Local Historians say Midleton War Memorial has Names Missing and Incorrect Names Added

By Seamus Whelehan

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Genealogist Paul Busteed with Military Historian Eugene Power at the Midleton World War I memorial wall

It is alleged that, a series of research errors has led to dozens of names missing, and incorrect names added to an East Cork World War I Memorial Wall.
What is said to be a disastrous blunder is highlighted in a new book by two East Cork historians.
The Commemorative Wall in memory of those from the Greater Midleton area who died in WW1 1914-1918, is the work of a small group of locals, who spent three years identifying as many war dead as possible from the district.
Genealogist, Paul Busteed and Military Historian, Eugene Power have been chipping away at the Midleton War Memorial names for the past twelve months.
The pair say “if you assume that the location connected with the names on the wall are correct, one hundred and seven are incorrect and three have no forenames.”
Cork Council invested €15,000 in tax payer’s money through its Community Fund Grant Scheme in 2017, and were involved in gathering the names for the Memorial.
Through its WW1 research centre at Camden Fort Meagher, they responded to a request for assistance from the Midleton First World War Memorial Committee, to outline the basic historical content of each name being inscribed on its walls.

Considering the level of financial investment by the Local Authority, the County Heritage Officer was not asked to vet the project before the money was released.

Some Servicemen and women who lived in Midleton and lost their lives in the Great War have been omitted from the Wall of Remembrance, and other names of people with no connection to the district have been added in their place.
The cost of changing the Memorial, located at the Baby Walk, is expected to run into tens of thousands of Euro, a cost which Cork County Council says it’s not prepared to bear.
“Midleton World War 1 Commemoration Committee are responsible for this project” they said.

The original project, which had a price tag of €30,000, was erected last June and was officially unveiled by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.
The event was also attended by Belgian and French Diplomats, along with Irish and British Military representatives.
Of two hundred names appearing on the structure, one hundred and ninety-nine war dead are commemorated, with one of the fallen named twice, both Mr Busteed and Power have claimed.
They say thirty-six listed personnel have no connection with East Cork. Two of them are from Mauritius, and three from the United States.
One example is Petty Officer John Sparling who is recognised on the epitaph as being from Ballycotton.
When standard research methods are employed it was discovered that Sparling was, in fact, born in St Barnabas Parish, Mauritius, enlisted in Portsmouth England and was married to Ellen Sparling from Limerick.
The couple resided in Atlantic Villa, Ballycotton for a short period, where John was temporarily posted at the Coast Guard Station.
Tom Walsh, a member of the Midleton War Memorial Committee, said John Sparling’s father “in all probability” was a Coastguard so therefore, when John signed on, he must have given the address.
John Sparling is currently buried in the Old Church Cemetery in Cobh.
He said while he was not “defending anything” the committee had a “Monument honouring 200 men living, born or connected with the East Cork area who were all killed in the First World War.”
Mr Busteed and Mr Power believe the majority of research on Midleton was possibly based on two sources- the book “The Great Sacrifice” and the Common Wealth War Graves Commission.
While both tools are recognised as good reference points, the sources are known to have many inaccuracies as information provided by enlisted personnel was often misunderstood or inaccurate information given by those enlisting.
Both documents, they say, should be confirmed with at least three other official papers such as a Birth Certificate, Census records or Military records, all of which are available to researchers.

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