David Molloy, Private 3/8787, 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment
Died 5th July 1915 in Belgium, aged 29
David Molloy was born on 27th July and baptised on 15th August 1886 at St Alban’s Catholic Church, Macclesfield, the son of Mary and Edward Molloy, a brewers labourer and publican originally from County Mayo in Ireland.
In 1891, 4 year old David was living at “The Pineapple” public house, 42 Watercotes, Macclesfield with his parents and siblings Mary Ellen (15), Margaret (13), Sarah (8), Thomas (6), Edward (2) and baby Eliza (3 months).
Ten years later the family had moved to 1 Court, 3 House, Allen Street, where Edward was employed as a bricklayer’s labourer and three of his sons, including fourteen year old David, were working as cotton weavers.
It is not known how David came to be in Dorset but he attested on 19th December 1914 at Dorchester and joined the Dorsetshire Regiment, stating that his address was 5 Lowe Street, Macclesfield. In his army service papers he declared that he had previously served for 1 year with the Cheshire Militia and was employed as a general labourer. David’s medical assessment described him as 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds with a 36 inch chest measurement.
David entered France with the British Expeditionary Force on the 18th February 1915. He received a gunshot wound to the head and was admitted to a hospital in Boulogne on 30th March 1915, and was transferred to a convalescent camp in Boulogne to recuperate a few days later on 4th April. David was admitted to a hospital in Rouen for 3 days on 20th April, suffering from Urticaria (Hives), an allergic reaction causing an itchy skin rash which can be triggered by stress.
David left the hospital on 2nd May 1915 and rejoined his battalion on 7th May. During May he, along with many hundreds of his comrades, 130 of whom died, was a victim of gas poisoning and was treated for this by a Field Ambulance unit. The Western Times of 9th June 1915 printed a list of men from the 1st Dorset Regiment who had been affected by the gas which included Private D. Molloy. Private H. H. Morris of Birmingham, serving with the Warwickshire Territorial Ambulance, RAMC, treated some of the Dorset Regiment victims of the gas attack and his letter describing his experiences was printed in the Birmingham Evening Despatch of 29th May 1915:
“Our ambulance at present is doing good work – one section working an isolation hospital, and another some baths. The baths, of course, are crude, but provide a bath for a thousand troops a day.
Each soldier is given a complete change of underlinen in exchange for the dirty set – which are sterilised, washed, and used again. This is a very useful innovation, especially for troops returning from the trenches. Another section is working night and day loading wounded from the casualty clearing station to the train by which they are conveyed to the base hospitals and, later, to England; and two other sections are working a hospital and convalescent home.
9 May – a fortnight ago saw the first victims of … gas poisoning. It is awful, pitiful, heartrending to see patients struggling for life destroyed by this hideous gas. Cases have been coming in by the dozen, and it was the very helplessness that was grievous in dealing with the first few batches.
The gas has an instant effect on the lungs and bronchial tubes, which become blistered and full of gas bubbles, and the patient lies gasping and fighting for breath, but conscious to the last. In many cases the patient goes a sickly blue colour; on his lips a green bubbly fluid charged with gas. … A little wooden cross bearing the words ‘Pte W. Jones, 1st Dorset Regiment. Died of gas poisoning’ marks the last remembrance of another victim.”
David Molloy survived the gas attack, but was killed in action on 5th July 1915.
Private David Molloy is buried in grave ref. II. J. 16. in Larch Wood (Railway Cutting) Cemetery in Belgium.