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Tim McClintock Bunbury (1881-1937), 3rd Baron Rathdonnell

A rare photograph of Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury (1881-1937), the future 3rd Baron Rathdonnell, taken not long after the birth of his only son William in November 1914. Tim, as he was known, was bound for the frontlines shortly afterwards.

Known as ‘Tim’, Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury was the second son of Thomas Kane (Tom) McClintock Bunbury, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, and his wife Katherine Anne (Kate), née Bruen of Oak Park, County Carlow). Tim became heir apparent to the lordship of Rathdonnell, as well as the family estates after his brother Billy was killed during the Anglo-Boer War. The principal estates were at Lisnavagh, County Carlow, and Drumcar, County Louth, although much of the land was sold by his father in the Edwardian Age following the passage of Wyndham’s Land Act in 1903. All three of Tim’s sisters married cavalry officers.

As a young man, the Cambridge graduate served as Private Secretary to the Governors of Ceylon and Fiji. In 1911 he was appointed Private Secretary to the High Commissioner of Australia. The following year he was married in London to Miss Ethel Ievers, daughter of an Irishman who had become a prominent civil servant in late 19th century Sri Lanka (then the British colony of Ceylon.)

Tim was working as Secretary to the Director of the Imperial Institute in Kensington, London, when war broke out in 1914. His only son William, the 4th Baron Rathdonnell, was born that same year. In 1915, Tim resigned from the Imperial Institute and joined the army, primarily serving in East Africa where he was mentioned in despatches by General Smuts ‘for gallant and distinguished conduct in the Field’. He was later recruited for ‘special service’ in Carinthia in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Bill Burgess of Tobinstown, who died aged 105 in 2007, recalled that Tim was in bad health ‘for ages, for as long as I knew him. He was never in good health from the time he came home’. As such, he didn’t take ‘any interest, or couldn’t, I suppose’, in the estate at Lisnavagh.

Dogged by ill-health and the premature death of his wife in 1922, he seems to have spent the 1920s based at Great Wadd in Kent. He succeeded his father as 3rd Baron Rathdonnell in 1929 and returned to live at Lisnavagh. He travelled to Australia in 1935 but two years later, he passed away – on the same day William’s engagement to Pamela Drew was announced in the press.


Early Years


Born on 3 February 1881, Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury was the second son of the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell and a grandson of Captain William McClintock Bunbury, RN, the nautical soul for whom Lisnavagh House was built.

He was known to some as Tim. If I hesitate to use that name, it’s because “Tim” reminds me of my rogue friend Tim Slingsby. Instead, I sometimes call him Silvermugs because John Grogan told me that was one of his nicknames. The origin of this name is that he apparently only ever drank from a silver mug so that his teetotalling wife would not know its contents were whiskey. Cold houses did tend to make one drink more; whiskey for breakfast used to be the norm. My father possesses a silver mug, which was inscribed in Latin to T. K. Mc. B., Tim’s father. [He also has a christening present silver mug (musical) with a glass bottom, inscribed with Grand National winners.]

When his elder brother Billy Bunbury was killed in the Boer War in 1900, young Tim became heir apparent to the once vast estates of the combined McClintock and Bunbury families. I do not know how many acres this amounted to by the time his son, William (the 4th Baron) was born in 1914, but the Rathdonnell estate was considerably reduced by Wyndham’s Land Act of 1903, which strongly incentivised Irish landowners to sell land to long-standing tenants – for which they received generous financial compensation from the British Government. Tim’s father approved of the act, transferring many acres to his tenants at this time, while Tim’s cousin Arthur McClintock of Rathvinden was a Public Trustee for the Land Commission at this time.


Charterhouse School (1894-1896)


Built in 1927, the chapel at Charterhouse is the largest war memorial in the UK, recalling 687 dead.

Tim was educated at Charterhouse school, near Godalming, Surrey, where my father, grandfather and eldest brother were also schooled. It is not clear why Tim was schooled at Charterhouse rather than Eton where his father, his uncle Jack Bunbury and his brother Billy were all educated. He arrived in the Oration (autumn) Quarter 1894 and was in Saunderites House. At the following summer’s examinations, he was placed in the Upper IV Form.

There is a curious coincidence here – for my family, at any rate – because Tim must have gone to Charterhouse at the same time as John Malcolm Drew, aka Jack Drew, my other great-grandfather, who was just nine months younger than him. Like his brother Alan Appleby Drew, Jack was in Gownboys. As such, I assume Tim and Jack Drew met from time to time, while knocking around the classrooms and chapel at Charterhouse. Little did they know that they would one day have the same four grandchildren!

In the 1895 exams, Tim was 5th equal in Mathematics, 4th in French, 4th in Latin, 11th in English & History, 2nd in Divinity. At the start of the academic year 1895, he was in the Remove (C). In the summer term of 1896, before he left, he was placed 8th in Maths, 3rd in French, 9th in Latin, 5th in Divinity and 4th in Special German. He was also a member of the Rifle Corps.

He left Charterhouse in the Oration Quarter of 1896, aged 15 or 16. It is not yet known why he left earlier than his contemporaries,. Most of those Old Carthusians who left in OQ 1896 appear to have been two or three years older than him. [1] Was Tim particularly bright? Was he expelled? Or did he leave on account of some unhappy episode? It’s unlikely to have been bullying as he sent his only son to Charterhouse in the 1920s but who knows? In his letters to young William, written in the 1930s, Tim certainly comes across as a kindly and sagacious man.

82 boys arrived at Charterhouse with Tim in OQ 1894, to be spread through all eleven boarding houses. Ten of them were killed in action during the First World War. In fact, Charterhouse lost 687 dead – the highest percentage of any boarding school in England. The fallen included Alan Appleby Drew, whose niece Pamela would marry Tim’s son, William. My brother-in-law is the writer Tom Sykes whose grandfather Robert Goad, born in 1900, kept a photo of his class from Eton on his desk until his death many decades later – he was one of very few in the photo to survive the war.

Brian Young (1922-2016) was headmaster of Charterhouse from 1952, and my father’s housemaster.  In circa 2020, his daughter, who Dad also knew at that time, told him that her father always found Remembrance Day difficult.  By 1945, only three of his class of 12 at Eton were alive. Brian Young went on to become director general of the broadcasting regulator and oversaw the formation of Channel 4, launched in 1982.


The Blue Boar in Cambridge where Tim sometimes stayed.

Cambridge, 1898-1905


I don’t know where Tim for the two years after he left Charterhouse in 1896 but he matriculated in 1898 and, on 25 June 1898, he started as an undergraduate student at Trinity College, Cambridge. [2] In 1900, his address was given as 27 Malcolm Street, Cambridge; that’s close to All Saints Church. [3]

He obtained a BA in 1901 and an MA in 1906, possibly in science and technology. I think he would have been at Cambridge when he learned of his brother Billy’s death in South Africa. That left him heir apparent to his father.


Private Secretary to Sir Henry Blake, Governor of Ceylon, 1905-1907


Sir Henry Arthur Blake (1840-1918), Tim’s first boss.

In 1905, Tim was appointed private secretary to Sir Henry Blake Blake (1840–1918), the Limerick-born Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Sir Henry had succeeded Sir Everard im Thurn as governor at the close of 1903. [4]

On 18 November 1905, Tim boarded the P&O liner Himalaya in England, along with Sir Henry and Lady Blake. Also on board was Captain Henry R. Phipps, Royal Field Artillery (Sir Henry’s aide-de-camp) and, possibly, the Duchess of St. Albans (Lady Blake’s sister) and Lady Alexandra Beauclerk. The ship sailed via Marseilles to Colombo. [5]

According to the memoirs of Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, Tim was still Sir Henry’s private secretary in 1907. [6]


High Sheriff & Grand Knight, 1909-1910


In 1909, Tim was appointed High Sheriff of County Carlow in succession to his friend Sir Richard Peirce Butler, 11th Baronet, who had been High Sheriff since 1905. Tim, whose father and uncle had both been High Sheriff a generation earlier, made his declaration before Charles J. Johnson, Commissioner of Oaths, on Monday 1 February 1909. [7] So too, on that same day, did Robert Thorp of Kilgreany House, Bagenalstown, the incoming sub-sheriff.

Tim remained High Sheriff until 1910 when succeeded by William Fitzwilliam Burton. His most controversial act as High Sheriff involved was an action against him taken by Miss Agnes Richardson, of Montgomery Street, Carlow, for an ‘alleged illegal seizure, and for breaking and entering the plaintiff’s and carrying off her goods.’ In May 1909, the King’s Bench Division granted Tim an appeal, which was heard by the Court of Appeal in February 1910. [8]

In November 1909, he was elected Grand Knight of the College of Philosophical Masons in Ireland.

An article in the Court Journal just before Christmas 1910 noted that Tim had ‘inherited his father’s interest in cattle and horse breeding.’ [9]


The Fiji Mission with Sir Everard Im Thurn, 1909-1910


Close up of Sir Everard Ferdinand im Thurn (1852-1932) by Walter Stoneman, 1918. Sir Everard was Bob Ievers‘ boss and would walk Ethel Ievers up the aisle to marry Tim in 1912. © National Portrait Gallery, London.

On 2 July 1909,  Tim was appointed Private Secretary to Sir Everard Im Thurn (1852-1932), the then Governor of Fiji (1904-1910) and High Commissioner of the Western Pacific. [10]

Thurn, an Oxford and Sydney educated explorer and botanist, was curator of the British Guiana Museum from 1877 to 1882. In December 1884, he led the first successful expedition to the summit of Mount Roraima in Venezuela’s Gran Sabana region, along with Harry Perkins, an Assistant Crown Surveyor who was living in British Guiana. A keen photographer, he also authored several works about his expedition to Roraima, which were published in scientific journals.

Thurn went on to become a government agent in British Guiana from 1891 to 1899, before his appointment as 1st Class Clerk in the Colonial Office (1899-1901). In July 1901 he moved to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where he was appointed Colonial Secretary and Lieutenant-Governor. He served as President of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society from 1902 to 1904.  A respected figure in scientific circles, he went on to serve as President of the Royal Anthropological Institute from 1919–1920 and was made an Honorary Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. He was appointed governor of Fiji in 1904.

