The War Memorial
Many people are surprised when I tell them I often enjoy spending time walking through graveyards. Why? Well, names on graves have held a fascination for me ever since as a lad of seven, I stood with my family amongst the many ancient tombstones in Merridale Cemetery to witness the interment of my grandmother on a bleak January day in 1944.
By now on my many visits, I have come to realise how each of the thousands of burials there has contributed not only to the history of Wolverhampton but also to the preservation of what I would call “Gods Little Acres”. Old Merridale Cemetery.
Over the years I have discovered many interesting interments and the sometimes fascinating stories that go with them, this is just one of them. Regarding one of the 116 British soldiers killed during the Easter Uprising who is buried here in Merridale.
The War Graves
If you use the small gate to the Cemetery situated along the untidy lane which leads from Aspen Way, then from the gate continue along the path until you come to an “island”. This is the War Graves Plot for the 2nd World War.
Men from all the British Services are interred here and the crests carved on the headstones are very interesting. Of particular note are the crossed kukris of the Gurkhas on the memorial at the front left-hand side.
Opposite the circle of well-maintained War graves, you will see steps that lead up to a higher level, walk up these steps stopping at the fourth grave, on the left.
The Head Stone
You will see on what is a Royal Airforce headstone these two inscriptions
SERJEANT T.W.BANTING, ROYAL AIRFORCE, 4th OCTOBER 1919 AGE 30.
Also in memory of
PTE. F.C. BANTING S. STAFFS RGT, KILLED IN ACTION AT DUBLIN 29th APRIL 1916 AGE 19.
The lower inscription on the headstone commemorates, Private F.G.Banting of the South Staffs Regiment who was killed in action during the “Easter Rebellion” in Dublin.
Thomas William Banting and Frederick Charles Banting were brothers sons of Robert of Elizabeth Banting of 265 Dunstall Road Wolverhampton.
Serjeant Thomas William Banting of the Royal Air Force Motor Transport. Died in Cornelia Hospital , Poole, from burns to his face hands and knees sustained whilst serving as a motor transport driver. Date of Death 4th October 1919 age 30.
Private Frederick Charles Banting killed in action on the 29th April in Dublin, County Dublin Ireland. Buried in Grangegorman, Military Cemetery, Cabra, Dublin, County Dublin. plot C.E. 612.
The Subject Of This Post
The Easter Rising is also known as the Easter Rebellion, an armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week, April 1916.
The Rising was launched by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish the independent Irish Republic while the United Kingdom was fighting the First World War.
This began on Easter Monday 1916 During the Great War, when the Sinn Fein (“ourselves alone”) rebels took over the centre of Dublin.
Of the 485 people killed in the Easter Rising: 54 per cent were civilians, 30 per cent were British military including and police and 16 per cent were Irish rebels.
More than 2,600 were wounded. Many of the civilians were killed or wounded by British artillery and machine guns or were mistaken for rebels. Others were caught in the crossfire in the crowded city.
To his memory, the following is a first-hand account of the conflict described in detail and posted later by an old employee of Manders Varnish Works for the company magazine.
Something Was Afoot
The first intimation of anything out of order taking place was on Easter Monday night when unusual activity seemed to prevail among the Orderly Room Officials of the various battalions, together with whole batches of conflicting stories.
According to rumour we were going everywhere, from the equator to the North Pole.
At just turned midnight we realised something out of the ordinary was taking place, for the alarm was sounded and everybody was “wound up.” Ammunition was issued and something was afoot. We paraded in full marching order plus a blanket.
On The move
We marched out of St Albans at 4.00 a.m en route for Berkhampstead where we arrived at about 8-30a.m. in the railway yard where the troop train had a permanent place for cases of emergency.
Forty-eight hours rations were given out in the form of five biscuits and one tin of bully beef.
All this procedure seemed to coincide with a training “stunt” which was to have taken place just about this time, the idea being to, strike camp, march away, entrain, detrain, and march back, therefore we did not treat this at all seriously.
At length the train started and we soon realised that we were really going “somewhere!”
At Rugby, the train stopped for a few minutes during which time I asked the engine-driver where the train was taking us to. He was a very good-natured sort of chap and said he didn’t know, so everything seemed to be a mystery.
Anyway, we got on the move again and proceeded through Lichfield, Stafford, Crewe, etc., and eventually crossed several streets in Liverpool, finally stopping at the docks.
Here we boarded a fairly large boat, the name of which I forgot to notice, then spent several hours onboard before sailing, as we had to wait for darkness to set in.
