Down County Museum,
Details on the Cross
GRU Cartouche at head.
SAPPER JOHN MALONE
REG No 64005
121ST FIELD COMPANY R.E.
KILLED IN ACTION
Text type: GRU tag and carved lettering.
The cross is a sturdily built Celtic style cross with, it is situated in a glass case within the museum (in 2016) and is therefore impossible to measure. It is in generally good condition, but shows signs of cracking which are probably due to shrinkage.
John Malone died in the Somme area on the western front on May 23, 1916, just a few weeks before the main Battle of the Somme got underway. He was just 22.
The third son of William Henry and Margaret Malone, of Church Street, Downpatrick. He was a carpenter and a member of the Orange Order. He enlisted in the Royal Engineers and was a sapper in the 121st Field Company attached to the 36th Ulster Division. On the night of May 23 he was killed by a machine-gun bullet.
Sapper William Love, also from Downpatrick, who survived the war, wrote a letter from the trenches to Malone’s mother a few days later:
All was well until 10.30pm on Tuesday, 23rd, when the Germans started as usual with their machine guns,” he wrote. “Poor John had the misfortune to get a bullet somewhere about the heart. I believe he never spoke. On the other hand, I am told he said, ‘Don’t touch me. I am wounded.’ He lived only a few minutes. It is a little consolation to know that he suffered no pain. If I have the luck to get home on leave, I shall call to see you, but it seems a long way off yet. John’s turn for leave was to come before mine. We laid him to rest on the 24th at 4 o’clock, just behind the firing line. While we are here his grave will be well looked after. We put a couple of little wreaths on it and later we will put up a cross. May He who knowest all comfort and sustain you in your great loss! I need hardly add that John died a soldier of Christ and of his country, well liked by his officer and comrades.”
Service No: 64005
Date of Death: 23/05/1916
Age:22 Regiment/Service:Royal Engineers 121st Field Coy.
Grave Reference: I. D. 26.
Cemetery: HAMEL MILITARY CEMETERY, BEAUMONT-HAMEL
Additional Information: Son of William Henry and Margaret Malone, of Church St., Downpatrick, Co. Down.
More in the Down Recorder here
Photographs courtesy of Stevie Kerr.