Tim remained in Fiji until the autumn of 1910 when, after two years abroad, he returned to England, along with Sir Everard, on board the R.M.S. Makura from Suva. [11] He was home by 8 October 1910 when he attended the wedding at St David’s Church, Naas, of Dorothy de Robeck and Digby Peel. [12]

On 20 October 1910, he was almost certainly at the christening in Aghade Church, County Carlow, when he stood as godfather to (the future Sir) Thomas Pierce Butler, firstborn son of Sir Richard and Lady Alice Butler of Ballintemple. He gifted the baby a silver goblet. [13]


The Australian Mission with Sir George Reid, 1910-1912


Sir George Houston Reid, Tim’s boss from 1910-1912, was an Australian politician who led the Reid Government as the fourth Prime Minister of Australia from 1904 to 1905, having previously been Premier of New South Wales from 1894 to 1899. He led the Free Trade Party from 1891 to 1908.

In November or December 1910, Tim was appointed Private Secretary to Sir George Reid, the United Kingdom’s new High Commissioner to the Commonwealth of Australia. [14] Over the next two years, he established himself as one of the most amiable and popular members’ of Reid’s staff. [15]

Born in Renfrewshire, Scotland, in 1845, Reid was the son of a Presbyterian minister who brought his family to Victoria, Australia, in 1852. At the age of 15,  young George joined the School of Arts Debating Society in Sydney as, according to his autobiography, an exceptionally ‘crude novice.’ Starting as assistant accountant in the Colonial Treasury in 1864, he rose rapidly to become head of the Attorney-General’s department by 1878. His career was aided by his quick wit and entertaining oratory; he was “perhaps the best platform speaker in the Empire”, and audiences “flocked to his election meetings as to popular entertainment”.

When a heckler pointed to Reid’s ample paunch and exclaimed “What are you going to call it, George?”, he replied: “If it’s a boy, I’ll call it after myself. If it’s a girl I’ll call it Victoria. But if, as I strongly suspect, it’s nothing but piss and wind, I’ll name it after you.”

He served as Premier of New South Wales from 1894-1899 after which he was variously Attorney General, Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister of Australia.

Reid, who was Australian High Commissioner from 1910 to 1916, proved extremely popular in Britain. When his term ended, he was returned unopposed to the House of Commons for the seat of St George, Hanover Square as a Unionist candidate, where he acted as a spokesman for the self-governing Dominions in supporting the war effort. He died suddenly in London in September 1918, aged 73 of cerebral thrombosis, survived by his wife and their two sons and daughter. She had become Dame Flora Reid GBE in 1917. He is buried in Putney Vale Cemetery.

Being Reid’s secretary was a London-based job with, I think, a desk at the Commonwealth Office in Victoria Street. As such, I am uncertain whether Tim actually visited Australia before he left George’s service in the summer of 1912. He did travel to Canada with them. I suspect he also visited the USA  at this time. At least, he was there at some stage because on 7 September 1936 he recalled in a letter to his son Bill how he once ‘went through the Delaware Gap southward by the Lehigh Valley RR [Railroad]’. The Delaware Gap is a stretch of the Delaware River on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania border.

On 26 January 1911, Tim was at the Skipper’s Hall, Dowgate, London, when Sir George gave an address on “The One Hundred and Twenty-third Birthday of the Empire’s Only Continent.” [16]

On 13 March 1912, he was among the chief mourners, alongside his father, at the funeral of his grandfather, Henry Bruen, in Nurney, County Carlow.  [17] On 3 May 1912, he spoke on Sir George’s behalf at a ceremony at the Neptune Works in Wallsend when Lady Reid launched and christened the steamship Dimboola for the Melbourne Steamship Company. The ship was constructed by Messrs. Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd. Sir George was supposed to attend but had been summoned by the king to Buckingham instead so it was Tom who watched Lady Reid dash a bottle of port against the bow, carefully avoiding the ‘No. 13’ on the water marking. The Titanic must have been unbelievably fresh in everyone’s memory as she did so. [18]


The Imperial Institute, 1912-1915


Sir Wyndham Rowland Dunstan (1861-1949), Chemist and Director of the Imperial Institute. Dunstan was also President of the (3rd) International Association of Tropical Agriculture, which took place in the last week of June 1914 and which Tim attended. [23]

In August 1912, while traveling in Canada with the Reids, Tim received news that he had been appointed assistant secretary to the director of the Imperial Institute in London. [19]  He was to take office upon his return to London later that autumn. [20]

The institute was established in 1887, on the back of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886, with a view to promoting research that would benefit the Empire. The initial focus was on scientific research that supported the industrial and commercial development of the dominions and colonies.

From 1893, it was located in a building on Exhibition Road, South Kensington. Designed by T. E. Collcutt and built between 1887 and 1894 by John Mowlem & Company, this comprised of three copper-roofed Renaissance-style towers. Only the 85-metre Queen’s Tower off Exhibition Road survives today; the remainder was demolished in the 1950s and 1960s to make way for Imperial College.

The institute had been placed under the Board of Trade by an Act in 1902 but in 1907, five years before Tim joined, management was transferred to the Colonial Office. [21] He may have had a suitable scientific background and there’s a suggestion that he obtained an M.A. and that he was somehow linked to the Scientific and Technical Department with the Superintendent of Laboratories. [22]

The director of the Imperial Institute from 1903 until 1924 was the noted chemist Sir Wyndham Rowland Dunstan (1861-1949), C.M.G., F.R.S., a man of great foresight who greatly extended the laboratory work and intelligence services of the institute and took much interest in reorganizing its public exhibition galleries. He also orchestrated major surveys of the mineral resources of India, Nigeria, Nyasaland and Ceylon, and it may well have been through this latter survey that Tim came to hear of the late Bob Ievers or, more relevantly, his daughter Ethel. Sir Wyndham Dunstan was in Ceylon in 1912, but I am unsure if Tim was with him. He surely travelled with him during his return visit in 1914.

Major E. J. Lugard, Tim’s predecessor as secretary, had left England to join his brother, General Sir Frederick Lugard. Tim’s fellow assistant was G. A. I. Bosanquet.


Return To Ceylon, 1912


In 1912, I think, Tim may have also been appointed ADC to the new Governor of Ceylon, Sir Henry Edward McCallum (1907–13). Following McCallum’s resignation in 1913, Sir Robert Chalmers (1913–16) was appointed Governor and it seems as though Tim retained his post for he remained ADC to the Governor until 1914. In 1916, Chalmers stepped down and the Governorship passed to Sir John Anderson (1916–1918).


Evening Irish Times, 30 July 1912.


Marriage to Ethel Ievers, 1912


In July 1912, 31-year-old Tim Bunbury announced his engagement to 27-years-old Ethel Synge Ievers, daughter of the late Bob Ievers and his wife Kate (née Crawford). They were married on 26 November 1912 at St Mary Abbot’s Church, Kensington, in the West End of London. [24]

The wedding was described by the Irish Independent as a ‘Fashionable Marriage.’ [25] Tim’s cousin the Very Rev. Frank McClintock, Dean of Armagh, officiated, assisted by the Rev. G. H. B. Coleridge, B.A.

Victor Robert Pochin, Tim’s best man, was probably an old pal from Cambridge.

Ethel, who had four bridesmaids, was given away by Sir Everard Im Thurn, Tim’s former boss, who hosted the subsequent reception with his wife which was ‘attended by a distinguished company.’


Victor Robert Pochin (1879-1972)


Victor Robert Pochin. (Leicestershire County Council Civic Collection / Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation)

Victor Pochin, 1930

The Irish Independent named Tim’s best man as Robert Pochin, This was almost certainly Victor Robert Pochin, CBE, only son of George William Pochin (1843- 1929), JP, DL, High Sheriff of Co. Leicester (1904).

Born on 10 September 1879, he was, I think, a lieutenant with the 3rd Buffs who owned a 5000 acre estate in Leicestershire where he lived between Barkby Hall and  Edmondthorpe Hall, near Oakham. I’m not yet sure if his family connects to Henry Davis Pochin, the English industrial soap inventor who predominated at Tredegar, south Wales, and established the Bodnant Garden.

Marianne Pochin, Victor’s mother, was a daughter of Robert Deey Barry of Fitzwilliam Street. Was she a cousin of the Barrys who married into the Ievers family? She married George in November 1870 and had three children, Victor, and two daughters, Rhoda Mabel Hope and Ethel. [26]

Marianne died when Victor was 17, shortly before he went to Cambridge where he acquired an MA and may have befriended Tim Bunbury. [27] He was a hunting-shooting-fishing type with a great love for cricket. In terms of his character, his obituary maintained that his advice on personal and county matters was wise, sympathetic, selfless and available to all who sought it.’ [28]

Appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1906, Victor became a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn the following year. With an address at 9 Cleveland Row, St. James’s St., SW and membership of the United University club, he went on to high office in Leicestershire – Deputy Lieutenant (1925), High Sheriff (1941), Deputy Chairman of Quarter Sessions, Vice-Chairman and then Chairman (1960–1961) of Leicestershire County Council.

When my parents were wed in 1965, he sent them a copy of the A.A. Guide Book of Ireland as a present, along with a note to say he had been best man to my father’s grandfather.

When he died in 1972, aged 92, The Times of London applauded him as the ‘Grand Old Man of Leicestershire. [29]


Ethel’s Sisters


Nena Izat, sister of Ethel McClintock Bunbury.

Ethel McClintock Bunbury’s older sister Nena Ievers obtained an MD from Edinburgh University and married a Ceylonese civil servant Norman Izat, whose father was a prominent engineer in British India. Her three children – Mary, Katherine and Alan – were thus Tim and Ethel’s nephews, and first cousins of Bill Rathdonnell, 4th Baron Rathdonnell. For more on Izat, see here.

Ethel’s younger sister Kitty Ievers, aka Kathleen Crawford Ievers, married Bertram George de Glanville of the Ceylon Civil Service. For more on de Glanville, see here.


Weddings and Funerals, 1913-1914


On 13 May 1913, Tim represented Sir Wyndham Dunstan, the director, at the funeral of Field Marshal Lord Wolseley in in St Paul’s, London. [30]

On 26 January 1914, he represented the director of the Imperial Institute at the Westminster Abbey funeral of the Canadian businessman and philanthropist Baron Strathconna and Mount Royal, the late High Commissioner to Canada. [31]

On 16 April 1914, Tim and Ethel attended the wedding at the Guards Chapel in Wellington Barracks of Olive Snell and Captain Ebenezer Lecky-Pike (1884-1965), son of the landowner and sportsman Robert Lecky Pike, known as ‘Piko’, of Kilnock House, County Carlow. [32] In September 1921, Captain Lecky’s sister, a beauty by name of Rhoda Vava Lecky Pike (1900-81) was married in London to the artist Sir Oswald Birley.

