How one man was able to reconnect with his family’s past…
James Mullan was a soldier in the Sixth Battalion Royal Irish Regiment during the First World War. He died on the 10th August 1916, shot by a sniper, at just 25 years of age. James had one child during his lifetime, a son who went on to have 10 children of his own.
Almost exactly 100 years later, one of James’s grandchildren Dominic, travelled with us to the historic Battlefields of World War One and became the first member of his family to visit James’s grave to pay tribute to the incredible man and the sacrifice that he made for his country.
We spoke to Dominic’s close friend Brenda, who travelled with him on the trip…
‘It’s something he’s always wanted to do. He’s said for a few years now. So when I saw this tour by Newmarket Holidays in our local paper, I thought it looked like it would possibly go somewhere near the area in which grandfather’s grave would be.
‘So it went from there. What I said to Newmarket was: “Is it possible that you could put us in touch with someone who can help us to visit Dominic’s grandfather’s grave?”, even if it meant taking time out or funding the detour ourselves. They were absolutely excellent in putting us on to David Maclennan, the Newmarket tour guide, who was so helpful… beyond belief. He was absolutely amazing!
The whole trip was absolutely superb, it really was. Everything went so well. I’ve never ever been on a trip where everybody gelled and bonded so well. A lot of it was to do with David Maclennan and Dave the coach driver. They were just so good with everybody.
‘When we got there, David had done a lot of research. And so on the last day of our trip, we were actually able to stop off at the graveyard, and Dom did what he’d wanted to do for all these years. Everybody got off the coach and came to honour Dominic’s grandfather. First off, Dominic went to the grave on his own, he’d brought a little cross and a memento that he wanted to leave. When he’d done that, the other guests on our tour came forward and told us how lovely it had been to be a part of such a personal occasion. It was really moving.
Everything you see on this tour is awesome. It’s humbling. It’s an amazing thing to do really. ‘
Since his trip, Dominic has been in touch with the Menin Gate Last Post Association in Ypres. They have agreed for Dominic and two more family members to attend their 100-year ceremony next year, and lay a wreath to honour James Mullan and the other fallen heroes.