H. Mulroy’s headstone, Ridge Wood Military Cemetery (source: International War Graves Photographic Project)
Private H. Mulroy or Mullroy is one of the vanished Belle Vue Zoo (Manchester) staff who died on active service during the First World War.
Current research believes that he died aged 21 serving as a Private 23516 with the 12th (Service) Battalion, Manchester Regiment near Ypres on 16 August 1915.
Belle Vue zoo’s sadly vandalised war memorial, Gorton Cemetery. Manchester lists their First World War dead – a tiny glimpse of the losses of men from zoos on active service in both world wars. Image: manchesterhistory.net
Mullroy or Mulroy’s name picked out on the Belle Vue Zoo’s now vandalised war memorial – luckily the names, although hard to read, are inscribed in stone as the brass statue has been stolen. (Image: manchesterhistory.net)
His name appears on the sadly vandalised Belle Vue Zoo staff war memorial in Gorton Cemetery. It appears to have been spelt with a double LL as Mullroy. There is no casualty listed on CWGC with that unusual double L spelling.
Current research believes that H (Henry? Harry?) Mulroy died serving with the 12th Manchester Regiment at Ypres on 16 August 1915. Mulroy is buried in Ridge Wood Military Cemetery near Dickebush and Ypres in Flanders, Belgium. There is no family information or inscription on his headstone or CWGC Cemetery entry.
Henry or Harry Mulroy was born and enlisted in Manchester. He entered active service in France and Flanders with his regiment on 16 July 1915 and was killed a month later after only sixteen days in the trenches near Ypres. He was awarded the 1915 star, British War and Victory Medal.
His Manchester born mother Mary Jane Mulroy seems to have been his sole legatee for his final effects and war bonus / salary. His father Thomas Mulroy (born in Ireland) appears to have died at 31 Harvest Street in 1907, after working in textiles, as a fustian and “calico dresser”.
Harry was the youngest of his family of 6 brothers and sisters (4 others died young) and was working as a shop assistant in the 1911 Census, the family living at 24 Oak Street, Gorton, Manchester. His older brother ‘Willie’ or James William (a calico dresser like his father) appears in service records later in the war as a partly deaf 31 year old conscripted into the Labour Corps on home service (from 1917 to 1919). An older sister Susan (b. 1891) was involved with Textiles / sewing, his oldest brother Thomas (b. 1879) involved in the fruit market and green grocery. Brother Richard b. 1888 was also involved in the local textile trade (Cloth worker, weaving mill).
Interestingly in the 1911 Census return, his brother John (b. 1890, machine man, iron planer) spells the family name Mulroy but on the census summary return the census enumerator spells it as what appears to be “Mullroy”.
Harry Mulroy’s War
There is an excellent website that outlines the history of the 12th Manchester (Service ) Battalion as part of K2, Kitchener’s Army of volunteers.
The whole battalion only landed in France on 16 July 1915 and their war diary has been transcribed here: http://www.themanchesters.org/12th%20WD.htm
After training in Britain, embarking for France and then marching and further training and troop “trench instruction” They moved into the Southern Ypres salient for trench familiarisation and then took over the the front lines in that area. Harry’s regiment arrived in the trenches on 1st August 1915.
The War Diary, transcribed by Myles Francis, states:
[Battalion comprised 30 officers and 975 rank and file]
Entrained at Winchester for Service with Expeditionary Force in France.
12 noon Embarked at FOLKESTONE … [for Boulogne].
Proceeded by march route to White Chateau 3 miles west of HOOGE and bivouaced 48 hours.
Relieved 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers. Relief completed by 3AM of the 2nd inst without incident.
Quiet day but for a few whiz bangs.
Rather quiet with a little artillery activity.
Our artillery more active than usual. Enemy shelled us with whiz bangs doing little damage.
The Battalion began digging a V shaped ditch for barricade in front of our barbed wire and assembly posts near SNIPERS BARN. No attempt made by enemy to intefere. Hear that new troops have taken over enemy trenches.
Very quiet day.
2.15am Our artillery opened heavy bombardment on our sectors directed on a frontage of 500 yards. Ordered to cause diversion while 6th Division attacked at HOOGE. Reports from Patrols were that the enemy were seen leaving trenches on our front and making for BOIS QUARANTE.
9am Heard the attack by 6th Division was successful.
Very quiet day.
Normal. Small amount of shelling on both sides.
Quiet with the exception of a few heavy shells which fell well behind the reserve trenches.
Quiet day; Some artillery activity in afternoon on both sides. Heavy rifle and machine gun fire during the night.
Enemy fired rifle grenades on trench No 5.
Very quiet day. Were relieved by the 9th Bn Duke of Wellington Regt. Relief commenced at 8.0pm but did not complete until 4.30am of the 18th inst owing to furious bombardment by the enemy.
So it seems unfortunate that Harry Mulroy, shop assistant and probable employee at Belle Vue Zoo, was killed on a quiet day in a quietish sector. He is buried next to another Manchester Regiment casualty of the same day, Private Mullen.
Whilst we currently have no perfect fit and definite proof that the Belle Vue Zoo H. Mullroy or Mulroy on the war memorial is the same man as Harry Mulroy of the 12th Manchesters, by the misspelling of the name on several occasions and the family location, it is certainly highly possible they are the same man.
I first worked on the Belle Vue war memorial names in 2010, building on some earlier work by Stephen Cocks. https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/%e2%80%9clost-in-the-garden-of-the-sons-of-time%e2%80%9d-remembering-the-fallen-zoo-staff-from-wartime-zoos-onremembrance-sunday-and-armistice-day-2010-in-the-wartime-zoo-gardens/
There is now a whole new section on the Manchester & Salford family history forum website at http://gortonphilipsparkcemetrywargrave.weebly.com/belle-vue-war-memorial.html covering current research by local historians on the names on the memorial. Fascinating site and a real labour of love …
Private Harry Mulroy, Remembered.
Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo – World War Zoo Gardens project.