A Son is Born, 1914


On 23 November 1914, Ethel gave birth to her one and only child at 50 Drayton Gardens in South West London. [33] London. William Robert McClintock Bunbury, later the 4th Baron Rathdonnell, was my paternal grandfather.

1914, of course, was a calamitous year. The world went to war just a few months before William’s birth and the fighting didn’t stop for five years or, more accurately for Ireland, nine years.

Ethel moved to Ireland before Christmas 1914 and William was christened on 15 January 1915, presumably in Ireland and possibly in Drumcar. There is no mention of him in the parish register for Rathvilly. Among the gifts he received at his christening was a silver dish presented by his godmother, Isabella K. Colvin, now at Lisnavagh. Isabella was one of his three aunts, the others being Mamie Bramwell and Pauline Dalgety.

Advancing to War, 1915


Tim was 33 years old when the war began. He did not join the army straightaway, presumably because his work at the Imperial Institute was deemed too important. He was certainly held in high regard there. However, things changed by 3 December 1915 when Tim was gazetted as a Staff Lieutenant, 2nd Class, ‘graded … for purposes of pay,’ and appointed a temporary lieutenant by the War Office. [34]

Three weeks later, Tim resigned his post at the institute ‘in order to undertake military duties.’ [35] Bosanquet was simultaneously promoted Secretary. In January 1916, A. J. Hedgeland came in from the War Trade Department to take on the role of Assistant Secretary. [36]


Ethel– The Lady Rathdonnell That Never Was


Ethel McClintock Bunbury and her only child William, later the 4th Baron Rathdonnell.

Alas, Ethel McClintock Bunbury died young in 1922 and so little is known of her. Certainly Dad and his sisters have virtually no knowledge of their grandmother. John Grogan, an old Ceylon hand since passed away, heard stories of her and suggested to me that she was a devout Christian and much given to berating those who drank, particularly her goodly husband who hence earned his moniker Silvermugs.

The late Betty Scott told me that the Lisnavagh household felt Ethel had died of loneliness when she and her small boy moved to Ireland at the start of the Great War. She had grown up in Ceylon, perhaps basking in the glories of imperial tea and tennis parties, sunshine and servants. Her father-in-law, Tom Bunbury, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, was one of the most influential members of the Unionist movement in the southern half of the country. Ireland was already in a state of turmoil when Ethel and her new husband first went to stay with his parents at their second home, Drumcar in County Louth. All across the east coast guns were being landed for Protestant and Catholic militia. The soldiers at the Curragh camp were mutinying. Dublin had become the stomping ground of trade unionism, republicanism, suffragettes and anti-war movements. And the British Government had finally agreed to let the country be ruled from Dublin, albeit with Britain’s Sovereign Supremacy held intact. Civil war seemed imminent but, if Home Rule was granted to Ireland, as planned, then there was every chance that the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell would be appointed Minister of the new government. As it happened, an archduke was shot in Sarajevo and the world flipped into the First World War instead. Still, as President of the Royal Dublin Society, the 2nd Baron’s credentials must have drawn the notice of Lloyd-George’s wartime coalition.

In Ballsbridge, he provided lemonade to the ill-fated Sherwood Forresters as they marched to their doom at Mount Street Bridge in Easter 1916.

It can’t have been easy to fit into this Anglo-Irish world for the young Ceylon gal who had lived her own equally bizarre isolated life before coming to Ireland. Less than a decade after her arrival, young Ethel had passed away. She cannot have seen her husband much given that he spent much of the war on assignment in Africa, Italy and Austria.


Tim’s War Record, noting first service in East Africa


The East African Campaign


In 1916, General Jan Smuts commanded some 13,000 South Africans including Boers, British, and Rhodesians as well as 7,000 Indian and African troops, against a small German army in German East Africa (Tanzania) commanded by Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, aka The African Kaiser or the Lion of Africa. The German general was a remarkable man – he spoke fluent Swahili language, appointed black officers and stated ‘we are all Africans here’. By September 1916, the German Central Railway from the coast at Dar es Salaam to Ujiji was fully under British control. Smuts then began to withdraw his South African, Rhodesian and Indian troops and replaced them with askaris of the King’s African Rifles.

Undated image of Tim Rathdonnell (right) and Colonel Phillips.

Tim served in East Africa (present day Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi) during this campaign and was mentioned in despatches. My guess is that he was tied up with an expedition that was initially commanded by General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien. Their mission was to confront the Germans in East Africa in 1916. [37]

Smith-Dorrien was quite some man. During the Zulu War, he had a most dramatic escape from Isandlwana when he crossed the Buffalo River, with 20 Zulu impis in hot pursuit, by holding onto the tale of a loose horse. Less than fifty British survived the battle. He also served in the Anglo-Boer War. At the start of the Great War, he commanded the British Expeditionary Force II Corps with which he made a celebrated stand at Le Cateau, by which he arguably saved the lives of thousands of British. However, he was castigated and dismissed by Lord French for disobeying his orders. Prior to the East Africa campaign, he also came in for criticism for advocating withdrawal from the Ypres salient after huge numbers of British were killed by German poison.

General Smith-Dorrien was stricken with pneumonia on the voyage south to South Africa and had to call it quits. Jan Smuts then took charge of the East Africa Force. Major Dermot McCalmont of Mount Juliet, who had been Smith-Dorrien’s ADC, served as Assistant Military Secretary (Brevet Major) of the East Africa Force. Smith- Dorrien later became a celebrated after dinner speaker, specializing in the tale of his Zulu escape.

On 22 November 1916, Tim was mentioned in despatches by Smuts for gallant and distinguished services in the Field. I became aware of this when I found an envelope entitled ‘ON HIS MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE’, dated July 1920, addressed to Major Hon TL McClintock Bunbury, Spec List, c/o Secretary Room 506, War Office, SW1. Inside was a card the size of a wedding invitation headed ‘The War of 1914 – 1918.’ Sent from the War Office, Whitehall SW, on 1st March 1919, it was sub-captioned ‘Special List’. Below that it said:

T/2nd Lt Hon T.L. Bunbury (the name hand-written) ‘was mentioned in Despatches from Lt Gen The Hon JC Smuts dated 22nd November 1916 for gallant and distinguished services in the Field. I have it in command from the King to record His Majesty’s high appreciation of the services rendered’.

The letter was signed by the then Secretary of State for War – Winston S Churchill.

Tim’s services ‘in the Field’ thus explain why he was promoted from a temporary 2nd Lieutenant to a ‘temporary’ Lieutenant on 20 December 1916. [38]

As for General von Lettow-Vorbeck, he was never defeated in battle, and only surrendered after learning about the Armistice in November 1918. In 1935 Hitler offered him the ambassadorship to the Court of St James’s in London, following a recommendation from Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen. The general apparently told the Führer to “go fuck himself.” Somehow he lived to be 93, dying in Hamburg just after The Beatles began performing in the city.


Italian Service, 1918


Brigadier-General Sir Charles “Langa Langa” Delmé-Radcliffe (1864-1937), Tim’s boss in Italy, displaying some of his many medals.

Following his service in Africa, Tim went to Italy where he appears to have served with the British Mission at the Italian “Comando Supremo” (Supreme Headquarters) at Udine, under Charles Hordern, whose letters appear later on this page. Located  between the Adriatic Sea and the Alps, Udine was nicknamed the “Capitale della Guerra” (“War Capital”).

When did he actually start his service in Italy? Did he speak Italian? He certainly hadn’t excelled at Latin when he was at Charterhouse. Given his subsequent assignment in Slovenia, this suggests that he was concentrating on Alpine matters?

On 23 March 1917, the Comando Supremo hosted a meeting in Udine of the Italian, English and French military commanders to discuss what material should be provided to the front on the Karst, a region extending across the border of southwestern Slovenia and northeastern Italy. This was, rightly,  judged to be in ‘an absolutely precarious condition.’ General Sir William Robertson, who visited Udine at this time, was unimpressed by the Comando Supremo, General Luigi Cadorna, and the five other army commanders that he met. Only the King of Italy’s cousin, Lieutenant General the Duke of Aosta, was deemed adequate.

The Allied plans failed and Udine was seized by the Germans after the disastrous fall of Caporetto in present-day Slovenia in October 1917. This was when the Italian army in the Julian Alps was overwhelmed by an Austro-German offensive, in which young Rommel played a leading part. Among others serving on the Italian Front at this time was Ernest Hemingway, who wrote of his experiences there in Farewell to Arms. He was not actually at Caporetto (which he writes about in the book) but was severely wounded in the defensive actions which followed.

The day before Udine fell, General Luigi Cadorna, the head of the Comando Supremo, ordered a retreated south to Treviso. According to one account:

‘The retreat, lacking any coordination whatsoever, took the shape of a chaotic stream of soldiers and civilians on the run from the Austro-German army.’
(The Austro-German advance in Friuli).

Il liceo Stellini ad Udine, where the Comando Supreme was based from 1915 until October 1917.

The Kaiser himself was soon strolling through Udine.

Another player involved in the Italian war was Major Robert Gregory, the pilot son of Lady Gregory, with whom Tim had much in common. Bob Ievers, Tim’s father-in-law, almost certainly started his career in the Ceylon Civil Service under Robert’s father, Sir William Gregory, Governor of Ceylon during the 1870s. They were also keen cricketers. Major Gregory was awarded the MC and appointed to the Legion d’Honneur. After he was shot down and killed over Italy on 23 January 1918, he became the subject of W.B. Yeats poem, ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death.’

Udine is 40km from Trieste, to which there are direct flights to Dublin.

My thanks to Nicola Revelant, Area Cultura, Promo Turismo, for directing me to two authorities on this subject. The first is Paolo Gaspari, the owner of a publishing house in Udine that specializes in the history of the WWI. He is the author of “Guida ai luoghi della Grande Guerra nella Provincia di Udine” (Guide to the places of the Great War in the Province of Udine), published in 2012, which includes a chapter about the Italian Supreme Command. The second name is Paolo Ferrari, a professor of Contemporary History at the University of Udine. I wrote to both men on 30 January 2023.  Nicola asked if my impending trip to Udine would be a part of a TV documentary / press service – I sincerely hope so!

Sir Charles Delmé-Radcliffe


Towards the end of the war, Tim served under Brigadier-General Sir Charles “Langa Langa” Delmé-Radcliffe (1864-1937), C.B., C.M.G., C.V.O., who was head of the International Mission for the Control of the Plebiscite area of Klagenfurt, Austria, from 1916-1919. After Tim’s death in 1937, he wrote to Tim’s son, my grandfather, stating that Tim “served me right well during the war in Italy. I was very fond of your mother too. She was a wonderful person. I knew her when she came out to join your father at North Klagenfurt in Carinthia”.

