The War To End All Wars. – Grandad Was a War Hero


I believe that js Grandad in view behind the officers. Acrington Observer photo

Doing the Family History’ unearths all kinds of information and emotions. Hooray for the Internet! While doing a search for Grandad and our family history the search query was: The Accrington Pals 1914-18 War .

Andrew Jackson runs a web site in memory of the Accrington Pals – a group of about 737 young British men who all who all enlisted together and shortly after were sent to fight in what was to be known as WWI.

Most were slaughtered on their first day in the trenches in France. Grandad had lied about his age to join up at 17, and was one of the few survivors to return home to England. . It was a great tragedy in the life of the people of Accrington Lancashire.

However I have been very proud to learn that this young Irish -born lad, my Grandad Cornelious D’Arcy had joined the Lancashire Lads regiment that fought alongside the Aussies at Gallipoli. They were then sent to Egypt, and to France.

I sent an email to Andrew and this is his reply. Imagine my excitement!

“Dear Eunice I’ve found something on your grandfather! The Accrington Observer and Times of 1st May 1915 carried a Roll of Honour of 737 men from local Roman Catholic missions who were serving in the armed forces Amongst them was Cornelius Darcey of 14 Mill Street serving with the 5th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment (photocopy enclosed – poor quality I’m afraid). You’ve every reason to be very proud of him. Clearly he volunteered for army service early in the war. “

It did make me very grateful that Grandad was one of the ‘lucky’ ones, although dysentery and mustard gas, plus the horrors he must have seen, affected him for the rest of his life. It made me, a descendant of this man, wonder just who would have been born if all of those young men had not died and eturned safe home – hence this poem:


Irish born but Lancashire bred

At seventeen with war declared

he marched away with bayonet bared

To smell the mustard gas of Serre

He married Jenny so in love

and fathered all my aunts and Mum

but now and then he’d disappear I

nto the wee shed at the rear

of the red brick semi in Accrington

to cough the mustard from his lung

He made carved wood down in the shed –

a tiny space just like a trench

a solitary lonely place

without the shelling and the mud

and brought o show with pride

the polished efforts of his bench

His humour never died at all

not even after what he’d seen

and yet his eyes would sometimes dim

his thoughts had wandered far away

and just one silent tear would gleam.

He looked so gaunt for all his life

despite the nurturing of his wife

his humour was the very same

hat got him through their time at Serre

When bogged in mud with rotting flesh

lying around them everywhere

and Germans shelling mercilessly

these children who had marched to war

I loved him so much as a child

My holidays he made a joy

His clogs would clatter up the lane

joined by others on their way to

Bulloughs nd the clanking steel

to where the cotton bobbins whir

If not for him I would not be

and my grandchildren would not live

not till this minute did I see that many

many souls like me

died-unborn in Normandy

My Grandparents visiting us in Scotland

Eunice C English

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