....Very sad were the circumstances connected with the death of Thomas Byrne (20), polisher, of High Stone Lane, Worsborough Common, as revealed at the inquest which Mr P. P. Maitland held on Saturday. ....The deceased was a member of the 2nd York and Lancaster Volunteer Regiment, was one of those who volunteered for active service, and was sent out to South Africa. His mother told the Coroner that before he went out, he was apparently a strong healthy lad. He sailed in March of last year, but was invalided home in the following October suffering from consumption. He wanted to go to Doncaster to the distribution of war medals to the members of the battalion by Colonel Plumer, but she begged of him not to go, and did not know he had gone. When she got up at half-past seven on Friday morning, she found deceased lying on the hearth, as if he had fallen forward out of the chair on which he had been sitting. There was a pool of blood near his head. He had been to bed, and his vest, on which his medal was pinned, was upstairs. ....A witness named White, also a volunteer, said he saw deceased in Doncaster at about half-past nine on Thursday, when deceased said he wished he were at home. He was then breathing heavily, and exhausted. They left Doncaster by special train at midnight, and witness, who also lived at Worsborough Common, walked with deceased to within about twenty yards of his home, leaving him at two o'clock, after making an appointment to meet later in the day. ....Dr. J. Shine said he had attended deceased since he came back from South Africa. He had apparently been suffering from hereditary consumption, which had developed in Africa. To all appearances, the witness said, deceased was a fine young fellow, with a splendid chest, and he was certainly surprised to find that his lungs were almost done. ....The jury returned a verdict that deceased's death was caused "By the bursting of a blood vessel in the lungs, aggravated by excitement and exposure at Doncaster on Thursday." Yorkshire Telegraph and Star, Monday 22nd December 1902
The 2nd V.B. York and Lancaster Regiment had assembled at Doncaster, on Tuesday 12th March 1901, and appears to have departed from Southampton, aboard the Kildonan Castle, on Saturday 16th March.
Worsbrough Common, as it's now spelt, is about 1½ miles south of Barnsley, so I've made an inquiry to find out if he's interred at Barnsley Cemetery.
Barnsley Council very kindly gave me the section and number of his grave in Barnsley Cemetery - Section Z, grave number 476. Those buried in that grave are Anne Byrne (buried 14.7.1878, aged 64), Margaret Byrne (buried 28.1.1880, aged 14 months), Edward Byrne (buried 16.7.1894, aged 4 years), and Thomas Byrne (buried 22.12.1902, aged 20 years; died at 8, Highstone Lane, Worsbrough Common). I couldn't locate the grave, there doesn't appear to be a headstone on that grave now, assuming that there was. His father, mother, and brother are buried in Section Za, grave number 272, again there was no headstone, so I couldn't locate that grave either.
On the plus side, I found the Barnsley Chronicle's report of the death, inquest, and funeral.
BARNSLEY VOLUNTEER'S SAD DEATH.
JUST LIVED TO RECEIVE HIS MEDAL.
....The death occurred on Friday, under exceptionally sad circumstances, of Thos. Byrnes, aged 20, who followed the trade of a French polisher, and lived at 8, Highstone-road, Worsbro' Common. The young man was a member of the local Volunteer corps, and formed one of the second batch who volunteered for service in South Africa. After being out about five months he was invalided home suffering from consumption, and during the last 18 months he had gradually got worse. On Thursday evening, at Doncaster, Major-General Plumer distributed war medals to local men who had served in the campaign, and the deceased apparently made a great effort to be present to receive his medal. He rested in bed all day on Thursday, and left home about five o'clock to join his comrades to go to Doncaster. The party returned home by special train, arriving at Barnsley about one o'clock on Friday morning. When Byrnes got home the other members of the family had retired to bed, but he was heard to enter the house and come upstairs about two o'clock. Nothing was heard further of him until his mother came downstairs about 7-30, when she saw him lying on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood. There was a slight cut on the right cheek, which had evidently been caused by falling. Dr. Shine was sent for, and found that one of the poor fellow's lungs had burst, and he had bled to death. The sad affair caused a shock amongst his fellow Volunteers, by whom he was much esteemed.
