Michael Geraghty
1897 - 1918

Researched and written by Carole Jones

Michael GERAGHTY was born in 1897 at Walters Buildings, Triangle Terrace, Triangle Road, Chasetown, and was one of twelve children born to Michael GERAGHTY and his wife Ann (nee NEENAN).

Michael’s father Michael GERAGHTY (Senior) was baptised on 11 October 1858 at Cam and Kilthomas Roman Catholic Church, Roscommon, Ireland, and was one of nine children born to Patrick GERAGHTY and his wife Bridget Carroll. Michael (Senior) arrived from Ireland in 1881 and on Census night 3rd/4th April 1881 was boarding close to the docks at 27 Regent Street, Liverpool. He was 23 years of age and listed as a farmer’s son. He had probably not long been in England and possibly travelled with 22 year old Michael DOYLE, who was also a farmer’s son from the same village.

Extract from the 1881 census

Extract from the 1881 census

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1881 census transcript

1881 census transcript

Extract from the 1891 census

Extract from the 1891 census

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1891 census transcript

1891 census transcript

By the time of the 1901 Census another four children have arrived including Michael (Junior) in 1897. The two GERAGHTY boarders had moved on but the family now had another boarder by the name of Thomas CAFFERTY. The family were living Triangle Terrace, Triangle Road.

Daughter Winifred age 11 months on the 1901 Census died in the March Quarter of 1902.

Extract from the 1901 census

Extract from the 1901 census

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1901 census transcript

1901 census transcript

At the time of the 1911 Census the family were still in Triangle and another three children had joined the family. Ann stated she had had 12 children two of which died. At 14 Michael (Junior) was a coal mine Banksman along with his brother Mark. His father Michael (Senior) worked below ground as a Hewer.

Extract from the 1911 census

Extract from the 1911 census

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1911 census transcript

1911 census transcript

Michael was 17 when war broke out and although in a reserved occupation may have got carried away with the romance of fighting for King and Country. His parents tried to dissuade him from enlisting but he was adamant that he would join. Unfortunately, Michael’s exact enlistment date is not known but from his medal card it would appear he was not in France until after 31st December 1915. He first entered as a Private in the South Staffs Regiment (No. 1575), later transferring to the 10th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment (No. 40064).

British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Card for Michael Geraghty

British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Card for Michael Geraghty

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Michael was killed in action on 23rd March 1918 probably during the “Spring Offensive called Operation MICHAEL mounted by the Germans on 21st March. Around 10,000 guns fired over a million shells in five hours against Lieutenant General BYNG’s Third and General Gough's Fifth Armies before 47 German divisions attacked. Using infiltration tactics the German storm troopers by-passed pockets of resistance and broke through the British trench system, leaving the following waves of troops to 'mop up' any resistance. Lacking reserves, Gough's line soon gave way and by the evening of 23 March the Germans had advanced 19 kilometres (12 miles)”.
{Extract from the diary of Captain Ernest Ambler, 1st Battalion, The Prince of Wales's Own © West Yorkshire Regiment}

Unfortunately only Michael’s medal card details are available as the rest of his army records did not survive the bombing during WW2.

Below is a map of the Second Battle of the Somme. The red dotted line shows the approximate area where the army was on 21st March 1918 and where Michael was most probably killed.

Map of The Second Battle of the Somme

Map of The Second Battle of the Somme

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Great Britain Great War Casualties 1914-1918

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Soldiers Killed in the Great War 1914 – 1918 – soldier details

{ Soldiers Died in the Great War database © Naval and Military Press Ltd 2006 }

{Soldiers Died in the Great War database © Naval and Military Press Ltd 2006}

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Soldiers Killed in the Great War 1914 – 1918 – soldier details

Name: GERAGHTY, MICHAEL
Initials: M
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private

Regiment/Service: Worcestershire Regiment
Unit: 10th Bn.

Date of Death: 23/03/1918
Service No: 40064
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/ Memorial Reference: Bay 6
Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL
Cemetery: ARRAS MEMORIAL
Country: France
Locality: Pas de Calais

{Description of Michael Geraghty © Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org/)}

Visiting Information:
The Panel (or Bay) numbers quoted at the end of each entry relate to the panels dedicated to the Regiment served with. In some instances where a casualty is recorded as attached to another Regiment, his name may alternatively appear within their Regimental Panels (or Bays). Please refer to the on-site Memorial Register Introduction to determine the alternative Panel (or Bay) numbers if you do not find  the name within the quoted Panel (or Bay). Wheelchair access to the memorial is possible via an alternative entrance at the rear of Faubourg-d'Amiens Cemetery.

Location Information:
The Arras Memorial is in the Faubourg-d'Amiens Cemetery, which is in the Boulevard du General de Gaulle in the western part of the town of Arras. The cemetery is near the Citadel, approximately 2 kms due west of the railway station.

