In memoriam

Lance Corporal Randal Edmund McManus

 

 

 

Randal Edmund McManus was born on 21 February 1892 at Market Square, Dungannon, County Tyrone, the last of eight children of merchant and draper Samuel McManus and his wife Jane (formerly Booth). Educated at Dungannon Royal School, he worked as a tailor's cutter and emigrated to Canada, returning home with his brother Hubert on the outbreak of war.

McManus enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron at Dungannon on 31 October 1914 (No. UD/88). His departure from Dungannon to join the squadron was mentioned in the Mid-Ulster Mail of 7 November:

Enthusiastic scenes were witnessed at Dungannon railway station on Monday morning, when six local members of the Ulster Volunteer Force left for Enniskillen to join the extra service squadron of the Royal Inniskilling Dragoons. They were Messrs. Jack Newell, Randall McManus, and Sandy Williamson, A Company, Dungannon Battalion U.V.F., and Messrs. W.J. Armstrong, Garnet Irwin, and Alexander Watt, of B Company. A very large crowd of friends and well-wishers had assembled to give them a hearty send-off, and as the train left the station loud cheers were raised and detonators exploded.

McManus was promoted to lance corporal on 12 February 1915 but on 12 April was demoted after being charged with refusing to obey an order and being absent off parade.

On 27 May 1915 the Tyrone Courier reported that he:

... has met with a rather serious mishap. The squadron is on duty at Magilligan Camp, on the Derry coast, since the Ulster Division parade in Belfast, and it appears that when out skirmishing in the hills Trooper McManus sustained a comminuted fracture of his leg caused by his horse falling and rolling on him. Permission was given for his removal home, and he was motored to Dungannon on Sunday.

McManus embarked for France with his squadron on 6 October 1915. At the time they were serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division. In June 1916 the Inniskilling squadron came together with C and F Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps.

On 22 July 1916 the Mid Ulster Mail reported that:

Trooper Randall McManus ... had a horse shot under him during the recent fighting in France.

On 24 May 1917 he was again promoted to lance corporal.

In September 1917 the regiment was dismounted and most of its men transferred to the infantry. After a brief period of training at the 36th (Ulster) Division's Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, McManus was transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 September and soon after was posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion. He was issued regimental number 41505. He probably saw action with the battalion during the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 and perhaps also during the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918.

On 9 April 1918 the 9th Battalion was on the Ypres front when the Germans began their offensive in that sector. The battalion saw severe fighting between Wulverghem and Kemmel for more than a week and suffered many casualties. McManus was initially listed as missing, but his death was later accepted.

A report in the Tyrone Courier and Dungannon News of 23 May 1918 (below) claimed that he was killed on 15 April by a shot through the head from a sniper while preparing for a counter-attack. According to the 108 Brigade diary:

9th (NIH) R.Ir.Fus. were returned to the Brigade from Kemmel Defences and were moved forward about 9.30 a.m. to a position in support about Spy Farm and Regent Street (N.28.d.). O.C., 9th (NIH) R.Ir.Fus. was ordered to push forward platoons to join up right of our line in Kingsway with original line just W. of Wulverghem. This was carried out successfully by 2 platoons under Capt. T.E.C.Crosbie, M.C.,: but later in the afternoon (about 6.25 p.m.) these platoons were partially surrounded and attacked by enemy and were forced to withdraw with heavy casualties, Captain Crosbie being killed.

Having no known grave, Lance Corporal McManus is commemorated on Panel 140, Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.

 

His brothers Harold and Hubert McManus also served during the war, the latter in the North Irish Horse.

 

 

The postcard above, from the studios of G.H. Pidduck, 109 Donegall Street, Belfast, came with the Red Cross letter. The man standing appears to be Randal McManus, in Royal Irish Fusiliers uniform.

 

Tyrone Courier, 9 December 1915

 

Tyrone Courier and Dungannon News, 23 May 1918

 

 

Memorial images Copyright © Phillip Tardif with all rights reserved as set out in this Use of Material policy. Postcard image and Red Cross letter from my collection. All other images sourced from http://www.dungannonwardead.com.