28917 PRIVATE SAMUEL MEEKE
2nd Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
DIED HOME 19-1-19
Interred in Derrykeighan Old Graveyard
Samuel was a prisoner in the most notorious of the German prison camps and was forced to work in the sulphur mines. He was released after the Armistice, but died a fortnight after arriving home. He was buried in Derrykeighan Old Graveyard and was the son of John Meeke, a gardener to Montgomery’s of Benvarden. Another son, John, had a very interesting career in the Army. Private John Meeke, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was the first man to render assistance to the late Major Willie Redmond, (Irish Brigade) and was severely wounded in the side, was home on leave in August 1917, having recovered from his injury. He enlisted on 14th March 1916, and went to France in July. It was at the Battle of Messines on the 7th of June 1917 that he won the Military Medal for gallant conduct and devotion to duty. The Irish Brigade was on the left of the Ulster Division, and the combined infantry of the Irish regiments had made a successful charge. The Germans threw up a heavy barrage to prevent our reserves coming up. With 2,400 British heavy guns hammering away at the German positions, not to mention the German barrage, the ground in front of the British front line trench across which our men had charged, was literally ploughed up with shells. Although it was daylight it was impossible to see more than a few yards ahead, so thick was the smoke of shells and fire. It was only when the flare lights lit up the scene that a portion of the battlefield could be seen. Private Meeke, who was a stretcher bearer, was in the front line trench waiting on the order to go over the top to assist the wounded when the bombardment less- ened. He happened to see Major Redmond fall, and voluntarily went over the top, made to render assistance, taking shelter in shell holes and other cover on the way. He arrived at the Major’s side without injury, and found him seriously wounded in the left knee and right arm at the elbow and weak from loss of blood. Major Redmond had hounded his superior officers until they relented and allowed him to go over the top with his men, but only to go to a certain point and then he had to return. He had almost reached this point when he was injured. Shells were dropping all around, and the rattle of machine-guns added to the danger of the task. He had one of the wounds dressed, and was working at the other, when a piece of shrapnel struck him on the left side, inflicting a serious wound. This did not deter him from his work, which he completed despite his injury. Soon there was a lull in the bombardment. Another “Tommy”, with two German prisoners appeared, and Major Redmond being placed on a stretcher was carried to the dressing station by the German prisoners, accompanied by their two escorts.