'Even so great men great losses should endure.'
On August 19th, 1907, the memorial arch to the officers and men who fell in South Africa was opened by H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, Colonel-in-Chief the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. The 2nd Battalion was marching from Kilworth Camp to Ballyvonaire Camp on that day, but the authorities very kindly did everything in their power to make the ceremony a success, and Colonel English, Major Bromilow, and every one of any importance who had taken part in the war proceeded to Dublin by special train on the morning of the 19th, while the Depôt and Militia officers also assembled in good force.
The officers and men of the regiment were very sensible of the honour shown to them by H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught in personally opening the arch, and so identifying himself with it and them, while every Dublin Fusilier present felt an added pride in himself and his uniform as he saw it worn by His Royal Highness the brother of His Majesty the King.
The following account of the ceremony is taken from the Dublin Daily Express, to whose proprietors our thanks are due for permission to reproduce it:—
'Royal Dublin Fusiliers' Memorial in Stephen's Green
inaugurated by the Duke of Connaught.
Luncheon at Shelbourne Hotel.
'To-day the Royal Dublin Fusiliers' Memorial to the officers and men of the regiment who fell in South Africa was (p. 230) formally inaugurated by the Duke of Connaught, Inspector-General of the British Army. His Royal Highness arrived at Amiens Street terminus by the early morning train from Belfast, and was received by the Viceroy's Military Secretary. The Duke of Connaught at once drove to the Shelbourne Hotel, where he was received by the following members of the Memorial Committee:—The Earl of Meath, President; the Earl of Drogheda, Mr. Justice Ross, Colonel Vernon, Sir Frederick Shaw, Bart., D.S.O., Sir Maurice Dockrell, Mr. Richard Dowse, Colonel Gore-Lindsay, Colonel Finlay, Sir Thomas Drew, R.H.A., Sir Charles Cameron, C.B., &c.
'Lunch was served immediately afterwards, and was presided over by the Earl of Meath, K.P., who was supported on his right by H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, K.P., the Earl of Drogheda, Major-General Vetch, C.V.O., and Mr. Justice Ross, P.C.; and on his left by Lord Grenfell, G.C.B., Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in Ireland; Viscount Iveagh, K.P.; Major-General Sir Herbert Plumer, K.C.B.; Lieut.-Colonel Sir F. Shaw, D.S.O., 5th Royal Dublin Fusiliers. There were also present:—
'Sir G. Holmes, K.C.V.O.; Col. Vernon, D.L.; Brig.-Gen. Hammersley, Col. Lindsay, D.L.; Brig.-Gen. Monro, C.B.; Col. R. St. L. Moore, C.B.; Lieut.-Col. Hackett, 4th R.D.F.; Sir Daniel Hegarty, Captain Seymour, A.D.C.; Sir T. Myles, Major D. C. Courtney, Alderman Cotton, D.L.; Mr. Gerald M'Guinness, Col. Doyly Battley, Capt. Cameron, Dr. Wheeler, Mr. G. S. Dockrell, Capt. Halahan, Col. Chapman, 1st R.D.F.; Sir Horace Plunkett, P.C.; Col. Finlay, Sir John Arnott, Brig.-Gen. Cooper, C.B.; Mr. G. A. Stevenson, M.O.; Col. Hutcheson Poe, D.L.; Mr. P. Hanson, Sir John Moore, Major Carington Smith, Major Domville, D.L.; Col. Lyster Smythe, D.L., A.D.C.; Major Skeet, Capt. Garvice, Capt. Thompson, Mr. H. M. Dockrell, Mr. Wm. Graham, Mr. John Laverty, Col. F. P. English, D.S.O., 2nd R.D.F.; Mr. R. Dowse, B.L.; Major-Gen. Sir John Maxwell, (p. 231) K.C.B.; T. A. O'Farrell, J.P.; Surg.-Gen. Edge, C.B.; Col. the Hon. E. Lawless, Col. O'Neill, 3rd R.D.F.; Sir W. Watson, D.L.; Col. Colville Frankland, Major Lowndes, Mr. James F. Darcy, D.L.; Mr. J. H. Pentland, R.H.A.; Mr. Key, A.D.C.; Mr. J. A. Pigott, Mr. Robert Mitchell, Mr. R. H. A. M'Comas, Mr. Major Gorman, Mr. George Healy, Mr. R. Tyson, Mr. R. A. Falconer, Major-Gen. Bunbury, C.B.; Sir Maurice Dockrell, Brig.-Gen. Mills, C.B.; Sir John Ross of Bladensburg, K.C.B.; Sir T. Drew, R.H.A.; Sir G. Moyers, D.L.; the Hon. M. Ponsonby, A.D.C.; Sir William Thomson, Sir C. Cameron, C.B.; Sir L. Ormsby, Col. D. Browne, Mr. R. H. Jephson, Major Knight, Mr. A. E. Kennedy, Mr. W. A. Shea, Mr. Milward Jones, Mr. F. J. Usher, Mr. J. H. Reid, Mr. Henry L. Barnardo, Mr. R. P. Jephson.
