The 6th Battalion Royal Irish Regiment was formed at Clonmel on 6th September 1914 as part of the second 100,000 troops, generally known as "K2", required by Lord Kitchener.
It was attached to the 47th Brigade and to the 16th (Irish) Division. In order to bring it up to its Battalion strength of 1000, it was joined in March 1915 by a company (250) of the Guernsey Militia.It was based at Fermoy until September 1915 from where it was moved to Aldershot in Hampshire.The Battalion was then mobilised and arrived in Le Havre, France in December 1915.
During the Battle of the Somme (July - November 1916) the Battalion gained the reputation of being a formidable fighting unit. It saw action near Guillemont on 3rd September 1916 at which stage it was "in good order, with pipes playing". 311 casualties occurred in one day of fighting and it was then moved to Carnoy to rest.
On 9th September of the same year the Battalion, along with the 8th Royal Munster Battalion, made a frontal attack on trenches near Ginchy. The enemy, however, were well prepared with machine guns on the parapets, the wire virtually uncut by the British bombardment. The Brigade was relieved at dawn on 11th September and entrained to Bailleul on 21st September 1916. It is thought that Maurice was wounded in one of the above two engagements. It would appear that the Battalion then stayed in the area between St. Omer, Ypres and Lille; and during the build-up period to the Battle of Messines (7th June - 10th November 1917) it actually camped at Mètèren.
The 16th Division, along with 11 other Infantry Divisions was involved in the Battle for the Messines Ridge. This action was meticulously planned by General Sir Herbert Plummer. Prior to the start of the actual assault, the Allied Artillery undertook a 17-day bombardment. In the meantime, tunnels were dug and charges placed under the Germans' positions. At 3.10 am on 7th June 1916 the mines were detonated, literally blowing the Germans off the ridge.
It is thought that Maurice was wounded on 6th June, during the exchange of artillery fire along Wytschaete Ridge, as it was on this part of the Messines Ridge that the 16th Division was deployed. He would have been moved back to a casualty Clearing Station at Bailleul with the intention of moving him on to a Base Hospital in St. Omer. Unfortunately, before he could be moved to St. Omer, he died and is buried in the Civil cemetery at Bailleul. The Military section is an extension of the Civil Cemetery.
In this relatively quiet part of the battlefield, Maurice would have received a burial with Full Military Honours and, being from an Irish Regiment, would have had a lament played by a piper - probably "Flowers of the Forest" or "40 Shades of Green".
Maurice is buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension Plot 3 Row C Grave 237 Nord, FRANCE.
This article was written by H. V. Howard. Maurice Duggan was a Great Uncle of Mr. Howards.
Author: Val Howard