Writings of James Meehan
Some of the writings of James Meehan written for the Cork Examiner in 1916 under the pen name Patsy.
The same officer attracted my attention on the morning of the 9th of May. The battalion had been selected to lead the assault and as the hour for the bombardment to start gradually drew nearer he was up and about having a word here and there with his men and was in fine spirit. The men knew what the battalion could achieve given adequate support by our artillery. 5a.m. and all hell broke loose. I shall never forget that day. The terrific din, the incessant witch like shrieking and the violent destructive explosions of shells in our immediate vicinity, caused a nerve-wracking and a mental anxiety that is almost unbelievable. Each moment I expected a heavy shell to lob right in on us and put us down for the count. We hugged the parapets as close and as low as we could and wished for the time to race by so that we could leave the trenches. How I longed to get out of that trench. It was damming to one’s nerves. Then a young officer with a sweep of his hand and "follow me men" was away over the parapet to lead the attack on the German line. His platoon scrambled over after him on to that field of death and destruction
We reached the German parapets together and lay alongside each other. Contrary to all expectations the enemy trenches were firm and very little damage appeared to have been done by our artillery. This did not deter the spirit of a cool lad. His age would be anywhere between 20 and 25, clean limbed and well built. I watched with the utmost astonishment his demeanour during those trying moments. He was still smoking and calmly surveying the scene in front of him. He uttered something about the barbed wire not being effectively destroyed and of charging the second German line. Bullets were whipping around us in a most merciless fashion while the incessant shrieking and exploding of shells caused a panacea of feeling that is indescribable and through it all he was the same imperturbable youngster. He amazed me with such a visible display of coolness under such circumstances. He now grasped his rifle and opened and closed the bolt a few times to ensure it’s smooth working. Having done so he loaded and got to business. The traverse on his left was full of German soldiers who were full of fight and pretty well protected from exploding fire. He shifted a few yards where a better opportunity presented itself and opened fire. The lying position not proving satisfactory he exposed himself even more so to the terrible hail of bullets that were spitting viciously around us by getting up to the kneeling position. How he lived for the time he did in that storm of lead is a wonder. He died a painless death. I shall always keep a hallowed spot for that youngster in my memory. He was Lieutenant Sealy-King, of 2nd Batt. R M Fusiliers killed on the German parapets at the action in front of the Rue de Bois on 9th May 1915. A cool lad and a brave man. Peace be his