At last we sailed, and up till now it had not leaked out where we were bound for.
At this stage, one of the crew cheered us up immensely by telling us that thousands of rebels had seized Dublin and that we were going over there.
I have already mentioned that we were on a fairly large boat, but we passed by a close four-funnel monster lying out in the Mersey, which made our boat look like a rowing boat. I learned it was the Mauretania.
The passage across was void of any occurrence, the most exiting pastime was in trying to keep warm.
Seeing that there were about 1,000 of us onboard you may guess that quite a big percentage had to spend the night on deck, which wasn’t exactly like being in a feather bed.
At 5-25 a.m. by the clock, we entered Kingstown Harbour, and we were met by a braided official in a motor launch, who said that we couldn’t disembark for a considerable time.
We at length landed and were put on a disused landing stage, where we were allowed to rest.
The people of Kingstown were very good to us they gave us anything we wanted; I think they were very pleased to see us come.
The day wore on uneventfully excepting for the occasional arrival of an ambulance van from Dublin, which is about seven miles from Kingstown.
The Notts, and Derby’s accompanied us over in other boats, but through being stationed previously at Watford, did not have to do the early morning march the previous day, consequently, they were fresher than we, and had to proceed into Dublin first.
At about tea time we were taken to a large empty hotel, presumably to spend the night, this, however, was too good to be true, for we had hardly got our blankets out of our packs when we had to come out again to proceed to Dublin.
When a little over half way the order was passed along to load rifles.
A few of the latest recruits had never handled live ammunition before and one of them fired one round, but luckily nobody was hurt.
We arrived at a point where a house was on fire so we guessed we were in Dublin.
We had about an hours sleep on the Barrack Square at Beggar’s Bush Barracks.
We Join The Conflict
Then In the early hours of the morning, we relieved the Notts and Derby’s who were holding this particular district and had suffered rather heavy losses.
Bombing raids were carried out during the day during which one of our officers received a bullet in the face which prevented him from taking any further action.
This was the Mount Street district of Dublin and is a good class district.
The majority of the residents had cleared out when the trouble started, and I should say that they did so in a hurry for in one house I entered the table was left as it stood after a hurried meal.
This part of the city was cleared by the following day (Thursday) and on Friday morning we moved further into Dublin.
The method of procedure was single file on each footpath as close to the houses as possible.
We entered the Trinity College by the side entrance and stayed in the grounds for some hours resting.
Later in the day we moved up to what turned out to be the stiffest obstacle of all.
As we left Trinity College by the opposite side, we ran into a very hot shop.
We had to go across the bridge, over the river, and under the railway bridge which would make a space of about fifty yards to get across.
The Last Stand
Liberty Hall, the headquarters of the Transport Workers’ Union, which was a rebel force overlooks this space, and the bridge is in direct view from along the Liffey Bank, also from Sackville or O’Connel Street.
Strange to say we got across with about one casualty, the space was covered quicker than the sprint record.
By a roundabout road, we moved across the Parnell Street end of O’Connell(Sackville) Street (Where the main part of the recent operations had taken place) to the top of Parnell Street, where the later raids were conducted.
Battalion headquarters were established under some stairs in a small doorway.
The district was now known as North King Street and was rather a low class-quarter, practically every house being infested with rebels.
Snipers showed great activity in this district and on account of the approach to the scene of the fighting being very dangerous an armoured car was used to convey the troops.
The reader may gather an idea of the operations by using the letter T as a plan.
At the bottom of the upright are battalion headquarters and the horizontal top indicates the rebel positions.
The stem of the T represents Capel Street at the top of which the cab stand was fired by the rebels thereby lighting Capel Street and making safe approach impossible.
The distance from battalion headquarters to the rebels was about 150 yards, which is absolutely straight. the whole of the party would rush in and take possession of the houses.
About twenty men were conveyed per journey, each party being detailed to attack a certain house.
On reaching the house two of the party would jump out to clear away into the building with axes, etc., this being done the whole of the party would rush in and take possession of the house.
Innumerable things were used to make barricades across the streets, such as mattresses, boxes, carts, in fact, anything that was handy. In one place I saw a piano used for this purpose.
The fighting in this district continued incessantly until the unconditional surrender of the rebels, which took place on the Sunday following the capture of their leader.
Sixteen of the Rising’s leaders were executed in May 1916, including James Connoly, seen above.
The insurrection, the nature of the executions, and subsequent political developments ultimately contributed to an increase in popular support and simply advanced independence from Great Britain (1922 ) with the exception of Ulster.