Klagenfurt am Wörthersee was 155km east of Udine and I’ll explain that in more detail shortly.

Educated at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, Delmé-Radcliffe was commissioned in the Connaught Rangers in 1884.  Attached to the King’s African Rifles in Uganda from 1886 – 1902, he became famous as the commander of the Nile Military District who rounded up the ‘Black Turks’ of Soudan in 1901-1902. An excellent linguist, who published widely on scientific and military matters, he contributed various items to the British Museum. From 1902 to 1904 he was the British Commissioner for Delimitation of the Anglo-German Uganda / Tanganyika Boundary, west of the Victoria Nyanza for which he was created C.M.G. in 1905. The next year he was appointed Military Attaché at the Rome Embassy, arriving in time to take in the eruption of Vesuvius. [39] He became a friend of King Vittorio Emmanuele III and many other leading politicians and soldiers of the day. His influence in keeping Italy from joining the Axis powers in World War One was significant.

After Italy joined the Allied side in May 1915, Delmé-Radcliffe led a British Military Mission that was sent to the Italian headquarters with an intelligence section under Colonel Vivian Gabriel of the SIS (MI6) Intelligence Mission. Their main role seems to have involved channelling maps and operational intelligence back to the War Office. Following the successful Austrian offensive of 1917, there was a major increase in the number of French and British forces transferred to Italy.

On 4 November 1918, General Armando Diaz, the supreme commander of the Royal Italian Army, announced the surrender of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the victory of the Kingdom of Italy. As Diaz observed, ‘The Austro-Hungarian Army has so far left about 300,000 prisoners of war in our hands along with multiple entire officer corps and at least 5,000 pieces of artillery.’

Sir Charles went on to command the International Mission in Italy after the war. He did not long survive Tim and died in Victoria, Canada, on 13 December 1937, aged 76. In the short time between their deaths, he wrote to Tim’s son. As well as offering his sympathies, Sir Charles was seeking the whereabouts of ‘confidential papers relating to the staff work of my Mission in Italy during the War,’ which Tim was storing for him. I wonder if those papers were every found? It would be intriguing to review Sir Charles’ private papers, held by the Imperial War Museum.


1919 Awards – M.B.E., Croce di Guerra, Order of the Crown of Italy


Croce di Guerra

In the New Year Honours of January 1919, King George V appointed ‘Temp Lieutenant The Honourable Thomas Leopold McClintock-Bunbury, General List’ to a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). The award was ‘For services rendered in connection with Military Operations in Italy.’ Who’s Who (1921) would state that his MBE was granted for service on ‘the Italian Front.’ Two months later, Tim was promoted and ‘granted the temporary rank of captain whilst specially employed.’ [40] By March 1920, he was a major.

In July 1919, Tim was one of four officers made a Cavalier of the Order of the Crown of Italy while Sir Charles Delme-Radcliffe, his commander, became a Grand Officer of the same order. [41] Tim was also awarded the Italian Croce di Guerra.

He was also awarded the British Red Cross Society Medal for War Service in 1918, which I suspect tallies with his Italian assignment.

I wonder what Tim felt about what happened to Italy in the 1920s. Was he aware of the tremendous racism against Slavic people in north-east Italy? Perhaps he witnessed the early stages of the Biennio Rosso (“Two Red Years”) which kicked off in 1919 with the mass strikes and lock-outs. There was also mounting tension between a new generation of socialists and fascists, both of whom had learned the real depths of violence when they fought in the war. Fascists tended to be of the middle-class officer background, determined to establish a new Italy.

In October 1922, less than two years after Tim’s return to Ireland, Benito Mussolini marched on Rome and became the world’s first Fascist prime minister. The following year, Hitler launched his failed putsch in Munich. Thereafter, the Nazi leader paid closer heed to the Italian model, watching it become a fully-fledged dictatorship. On 3 January 1925, Mussolini asserted his right to supreme power and effectively became the dictator of Italy. Mussolini had consolidated power in part by the use of political violence (and murder) and in part by wooing conservative elites like the king and the church. During the 1920s, Italy was the Fascist icon and Hitler was merely Mussolini’s lackey, leaping onto the bandwagon. In 1926, Violet Gibson, a pal of Tim’s sisters, would try to kill Mussolini but Il Duce survived to send poison gas into Ethiopia and Libya and unite with Hitler for the Second World War. In October 2022, a century after Mussolini came to power, Italy elected a right wing government under Giorgia Meloni and the Brothers of Italy.


Major Bunbury: Klagenfurt & the Carinthian Election, 1920


Tim receives thanks from the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The writing says:  Kraltestvo Srbov Hevatov in Slovencev. KOMANDA 39. PEPOLKA
Oñćīcski zbor kralf. 39. peśpolka gospodu
offćirskega zbora Fega polka

In November 2013, I chanced upon a curious document in the archives dated March 1920 and relating to “Major the Hon. Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury, MBE’. After the First World War (or possibly during its latter stages), he was seemingly dispatched to post-war Carinthia, the southernmost ‘crown land’ of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, a landscape of mountains and lakes within the Eastern Alps. (See letter from Charles Hordern, appendix 1 below). The 1921 edition of ‘Who’s Who’ stated that Tim was on “special service in Austria in 1919-20,” while his 1919 promotion alluded to his being ‘specially employed.’ However, I knew little else.

Southern Carinthia was dominated by Slovenes, who spoke their own dialect. In November 1918, the Slovenians under Franjo Malgaj and Rudolf Maister, assisted by the regular Yugoslav army, occupied southern Carinthia and claimed it for the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (aka Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca, as described in the certificate). (See here.)  In 1929, the country was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia .

Ryanair fly from Dublin to Klagenfurt direct – I am full of hope that I’ll visit before long.

I suspect Major Bunbury was part of an Allied Commission, headed by U.S. Lt. Col. Sherman Miles, sent to review the situation. With a nod to item no. 10 of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, they proposed a referendum in the disputed area so that the inhabitants could decide if they wished to remain with Austria or become part of the new Yugoslavia. An armistice was duly drawn up and, gradually, the occupying forces pulled out of Carinthia.

Southern Carinthia was divided into two zones. Zone A was formed out of the predominantly Slovene-inhabited zones, while Zone B included the City of Klagenfurt (the capital of Carinthia) and the immediately surrounding rural areas where German speakers formed a vast majority. As suggested by the Allied Commission, a Referendum was held on 10 October 1920 in which almost 60% of Zone A’s population voted to remain with Austria. If they had decided for Yugoslavia, another referendum in Zone B would have followed.

There is much to learn about Major Bunbury’s connection to all this but, in his letter to the 4th Baron Rathdonnell from 1937, Charles Hordern writes:

‘We last met at Klagenfurt in 1920, when, as the forerunner of a Plebiscite Commission, I took over from him the last remains of the old Mission in which we had served together two years before, and closed it down. His last act there was to drive me round & introduce me to some of the kindly local people who were friends of his, so that I might not feel alone after his departure to England. That was characteristic of him, & deepened the affection I already had for him; and though we never met again I have never forgotten him.’

Details from Tim’s thank you from the Kraltestvo Srbov Hevaton in Slovencev (i.e. the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, abbreviated SHS.) In 1929 , the country was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia .

Return To Ireland, 1919-1920


I think this is Tim mounted on the day of a hunt, possibly at the gate into Duckett’s Grove.

On 28 April 1920, Tim ‘relinquished’ the temporary rank of Major on the General Staff. [42] I am unsure where he returned to Ireland but he had been appointed High Sheriff for County Carlow in 1919. That was a difficult post in a year when anti-English sentiments were reaching fever pitch across Ireland during the War of Independence. But was Tim even in Ireland at this time!? The office of High Sheriff was probably in Carlow Court House.


Post-War Recovery


It has often been suggested that Tim was not a very healthy man. No doubt his wartime experiences did not help but he also smoked heavily and was fond of a drink. His parents were such a formidable pair that I sometimes imagine Ethel as meek in their presence, a sort of Isabella Linton if you’ve ever read Wuthering Heights. That said, Sir Charles Delme-Radcliffe described her as ‘a wonderful person’ and she evidently spent some time with Tim in Carinthia just after the war. Her name appears regularly in the Drumcar – Lisnavagh guest book during the war years. I am not sure where she was when not at Lisnavagh.


Ethel’s Death


Ethel passed away on 4 March 1922 at the age of 38. She was buried in Brookwood Cemetery near Woking in Surrey. [43] (See also the details regarding Tim’s funeral below).

She was survived by her husband and their 8-year-old son William Robert McClintock Bunbury. Within weeks of her death, Ireland was plunged into a brutal civil war between the Irish Free State Army and those who felt the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty fell far short of Republican ambitions.

In a letter to his old war colleague Charles Hordern just over six years later, Tim opened up a good deal about the effects of Ethel’s premature death:

‘I have owed you a letter for several years. You were kind enough to write to me when my wife died and I am afraid I did not answer; I could not. I realize now that I was pretty well knocked out by an event which I had never contemplated; I grasped only one thing: that my boy was motherless and that everything in me had to go out to him. I hope you will forgive me for not answering. Perhaps you can sympathize.’


Great Wadd, 1923-1929


Little Wadd East

I am slowly working my way through various letters and other manuscripts but it would seem to me that a particularly strong bond evolved between William – or Bill as his friends called him – and his father in the years after Ethel’s death. But perhaps they hardly saw each other at all!

By 1923, Tim was living  at Great Wadd near Staplehurst in Kent; he gave Staplehurst as his address when he entered a ‘one horse and waggon’ contest at the Cranbrook Horse Show in August 1923. Great Wadd was also his address at the time of his mother’s death in April 1925. The property, which included an eighty acre farm, is located between Frittenden (where there’s an Episcopal church of St. Mary’s) and Staplehusrt. It was part of the Great Wadd Farm, a substantial hops farm, that had been owned by the Joy family of  nearby Hungerden House. Harold E Joy, of this family, became superintendent of one of the large rubber companies in Akron, Ohio. [44]

When my grandfather took my father out of Charterhouse in the 1950s to visit Colvin relations in Surrey or East Sussex, there was never any mention of Great Wadd although we have files relating to the property from the 1930s. Dad believes his father must have spent a time at Great Wadd as a boy. It was only 47 miles west, via Horsham, from Tim’s sister Mimi Bramwell at Shermansbury in West Sussex. Young William was winning egg-and-spoon races at the Gable School in East Sussex by July 1922. [45] Perhaps this explains why Tim chipped in £2 to a fund for the new Royal East Sussex Hospital on Cambridge Road, Hastings, in 1927. [46]


Death Of Lady Rathdonnell


Tim’s parents were Thomas Kane (Tom) McClintock Bunbury, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, and Katherine Anne (Kate) (née Bruen). Courtesy of Hugh Dalgety.

