• 10 October 2014

Project to commemorate Irish Church Lads’ sacrifice in the Great War

The centenary of the outbreak of war is an appropriate time to remember the sacrifices of the brave men of the Irish Church Lads Brigade. The Church Lads’ & Church Girls’ Brigade’s planned project has a number of elements – the provision of a War Memorial Banner, the publication of a book, research into the life of a soldier and the design of a commemorative badge to be worn in uniform.

In 1921, the St. Martin’s Banner was dedicated and placed into the care of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey in memory of those who had been killed. At the time, members of the Brigade were asked to contribute one penny towards its cost.

Our members will be asked to contribute one pound to provide a new banner in memory of Irish Church Lads who were killed. The banner will be dedicated at a special service and in the ensuing years will have a treasured place at important Brigade occasions. It is hoped that the banner will be displayed in parish churches throughout Ireland.

A book, ‘Irish Church Lads in the Great War’, is to be published. Much is already known about C.L.B. men from this island, such as the story of Sergeant Major Harry Hamilton of the 16th K.R.R.C. who, hearing the cries of a wounded colleague, left the trenches to rescue his comrade, was then himself seriously wounded and sent back to a hospital in England to recuperate. This brave soldier was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

However, our knowledge is far from complete. Recently, quite by accident, the story of George Bolster from Cork emerged following contact with a family member. Following his father’s death, George emigrated to Canada and settled in St. Mary’s, a small town near London, Ontario. He enlisted and returned to Europe with the 3rd Battalion Canadian Machine Gun Corps and was killed in action in Arras, France, on 26th August 1918.

Pictured right, George Bolster’s name was inscribed on the St. Nicholas’ Church War Memorial in Cork but, until contact with his family, it had not been possible to ascertain whether he had been a member of the Church Lads’ Brigade. It is hoped that other families may come forward and help identify servicemen who had previously been in the C.L.B. 

The Brigade will be organising two competitions. One will require our lads and girls to carry out research to learn about the life of a Great War soldier from their own parish or family. Another will ask members to produce a design for a commemorative badge. The winning entry will be used to manufacture a woven badge for uniform and will be worn throughout the period 2014 to 2018. 

Do you have a story to contribute to ‘Irish Church Lads in the Great War’? Please get in touch!

Contact Johnny Conn E: johnnyconn@hotmail.com or Tel: 07925353107