....Mr P. P. Maitland, district coroner, held an inquest on the body of the deceased young man, at the Vine Tavern, Worsbro' Common, on Saturday afternoon. ....Alice Byrnes, mother of the deceased, said that at the time he went out to South Africa deceased was apparently a strong, healthy lad. He sailed for South Africa in March, 1901, but some months later was invalided home, suffering from consumption. A few days before his death deceased was very cheerful, and kept singing lively airs. He was in bed on Thursday, but got up about 4-30 p.m. He had a little tea, and then made preparations for going out. Witness told him not to go to Doncaster, as she thought he was not in a fit condition. When he left home, shortly after tea, she had no idea that he was going. She stayed up until 1-30 on Friday morning, and then went to bed, leaving the door unlocked, as she thought he would not be long, and was probably following his usual practice of staying in company with some of his friends. At 7-30 on Friday morning, when she got up, she was horrified to see her son lying in a pool of blood on the hearth in front of the kitchen fireplace. His head was resting on the fender, and he had evidently fallen off a chair which had been placed in front of the fire. The fire had burnt out, but the gas was lighted. There was a large quantity of blood on the floor and inside the fender, and blood was also oozing from deceased's mouth. He was only partly dressed. His South African medal was pinned on his vest, which was upstairs. On finding deceased as described, she screamed out, and P.C. East soon arrived. Since deceased returned home he had not spat blood. He had been very steady lately. A young man who lived at their house went out to his work about five o'clock the same morning, but deceased was not in the kitchen at that time. Witness stated that soon after his arrival in South Africa deceased was in hospital, and he was invalided home in October of last year. He told witness that on one occasion when at the Front he was on a wagon for four days and four nights, and had only some hard biscuits to eat. He had suffered similar privations during the campaign. Deceased occupied a bedroom to himself, and slept with the window partly open. His life was insured. ....Henry White, paraffin hawker, 2, Highstone-lane, deposed that on Thursday he went along with others by the 6-27 p.m. train to Doncaster to see the Volunteers receive their war medals. At 9-30 p.m. witness saw Byrnes in the street at Doncaster, after the presentation. He was then breathing very badly, and remarked several times that he wished he was safely at home. They went together into an hotel, and had some refreshments. They left Doncaster after midnight by special train, and landed at Barnsley at 1-5 a.m. Deceased seemed quite exhausted, and it was with difficulty that he reached home. On the way up from the station Byrnes stopped six or seven times, in order that he might regain his breath. Witness accompanied him to within a few yards of his home, and made an appointment to meet him later in the day. At that time (two o'clock) deceased complained of internal pains. Witness added that he watched the proceedings at Doncaster from the balcony of the Corn Exchange, and he noticed that Byrnes was much excited. Deceased afterwards mentioned to witness that he did not know however he managed to receive his medal, he was so nervous and excited. Deceased had told his mother that he was very anxious to personally receive his medal at Doncaster. ....Dr. J. P. Shine, Beckett's Villa, Doncaster-road, said he examined the deceased after his return from South Africa. Apparently he was a strong. healthy fellow. He had a high colour, was finely built, had a broad chest, and splendid muscles. Witness was rather surprised when he examined his lungs to find that they were so weak and almost done. Witness advised deceased to take great care of his health, and not to smoke or take intoxicants, which would lower the system. Deceased, at his request, began taking cod-liver oil. Witness made a post-mortem examination of the body which had wasted a good deal, and in his opinion death was caused by the bursting of a blood vessel in the lungs. Answering the Coroner, witness said there was profuse hemorrhage. Deceased appeared to have stumbled over the chair, but bore no marks of violence. He had evidently been suffering from hereditary consumption, which had no doubt developed in South Africa. Death seemed to have been accelerated by excitement and exposure, and by the young man having gone on the journey when in too weak a state. ....The Coroner said it was a very sad case. Deceased had served his country as a Volunteer, had contracted a severe illness in South Africa, consumption had developed, and he had come home to die. Deceased seemed to have been very anxious (which was only natural) to go to Doncaster to receive his medal, and nothing apparently could stop him. There was no doubt that death was accelerated by exposure and excitement, and not solely due to foreign service, as it seemed that he suffered from hereditary consumption. The Coroner said every sympathy was due to the relatives of the deceased in his untimely death. ....The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony.