Tim’s mother, Lady Rathdonnell (née Katherine Ann “Kate” Bruen) passed away in Algeria in 1924. Based at Great Wadd, he was closely involved with her funeral arrangements. See here.




I believe Tim may be the man standing on the far right of frame about 40 seconds into this Pathe news clip about the 1928 Spring Show. He would have been 47 years old at this time.

Tim seems to have lived at Great Wadd until he succeeded to Lisnavagh upon his father’s death on 22 May 1929. Six months later, the Kent & Sussex Courier of 6 September 1929 published the following sales notice:

Under instructions from Lord Rathdonnell.
GREAT WADD FARM, with frontage to the main Maidstone Road. midway between Cranbrook and Staplehurst. 81a. Or. 35p.
OF HOP, ARABLE, PASTURE and FRUIT LAND (Principally Grass) with an ATTRACTIVE and INTERESTING OLD HOUSE with much massive Oak Timber, beautiful moulded Beams, with all necessary modern conveniences, Central Heating. Bath, Lounge Hall, Dining Room, Garden Room. Kitchen well fitted, Pantry, Dairy. Front and Back Staircases. 5 Bedrooms. Store Room and comfortable Rooms in the Roof with Oak Floors. Cupboards with Hot Water Pipes.
Stone Crazy Paving Paths.
New Hop Kiln and Cooling Room. Tiled Barn, Cattle Shedding and Yards. Stabling, Waggon and Implement Lodges. Company’s Water.
To be SOLD by AUCTION by MESSRS. WINCH & SONS in conjunction with MESSRS. ROPER. SON & CHAPMAN at
THURSDAY, 19th SEPTEMBER, 1929, at 3 o’clock.
With Possession on Completion of the Purchase Particulars. Conditions of Sale and Plan of Messrs. Reid, Sharman and Co.. Solicitors, 36. Bedford Row. London. W.C.I; Roper, Son and Chapman, 347, High Street. Hounslow, W.; Winch and Sons, Cranbrook.

A month later, the farm itself was sold as per this notice in the Sussex Agricultural Express, Friday 18 October 1929:

(Having let the farm) HAVE received instructions from the Rt. Hon. Lord Rathdonnell to
the whole of the FARMING STOCK, comprising two waggons, dung cart, alley bodge, wheelbarrow, horse rake, swathe turner, two-horse mower, corn, coke and root mills, weighing machine, chaff cutter, ploughs, harrows, shims, brake, powdering machine, hop tackling, harnesses, rick and waggon cloths, three tents, corn cleaning machine, revolving summer house, etc.,
also the FURNITURE, viz ; a Mahogany telescope table, oak sideboard, Chesterfield couch, lounging, oak and other chairs, Chippendale pedestals, pile and Indian carpets and rugs, oak writing table, rosewood inlaid Sutherland table, folding card fable, brass log box, two-valve wireless set, oak and mahogany inlaid chests of drawers, tapestry screen, convex mirror, carved oak and mahogany wardrobes, washstands. toilet tables, glasses, bedsteads and bedding, oak gate-leg table, silver and Sheffield plated items, linen, curtains, glass, ornaments, electric, clock, dinner ware, breakfast and tea service, kitchen and scullery utensils, etc.
Sale to commence at 11 o’clock.
Catalogues may be had of the Auctioneers, Messrs. Roper, Son and Chapman, 247 Highstreet, Hounslow, W; Messrs. Winch and Sons, Cranbrook. Kent.


Straw Hall


Oak Park

Tim and his son often visited Drumcar during the 1920s and early 1930s. My father believes they were also regular visitors to Tim’s cousin Captain Henry Arthur Breen at Straw Hall in Carlow. The house was subsequently absorbed into the urban district of Carlow and the now closed beet factory, close to the Educate Together school where my daughters were at school. Although surrounded by new buildings, Straw Hall is still visible as of 2023, going west on the ring road (N.80) as you climb the hill to cross the railway.

Presumably this was part of the Oak Park Estate at the time. Perhaps this was the fine large house beside the Business Gateway Park Centre, directly opposite The Holy Angels Centre, which was owned by Bruen.


Letter to Charles Hordern, 1928


Great Wadd,

29 March, 1928.

My dear Hordern,
I see that you recently gave away your daughter in marriage. May I, through you, send her an old Irish message – many happy days and years. I hope she will have every happiness and that no clouds will hide the sunlight from her life.
I have owed you a letter for several years. You were kind enough to write to me when my wife died and I am afraid I did not answer; I could not. I realize now that I was pretty well knocked out by an event which I had never contemplated; I grasped only one thing: that my boy was motherless and that everything in me had to go out to him. I hope you will forgive me for not answering. Perhaps you can sympathize.
If ever you are in this direction, I hope you will look me up. I am 11 miles south of Maidstone. I am supposed to be a farmer (some say I am no farmer) of 80 acres. At any rate I have a home and an occupation.
The Admiralty spun my boy for an eyesight defect for Dartmouth, and in September he is for my old house at Charterhouse. I hope he will be able to have another shot at the Navy from there in four years. At all events, when he is at Charterhouse, we shall talk the same language and have much ground in common.
I hope all is well with you. Please remember me to your wife.
Yours very sincerely,
T. L. McClintock Bunbury

PS: Please excuse a typed letter. I have had to take to a typewriter again on account of eyes.

Succession as 3rd Baron Rathdonnell, 1929


Tim’s father, the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, at the Dublin Horse Show in the 1920s.

In May 1929, Tom Rathdonnell passed away at the age of 81. Tim duly succeeded as 3rd Baron Rathdonnell. He took his 13-year-old son with him on a trip to India that Christmas. I believe Tim acquired a new lover about this time but am delving deeper into this.

I believe Lisnavagh was run by (Sir) John Langham until he succeeded his father as baronet in 1951 and returned to Tempo. See also the Rathdonnell Rental Account Books (started 1929), compiled by John Langham, which detail tenants of family properties owned in Carlow (Rathvilly, Mountneill , Moanavoth, Lisnavagh, Ballybit), Kildare (Celbridge), Dublin (Swords) and Meath (Flemingstown), including the post office, Molloy’s and the Harp Bar in Rathvilly. Sir John was my father’s godfather.


Various Events


On 12 August 1930, Horace Smith-Dorrien, the Zulu and Boer War veteran who had perhaps been Tim’s commander in Africa in 1916, was killed in a car crash near Chippenham in Wiltshire, England.

On 6 October 1931, the Land Purchase Commission, Northern Ireland, acquired a holding of 24 acres from his estate that was held by Ellen Maguire (widow) I Knocknastackan, near Fivemiletown, County Fermanagh. [47]

On 21 June 1932, the 31st International Eucharistic Congress began in Dublin. It was the largest public event to happen in the new Irish Free State, reinforcing the Free State’s image as a devout Catholic nation. The high point was when over a million people gather for Mass in Phoenix Park.

By 1930, Mussolini had transformed his authoritarian dictatorship into a totalitarian dictatorship. On 17 March 1930, Rodolfo Graziani, 1st Marquis of Neghelli, a prominent member of the National Fascist Party, was appointed Vice-Governor of Italian Cyrenaica (East Libya). Over the next four years, he violently suppressed the Senussi rebellion, using concentration camps and labour camps, where thousands of Libyan prisoners die. This was part of Mussolini’s plan to rebuild the Roman empire, secure control of the North African coast and connect to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea. Graziani’s term finished on 31 May 1934.

Lisnavagh Employees, 1932

Built in 1928, this Blackstone 28hp Spring Injector was at the Lisnavagh Saw Mill for over seven decades. It was for sale in November 2023.

This is a Nominal Roll of Labour employed at Lisnavagh, 8 September 1932

Barry, M. Farm. Stockman
Byrne, Jack. Farm. Yardman
Clarke, Joe. Farm
Clarke, B. Farm
Clarke, Frank. Stables
Connors, M. Farm
Connors, L. Farm
Cran, Dick. Garden [48]
Cullen, Mick. Woods
Curren, Tom. Woods
Curry, Bill. Farm
Dowdall, C. Stables
Dowling, Joe. Farm
Dowling, Atty. Farm (read his interview from ‘Vanishing Ireland, Volume 1’
Dowling, Jack. Farm
Dowling, T. Farm
Dowling, Pat. Farm
Elliott, Jack. Woods
Faulkner, C. Head Gardner [Charles]
FitzPatrick, Mrs. ——-
Forans, Mick. Farm
Giff, Henry A. Land Steward
Giff, Henry. Farm
Giff, Mrs. Farm (Dairy & Poultery)
Halligan, Tom. Smith
Halligan, M. Woods
Hagerty, Tom. Smith’s Mate
Kelly, Dan. Farm

[List stops here but looks like there are more who should be here lettered K-Z).


The Fitzwilliam Wedding, 1933


On April 28 1933, Tim and William attend the wedding of Viscount Milton (later Earl FitzWilliam) and Olive Plunket in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. The wedding can be seen on Pathe.


Letter from Kimberley, South Africa, 1934


4 Elsmere Road,

17th October 1934

Dear Lord Rathdonnell,

Immense thanks for your kind and welcome letter received several weeks ago. I was pleased indeed to learn that the B.E.S.L. badge [British Empire Service League] reached you safely, and I had great pleasure in conveying your good wishes to the Committee at their weekly meeting. Your letter to Mr Nieuwenhuis was read and thereafter I was asked to let you know that the contents were hailed with acclamation. The hope was expressed that in the not distant future the branch would once again enjoy the privilege of a visit from your lordship, and your son too.

A copy of our little book “The Springbok” should reach you each month, and I hope that you will sometimes find items of interest therein. You will, I am sure, be pleased to learn that our big “recruiting push” has added at least 150 to our Membership. At present we hold second place in the Union, and we are ambitious to soon arrive at first place!

“Tubby” Clayton, founder of the Toc H., visited the B.E.S.L. on the day your letter reached here, and Kimberley had the unique distinction of being the first Branch of inviting him to become a Life Member, which he kindly consented to do. [49]

I had the thrill a few minutes ago of listening right here – in my own dining room – to our dear old General Smuts making his Rectorial Speech at St Andrew’s University in Scotland – truly, we live in an age of wonders!

