Constable Brock's Watch 1914


Reverse showing Inscription

The following letter appeared in The Meath Chronicle dated Sat. 6th October 2012

Constable Brock's Wrist Watch (Editor, Meath Chronicle)

Dear Sir - I have in my possession a wrist watch which was given to a Constable Brock by the magistrates attending Navan Court.

Constable Brock enlisted for active service in December 1914. This artefact has been in my possession for about 20 years and forms one of the exhibits in my private mini-museum known as 'Museum on a Shoestring'.

I have no more knowledge about the watch and its original owner other than what my son has managed to find out through making enquiries via the internet. I acquired the watch in a box of odds and ends at a jumble sale.

My son has helped me to trace details of John Brock, who enlisted in the Irish Guards, his service record and the fact that to the best of our knowledge and belief transfered from the RIC to the RUC on 01.06.1922 after the RIC was disbanded on 31.5.1922.

I am a historian and a local author who also has a collection of artefacts from the Middle Stone Age up to the 1970's, none of which has any intrinsic value but which I have acquired over the past 40 years from jumble sales, car boot sales or just in boxes left at my door by anonymous people who did not know what to do with items they had but did not want to throw them away.

Whenever possible I try to 'reunite' them with a family member or museum in the area from where they originated, hence my request to your newspaper. Are there any relatives of Constable John Brock still alive who would like this watch for a keepsake of an ancestor who, perhaps, they never knew?

I hasten to add that I am not trying to sell anyone anything, this watch would be a gift to whoever, or wherever, would be the best place or person to have it.

If there are any readers who can throw further light on John Brock or who know of him as a relation, I can be contacted at (email address)

Yours,

Jean M M Parratt, English septuagenarian of Irish descent.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Following on from this Vincent Mulvany of Navan & District Historical Society made contact with Jean Parratt and they corresponded, exchanging details surrounding the watch and about Navan and our society.

Letter from Jean M M Parratt on 14/3/2013

Dear Vincent,

Please find herewith the Brock watch about which we have corresponded for several months. If you need further details as to how it came to be in my possession etc., they are on the original newspaper item published in your local paper.

For the library's documentary record my details are detailed here (removed for privacy reasons) (Farnham, Surrey).

Happy St. Patrick's Day on the 17th and I hope this reaches you in time for it.

All the best, Jean M M  Parratt.

________________________________________________________

So who was Constable John Brock became the next question. Vincent Mulvany started his research and found the following details:

The reverse of the watch was inscribed thus:

PRESENTED BY

THE MAGISTRATES

ATTENDING NAVAN P.S.

TO

CONSTABLE BROCK R.I.C.

ON THE OCCASION OF HIS

VOLUNTEERING FOR

ACTIVE SERVICE

DEC. 1914.

He found, given the date, in The Freemans Journal, on December 5th 1914 records:

Constables Banning and McAlister, Enfield, and Constables Fahy, Brock and Lally, Navan, have volunteered for service at the front. The first four were acccepted, there being ony a limited number of vacancies offered. At the Navan Petty Sessions the constables were congratulated by the Chairman, Mr. W. Sullivan, on their pluck in volunteering. District Inspector Smyth joined in the expression of appreciation.

 

The Meath Chronicle, dated Sat 26th Dec 1914 the following;

COMPLIMENT TO NAVAN CONSTABLES

At the courthouse Navan, on yesterday (Wednesday) Mr. Sullivan, R.M., on behalf of the Magistrates of Navan Petty Sessions District, presented Constables Fahy and Brock, Navan, with wrist watches as a mark of appreciation at the action in volunteering for service at the war with the Irish Guards. Mr. Timmon, J.P., who was also present, complimented the constables on their bravery, and wished them a safe return.

The Drogheda Independent, Sat Jan 2nd 1915: R.I.C. VOLUNTEERS FOR IRISH GUARDS

At the courthouse, Navan, on Wednesday 23rd inst., an interesting function took place when Mr. W. Sullivan, R.M., on behalf of the magistrates of the Navan district presented Constables Brock and Fahy, who volunteered and have been accepted for service in the Irish Guards, with two beautiful presentation watches, in recognition of their volunteering for active service.  The watches were of a pretty design, with illuminated dials, and were inscribed as follows - 'Presented by the Magistrates attending Navan Petty Sessions, to Constable -------- on the occasion of his volunteering for active service, December 1914.' The constables were also presented with a box of cigarettes each.

M. Sullivan, R. M. said - "Constables Fahy and Brock, the magistrates, before you leave Navan, desire to make a small presentation to you both as a slight token of their appriciation of your pluck and patriotism in volunteering for active service. We are all quite sure you will discharge your duties abroad as you both did in the past at homeand that you will both be a credit to the gallant regiment to which you are going to be attached, the Irish Guards, and the RIC, to which you have been a credit in the past, and I hope you will both come back in the best of health, full of glory and full of honour.  I present you with these watches, hoping you will find them useful, and that they will bring you good luck. Concluding, Mr. Sullivan said that some of the magistrates that could not attend sent their best wishes for the success of the recipients of the presentation."

Mr. Timmon - "I would like to associate myself with the presentation of those watches to Constable Fahy and Brock.  As a local magistrate - I may call myself - it was a source of great pleasure to me to know that these presentations were going to be made. Personally I would like that everyone that was plucky and patriotic enough to volunteer for this war should be recognised, but unfortunately there is no machinery to collect funds nor funds to collect because there are so many calls on the public purse at present and it would be absolutely hopeless to try to get the money necessary to make presents to everyone.  In this case I would like to say that the machinery and funds have been supplied by the magistrates of the Navan Petty Sessions district.

