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Irish War HorseIn August 1914, Eustace Mansfield took his gelding Lisnavagh with him to the Western Front in the service of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Born in November 1879, Eustace was the firstborn son of George Mansfield of Morristown Lattin, Naas. County Kildare.

[Note by Tim Mansfield – Eustace is the uncle of my step-father John Edward Lattin Mansfield who passed away in 2010 at his home in France].

Like his father, Eustace was educated at Stonyhurst, a Catholic boarding school in Lancashire. Eustace’s mother Alice Adele was the eldest daughter of Baron d’Audebard de Ferussac of Paris, a scientist of considerable repute.

When the Great War broke out in 1914, George Mansfield, father of Eustace and Deputy Lieutenant of Co Kildare, issued a joint statement with Sir Anthony Weldon, Lord Lieutenant for the county, expressing their absolute opposition to British plans to enforce conscription in Ireland. They set up a committee to raise sufficient numbers so that “no question can arise as to the loyalty of the County Kildare” with regard to those willing to “join their brethren at the front”.

Captain Mansfield and Lisnavagh served together on the Western Front until he was shot in the neck and invalided home. He was serving with the Northamptonshire Regiment at the time.

On Monday 27th September 1915, C and D Companies near Foss 8 were attacked from the rear by Germans using bombs. Captain Mansfield collected a mixed force of men and counter-attacked to relieve C Company. A further counter-attack to regain the village at Foss was cancelled after several senior officers, including General Thesiger, were killed by a shell whilst organising the attack. The battalion held their positions for the rest of the day before being relieved on the evening of the 27th. The battalion had suffered very heavy losses with over 400 casualties.

Morristown Lattin - Tim Mansfield

Morristown Lattin. Naas. Co. Kildare

Lisnavagh returned with him to Ireland and subsequently won a prize at a horse show in England. The horse is buried near where the glasshouse used to be at Morristown Lattin.

Eustace died on 14th April 1945 and Mabel on 20th May 1949. This story was told to me [Turtle Bunbury] by their only son Patrick Mansfield. They also had two daughters, Rosalind and Elizabeth, one of whom inherited the silver horse trophy won by Lisnavagh.

With thanks to Rosa Kende [Note by Turtle Bunbury].

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Eustace’s brothers were Henry, Alexander and Tirso Mansfield, about which I [Turtle Bunbury] have written in the Kildare Gentry. On 30th December 1913, Eustace’s eldest sister Mary married Thomas Esmonde. Her husband’s father, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Esmonde, Royal Irish Regiment, won a Victoria Cross at Sebastopol, the same battle in which her great uncle William Mansfield perished.

The younger Thomas Esmonde was lost at sea on 10th October 1918. Mary lived on until 10th March 1963. Eustace’s younger sister Marguerite (1883 – 1939) was married twice. Her first husband (1905) was Richard Morton Wood, 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, eldest son of Colonel George Wilding Wood of Docklands, Ingatestone, in Essex. He died without male heir on 6th January 1908. In 1911, she married Edward Nettlefold of Brightwell Park, Wallington, Surrey. He was seriously wounded in the war but survived to become a Lieutenant Colonel of the 5th Dragoons.

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Please note Lisnavagh is not the same horse as Joey who was immortalised in Michael Morpurgo’s celebrated novel War Horse published in 1982. This story was about the much loved horse of a Devon farmer’s son named Albert and was made into a hugely successful film directed by Steven Spielberg in 2011. To view the trailer please click here.

Over a million horses were sent to France from Britain and Ireland during the Great War; only 62,000 returned alive. Between the Somme in July 1916 and the Armistice in November 1918, the British Army recorded 58,090 horses killed and 77,410 wounded by gunfire and 2,220 wounded by poison gas; while several hundred were killed by aircraft bombs.

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Royal Irish RangersIn the family tradition I did my bit too in the Royal Irish Rangers, and I am proud I did. Disbanded and now known as the Royal Irish Regiment (27th Inniskilling, 83rd, 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment).

The very last infantry regiment of the line in British military history. Proud to have served if only for a short time – that is a story for another day.

Quis Separabit and Faugh A Ballagh. Tim Mansfield

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Thanks and credits go to Turtle Bunbury, the Irish historian and best-selling author who originally wrote about ‘Lisnavagh’. Please visit his article by clicking here.

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