I am glad to say that Mrs Beek [?] continues towards recovery, although slowly. She has borne her great sufferings with real Irish stoicism – she was quite proud of your remark that “The Connolly’s are not people to give in.” She asks me to convey her cheeriest greetings to you.

In spite of the severe depression existing here, consequent on the Diamond Mines still remaining closed, Kimberley lately had quite a “wake up” when the first South African Motor Car race, a distance of 100 miles over a seven mile course, was staged here. It was preceded by a Motor Cycle race over the same course, and I am glad to say that notwithstanding numerous “thrills and spills”, and many hairbreadth escapes, everything passed off in a most successful manner.

Oh! I nearly forgot to mention that a huge Air Rally took place here the same afternoon in which 36 aircraft participated – they had come from all parts of Africa. The South African Air Force delighted the many many thousands present to a bombardment with live bombs of an “Arab Village” – although the people must have been tired out attending the motor races in the morning, they still thronged in their thousands to the airport in the afternoon. The Air Rally was the largest of its kind yet staged in this country, and it was estimated that at least 5000 motor vehicles had brought visitors here from all parts of the country.

23rd October. I am sorry that I did not finish this letter earlier. I passed on your kind message to old “Bob” Mark, and he much appreciated your good thoughts towards him when you write to Miss Fletcher. On the 18th instant the Mayoress (Mrs W H Gasson), with the Mayor’s Chaplain, and one or two others interested, visited Gladstone cemetery for the purpose of placing a wreath on Lieut Fletcher’s grave – it had been sent out by his sister in England. I am sure she will feel happy at the thought of such a kind action on the part of the Mayoress. I gave your message to Mr Haddock, and he promised to wrote to you. He was ever so pleased to receive your greetings. I hope that you have been blessed long ere now with seasonable rain, in abundance, and, please Providence, that you may never have “to take to showing with sherry”!! To your son, we wish to say Good Iron! In regard to his examinations, it was good indeed to know that he knew the terrain of the S.A. battlefields better than his instructor did. I must now fade out, so do so with all kindest good wishes to your lordship and to your good son – God bless you both, in which prayer Mrs Beet wishes to be associated,

Yours sincerely,

A. G. Beet [Beek?]


Australia, 1935


I don’t yet know if Tim visited Australia when he was private secretary to Sir George Reid, the Hugh Commissioner to Australia before the First World War. In any event, in the spring of 1935, he embarked on a lengthy cruise to the Antipodes. One of his first ports of call was Sydney, where he arrived on the Blue Star Liner Tuscan Star in June 1935. Upon arrival, he was interviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald about his thoughts on how the Irish cattle industry was faring on account of de Valera’s Economic War with the UK.  The story ran as follows:


Lord Rathdonnell, an Irish peer from County Carlow, who arrived by the Tuscan Star on a short visit to Sydney, said that the cattle industry in the Irish Free State had been ruined by the trouble between that country and Britain.

Generally, he said, Irish cattle were sold to Britain as prime beef at the age of two years. The fine grasslands of the midlands ensured that the animals were rolling in fat at that age. Now, when Irish cattle were sold in Dublin for export to Britain, the selling firm deducted one-third from the price for duty payable to the British Government before the cattle were allowed to land in England. The raising of cattle was now a precarious occupation in the Irish Free State.

He said that prime fattening lands had been broken up by the Free State Government for closer settlement, but the new owners had not always been able to make a success. He had given up the raising of cattle, largely owing to the market restrictions, and was now raising sheep for wool and mutton. A crossbred mountain sheep did best in Ireland.

Lord Rathdonnell said that Mr. de Valera was endeavouring to find occupation for small farmers by encouraging the growing of sugar beet and the establishment of sugar factories. This was a good scheme for the farmer with two or three workers in his family, but the industry would be unsuitable if paid labour had to be employed.[50]

On Friday 28 June 1935, The Argus of Melbourne announced on page 6:

Lord Rathdonnell, of County Donegal [an error] Ireland, arrived in Melbourne yesterday. He is staying with Colonel E F. Harrison, M.H.R. and Mrs Harrison at 14 Lansell road, Toorak. Lord Rathdonnell is taking advantage of a health tour to visit Australia and to see something of Australian conditions. He will be in Melbourne for only a short period. He intends to visit Queensland later.’

A week later he was in Brisbane, where he was asked by The Courier-Mail why he spent so much time voyaging on the seas. ‘I do it for the fresh air, and for no other purpose whatsoever,’ he declared. [51]


Register of Electors, 1936


The Lisnavagh Archives include a copy of the Register of Electors (Williamstown) from 1936.


Death of Forrester Colvin, 1936


Four Generations: In 1926, Lord Rathdonnell, Tim’s father, attended the christening of his great-grandson, Patrick Cox, at Woldringfold. Here he is pictured holding the baby alongside his son-in-law Forrester Colvin, right, and his grandson, Jack Colvin.

Tim’s brother-in-law Forrester Colvin died on 16 February 1936. Colvins, Dalgetys, Bramwells, Arbuthnots, Brittens, Bruens, Godmans and Watsons dominated the congregation at his funeral in Cowfold but curiously there were no Rathdonnells.


Second Italo-Abyssinian War


On 3 October 1935, the Second Italo-Abyssinian War when Italy invaded Ethiopia. For many Italians this was seen as vengeance for the battle of Adwa in 1896 when the Ethiopian army trounced an invading force from Italy. In their 1935-1936 war, the Italian army used chemical weapons. On 7 May 1936, Italy formally announced the annexation of Ethiopia and King Victor Emmanuel III was proclaimed emperor. How did Tim, a veteran of Italy in the First World War, feel about all this as he approached the end of his days?


Death Of Miss Pack-Beresford, 1937


‘We regret to announce the death of Miss Elizabeth Harriet Pack-Beresford, which occurred on Wednesday of last week at her residence “Brambletye”, Headley, England. She was 72 years of age. Daughter of the late Captain Denis William Pack-Beresford, deceased lived at Kellistown, Carlow for many years. She and her sister went to reside in England after their house had been burned down during “the troubles”. The late Miss Pack-Beresford was widely-known and respected in Carlow and people of all sections of the community will learn of her passing with sincere regret.’

Nationalist and Leinster Times. July 1937. Miss E.H. Pack-Beresford. [52]


Letter from York, September 1937


By September 1937, Tim was at the Victoria Nursing Home in Southport, Lancashire. His son Bill, then based at York Cavalry Barracks, wrote him a letter on 20 September, which he received the following day.

To The Lord Rathdonnell, The Victoria Nursing Home, Park Road, Southport, Lancs:

My dear Dad,
I got back here today and found that I hadn’t missed much except that by some mysterious means I had acquired another charger in my stable! There is a tremendous fla-hoo going on about chargers at present, since Mac Balmains died at grass near Sherborne on Arthur Brakes [?] place, when it was supposed to be in a stable in York! So everybody is shuffling them around – I don’t mind as I shan’t have to keep it, having almost closed down my stable.
I am going to Birdsall Show and Sale tomorrow near Malton. You have probably heard of it – it is I think probably closer to a ‘fair’ at home than anything in this country. Pamela is coming over and going to see her more en route – I hope we won’t buy anything! I’m afraid her mare will have to be put down as I don’t think she’s in foal, and has contracted as [sort?] of permanent big knee on which she is lame. They don’t seem to know what it is.
I will come and see you on Saturday – Friday night is my last in the regiment so I don’t know what state I’ll be in! Meanwhile, I am in touch with Doctor Harker [Haiken?] so any messages you want to send me without having to bother to write, you can tell him.
Hurry up and get better now!!
Best love from


Death of the 3rd Baron, September 1937


An article from the Irish Examiner, 1 October 1937, but the ‘coincidence’ was repeated in newspapers across Britain and Ireland.

It is perhaps curious that Bill did not mention his plan to marry Pamela in his letter of 20 September. Eight days later, The Times announced their engagement. Even more remarkably, that day – Tuesday 28 September 1937 was that the very same day that Tim Bunbury, 3rd Baron Rathdonnell, died in Southport at the age of 57.

It is not clear why he died so young, although my father – his grandson – says he was in poor health in his later years and the wheelchair in the library at Lisnavagh was most probably for his use.

The following day, this report appeared in the press across Britain and Ireland:

The death was announced yesterday of the Hon. Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury, third Baron Rathdonnell, in his 57th year.
Lord Rathdonnell died on Tuesday – the day on which the engagement was announced of his heir, the Hon. William McClintock Bunbury, to Miss Pamela Drew, eldest daughter of the late Mr. John Drew and of Mrs. Drew of Eversley, Milnthorpe, Westmorland.
Lord Rathdonnell, whose seat is at Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, succeeded his father in 1929.

On Saturday 2 October 1937, the Belfast News-Letter observed:

‘LATE LORD RATHDONNELL – The remains of Lord Rathdonnell, who died at Southport two days ago. were cremated at Anfield, Liverpool, yesterday. Among those present were his heir, the Hon. Wm. Robert M’Clintock Bunbury, and Miss Pamela Drew, whose engagement was announced on the day of Lord Rathdonnell’s death.’

The Times issued the following obituary on Thursday 30 September 1937:

‘Lord Rathdonnell died on Tuesday in his 57th year. Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury was educated at Charterhouse and Trinity College Cambridge and served in the War in German East Africa and on the Italian Front, being mentioned and made MBE and receiving the Italian War Cross and the Order of the Crown of Italy. After the war he was on special service in Austria. He was High Sheriff of County Carlow in 1919. In 1929 he succeeded his father as 3rd Baron in the peerage of Ireland. His wife died in 1922 and he is succeeded by his only son, the Hon. William Robert McClintock Bunbury, born in 1914. The cremation at Liverpool will be private. No flowers.’

Bearing in mind his Great Wadd connection, the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser of Friday 31 December 1937 added:

‘The Rt. Hon. Thomas Leopold. 3rd Baron Rathdonnell, M.B.E., Lisnavagh. Rathvilly, Co. Carlow. I.F.S., formerly of Great Wadd, Staplehurst, Kent, Chairman of the Great Northern Brewery. Ltd., Dundalk, High Sheriff of Co. Carlow in 1919. who died on September 28 last, aged 56 years, left gross estate in England the value of £23,190 14s. 3d., with net personalty £18.215 17s. 11id. Testator left£100 to Sir George Menteth Boughey.’

Sir George Boughey (1879-1959), C.B.E., 9th Baronet was in the Indian Civil Service and served as Under-Secretary to the Government of the Punjab from 1912 to 1913. He was also Secretary at the Royal Colonial Institute, now The Royal Commonwealth Society, which may be how Tim knew him. Sir George was the son of Colonel George Fletcher Ottley Boughey, eldest son of Lieutenant-Colonel George Fenton Fletcher Boughey, third son of the second Baronet. Sir George was succeeded by his second but only surviving son, Richard, the tenth Baronet.


