Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Second Lieutenant Samuel Warner



Samuel Warner was born on 21 May 1900 at Dromreague, Bantry, County Cork, the sixth of nine children of farmer (later grocer and shopkeeper) Samuel Henry Warner and his wife Hester Anne (née Jagoe). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living in Barrack Street, Bantry, with his parents and siblings.

Warner enlisted in the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers at Cork on 6 January 1917, reporting for duty at Waterford a week later (No.GS/24370). He gave his age as 18 years 7 months (his true age was two years less than that) and his occupation as student (he was studying at Dublin's Wesley College). It was noted that he had tattoo marks on both forearms. Posted to the 6th Reserve Cavalry Regiment on 17 January, twelve days later he was transferred to the North Irish Horse (No.2356).

Soon after, however, Warner's true age was discovered and on 1 March 1917 he was discharged, 'having made a mis-statement as to age on enlistment, soldier under 17 years of age at date of application for discharge' (paragraph 392(vi)(a), King's Regulations).

Wesley resumed his education, studying engineering at Dublin's Trinity College, but on 25 April 1917 he sought a commission in the Royal Flying Corps, enlisting at South Farnborough on 7 May (No.80084). He gave his age as 18 years 2 months, a year more than his true age. A week later he became an officer cadet, training at Denham Camp, Buckinghamshire, and at Oxford. On 16 August 1917 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and was posted to the General List of the Royal Flying Corps.

On 16 January 1918 Warner transferred to the infantry and was posted to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He embarked for France on 14 April 1918, where he was attached to the 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.

The 12th Battalion saw much action during the Advance to Victory offensive from late August 1918. On 1 October it took part in an attack on Hill 41 in Belgium. The battalion diary for 1 October 1918 states:

Battalion in line running from K.18.c.9.1 to L.13 central. ... 'D' Company attacked Martell Farm and were repulsed by heavy Machine-gun fire.

According to the war diary of 108th Brigade:

In conjunction with [the attack by the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers on Hill 41] a Coy. of the 12th R.I. Rifles endeavoured to advance on Martell Farm ... from the N.W. working with their Right flank on the trench running along the Northern and Eastern edge of Hill 41, but as the 1st R. Ir. Fus. were unable to advance beyond the line at Twig Farm ... this Coy. came under very heavy M.G. fire from three directions, viz. Northern slope of Hill 41, Martell Farm ... and Crayot Farm ... which deemed it impossible to remain on the line they had reached which was about half-way to their objective, they were subsequently withdrawn to their original line.

Warner was killed on that day. The 12th Battalion's commanding officer, Lieut-Colonel William Richard Goodwin, wrote to Warner's father:

I regret that owing to continuous fighting, I have been unable to write to you sooner, to express to you my deepest sympathy for your great loss. Your Son did splendid work with the Battalion especially on the day that he was killed.

He proved himself an exceptionally fearless and Keen Soldier and is a great loss to us as such besides being extremely well liked by everyone. I hope the fact that he died so bravely in action will help in a measure to soften your blow.

The 12th Battalion Chaplain J. Herbert Orr wrote:

You will doubtless have already heard from the War Office the sad news of your son's death in action, but I should like to add a few details which may be of melancholy interest to you. Your son's Company in our advance into Belgium, was ordered to attack a wood which was strongly held by enemy machine gunners, and as our men went forward your son with supreme coolness and contempt of personal danger, went on in front of them, pointing out the best positions and urging them forward. In his exposed position he could hardly escape, and just as he had got his men up to the wood, he was hit in the heart by a machine gun bullet and died instantaneously.

The fact that he can have suffered no pain must be some consolation to you in your great loss. We buried him close to the wood which he had so gallantly attacked and captured, and erected a Cross at the head of the grave, with his name, regiment, and date of his death inscribed on it. The spot is about a mile from the town of Dadizeele, between Ypres and Courtrai in Belgium and can easily be located. His personal effects will be sent on to you at the earliest opportunity. I cannot tell you how deeply I and all the officers and men of the Battalion sympathise with you in your tragic bereavement. We feel we have lost not only one of our most promising officers but a loyal comrade and faithful friend, and we know that his place will be hard to fill in our ranks & in our hearts. Will you please accept this short but sincere expression of our most heartfelt sympathy.

Warner was buried near where he fell (map reference 28.L.13.a.4.6), the location marked with a cross. After the war his body was exhumed – he was found to be wearing Royal Dublin Fusiliers buttons – and re-buried in the Dadizeele New British Cemetery, Moorslede, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, grave IV.B.5. His gravestone inscription reads:



On 7 January 1919 Rifleman Rupert Wells wrote to Warner's father:

I am enclosing you a few things belonging to your late son Lt. Warner, which I thought you would like to have. This is the first opportunity I've had of sending them on to you as at the time of his death I myself was wounded so had no chance of forwarding them on to you. I am now home on leave so thought I would let you have these few things. I was his servant. We buried him at a place called Rochester Farm, Dadizeele. Trusting you will receive this safe.

The articles he sent were "3 photos, a dried flower & a bit of ribbon".

Later that year his father wrote to the War Office seeking information on the whereabouts of Samuel's kit and personal effects, and details of his burial place. Inquiries were made, including this entry on Warner's file on 29 June:

No.42151, Rfn. R. Wells has been interviewed, and he states that the time 2/Lieut. S. Warner was buried, the Battalion was coming out of action, and as there was a great amount of confusion, it is very probable that the personal effects of the Officer were not recovered before the body was buried.

J. Herbert Orr told the War Office on 7 June:

I beg to state that 2/Lieut. Warner was buried by his own men immediately after the action in which he was killed. I myself afterwards visited the grave erected a cross and conducted a short service. At the time I did not enquire about his personal belongings and understood they had been handed in to the Orderly Room of the 12th RIR (the Battalion in which he was serving). Perhaps an enquiry to the Adjt. of that Unit or the quartermaster about his heavier kit (Valise etc.) might elicit some information. I may say that quite recently I again visited 2/Lieut. Warner's grave and took a photograph which I am sending to his father.


At least one of Warner's brothers also served in the war. William Thomas Warner, a sergeant in the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, died of wounds in France on 1 December 1917.


Image kindly provided by Mick McCann at the British War Graves site.