'After lunch, which was admirably served,
'The Earl of Meath arose, amidst applause, and said:—"The toast list to-day is short, and contains but one toast, that of The King (applause). His Majesty King Edward occupies a position amongst rulers which is absolutely unique. He not only rules over twelve million square miles, one-sixth of the earth's surface, and governs four hundred millions of subjects of all races, colours, creeds, and conditions of civilisation, from the most advanced to the most backward, but he is a Monarch whose personal qualities are of so distinguished an order that he has come to be regarded as a statesman of the first rank (applause). The world watches His Majesty's movements with breathless interest. Under his masterful touch international difficulties which seem insuperable are solved, political sores are healed. His presence seems to breathe the spirit of peace and of goodwill, so that when he undertakes a journey it needs no strong imagination to picture to oneself the Angel of Peace hovering over his footsteps with healing in her wings (applause). King Edward is no stranger to Ireland; certainly not to Dublin (p. 232) (renewed applause). We knew him and loved him as Prince of Wales, and our affection for him has only increased since he became King, and since we recognised that Ireland and the Irish are as dear to him as he is to us (applause). We are an open-hearted race, and on each occasion that he has visited these shores, his kindly, sympathetic, and genial nature has captivated our hearts. He is just such a monarch as we love (applause). May he be long spared to reign over us and may he often grace this island with his genial and captivating presence." (Loud applause.)
'The toast was duly honoured, and the festive proceedings terminated.
'Inauguration Ceremony by the Duke of Connaught. Brilliant Function.
'Brilliant and strikingly picturesque was the ceremony of unveiling the Royal Dublin Fusiliers' war memorial in St. Stephen's Green, which took place at four o'clock this afternoon. The weather was, fortunately, bright, although inclined to be showery, and no heavy rain fell at any stage to mar the success of the interesting proceedings, which were attended by a very large and distinguished gathering. Long before the ceremony commenced, a great crowd had assembled in the Green and its vicinity.
'The military arrangements were of a most elaborate nature, and thoroughly in keeping with the occasion. The troops of the Dublin Garrison and representative detachments of the Line and Militia battalions of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers were drawn up in the vicinity of the Memorial Arch, and presented a very imposing appearance. There was also a representative gathering of ex-soldiers who had served in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers during the South African war and of members of the Veterans' Club, who were accommodated in special places reserved for them on the outside of the arch. After the troops had been drawn up, the massed bands of the (p. 233) 13th Infantry Brigade played a number of pleasing selections whilst awaiting the arrival of H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught.
'The magnificent monument, which takes the form of a triumphal arch spanning the north-west corner of St. Stephen's Green, was greatly admired by the crowd. The noble archway is undoubtedly a most beautiful and artistic ornament to the city. Twelve feet in width, it springs from rusticated piers, each intersected by a pedestal and a pair of pilasters supporting a Doric entablature. The frieze bears on its four elevations the names in gold of the principal actions in the South African War in which the regiment took part. The entablature is surmounted by an Attic storey broken over the pilasters, and bearing two inscription panels. The front keystone supports a bronze cartouche, flanked by branches of bay bearing the arms of the regiment. Within the arch appear the names of the gallant 212 who perished in the war.
'Loud cheers were raised when, at a quarter to four o'clock, Field-Marshal H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught arrived on the scene and was received with a Royal salute. He was accompanied by the Right Hon. the Earl of Meath, President of the Memorial Committee; General the Lord Grenfell, K.C.B.; Sir George Holmes, K.C.V.O.; the members of the committee, and others who had attended the luncheon at the Shelbourne Hotel. More cheers rose from the expectant gathering when, a few minutes later, their Excellencies the Lord Lieutenant and the Countess of Aberdeen arrived, and were received with a Royal salute. The flag on the Memorial Arch was then half-masted, and the order was given for the troops to "reverse arms" and "rest on their arms reversed." The massed bands of the 13th Infantry Brigade played the "Dead March in Saul," after which "Oft in the Stilly Night" was played by the band of the 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers. The massed bugles of the 13th Infantry Brigade (p. 234) then sounded "The Last Post," and the flag on the Memorial Arch was mast-headed.
'His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant extended a hearty welcome to the Duke of Connaught, and congratulated the Memorial Committee, and every one connected with the undertaking, upon the successful manner in which it had been carried out.