Close up of Brookwood Cemetery Map in Surrey showing Plot 75 where Tim and Ethel are thought to lie.


Burial in Brookwood


The 3rd Baron Rathdonnell was cremated at Liverpool in a private ceremony. His ashes were then transferred to be interred with his late wife Ethel at the massive Brookwood Cemetery near Woking in Surrey.

In April 2014, I visited the cemetery with my father, the 5th Baron, and my eldest brother William, the 6th Baron-in-waiting (!). The management was recovering from a fire that damaged various records but we were told the Rathdonnell grave lay in Plot 75, near the Ravenshaw Family Monument on St. Andrew’s Avenue. We found the plot but we searched in vain, amid sporadic rains, for any hint of the 3rd Baron or his wife amongst the headstones, tumbling, cracked, neglected and proud. To be honest, we couldn’t even find the Ravenshaw Monument although we hunted high & low in 75 and all the surrounding plots for anything that matched with Ravenshaw, Rathdonnell or McClintock Bunbury.

Dad was here when he was a boy but could recall nothing of his visit save, perhaps, that there may have been a pineapple affixed to the grave. So we searched for pineapples too. And because the 2nd Baron was buried in Rathvilly beneath a Celtic Cross, we looked for Celtic Crosses as well. Nothing clicked. I guess that’s what happens sometimes.

The closest we got was Hugh Culling Eardley Childers (a Victorian cabinet minister nicknamed ‘Here Comes Everyone’, forefather of the Irish Childers) and a Countess of Annesley. There were several mausoleums, all bricked up and unnamed.

And so the 3rd Baron and poor Ethel lie lost together, perhaps submerged under dense laurels, or maybe their headstone simply toppled over and we couldn’t see them. The 3rd Baron has always been the most mysterious of the five Lords and I’ve long suspected that he was involved with espionage. So perhaps it was fitting that his grave should also remain a mystery.




APPENDIX 1: Letter from Charles Hordern, 1937


The following letters were posted in one envelope from London to Lord Rathdonnell, Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, Irish Free State, on the evening of 8th October 1937. For details on Charles Hordern, see Appendix 3.

4, Nelson House,
Dolphin Square,
London, S.W.1.

Victoria 3800

8th October 1937

Dear Lord Rathdonnell,

In going through a box of old papers last night I came upon the enclosed letter written to me by your father, which I kept because it gave me so much pleasure. As a total stranger to you and a contemporary of his I hesitate very much about writing to you at this time, lest you should regard it as an intrusion. But I cannot helping [sic] feeling it must have been something more than chance which has so unexpectedly led to my finding that letter, and in any case I could not help thinking you would like to have it. I also could not resist the opportunity – which otherwise I should not have thought of taking – of saying to you how grieved and distressed I was to see the sad news of his death, and of offering in all diffidence such sympathy & condolences as a stranger may be allowed to offer.
Although my contact with your father was only during the war, when for the greater part of 1918 we were together in the British Mission at the Italian “Comando Supremo”, I can truly say that he had a place in my affection quite undimmed by time – probably without his ever knowing it – and your loss came as a sad blow to me, as it must have to many others whose sympathy will be with you. [See Appendix 1] We last met at Klagenfurt (Austria) in 1920, when, as the forerunner of a Plebiscite Commission, I took over from him the last remains of the old Mission in which we had served together two years before, and closed it down. [See Appendix 2] His last act there was to drive me round & introduce me to some of the kindly local people who were friends of his, so that I might not feel alone after his departure to England. That was characteristic of him, & deepened the affection I already had for him; and though we never met again I have never forgotten him.
At the risk of making this letter much too long, I should like to add that today what he wrote to me touches me deeply in more ways than one in its application to my own subsequent personal & family affairs; but on this I need not dwell.
One more thing, however, I do want to say. I had seen only the other day the news of your own engagement, and very nearly wrote then to your father, but refrained because he probably had enough on his hands already. And now, coming upon his own words for my elder daughter, with all my heart I send them on to you. I feel I could give you no happier nor more heartening message even at this sad time, and that you will like to have it from me just as he sent it.
I hope you will not think of answering this letter, but that perhaps later on some day I may have a chance of confirming it in person.
Yours sincerely,
Charles Hordern
(Lt Colonel, RE, retired)




APPENDIX 2:  Delme-Radcliffe Letter, 1937


From: Brig-Gen Sir Charles Delme-Radcliffe, KCMG, CB, CVO, No. 3 Waldron Apartments, 837 Burdett Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
To: The Rt. Hon Lord Rathdonnell at Lisnavagh but forwarded by Rathvilly Post Office to him c/o the Cavalry Barracks in York.

Dear William,
I hope you remember my name though you were a very little boy when I last saw you at Brissenden [near Maidstone] in Kent.
I am very grieved at the news about your Father which his and my old friend, Miss Alexander, gave me today. I was very fond of your Father, who served me right well during the war at the front in Italy. I was very fond of your mother too. She was a wonderful person. I knew her when she came out to join your father at Worth- Klagenfurt [sic] in Carinthia when I was commanding the International Mission after the War.
Will you let me extend to you the expression of my great grief and sympathy with you in your loss? I came out here in 1930 and shortly after got laid up with heart-attacks – I spent 9 months in one Hospital and odd times of complete disability in others, but now am getting so much better that I am in hope of complete recovery.
Hitherto, for a long time, I have been unable to write any letters – I have been meaning to write to your Father for a long time but did not feel quite equal to doing it. I got your Father’s address and that of your aunt, Mrs. Bramwell, from Miss. Alexander. It is too late, alas! to communicate with your Father, so I write to you.
Some years ago, your Father reminded me that he had a lot of papers of mine, confidential papers relating to the staff work of my Mission in Italy during the War. I lost my home in England and had no place to put them, but your Father very kindly promised to take care of them until I could look for them again. Could you tell me whether you can lay your hands upon them and could send them over to me at this address? I shall be so glad to have them as I mean to [undertake] to make a compilation of my reminiscences relating to the war.
Yours very sincerely,
C Delme Radcliffe


APPENDIX 3: The British Mission at Supreme Comando, Italy.


Although I cannot be certain that this was the British Mission where Tim served, and it’s a little before his time, some insight into the Mission’s activities generally can be garnered from pp. 232-40 of the book ‘The Secret Corps: A Tale of Intelligence on All Fronts’ by Captain Ferdinand Tuohy (originally published in 1920 and republished in 2013 by London: Forgotten Books.

‘It was in the days when everything seemed to be going against Germany on paper. Italy and Roumania had just declared war on her, and the British front line was dotted with placards rubbing in the fact. .. ” Fritz’s ” morale must indeed be very low, and accordingly it was decided to propagand him by megaphone.

If the experiment succeeded, it was to become general up and down the line. A carefully worded harangue, depicting the futility of Germany continuing the fight and setting forth the delights of a prisoner-of-war camp, was prepared at G.H.Q. and an officer sent down to an appointed spot with a megaphone. He spoke for several minutes, to the intense temporary joy of Mr. Thomas Atkins; but then things hardly developed according to plan. Instead of the Germans trooping over in surrender, our trenches were soundly strafed at the point whence the megaphoning came.. .

And rumour hath it that our young propagandist was not invited into tea at Battalion H.Q. on his way back to Montreuil, home, and beauty.

However, out in Italy on the Asiago plateau and in the Grappa sector, this very modern notion of ” propaganding “the enemy into desertion came to be practised as a fine art. Possibly 50 per cent of the Austrian Army was a discontented medley, antagonistic to the Hapsburg regime, and deserters would accordingly stream across to the French and British lines night after night.

One night near Grappa an Austrian approached the French front line and announced that sixteen of his comrades were prepared to come across there and then if the French would fire two white Very lights as a signal that all was well. In the British Army, the matter could naturally have been referred to ” A ” and ” Q ” and a file started and circulated for information, remarks and necessary action.

The French were not so particular.

Up went the white light, over came the enemy, and when the Staff first knew about it, the whole thing was already a fait accompli.

After that, special ” desertion posts ” were established along the French and British front line, their precise location, and the correct etiquette and procedure to be followed when deserting, being advertised by leaflets dropped on the Austrians from aeroplanes.

The hub of all this propaganda was the Headquarters of the British Mission attached to the Italian Commando Supremo, and two of its leading exponents, Lt.-Col. Granville Baker, D.S.O., and Mr. Wickham Steed, now editor of The Times. Often one met one or the other of them out at Abano, the sylvan orange and olive mountain fastness of the Mission, far from the madding war, closed in by Frulian hills.

Similar British Missions were dotted all around the war; in Warsaw and in Teheran, at Chantilly and Athens. Their purpose would be to keep the War Office abreast of developments in every theatre of war; their constituent members, almost to a man, were regular Star! officers of studied charm and affability, and of social qualifications calculated to hypnotise the foreigners they were accredited to.

For example, the War Office desired to know everything that was going on in the Italian war ” because the Allies did not trust one another ” and accordingly a Brigadier-General was sent out to Italy at the head of a British Mission. This Mission, located first at Udine, behind the Carso, and later at Abano near Padua, would send home to Whitehall as much information as it could collect, and as derived :

(a) from the Italians themselves ; (6) from other sources.

The Mission was in touch with a second British Mission at Rome. This second Mission dealt primarily with secret service work and was in charge of a London financier M.P., now turned temporary espionage expert and residing with his wife at the Grand Hotel.

The two Missions pursued the even tenor of their respective ways till the arrival in Italy of a war maker of some consequence from Flanders, General Sir Herbert Plumer, who brought with him almost his entire Second Army staff, late of Cassel Hill. General Plumer and his five divisions were forthwith incorporated in the Italian Army, and the point at once arose ” by what channel was he to liaison with the War Office and with the Italian Army of which his troops formed a component part ?

Via the British Mission at Padua or direct ?

General Plumer held very definite ideas on the subject. He would have no one between himself and the War Office or between himself and the Italian Army. The situation was already quite complicated enough. In the result, the situation began to look serious for the British Mission in its sylvan fastness outside Padua. Its sphere of utility seemed in effect to be coming to an end. Still, its officers were all such good fellows and its chief in particular had long enjoyed the Italian Koyal favour .. to dissolve such a company. It was not dissolved. it would never do Instead, duplication ruled supreme.

