3044605 George Duff Chalmers, Royal Scots

3044605 Private George Duff Chalmers, 2nd Battalion Royal Scots Regiment (Lothian Regiment)  on the Army Registers of Soldiers Effects 1901-1929, 

1901 census his parents at at Dalgety Av, Edinburgh

1902 Nov 11. George Duff Chalmers. Born Canongate, Edinburgh son of Alexander Watson Chalmers (a Blacksmith) and Martha (nee Walker) His parents married 31 Dec 1891 and his father died 18 Nov 1910

1910 Apr 25 His mother died

1910 Nov 18. His father died.

1911 census - the 8 orphen children were brought up by Martha's brothers and sister. The 1911 census entry with George in it; he is living with Martha's brother Tommy and his family, his brother Thomas Walker Chalmers and his sister Annie.

1920 Dec 18. Wounded in ambush with BH Ashmore near Ennistymon. 6 reported wounded in the 1st Tender. 1 reported as seriously wounded in the abdomen & 1 seriously wounded in the stomach at Gallary’s Cross, County Clare.

Also present but unhurt in the 1st Tender,

Corporal George Henry Roberts served as a British Army Driver with the Royal Army Service Corps in Clare during the War of independence. After the war he remained in Co Clare and married a local woman.  This is his account of the Monreal Ambush 18 Dec1920 “On the morning of 18th December, 1920 at about 6.30, a convoy of three Tenders left Ennistymon for Ennis; I was driving the first tender which carried nine soldiers with myself; the second and third Tenders carried all RIC and Black and Tans. The officer in charge of the convoy, Captain May, DSO Royal Scots regiment and son of the late Lord May, Irish Guards, sat beside me and in my lorry also was a Sergeant Clarke. As I was rounding the bend coming into Monreal crossroads, a single shot was fired and a bomb was then thrown which landed under the vehicle but failed to explode. Immediately a heavy volley of firing was opened. Captain May threw himself off the tender and Sergeant Clarke shouted: ‘Accelerate and pull up at the crossroads’, where there was cover from fire. I did so.

When we got to the crossroads, Sergeant Clarke and Private Black, both also belonging to the Royal Scots, took a machine gun from the Tender and opened up on the attackers. I removed the wounded six privates and laid them on the grass margin on the side of the road and remained with them for about two hours, when reinforcements came from enlistment. Sergeant Clarke then ordered me to drive himself and six or seven men towards Cloonagh. They searched several houses but found nothing. Other reinforcements arrived later from Ennis. The wounded transferred to the Tenders which brought the troops from Ennis, and the wounded were taken there.

In addition to the six men in my Tender who were wounded, one Black and Tan Sergeant Driver, Dan Mc Inerney, an Irishman, and another Black and Tan in the second Tender were also wounded. There was no casualty amongst the men in the third tender. Though I was present when the wounded men were being put on the Tenders for Ennis, I did not see any dead men among the British troops and I do not believe that in the subsequent fighting which followed after the British forces dismounted from the Tenders, they sustained any casualties.”

The IRA had received intelligence that a mixed force of Tans and Soldiers would drive along the Ennis to Ennistymon road. The volunteers marched to Monreal, with the aim of ambushing the convoy 200 yards north of the crossroads at the Monanagh Bridge over the Cullenagh River. There were about 40 IRA men in the attacking party. They expected 2 lorries with a total of 12 to 16 British. In the event 3 lorries arrived with 20 to 25 soldiers and police. The British put the attacking IRA force at 100, whereas there were 40, and the IRA likewise over estimated the number of Crown forces and the casualties that they inflicted.

The convoy was under the command of Capt Hay DSO of the Royal Scots, who sat in the front seat of the first lorry, driven by Cpl George Roberts. Sgt Clarke and Pte Black in this lorry got a machine gun working when the ambush was sprung, but 4 Privates in the lorry were injured in the opening fusillade from the IRA. However the fact that there were 3 lorries of Crown forces and that they had a machine gun, soon forced the IRA to retreat. The IRA suffered 5 wounded and the British 4 soldiers wounded and one RIC man also wounded.

1921 Apr 25. Chalmers claimed compensation for injuries received at Cullinagh Bridge (called in the press either Cullinagh, Monanagh or Monreal, it is all the same ambush) - there was another ambush at Moanagh on 6 Jul 1921, but Chalmers was dead by then. Chalmers was awarded £100 for his wounds at the ambush. The press reports cite Chalmers, Campbell, Black and Creighton as claiming, so I assume that they were the only soldiers injured badly enough to claim compensation. Black, who helped man the Lewis gun suffered the worst injuries

1921 Jun 11. Believed to have been abducted by IRA whilst serving a summons in West Clare and executed 11 June 1921. A Scot serving with the 2nd Royal Scots who was courting a local woman when he went missing. The British authorities assumed he deserted when he did not return to barracks but he had been captured by three I.R.A. gunmen. He was executed and his body was secretly buried in the Moy area Co.Clare. However he does appear on Collins List of 1923 of missing soldiers that the British had enquired about as George Duff Chalmers.

A local source believed that a soldier had come from Ennistymon to serve a summons on a family or a member of a family named Tuttle. The 1911 census gives only this Tuttle family at Moaghna, Magherareagh, Clare. And the Witness Statement 1076 By A Malone, indicates that Tom Tuttle of "Moughna" was in their battalion.

