We recently received a note from Gerard Bryson, the nephew of CSM Patrick Keenan, who was killed on 9th September 1944 while serving with 1 LIR during the Gothic Line battles.
Patrick Keenan’s service record is not entirely clear but it seems that he started his army career with the Skins/Faughs during the early 1920s and served for 15 years before the war. He joined up with 1 LIR in Egypt or Italy in 1944 – perhaps he was shipped out from the UK during the year, the battalion needing reinforcements after Anzio etc.
This clip from ‘The London Irish at War’ confirms the circumstances of CSM Keenan’s death:
‘It was realised that the San Sevino Ridge was the key to Croce, and that Croce was the key to the whole Corps line….
The battalion stayed on for three days, enduring heavy bombardments and throwing back strong German patrols probing at danger-spots. Casualties were heavy. Lieutenant Johns in the Support Company was wounded by our own twenty-five pounders; D Company lost several killed and Lieutenant Michael Spiller and others wounded in a direct hit on a house.
B Company suffered the battalion’s greatest loss during that period, when CSM Keenan, a magnificent soldier and man, was killed in his slit trench by a mortar bomb bursting in the trees above.‘
In his note, Gerard went onto tell us more about the Keenan family:
“My uncle was the second born of a family of eight and his father James was in an artillery unit in the Boer war. His two brothers, James (who died before the war) and William (Skipper), were merchant seamen. His uncle William, also a seaman, appears on the Tower Hill memorial having died from exposure in a lifeboat after his ship the SS Brayhead was torpedoed in 1917. Clearly, our family has a long association with the military.
Patrick is survived today by his 83 year old daughter.”