Historical Information:
The French handed over Arras to Commonwealth forces in the spring of 1916 and the system of tunnels upon which the town is built were used and developed in preparation for the major offensive planned for April 1917. The Commonwealth section of the FAUBOURG D'AMIENS CEMETERY was begun in March 1916, behind the French military cemetery established earlier. It continued to be used by field ambulances and fighting units until November 1918. The cemetery was enlarged after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields and from two smaller cemeteries in the vicinity. The cemetery contains 2,651 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. In addition, there are 30 war graves of other nationalities, most of them German. During the Second World War, Arras was occupied by United Kingdom forces headquarters until the town was evacuated on 23 May 1940. Arras then remained in German hands until retaken by Commonwealth and Free French forces on 1 September 1944. The cemetery contains seven Commonwealth burials of the Second World War. The graves in the French military cemetery were removed after the First World War to other burial grounds and the land they had occupied was used for the construction of the Arras Memorial and Arras Flying Services Memorial. The ARRAS MEMORIAL commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918, the eve of the Advance to Victory, and have no known grave. The most conspicuous events of this period were the Arras offensive of April-May 1917, and the German attack in the spring of 1918. Canadian and Australian servicemen killed in these operations are commemorated by memorials at Vimy and Villers-Bretonneux. A separate memorial remembers those killed in the Battle of Cambrai in 1917. The ARRAS FLYING SERVICES MEMORIAL commemorates nearly 1,000 airmen of the Royal Naval Air Service, the Royal Flying Corps, and the Royal Air Force, either by attachment from other arms of the forces of the Commonwealth or by original enlistment, who were killed on the whole Western Front and who have no known grave. Both cemetery and memorial were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, with sculpture by Sir William Reid Dick. The memorial was unveiled by Lord Trenchard, Marshal of the Royal Air Force on the 31 July 1932 (originally it had been scheduled for 15 May, but due to the sudden death of French President Doumer, as a mark of respect, the ceremony was postponed until July).{Information about the Arras Memorial © Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org/)}

The Arras Memorial - Michael's name is recorded on Bay 6

The Arras Memorial - Michael's name is recorded on Bay 6

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Michael's name is also recorded on Pillar 6 of the Thiepval Memorial to the missing,

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing

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Plan of the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing - Michael's name is inscribed on Pillar 6

Plan of the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing - Michael's name is inscribed on Pillar 6

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2ND BATTLE OF THE SOMME

During World War I, the Second Battle of the Somme, the first major German offensive in more than a year, began on the western front on 21st March 1918. After five hours of bombardment from more than 9,000 pieces of German artillery, the poorly prepared British Fifth Army was forced into retreat in France's Somme River region. For a week, the Germans pushed toward Paris, shelling the city from a distance of some 80 miles with their "Big Bertha" cannons. However, the poorly supplied German troops soon became exhausted, and the Allies halted their advance as French artillery knocked out the German guns besieging Paris. On April 2, U.S. General John J. Pershing sent American troops down into the trenches to help repulse the German offensive. It was the first major deployment of U.S. troops in World War I.

By the time the Somme offensive ended, on April 4, the Germans had advanced almost 40 miles, inflicted some 200,000 casualties, and captured 70,000 prisoners and more than 1,000 Allied guns. However, the Germans suffered nearly as many casualties as their enemies and lacked the fresh reserves and supplies enjoyed by the Allies following the American entrance into the fighting. Several thousand American troops fought alongside the British and French in the defence of Paris.

The last great German offensive was launched on March 21, 1918, with Operation "Michel". It was opened with an unprecedented 6,000 gun barrage which delivered a lethal gas attack deep into Allied lines. At one point, the Germans advanced 14 miles in one day, more than at any other time during the fighting in the West. During the first six weeks of fighting, the Allies lost 350,000 casualties, but more troops were rushed in from across the channel, and American units began arriving for the first time.

The attack was quickly followed by a second offensive at Ypres, but this was halted after a brief threat against the channel ports. Another German blow to Allied lines fell with the twin operations "Blucher" and "Yorck," whose combined might drove south toward Paris, occupying Soissons and nearly cutting off Reims. The spearhead of their advance penetrated as far as Chateau-Thierry, only 56 miles from Paris. This operation however, suffered from the same flaw as many which had preceded it. Ludendorf had not planned for this offensive to succeed. It had been intended as a feint in order to draw French troops away from the main offensive to the north, and so the astounding achievements were not exploited because inadequate reserves were available. Still, the Allied situation was very grim, and the Allies were forced to issue a "backs to the wall" order.
{Extract from the websire "This Day in History" (Histroy Channel) http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/}

Michael Geraghty.jpg

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Reference, item and source

1.   Extract from the 1881 census - Ancestry
2.   Extract from the 1891 census - Ancestry
3.   Extract from the 1901 census - Ancestry
4.   Extract from the 1911 census - Ancestry
5.   Michael Geraghy's WW1 Medal Card  © Ancestry
6.   Map of the Second Battle of the Somme © pinterest website (https://guerrayhistoria.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/ww_i_the_somme_-_1918.gif)
7.   Arras War Memorial © European Tourist Guide website (http://www.euro-t-guide.com/See_Photo/France/NW_Lille_Arras/Faubourg-Damiens_Cemetery_2011_11.jpg)
8.   Arras War Memorial © European Tourist Guide website (http://www.euro-t-guide.com/See_Photo/France/NW_Lille_Arras/Faubourg-Damiens_Cemetery_2011_32.jpg
9.   Plan of the bays on the Arras War Memorial © Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org/)
10.  Photograph of the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing © World War One Battlefields website (http://www.ww1battlefields.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/somme-thiepval/thiepmemm1.jpg)
11.  Plan of the pillars on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing © Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org/)
12.  Certificate commemorating Michael Geraghty © Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org/)