'The Earl of Meath, in requesting his Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught to open the gates of the archway, said:—"Your Royal Highness, we meet to-day for the purpose of honouring the memory of the gallant men belonging to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who sacrificed their lives for King and country in the late South African war. By the aid of subscriptions raised throughout the city and county of Dublin and its neighbourhood, a large sum of money has been collected, and I trust that your Royal Highness will agree with the general opinion that a very handsome and satisfactory memorial has been raised, worthy of the heroes whose fame it is destined to perpetuate. As the only surviving brother of the gracious and mighty Sovereign whose uniform these heroes wore when they died in the defence of their country's interests, and as Colonel of the regiment in which they so faithfully served, it is fit and proper that you, Sir, should have been invited to perform the ceremony of opening the gates of the arch erected to their memory. We who have been actively concerned with the erection of the memorial most sincerely and gratefully thank your Royal Highness for the honour you have done the regiment by thus personally identifying yourself with the effort to keep fresh in the minds of their fellow-countrymen the gallant deeds performed by those heroes whom to-day we delight to honour. Irish gallantry and Irish fidelity to King and country are well known. Wherever British arms have penetrated, there the record of Irish valour need not be sought in brass or stone, but in the soil itself, which has been made (p. 235) sacred to Erin's sons by the knowledge that it holds the mortal remains of hearts which have been faithful to duty and to high ideals of Irish valour even to the gates of death. But, sir, it may safely be said that not in the Peninsula, nor in India—where this regiment under its old title, in a hundred fights never knew the meaning of the word defeat—did Irish soldiers ever cover themselves with greater glory than did the Dublin Fusiliers in the battles of South Africa—Talana, Colenso, Tugela Heights, Hart's Hill, Ladysmith, and Laing's Nek. These glorious contests are commemorated on the memorial arch which your Royal Highness will shortly declare open. Situated in the centre of the Irish capital this memorial, recording the gallant deeds of brave men, will be an ever-present reminder to coming generations of the citizens of Dublin of the obligations of loyalty, of faithfulness to duty and to honour which Ireland demands of all her sons. I have the honour, sir, on behalf of the Dublin Fusilier Memorial Committee, to ask your Royal Highness to declare the gates of the archway to be open."
'As his Royal Highness formally opened the gate, the massed bands played the National Anthem.
'Headed by H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, the troops then marched through the arch with bayonets fixed, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers leading, and the other battalions following in regimental seniority, headed by their bands. Loud cheers were raised as the soldiers passed out into Grafton Street, and proceeded down that thoroughfare, which was thickly lined on either side with spectators. At College Green the troops separated, and marched off to their respective quarters.
'The memorial which was inaugurated to-day forms a handsome addition to the ornamental architecture of the city. It stands in one of the most prominent and most beautiful parts of the city, and is a striking adornment to the main entrance to Stephen's Green Park. The luxuriant (p. 236) trees and foliage of the park form a capital background to the fine imposing arch, the design for which was suggested by Sir Thomas Drew, composed entirely of Irish granite; the height of the memorial is thirty-two feet six inches, and the breadth twenty-seven feet three inches. The ornamental iron gates leading into the principal carriage-drive of the park are cast out of metal taken from guns captured by the British Army from enemies in the past, and suspended over the keystone there will be an interesting trophy consisting of the Crest and Arms of the regiment. In front a large millstone will bear the inscription:—
FORTISSIMIS SUIS MILITIBUS
EBLANA DEDICAVIT. MCMVI.
'In big letters in the frieze appear the names of the important battles in which the battalions of the regiment took part, and on the back of the arch the inscription:—"In memory of the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who died in the service of the country during the South African War, 1899-1902."
'The Earl of Meath, H.M.L., President of the Memorial Committee, and his colleagues, including the Earl of Drogheda, Sir Maurice Dockrell, Sir Thomas Drew, Colonel Gore Lindsay, and Colonel Vernon, are to be congratulated upon the successful result of their indefatigable efforts. When the project was first mooted, it met with enthusiastic support, and the necessary sum of 1800l. was quickly raised to cover the cost of erection.
'The plans were designed by Mr. Howard Pentland, of the Board of Works, in consultation with Sir Thomas Drew, and Messrs. Laverty & Son, Belfast, carried out the contract.
(p. 237) 'The losses of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of this famous regiment in the Boer war totalled 31 officers and 655 non-commissioned officers and men. The glorious and inspiring deeds performed by these two battalions during the terrible engagements which led to the relief of Ladysmith are still fresh in the memory of their proud countrymen. Throughout the whole of the arduous campaign, indeed, the regiment nobly upheld the finest tradition of the Irish soldier, and gained the admiration and respect of friend and foe alike. The 5th Battalion lost, in several minor engagements, two officers and ten men killed, and eight wounded.'
(p. 238) EPILOGUE.
With the opening of the Memorial the curtain drops on the last scene of the drama of the South African war, and the regiment's share in it. To the large majority of those present the ceremony was probably merely a spectacular entertainment, but its real significance was borne fully home to us, even without the sight of more than one poor woman, silently weeping from the re-opening of the never-healed wound in her heart. For there is nothing truer than that a victory is only less terrible than a defeat, and as the sad strains of the wailing music fell on our ears, our thoughts flew back through the many happy years of good-comradeship we had spent with the gallant friends whom we have never ceased to mourn, and whose names will be treasured memories as long as the regiment endures.
But with the opening of the gates by our Colonel-in-Chief a fresh chapter in the history of the regiment commenced, and all that remains for us who share in the triumph of the present is to emulate in the future the noble deeds of those who gave their lives in willing, cheerful sacrifice for their sovereign, their country, and their regiment.