I would also like to say that Constable Lally deserves quite as much honour as much honour as either Constables Fahy or Brock,  but unfortunately through the luck of the ballot he had the misfortune not to be selected, and of course, as these watches are a souvenir of you going to the front, we could not possibly give him a souvenir as much as he is not going at present; but if he is called on in future we will take care that he is not forgotten."

Continuing  Mr. Timmon said that his fellow magistrates considered that watches would be the most suitable present and selected them in illuminated dials and he agreed with that, because, he added, "I wished that at any hour of the day or night you would be able to tell the precise moment at which the battalion of Irish Guards to which you will be attached knocked the stuffing out of the Germans (loud laughter). I would like to say, as I have said on more than one occasion, that men like yourselves, representing the best of Ireland's blood - the Irish peasant - that men like you taking the action you have taken, are the harbingers of Ireland's dawn - the guardian's of Ireland's tomorrow. That tomorrow will come when this conflict, this fight against the hydra of Prussian militarism, this fight for the maintenance of  a principal, "Vox populi suprema lex" - the voice of the people shall be the supreme law. When this fight  has consummated in a brilliant victory; when the races and creeds now fighting shoulder to shoulder have returned; when the world at large breathes the breath of freedom; when you come back to Ireland, and these watches which you have been presented will be living testimony of the fact that you played your part in bringing about Ireland's tomorrow - the morrow when Englishmen the wide world over, grateful to you Irishmen and other Irishmen who have fought shoulder to shoulder with them will gladly and gratefully exclaim "God save Ireland!" and every Irishman, irrespective of creed and class, will say, "God save Ireland!", "God save England!" and "God save the King!"

Mr. Smyth, D. I., said that he had been requested by the County Inspector to say that he would have been present but he was engaged otherwise.  He (Mr. Smyth) was sure that the constables would uphold the honour of the Irish Guards and the R I C, and he wished them luck and a safe return.

Mr. Duffy, C P S, - "As a past member of the force I wish them the same good luck, and hope they may have a safe return."

Constable Fahy said that on behalf of Constable Brock and himself he wished to thank the magistrates for their splendid presentation. When the circular was issued calling for volunteers for the Irish Guards they (the constables) consulted together and sent forward their names. They were the only two chosen, Constable Brock and himself, and he felt sure that no matter what they were asked to do on the battlefied they would always do their best to uphold the honour of the R I C and the regiment they were about to join (applause).

Also in The Meath Chronicle, of the 20th February 1915 was the following:

Constables Brock and Fahy, Navan, who have volunteered for service with the Irish Guards in the war left Navan by the afternoon train on Wednesday 10th inst. for Cotterham, being seen off by County Inspector Gray, District Inspector Smyth, Head Constable O'Sullivan, and a number of police. The constables were entertained to  a farewell supper in the barracks on Saturday night, a large company being present. Mr. John P. Timmon, J.P., who presided, complimented the volunteers for their bravery and wished them a safe return.

 

County Meath Roll of Honour, A. J. Hornick (1916) Navan contains the names:

County Meath R.I.C. Force Volunteers:

John Brock - Irish Guards (Const.) Navan; promoted Sergeant.

Gerald Cullen - 10th Dublin Fusiliers (Const.), Navan; promoted Corporal.

Thomas M. Fahy - Irish Guards (Corporal), wounded (Const.) Navan

Thomas Lally - Irish Guards (Corporal) (Const.) Navan

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further research was undertaken by Vincent Mulvany and he found some more information about the life of Constable Brock. He had been born into a Catholic Co. Galway family, the son of Michael Brock and his wife Mary. They were farming in the townland of Garryduff (Clontuskert, Galway) in 1901. He was their eldest child, age 10 at the time of the 1901 census, and according to that census return his siblings were Kate (age 8), William (age 6), Patrick (age 4) and Michael (age 1). By the time of the 1911 census there were 3 more children, being, Thomas (age 8 in 1911), Marcella (age 4 in 1911) and Mary (age 1 in 1911). Both his parents were still alive in 1911 and still farming in the same place. They lived in a 3 roomed stone built house with had a thatched roof. The house had 2 windows to the front. They also had a stable, a cow house and a barn. By 1911 their eldest son John Brock had taken the house next door to his parents. A house exactly the same as their own, with a shed on the property. He lived there alone and was working at the time as an agricultural labourer.

John Brock had service in both the R.I.C. and the army. He was selected for service in the Irish Guards enlisting on 11the Feb 1915 and was disbanded on 31st May 1922 after which it would appear from his service record that he may have continued back in the R.I.C. in Co. Clare.

Following on from Constable Brock leaving the army we loose track of him. What he did following the war we don't know at this time. Why his watch turns up in a jumble sale in Farnham in England is information yet to be uncovered but we are very grateful indeed to the astute eye and great kindness of Jean Parratt for doing some research on Navan and returning the watch to it's homeplace. She was delighted to see the watch return full circle to Navan.

Jean sent on the watch to the Navan & District Historical Society. In the absence of a County Museum, the N&DHS decided that the best place for it would be the County Library. The photo below shows Vincent Mulvany the archivist of the N&DHS presenting the Brock watch to Ciarán Mangan, Meath County Librarian. Other N&DHS members present include Ethna Cantwell (Secretary), Mairéad Crinion (Membership Secretary) and N&DHS Chairman Richard Farrelly.

The watch is on display in the County Library, Navan.