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  • Writer's pictureStephen Callaghan

Captain John Forrest Ruttledge MC

Captain John Forrest Ruttledge MC

John Forrest Ruttledge was born in Birr on 1 August 1895. He was the oldest son of Colonel Alfred Ruttledge and May Ormsby Ruttledge (née Fulton).

Alfred Ruttledge was born on 15 October 1848 in Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire), County Dublin. He was commissioned as an Ensign into the 14th Regiment of Foot on 17 October 1867. He served as a Captain during the Second Angle Afghan War (1878-1880) and received the Afghanistan medal for his service. He was later promoted to Major and then Colonel.

On 20 June 1888, Captain Ruttledge married May Ormsby Fulton in Werburgh parish church, Dublin. Captain Ruttledge was records as living in Ship Street Barracks. May was the daughter of Colonel Richard Robert Fulton and Margaret Fulton (née Ormsby) of Oxmantown Mall, Birr.

Fulton headstone in Birr.

The 1901 census records Alfred, May and their son’s John Forrest, Richard Theodore and Eric Peter Knox and also a governess, a nurse and three servants living in 4, Woodfield, Birr. The house was particularly large with 20 rooms! The 1911 census records Alfred and Mary living in Castleconnell Limerick.

John entered Sandhurst Military college on 12 February 1913 to train as an officer. He completed his training on 17 December 1913, and was commissioned in the 2nd battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment as a Second Lieutenant. He was promoted to Lieutenant in November 1914.

Lieutenant Ruttledge landed at Le Harve, France on 5 November 1914. While fighting near Neuve Chapelle Lieutenant Ruttledge performed a gallant deed, for which he was awarded the Military Cross. The citation reads:

For great coolness and gallantry on 19th December, 1914 near Neuve Chapelle. When his company were moving over open ground under heavy fire many casualties occurred, and Lieutenant Ruttledge remained to the last helping the wounded away to cover.

Lieutenant Ruttledge was promoted to Temporary Captain in April 1916. He was later killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July. As he has no known grave his name is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. His name is also commemorated on the Birr War memorial in St Brendan’s Church of Ireland church and on a memorial in All Saints Church, Stradbally, Castleconnell, Limerick.

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