School Resource Packs: Cork 1912-1918

Resource Pack 5: 1915 First World War

3 Cork City & County Archives: Through War and Rebellion: Cork 1912-1918

"After washing his hands, Lord Kitchener came into my writing-room upstairs, saying he was anxious to have a few minutes talk with me. The Russians, he said, had been severely handled and it was doubtful how much longer their Army could withstand the German blows. Up to the present, he had favoured a policy of active defence in France until such time as all our forces were ready to strike. The situation which had arisen in Russia caused him to modify these views. He now felt the Allies must act vigorously in order to take some of the pressure off Russia, if possible." Sir Douglas Haig papers, 19 August 1915 On September 25 th 1915 at a crucial part of the front the British Army released chlorine gas and attacked the Germans at Loos just to the south-west of Lille in northern France. This was also the site of the much better known battle of Vimy ridge which took place in 1917. On the first day of the battle the British suffered 8,000 casualties out of 10,000 men in four hours and while they broke through the German defensive lines they could not advance due to exhaustion and a lack of artillery shells needed to take out the machine guns which pinned down the troops. Sir John French was fired as head of the army as a result of this failure and British Prime Minister Asquith was replaced by David Lloyd George at the head of a War Cabinet. Loos and Gallipoli are marked on the map above.

The Document These pages come from a journal kept by John H Bennett of Ballinacurra which he kept throughout the war. The war became personal for the Bennett family when their son J. W. Bennett was killed at Loos on 13 October 1915 in the final attempt to break through the German defences. The journal and other papers open a window on how the British Government dealt with the families of the dead and the reactions of others.

Ballinacurra was a major barley malting location from the late 18th century, using the fine local barley of the East Cork area. Ships took the finished malt

mainly to Guinness in Dublin, from whom John H Bennett held a contract. Bennett and Company maltings ceased trading in 2006, and the company’s very extensive, and interesting, business archives were donated to the Cork City and County Archives with the help of Trevor West. Professor West’s book ‘Malting the Barley: John H.Bennett, The Man and His Firm’ was published in 2006.


1. Read through the document 2. Highlight the names of people, sentences, or words you do not understand. 3. Highlight any words you cannot read. 4. Fill in the recording sheet supplied and attach it to the document 5. Optional: The Grenfell Letter was written by Jack Bennett’s headmaster expressing his sympathies. Read through it and decide which of the two documents you find the more interesting. Pick out four quotes from either or both documents to tell the story of what happened to Jack. Who was Lord Haldene? How did public opinion change over the war? 6. Store the completed work as directed by your teacher. 7. Outline how you would go about seeing the original record by visiting Cork Archives.

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