Grandad used to give us snippets of information about his life but never wanted to talk about it.  We know he had a horrible childhood.  He could remember being carried by his mother, who he described as blonde and blue eyed.  He was around 6 when his mother died and his father later re-married.  His stepmother hated him and his brother, Joe.  He ran away to the Army as soon as he was old enough.

9th August 1895 – Born in Trim Workhouse, County Meath, Ireland.  Eldest son of  Catherine Mangan (née Adams).  The father’s name is not on the original birth entry in the civil record although we know him to be James Mangan.  James and Catherine were married in November 1895.

1901 Census – Age 5.  Recorded as being with his father, James, in Brannockstown, Trim, County Meath, Ireland.  There is no mention of his mother and siblings at this address.

4th July 1913 – Enlisted in the 2nd Battalion of the Leinster Regiment (Rank: Private – Regiment No.: 10017).  Was a regular soldier before war broke out and was extremely proud to have been one of the ‘Old Contemptibles’.

8th September 1914 – Disembarked into a ‘theatre of war’ as part of the 6th Division[†], which qualified him to be awarded the 1914 Star due to having served in France or Flanders between 5th August and 22nd November 1914.[*]

2nd December 1916 (but the date is different in the Soldiers’ Record set from the National Army Museum – see below) – Transferred to the 14th Corps Cyclist Battalion (Army Cyclist Corps)[*]  (Rank: Acting Corporal – Regiment No.: 1203).  Is known to have been involved in Passchendaele (also known as Third Ypres – 1917), in the Battle of the Somme (1918), and also served in Italy.  Was awarded various medals during this time: Victory, British and 14 Star.

  • Used to tell the story of how he heard that his brother, Joseph, was due to be marching past his camp at some point and, on the day, he went out on his bike to look for Joe so that he could carry his pack for a while.  After several attempts, he eventually spotted Joe and told him that he’d been looking for him.  Joe replied “I know – I saw you at the last few crossroads”.
  • Another story centred around being in a wooded area and coming across some German soldiers.  They were somehow able to communicate enough to agree that the day wasn’t a day for dying and went their separate ways.
  • Unlike my paternal grandfather, whose box is in my home, my Mangan grandfather’s Christmas box was stolen within a few hours of him receiving it.  He found out who had taken it and retrieved it, only for it to be stolen again.

14th August 1919 – 1914 Star despatched by post.

1st October 1923 – Information received from the Soldiers’ Records, National Army Museum.  Some conflicts with other sources.

  • Army number: 7177425
  • First name: James
  • Last name: Mangan
  • Unit: Leinster Regiment
  • Date of attestation: 04/07/1913
  • Age on attestation: 18 8/12
  • Place of attestation: Drogheda
  • Transfer to or from Regiment or Corps and Date: Army Cyclist Corps 28/11/1919 (No 1203)
  • Trade on enlistment: Agricultural Labourer
  • Period of mobilized or embodied service: From 04/08/1914 To 20/07/1920 and From 09/04/1921 To 06/06/1921
  • Place of birth: Boordsmill, Trim, Meath
  • Address of next of kin: Father – James, Bective, Kilmessan, Co. Meath
  • Campaigns, Wounds Medals or Rewards of any kind: The Great War France 1914-15 – 1916-17-18) 1914 Star – British War Medal – Victory Medal
  • Discharge or Becoming Non-Effective: Date 20/07/1920 – Place Cork – Cause Transferred to Sec “B” Army Reserve
  • Discharge or Becoming Non-Effective: Date 01/10/1923 – Place Warwick – Cause Absence Sas [Absence satisfactory?]
  • Rank and Character on Discharge: Pte (A/Cpl) – “Very Good”
  • Address on discharge: 78 Milton Road, Heaton Park, Manchester
  • Docs at WO/Droitwich

Post-war period – Worked as a taxi driver in Manchester and for Monk Brothers (builders) on road construction.  Walked out of the latter job when he was ‘told off’ for breaking open a padlock so that the workers could get their tools when the foreman who had the keys had failed to turn up for work.  Also worked in the Burlington shoe factory in Burghley Street, Kettering, Northamptonshire.

6th July 1932 – Eloped and married Ellen McLoughlin in the Roman Catholic Church of Ferrybank in the parish of Slieverue, County Kilkenny.  Both ages are given as ‘Full’.  James’ residence given as Rockshire, Ferrybank and occupation is ‘Motor Driver’. Ellen’s residence is Louisburg, Co. Mayo.  Witnessed by Martin McGrath and Maureen Fitzgerald (both also residents at Ferrybank).  They had met in Mayo while James was working as a chauffeur to the local doctor, Dr Heneghan.

25th April 1933 – First son, James Christopher, born.  Was living at 109 Gracedieu Road, Waterford, County Waterford, Ireland.  Occupation given as ‘Chauffeur’.

4th August 1935 – Second son, Francis Dominic, born in Waterford, Ireland.

2nd March 1937 – First daughter, Claire Veronica, born in Waterford, Ireland.

11th March 1939 – Second daughter, Katherine Margaret, born in Waterford, Ireland.

19th December 1941- Third daughter, Bridget Ann, born in Waterford, Ireland.

18th May 1942 – Birth was re-registered under the Legitimacy Act 1931.  Dwelling place of father is given as Ennistown, Kilmessan, County Meath, Ireland. His date of birth is given as 7th August 1895 rather than the original 9th August 1895.

21st December 1943 – Enlisted in the Royal Air Force as an Aircraftsman (rank AC2).  Service number 1882666.  Description on entry: height 5 ft 3 3/4 inches; hair grey/balding; eyes grey; complexion fresh.  Civil occupation: labourer.

3rd April 1944 – Promoted to RAF rank Aircraftsman AC1.

1st November 1944 – Promoted to RAF rank Leading Aircraftsman.

24th August 1945 – Discharged from the RAF.  Had served for long enough to qualify for the Defence Medal and the 1939-1945 Medal.

James Mangan's medals from two World Wars. Left to right: First World War - 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal Second World War - Defence Medal, War Medal
James Mangan’s medals from two World Wars. Left to right: First World War – 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal Second World War – Defence Medal, War Medal

1950 – Family moved to Watford, Hertfordshire.

6th April 1980 – Died age 84 in the Peace Memorial Wing of Watford General Hospital, Watford, Hertfordshire.  Cause of death given as Bronchopneumonia, Carcinoma of the Colon and Basal cell carcinoma of the ear.  Death registered by Francis Dominic Mangan, son, of 102 Legatts Way, Watford, Hertfordshire.


† Mike Shingleton pointed me to the following publication for information about the 6th Division: Major-Gen. T.O. Marden C.B., C.M.G. (ed.) (1920).  A Short History of the 6th Division: Aug. 1914–March 1919.  Hugh Rees, London.  The document can be downloaded in various formats from the Internet Archive site.


* Information supplied by Mike Shingleton.