1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

George McBrearty

Contributed by: Mary Connor, on 2008-12-03

Captain George McBrearty
First Name George
Surname McBrearty
Year of Birth 1880
Year of Death 1954
Regiment Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
Place of Wartime Residence Newcastle, Northumberland

George's Story

Captain George McBrearty was the Brigade Padre of the Tyneside Irish Brigade (Northumberland Fusiliers). He was commissioned on 23rd March 1915 and he served throughout the war as Chaplain, until he was wounded, one week before the Armistice.

A cherished friend to soldiers, survivors and families.

Fr. McBrearty was remembered as a brave, well-loved and respected priest. In June 1919, the Colour of the 24th Battalion (2nd Tyneside Irish) was laid up in St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Newcastle. At the request of the survivors, Fr. McBrearty gave the sermon. He spoke movingly of the privations and sufferings of the men and he expressed the hope that, "their memory will never fade on Tyneside, or it will be to the eternal shame of Tyneside if it does". He described the troop's conditions as follows:

"When they were resting in back areas (resting it was called, but resting it never was), they had a barn for shelter and straw for a bed. In the line they had literally nothing. In wind and rain, snow and frost, they had to keep the vigilance of the night, exposed to all the inclemency of the weather. In the daytime, when they could snatch an hour or two from the never-ending fatigues, all that remained for them was to throw themselves down in some rat-infested covey hole under the parapet, or in some rudely or hastily built shack of corrugated iron. Really it was a mystery how the men were able to endure so much."

Other memories

James Connor, Willington 2008-12-10

On 1st July 1916, the Tyneside irish Brigade lost 594 killed and 1575 wounded. The piper who led the attack fell and the pipes were collected by the Brigade Chaplain, Father George McBrearty. Subsequently, he served as a curate at Willington and gave the pipes for safe-keeping to William Robinson, who had served in the DLI. In 1929 William Robinson emigrated to America. The pipes remained in his family and his grandson Vincent plays them in the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade. On April 7th 2001, the pipes were played by Vincent in Newcastle St. Mary's Cathedral, when the refurbished Colour of 27th Batt.Tyneside Irish Brigade was re-dedicated. It was here in 1919 that Father George McBrearty preached the sermon at a Mass, said for the fallen and the survivors of the Tyneside Irish Brigade. My wife Mary and I were present at the ceremony in 2001 and when Vincent marched down the aisle of the Cathedral, playing "The Minstrel Boy", there was hardly a dry eye to be seen.

Complain about this post

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.