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John Condon
Margaret Aylward Raymond Chandler Paddy Coad Patrick Comerford John Condon Donnchadh Ruadh Frank Edwards Alfie Hale D. P. Moran Cardinal Wiseman

 


Private John Condon, No.6322, was the youngest Allied soldier to be killed in action in World War I. He was born in Waterford city in 1901, the son of John and Mary Condon of no.2, Teapot Lane (Sargent's Court). He had two brothers (Patrick, Peter) and two sisters (Katie and Margaret). In 1910 the family moved house to no. 2, Wheelbarrow Lane (Thomas's Avenue), Wellington Street. All the males in the family were employed as general labourers, John jnr. being employed as a bottler in Sullivan's Bottling Stores in the city. In that year (1910) the mother and daughter Kate both died from tuberculosis and John went to live with his uncle Michael Condon, a cobbler, at Kneefe's Lane, off Barrack Street.   
John turned up at the recruiting office in Waterford on October 24th, 1913 where he gave his age as 18 years, although he was only 13 years old. He had taken the identity of his older, dead, brother who was also named John. He took the oath and signed up to the Army Reserve for six years service.  His recruiting attestation was signed by Capt. J. P. T. Mackesy J.P. and he was assigned to the 3rd battalion, Royal Irish Regiment. On the following day, October 25th 1913, he reported to the medical Officer R.A.M.C. for his physical examination. His Medical History form describes John as being 5' 3" (1.60m) tall, 118lbs (53.6kgs) in weight, with brown eyes and brown hair. His expanded chest was 35" with an expansion of 2". The examination also revealed three large scars on the outer side of the left thigh. His separation money was 3/9d. The recruiting Officer at Waterford, J.Conway wrote to Sgt. Baldwin - presumably of the R.I.C. - regarding Condon's character. John was described as sober and honest and, notwithstanding the medical History form, Sgt. Baldwin wrote,curiously, that he had blue eyes.  
  On June 14th, 1914 young John travelled to Clonmel, Co. Tipperary where he joined the Royal Irish Regiment, 18th of Foot at Victoria Barracks. He was mobilised on August 7th, 1914 and posted to the 2nd Battalion on December 16th, 1914. 
In March 1915 John found himself in Belgium, just in time for the second battle of Ypres where, on May 24th, he was killed in action at Bellevarde Ridge - that day when "a strange greenish mist crept across from the enemy position, to attack the eyes and throat and burn out the lungs."  He was fourteen years of age - the youngest Allied soldier to be killed in the war. He is buried at Poelcappelle Cemetery, Langermark-PK, West V, Belgium in PLot LVI Row F. His grave has become perhaps the most visited grave in that huge cemetery with hundreds of visitors each day. 

The next of kin was given as John Condon c/o T. Ryan, Harrington's Avenue, Waterford and it was stated that there were no effects belonging to the deceased. In 1922 the deceased was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal - these were received and acknowledged by his father on September 9th, 1922. He also received the 1914-15 Star. On January 5th, 1924 a letter was sent to John Condon snr., from the Officer in Command, Infantry Records Office with regard to the effects of his son viz., a piece of boot, and asking if it should be sent to him.  Mr. Condon replied as follows;

c/o 2 Thomas es (sic) Avenue

Waterford

Ireland

7/1/24

 

Dear Sir,

Your letter of 5th inst re peices (sic) of boot

belonging to the late Pte. J. Condon 6322 Royal Irish 

Regiment Killed in Action May 1915

I would be Obliged to you for same and others (sic) 

information regarding him.

 

Yours Truly

J.Condon

            (N.B. The piece of boot was sent on Jan 8th, 1924.)

    Waterford City Council decided, in 2002, to honour John Condon and all who died in wars and a memorial will be dedicated to them in the city.

 

 

 

Copyright 2007 Waterford Ireland
Last modified: June 29, 2007