Corporal Edward James Menice

 

Edward James Menice was born on 16 June 1890 at 16 Wylies Place, Belfast, the first of three children of labourer Thomas Menice and his wife Margaret (formerly Ardis). Around 1907 he enlisted in the 2nd Battalion., Royal Irish Rifles (No.8775) – in 1911 he was serving with the battalion at the Citadel Barracks, Dover Castle.

Menice left the regiment soon after and on 14 April 1912 married Eliza Jane Mulgrew at Christ Church in Belfast. The couple had three children over the next five years – Annie, Edward James and Frank Mulgrew.

On the outbreak of war Menice was living at 68 Dundee Street, Shankill, and working for shipbuilder Workman & Clarke as a red leader (a person employed to paint the iron parts of a ship with red lead). He enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 13 August 1914 (No.996). His enlistment papers noted that he was heavily tattooed on his right forearm, with crossed swords on his left forearm.

Menice embarked for France with C Squadron just a week after he enlisted, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne. On 16 September he had his first of many run-ins with military authority when an officer of the headquarters staff of the 2nd Army sentenced him to 14 days Field Punishment No.1 and loss of 28 days pay for an unspecified offence. On 26 July the following year he received 14 days Field Punishment No.2 and lost a day's pay for being absent without leave.

On 2 January 1916 Menice faced a Field General Court Martial changed with being insolent to an NCO. He received two months Field Punishment No.1 (later remitted to 28 days). Seven months later at Flesselles he faced another court martial, this time for being drunk when on duty as night picquet. He received three months’ Field Punishment No.1 and loss of three months' pay.

On 10 February 1917 Menice was posted to the Central Works section of the Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch) – later re-named the Tank Corps to better reflect its real function. Later that month he was made Tank Mechanic 1st Class and acting corporal, and on 23 March was formally transferred to the regiment (No.77146).

Menice continued to clash with the authorities. On 15 May 1917 he was reprimanded for  'failing to pay proper compliment to an officer', and on 9 August lost four days pay for overstaying his leave to the UK. Nevertheless he was promoted to corporal on 11 January 1918.

He returned to the UK from France on 24 January 1919 and was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 27 February. His final discharge came through on 31 March 1920.

 

Menice's tank crew splatter mask, made of leather and chain mail

 

Image kindly provided by Bracken Anderson.