O'Ruaric's article in History Ireland (Nov 2012) says The I.R.A. knew that the British forces were due to serve a court summons on Tom Tuttle a republican sympathiser who lived at Moughna, Lahinch. It was expected that the R.I.C. would perform this duty, and a group of sixteen I.R.A. Volunteers led by Anthony Malone had lain in ambush for them on the appointed date but the R.I.C. failed to turn up. The summons was eventually served on the 11th June 1921 by a party of British soldiers from the Royal Scots who had travelled to Moughna in a convoy of four lorries. As they made their return journey one of the soldiers, Private George Duff Chalmers (service number 3044605), deliberately dismounted from one of the lorries in the Lavoureen district. The main party continued on without him. According to accounts of the incident still surviving in the area, Private Chalmers was courting a local woman, and left the convoy to pay her a visit. A short time after leaving the lorry Chalmers was captured by two members of the I.R.A. During his interrogation Chalmers refused to give his name. He was subsequently court-martialled by the I.R.A. and sentenced to death. According to the I.R.A. report of the incident Chalmers was executed on the suspicion of being on a mission to gather military intelligence. “A Private of the Royal Scots who dropped off one of four lorries passing through C. Coy area was captured by two riflemen after a chase. The Bn. Staff being satisfied that his object in leaving the lorry was to seek information had him executed on the same date, after getting all the information they could from him. He did not give information of importance.” Private Chalmers was shot and buried in an unmarked grave at Moy, Lahinch. Given Chalmers apparent refusal to reveal his identity to his captors and his membership of the Royal Scots, he may have been mistaken with for Lance-Corporal Mc Pearson, Corporal Buchanan or one of the other soldiers involved in the killing of Charles Lynch. Scottish regiments had a particularly bad reputation in the area.

Having delivered the summons, he continued on towards the house of his girlfriend, whose name was Curtin (she had a sister who was known as Nan Halo Curtin and in her house they used to hold six-penny house dances to raise funds for the IRA). This is the only Nan Curtin in the area in 1911 census. Chalmers who was 19 must have been courting Louisa who would have been 15 at that time.

On his way from the Tuttle's house to the Curtin's house, he met with a local man, who was in the IRA. This man sent word to some of the others and they picked Chalmers up. They imprisoned him in a shed in the Moy area. He was taken to a quarry that night. This quarry was used extensively for the quarrying of stone that was used in the building of all of the local houses. There they held a court martial.

They were afraid that the soldier would identify him and it was on those grounds that he was shot. The man in charge was believed to have shot him. Some of them were in favour of releasing him. He was buried in a grave that was only two feet deep and was situated in the wilderness of a boggy mountain.

There was never a search for this soldier. The army never searched the area for him and even the people to whom he delivered the summons were never questioned, even though the authorities should have known where he was going. Some people said he was a spy and others said that he had a uniform on. Some even said that he was a bit simple-minded and that he ought never to have been shot.

Some time later a body was found near or in Kilfarboy graveyard and that it was buried there, but that the grave didn't face the same way as the others.The present owners  bought the land from a Lenihan man and planted it with trees. A local man showed them where the soldier was buried and asked them not to plant any trees there so they didn’t. There is an inscribed sandstone slab lying there. The soldier is named as George Chalmers.

April 2017, I had an email " I have been contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission , who have located his burial site and sent me a picture. I think the intention is that he is honoured as one of our war dead, a result that I am extremely satisfied about. " By Nov 2017 he had appeared on CWGC site as an isolated grave at DRUMBAUN

2018 May 15. Irish Examiner

The body of a British soldier executed and buried in Co Clare almost 100 years ago has been exhumed and will be reburied in Dublin. 18-year-old Private George Duff Chalmers was a member of the 2nd Battalion of the British Army’s Royal Scots based in Clare during the during the War of Independence. He died on June 10, 1921 at Drumbaun, Co Clare after, it’s believed, he was captured and executed by members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Early today, representatives of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), working alongside the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Clare County Council, exhumed the remains of Pvt Chalmers from a site near Miltown Malbay. Gardaí also attended the exhumation.

Pvt Chamlers' remains were taken to Ennistymon Church where a brief prayer service was held outside. He will be reburied at Grangegorman Military Cemetery in Dublin while a rededication ceremony will take place later this year. A spokeswoman for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) said: “In 2017 the CWGC was contacted by the family of Private Chalmers who enquired about the possible relocation of his remains to an alternative location. CWGC identified that as the current location was difficult to access and maintain, relocation of the remains would be possible.” The CWGC is responsible for commemorating the men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First and Second World Wars, including the building and maintenance of cemeteries and memorials across the world. War graves from the First World War located in Ireland are managed on CWGC behalf by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Private Chalmers had been with soldiers travelling to Moughna in a convoy of four lorries and is thought to have jumped from one of the trucks in the area of Lavoureen. It is believed he was on his way to visit a girl he had been seeing. It is thought he was soon captured by two members of the IRA and brought before a group of local IRA officers. During his interrogation, he refused to give his name or any other information. He was subsequently court-martialed by the IRA executed on suspicion of being a spy on an intelligence-gathering mission. The story became a part of folklore in the area. Locals had been told not to cut turf in the bog as a British soldier had been buried there. However, some turf cutters dismissed the story as an old wives’ tale until the 1950s when a group of young men accidentally stumbled across what were believed to be Private Chalmers’ remains. It is understood that they quickly reburied the remains and went cutting turf elsewhere. The grave was later marked with a cross while, about 20 years ago, an inscribed ‘slab’ was also placed at the site.

British Soldiers died in Ireland