INTERMENT OF DECEASED.
....The remains of Byrnes were interred at the Barnsley Cemetery on Monday afternoon, and the deceased was accorded military honours by his comrades of the Barnsley detachment of the 2nd York and Lancaster Regiment. A good number of the Volunteers and Reservists, with band (under Bandmaster Stringer), paraded at the Drill Hall, and marched by way of Sheffield-road and Park-road to deceased's residence at Worsbro' Common. Captain Hewitt was in command, and other officers present were Lieut. and Quarter-Master Hindson, Lieut. Alphonse Wood, Lieut. Robinson (Royal Naval Reserves), Sergeant-Instructor Broderick, Sergts. Morrison and Ascough. Arrived at Highstone-lane, the Volunteers formed up in double line near the home of their departed comrade, until a start was made. Fourteen members of the battalion, some of whom were attired in khaki - as many as possible being drawn from the men who fought in South Africa with deceased - furnished the firing party (Sergeant Ascough being in charge), and led the procession, with arms reversed. Then followed the Regimental Band, who very feelingly played the Dead March in "Saul" on the way to the Cemetery. Next came the hearse with four Volunteers as bearers, and the coach containing Mr. and Mrs. Byrnes and deceased's brother and sister. The remainder of the Volunteers, with officers, followed, besides a good many of deceased's relatives and personal friends. Mr. C. Plumpton (Hon. Secretary of the Barnsley and District Patriotic Fund) and Mr. J. Barraclough (representing the Worsbro' Patriotic Fund) were also present. All along the route people stood in sympathetic groups, and expressions of regret were heard on every hand. ....Arrived at the Cemetery, the Volunteers opened out and allowed the coffin and mourners to pass through, the scene here being of a strikingly impressive character. The procession was met at the gates by the Rev. Father Hayes, assistant priest at the Roman Catholic Church, who conducted the burial service in a very solemn manner. The first part was, as usual, read in Latin, and the remainder in English. After the body had been committed to the earth, three volleys were fired, under the direction of Sergeant Ascough, and the drums (which were covered with crape) beat out the last roll. ....The coffin was of pitch pine with brass mountings, and was enwrapped with the Union Jack, surmounted by deceased's helmet, bayonet, etc. The inscription on the breast-plate was: - "Thomas Byrnes, died Dec. 19th, 1902; aged 20 years." Amongst the marks of remembrance sent were a beautiful cross of white flowers, "With deepest sympathy from his South African comrades;" a wreath "With deepest sympathy from Mrs. and Miss Ogley, Shambles-street;" and a wreath of evergreens "Wirth deepest sympathy from his dear sister, Mrs. J. Green." ....On the conclusion of the solemn rite, the Volunteers formed up and marched back into the town, the band playing "The Boys of the Old Brigade," and other lively airs. ....The funeral arrangements were satisfactorily carried out by Mr. F. J. Butler, undertaker, &c., Sheffield-road; and at the Cemetery Mr. W. S. Parker, the registrar, rendered every assistance. Barnsley Chronicle, Saturday 27th December 1902
We have two different spelling of his surname - Byrne/Byrnes, and no headstone to show us which is correct. So I looked for his parents in the General Register Office's deaths index - both of them were registered as Byrnes. But no Thomas Byrne or Byrnes is registered, so his death certificate isn't available. Was his death not registered for some reason?
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Very sad. It shows how much being given a medal meant to most returned soldiers.
I did try to contact the Barnsley branch of the Royal British Legion about the possibility of having some sort of memorial placed in the cemetery, not necessarily on the grave, but didn't get a response. and if I remember right, the cemetery was unable to have a memorial placed anywhere.
As to having a headstone placed on the grave "Only the person named on the Deed of Grant to a cemetery plot is entitled to put a headstone on a grave, provided that the cemetery allows it. If you do not own the Deed of Grant and place a grave marker on the site, the Registered Grave Owner is legally entitled to remove it or have it removed." If he'd died during or just after the Great War, his grave would probably be classed as a War Grave.
I wonder if one of the councillors for Worsbrough would have any interest in this. It would be nice for Thomas to be remembered in some way.