalion was formed in France, 1 September 1917, from the dismounted 1st and 2nd Battalions of South Irish Horse and extra men from Royal Dublin Fusiliers, Royal Irish Rifles, Royal Irish Regiment, North Irish Horses, RFA, Cyclist Corps, etc.
He was probably moved to this unit at the point of the formation or straight after 2nd Battalion was absorbed with the 7th Battalion of Royal Irish Rifles but it is impossible to find and confirm.
The 7th (South Irish Horse) Battalion was posted to 49th Infantry Brigade in 16th (Irish) Division at Ervillers on the 14 October 1917 and saw action soon after this. A look at the list of war dead will show 21 men recorded as Killed in Action on 12th December 1917 and a further 9 Died of Wounds by the end of the month (6/7).
Private Patrick Nee and many of his comrades met their faith when on the 21st March 1918 the battalion was caught in the maelstrom of the German Kaiserschlacht (Kaiser’s Battle) offensive (8). The Official History records that, “2 Companies of 7th Royal Irish Regiment, posted in forward zone, suffered terribly; not a man succeeded in escaping.
According to the War Diary of 49th Infantry Brigade the battalion strength on 30th March 1918 was 1 officer and 34 other ranks. The battalion strength on 20th March is not known but a sister battalion (2nd Royal Irish Regiment) in the brigade had a strength of 18 officers and 514 men before the battle and 1 officer and 31 other ranks on 30th March (7).
What exactly happened on the 21st March 1918, is possible to find out from 7th Battalion War Diary:
7th (SIH) Bn, Royal Irish Regt War Diaries. September 1917 to May 1918 – 21.03.1918
21st March 1918
4.30am. The enemy opened a heavy bombardment mostly with gas shells lasting about 4 hours. The morning was very foggy.
8.30am. The enemy attacked and broke through A &C Coys and reached RONSOY VILLAGE before S & B Coys were aware that the attack had commenced. No one of A & B Coys got back to the rest of the Battn, either being killed or taken prisoners. The enemy had practically surrounded the village before HQ and S & B Coys were aware of it, as he had broken through the Division on the right. At this time all the Officers, with the exception of Capt Bridge had become casualties, also the majority of other ranks. The remainders were ordered to withdraw and fought their way back to ST EMILIE where they arrived about 7pm. The strength then was 1 Officer and about 40 Other Ranks which included 5608 Sergt Maloney and 7683 Corpl Harrison. About 9pm. the Battn was relieved by a Battn of the 39th Division, and moved back to VILLERS FAUCON (4).
Patrick Nee medal role indicates that he was MIA (Missing in Action) and was pronounced KIA (Killed in Action) from 21st March 1918 (?).
Those soldiers who were missing and presumed dead are listed on the major memorials in the theatres of war; in this way every man is commemorated even if no trace was ever found of his physical remains. Patrick Nee’s name is listed on the Pozieres Memorial, Grave/Memorial, Panel 30 and 31 (2/3). He was 21 years old.