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Leo Byrne | Stephen White (author)
Leo Byrne of Royal Field Artillery
Military records, Photos, Medals and souviners all still in the hands of the family.
Leo Byrne was born in Dublin in 1888 but enlisted in the British Army under the name Joseph. He first enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in 1908 in Dublin. His profession was a builder labourer. His term of service was for 12 years, the first 6 being in active service and the final 6 being in the reserves, depending on conditions. He was 5ft 5ins, weighed 128lbs, of fresh complexion, had hazel coloured eyes and black hair. He joined the service at Richmond Barracks, Templemore (Garda training college today) under the Driver rank. He remained in Britain until September 1909 after 1 year 12 days. He travelled to India and served there from September 1909 to October 1914, a period of 5 years 14 days. He next served in France in the height of World War I from October 1914 until January 1919. This was for 4 years 110 days. During this time he was awarded the victory medals for his service. He was discharged on January 1919 in Étaples, France, after a total of 10 years 136 days. He did not qualify for the 6 year period in the reserve army because this fell during World War I. He did receive a pension for the 10 years 136 days already served. He re-enlisted in January 1919 in Étaples, France, under a new service number. This was because of ‘Army Order No. IV’ which was a result of the ban on recruitment following the end of the war. As his original enlistment was for a period of 12 years before the war, he had to re-enlist to distinguish him from conscripted members who joined during the war. His profession this time was listed as a Carter. This was a person with a horse and cart that transported goods to and from trains, possibly post. He continued his service in France February 1919, a period of 25 days since re-enlistment. He spent the next 1 year 21 days in Britain (may have included Ireland) from February 1919 to March 1920. He travelled to India for the second time in March 1920 by ship. He arrived in April 1920. He served there from April 1920 until December 1920 a period of 253 days. His journey home took 24 days by ship departing in December 1920 and arriving in January 1921. He finished his last 80 days of service from January 1921 until March 1921 in Britain (may have included Ireland), probably at Woolwich. This term totalled 2 years 60 days and completed 12 years 196 days of service at which point he left the army. Two character references exist for Leo. ‘Postman before enlistment. Then became manager of horses. Can ride and drive. Has been employed as an officer servant for six months and also has done a little clerical work (12 months). A smart intelligent man’ Woolwich, March 1921. ‘His character during this period has been assessed as very good, honest, sober and hardworking’ Woolwich, March 1921. Leo brought and sent home some items which are still in the possession of his son. He spent his years after the war working for An Post in Dublin. He married and had four children. During WW2 he served in a local response group and was involved in the response to the bombings in Dublin in January 1941. Leo died tragically in 1970 in Dublin at the age of 82.