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Grangecon people involved in WW1 and WW2
  By Tony Mallen
I will from time to time send you snippets of History of people from Grangecon who achieved important things in their lives or participated in events of note from a historic perspective.
The first group to be mentioned by name are those whom I knew participated in the major cataclysmic events of the twentieth century. In this first sheet I will only name them.
Their rank is only important in that a small village with a population of 200 which around the 1940's was deemed to be 400 should have had a number of people numerically out of proportion with the village's population in prominent positions.
 Before I give the names I will further clarify that: My stepfather Major Noel Fitzgerald-Hillis on being asked by me in London in 1944 who a specific statue was for, told me "That is the man who won the war'. Being into famous people I asked him what was the name of the man and he replied "The infantry soldier". I was seven years old and that scene is as clear today as it was then.
The people were:
               1914-18 War.
              2nd Lt. William James Mallen   (Royal Dublin Fusileers)
Killed in action buried in an unmarked grave.
1939-45 War.
              Lt. Col O'Brien-Butler    British Army  (born in India) Ballinure
Lt. Col Thomas K. Mallen,  US Air Force Grangecon Village
Major J.N. FitzGerald-Hillis   (8th Punjab Regt.) Balinure
Major Kieran Mallen    (British Army Medical Corp.) Grangecon Village
Major Brendan Mallen   (British Army Medical Corp.) Grangecon Village
Commissioner James O'Higgins  (Singapore Police) Cory Con 
Survived 3 1/2 years of prisoner of war imprisonment.

 There used to be a plaque on the wall of the old Catholic Church, which may have had, further names inscribed. Its whereabouts may be known to some one. To my best recollection, all of the 1939-45 survivors were actually present at Mass in the old church on one particular Sunday in 1946 or a year close by. I would have been 9 years old and full of "Irelands Own" "Boys Own "hero worship and "ripper yarns " thoughts at seeing these men on the same day.
Tony Mallen 12-12-02

The text above is an edited version of a longer article written by
Tony Mallen for this website.


Below is an anecdote from World War 1 as reported in
"The Kildare Observer"  Dated 10-July-1915
"I had one narrow squeak", said Private Rogers in the course of further conversation, "and it was due to our own foolishness". At St. Julien, when things were quiet for a bit, a fellow named Moore, of Ballyhook, Grangecon, and myself went into a farmhouse close to our lines. We wanted to "wet" a drop of tea. We could not make a fire in the house - which was wrecked - because the smoke would give us away, so we went down into the cellar and lit a bit of a fire to boil the water. We managed that all right, but nothing would do Moore but to BOIL SOME "SPUDS" we found in the place and that "did it". You know the way "spuds" boil over? Well, we had them in a tin and didn't he let the water boil over. Up went a gush of smoke from the fire when the water went on it and nearly being the end of us. There was a hole in the top of the cellar, the smoke went out through it in a rush and that gave us away. The Germans started shelling the d------ house and we could not get away, as it was too bright. They kept pounding away at us and it was awful. Next thing down comes part of the roof on us and nearly smothered us. Moore had a German's watch, which he had fixed upon his rifle swivel. I got a whack of something on the back of the head and I thought I was done for, but I wasn't hurt at all. It was getting darker at this time. "Come on", said I to Moore, "we'll make a shot to get away now". "Wait a minute", said he. "What's the matter"? I said. "My watch", he said, "I'm looking for it", and he was groping about the place. Well, he spent half an hour dead looking for the watch and he found it in the finish buried in the stuff that had fallen down and we got away. I was glad to be out of that fix".

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