I posted a while back about some additional information I’d found on our grand-uncle, Patrick Sheehan, who is buried in the Sheehan family plot in the Fenor Churchyard. Patrick was the brother of Ellen Sheehan, and of my grandfather, Nicholas Sheehan. His gravestone indicates that he was a member of the Machine Gun Corps in the British Army in World War I, and his grave is listed in the Commonwealth War Graves directory. The medal card I found online in April didn’t really provide much beyond confirming that Patrick did see active duty on the continent, so I contacted Graham Sacker at the Machine Gun Corps database web site to see if he might have any additional information on Patrick. The response was a bit disappointing (a large number of British military records, likely including Patrick’s, were destroyed when a German bombing raid struck the War Office repository in 1940), but provided useful background on the MGC, and how Patrick may have ended up in the corps:
All that I can say with any degree of certainty is that he appears to have first served with the Machine Gun Corps on the 10th March 1917. This was a specialist unit which did not directly recruit. All its soldiers came as fully trained men from other units. I can make an educated guess that Patrick previously served with the Army Service Corps. He might well have been a wagon driver. These men were in much demand within the MGC, which had a very large Transport Section used to bring supplies of ammunition, spare parts, food, general kit and water, from dumps some distance behind the front lines. His number falls within a group of such men who all came over on the above date.
Graham also suggested I check for a death certificate in Ireland, which might provide some additional information about the cause and location of Patrick’s death. A search of Irish online records provided nothing- but when I checked the death indexes for England and Wales, I found a record for a Patrick Sheehan of the correct age, who died in the fourth quarter of 1919 in Grantham in Lincolnshire. Grantham just happens to have been the location of the Machine Gun Corps training camp and depot, as well as a World War I era military hospital. Channel 4’s Time Team visited the site in 2012:
I won’t know for sure until I get a copy of the original death certificate, which I’ve ordered from the General Records Office, but it certainly seems likely that this Patrick could be my grand-uncle. I’ll post an update as soon as I receive the certificate.