A staff of quite a dozen British officers attached to the Italian Commando Supremo at Abano duplicated the work being done by General Plumer’s staff, less than ten miles away, at Noventa. And vice versa.

Passing from ” Intelligence ” at Noventa to ” Intelligence ” at Abano, one saw British officers poring over the same files, marking up the same maps” engaged on absolutely identical work of following what the Austrians and what the Italians were doing.’

[There may be more about the British Mission’s role in this book.]

APPENDIX 4: Letter to 3rd Baron Rathdonnell from 1920 Klagenfurt


Dear Bunbury,

I send you various dull looking letters which have come for you. I took the liberty of opening the first two in case they contained anything official which we could deal with.

Many thanks for your last & very interesting letter. I can well imagine that the state of Ireland is enough to drive you to despair, & can only hope the Govt will now really set to work in earnest to cast out the devil.

There is very little news here. We have been doing practically nothing beyond acquiring a certain amount of local geography, a sour allocation to Districts has not yet been given us; and London has vouchsafed no indication of wanting anything from us.

Bryce has just arrived and taken over charge from me, and I am feeling rather sad in consequence.[2] It is always sad to give up a job one has had the running of – and my regrets for the last 2 happy months have not been mitigated by Bryce’s announcement that our wives are on no account allowed to come out, that the Dist. Commnrs will probably only have a car a few days in each week, and that no hospitality or invitations of any kind are to be accepted or proffered – all of which is doubtless as it should be – but it rather hurts one’s feelings to find that these pre-conceived notions formed in London & Paris are to be put in force without an study of local conditions and without any regard to the views of those of us who have been here for some little while on the spot.

The wives’ decision is of course the worst blow from a personal point of view: Bryce says vaguely that there are “various” “very good reasons”, but that is all I have so far got out of him. (He has a fine grasp of the Govt. officials gift for talking all around a subject without saying anything definite at all). Apparently the fact that the French & Italians are to be allowed their women-folk is an added reason against our having ours: which I confess beats me!

But I mustn’t inflict a ‘grouse’ on you – and I dare say we shall survive.

Bryce tells me the demarcation line is definitely to be opened & free intercourse between the zones to be allowed: this is not yet official & is only for your private ear. Whether the Jugoslavs will comply – at any rate without first exhausting all possible forms of procrastination & obstruction – remains to be seen; but I shall be surprised if we are home by December.

Perhaps, however the fact that, after a glorious May, it has rained almost continuously since June 1st – together with the vetos on wives & local friends aforesaid – may account for what I feel is a dismal outlook on my part! But anyhow the opening of the demarcation line is a real good piece of news.

We see Kounettes [sic] from time to time and he often asks for news of you.

Best of luck to you.

Yours ever,

Charles Hordern


NB: In the Court Circular for 15 July 1920, The Times noted that Lt Col S Capel Peck had left London for Klagenfurt to take up his duties as British Commissioner and President of the Inter-Allied Plebiscite Commission, which had been constituted under the Treaty of St Germaine-en-Laye with Austria. They added that Mr Roland Bryce, the British Assistant Commissioner, and the Headquarters Staff of the British Section, had ‘left for Klagenfurt some days previously’. Thus, either Bryce had departed from Klagenfurt since Hordern’s letter and was now returning again, or The Times was behind the times. The Times, Thursday, Jul 15, 1920; pg. 17; Issue 42463; col A




APPENDIX 5: Charles Hordern (1880-1972), Royal Engineers


Lt.-Col. Charles Hordern was born on 30 March 1880, the son of Peter Hordern and Edith Charlotte Fearon of Bury House, Alvertstoke. Educated at Marlborough College, Wiltshire, and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, he fought in the Boer War. He was married three times.

His first wife Lucy Frances, daughter of Thomas Hurry Riches Woodbridge, died at Old Bank House, Uxbridge, on 27 March 1909, just two years after their marriage and a month after giving birth to a daughter, Rowena Lucy. The latter would become the wife of (1) Brigadier Bryan Mayfield and (2) Louis Henry Goris.

In 1913, Charles was married, secondly, to Cecil Pearl Beeching, daughter of Major Hugh Cecil Westall Beeching. they had two children, Major Peter Hugh Hordern, b. 1916, and Vivian Charlotte (1923-63).

For his service in the First World War, Hordern was awarded the Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus of Italy, as well as the Croce di Guerra. As he states in his letter to Tim, he was Plebiscite Commissioner in 1920 at Klagenfurt, Austria.

He was later a Control Commissioner in 1924 at Germany. He gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1925 in the service of the Royal Engineers. He was also author of ‘Military Operations: East Africa, Volume I’ and other works.’

Charles’s wife Cecil Pearl died in 1932, which presumably explains why he could relate to Tim’s remarks about being ‘knocked out’ by his wife’s death. From 1933 to 1941, he was with the Historical Section, Committee of Imperial Defence. Charles was married, thirdly, in 1951 to Joan, daughter of Sir James Edward Masterton Smith.

He died on 14 March 1972.


Appendix 6: Commander Bill Bruen (1910 – 1966), D.S.O. D.S.C. M.I.D. R.N.


Tim’s first cousin Commander John Martin ‘Bill’ Bruen, Royal Navy, was a son of the sometime Lisnavagh agent Arthur Bruen. He commanded the Fleet Air Arm’s 803 Squadron during the fight to supply Malta GC in the Second World War. He was the youngest man to do so and earned a fearsome reputation as a legendary Fighter Ace. During this time he took part in the Battle of Matapan and, in order to distract attention from the attacking Swordfish torpedo bombers, flew ‘strafing runs’ at and past the Italian Battleship Vittorio Venito – despite the fact that the magazines were empty in his Seafire airplane. For this action he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and was presented with a pair of Zeiss fixed focus U-boat binoculars by his squadron comrades in 1941. (See the binoculars here).

When Admiral Sir Donald Gibson was head of the Fleet Air Arm, he described Bill Bruen as ‘the best damned Pilot the Navy ever had.’ Bill married Marjorie Elaine Margaret Holliss, daughter of Arthur Gray Holliss on 6 February 1945, with whom he had a daughter Linda Roseanne Bruen (b. 4 Aug 1945) and Nigel Arthur Bruen (b. 20 Nov 1946).

Bill’s cousin, Francis Bruen was an electrical officer in the Royal Navy and also a DSC.


Appendix 7: Commander Bernie Bruen


Born on 20 November 1946, Bill’s son, Cmdr Nigel Arthuer ‘Bernie’ Bruen, M.B.E., D.S.C., W.K.h.M, served for thirty years in the Royal Navy and the Royal Navy of Oman, serving in the Falklands War, the first Gulf War, the Gulf of Suez mine-clearance operations (1984); and in the Omani tall-ship Shabab Oman. He was the last commanding officer of the renowned HMS Gavinton and became the first man to ‘hunt’ and find (by high definition sonar) an unknown, enemy sea-mine ‘in anger’; and this in a ship that was thirty years out of date. For this action in the Red Sea Clearance of 1984, he was made MBE.

Bernie went on to command the Navy’s first Maritime Counter Terrorism Team and, at the age of forty, qualified Airborne. In 1982, during the Falklands War, he commanded Fleet Clearance Diving Team 3, the most highly decorated unit in the conflict with 66% gallantry awards. Bernie was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for taking live, unexploded 1,000lb bombs out of RFAs Sir Galahad and Sir Lancelot, thus saving those ships for further use. He also recovered (in a gale) and defused by hand the first unknown enemy sea-mine since Korea, despite being forbidden the use of the relevant specialist equipment.

He uses the pen-name of Tim Trezare and has written numerous books. He married Patricia Valerie Haye in 1999.

(Thanks to Nigel Bruen).




With thanks to Marjorie Walker, Margaret Mardall, Nigel Bruen, Old Carthusian Recorder in Archives (




[1] Those who left Charterhouse in the Oration Quarter of 1896 include Gordon Seton Churchill, Denys Franks and Norman Secretan (also Saunderites, born March 1880) who went to work with Lloyds underwriter, Kenneth Vyvyan who became a farmer in Natal but died at Ladysmith on 9 March 1900, and William Renshaw who served with the South American merchants, Messrs Stralendorff & Renshaw, Louis Tritton who became a land agent, Spencer Harris Vassal who died at Yeovil just two years later in May 1898, Oswald Bainbridge who became a mining engineer, Frederick Dallas Banres who became an artist in Kent, Alexander Cope who became a broker, Harold Kigour who joined the Royal Artillery, Arthur Moens who joined the 2nd Sikhs, Richard Barwell who joined Baring’s Bank, Charles Butcher Deane (born 1881) who became a scholar at St Bartholomew’s Hospital; and Charles Westcar Sheppard who went onto Westminster School and became an engineer. (Charterhouse Register 1872-1900).

[2] John Venn, ‘Alumni Cantabrigienses: A Biographical List of All Known Students, Graduates and Holders of Office at the University of Cambridge, from the Earliest Times to 1900’ (Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 257. The term used is ‘Adm. Pens.’ i.e. admitted as a pensioner, or undergraduate student without financial support from his college, being neither a scholar nor a sizar OED.

[3] The Cambridge Review, Volume 21 (1900), p. xvi.

[4] In “Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon” (1907), Arnold Wright says that “the establishment of the Queens House includes the Governor’s Private Secretary Mr T.L.M. Bunbury…..” (p. 94).

[5] ‘Sir Henry Blake, Governor of Ceylon, and Lady Blake leave England on Nov. 18 for Colombo by the P. and O. Himalaya, via Marseilles. They will be accompanied by the Duchess of St. Albans, and probably by Lady Alexandra Beauclerk. Sir Henry is taking out as private secretary the Hon. Thomas McClintock-Bunbury, the only son of Lord Rathdonnell, and, as aide-de-camp, Capt. Henry Phipps, Royal Field Art. Sir Henry Blake had the honour of being received by his Majesty the King on Oct. 24.’ (Homeward Mail from India, China and the East , Saturday 28 October 1905, p. 17).

[6] Towards the close of the year the Duchess of St Albans, sister to Lady Blake, arrived in the island in the company of Sir Henry and Lady Blake, who were returning to the island after a three months’ holiday in England. Captain H.R. Phipps, and the Hon T. McClintock-Bunbury, P.S.,. arrived with Their Excellencies.Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, “Remembered Yesterdays” (1929), p. 120.

[7] Kildare Observer, Saturday 6 February 1909, p. 2.

[8] Evening Irish Times, 11 February 1910, p. 3.

[9] Clifton Society, 15 December 1910, p. 6.

[10] Fiji Royal Gazette, 6 August 1909, p. 581.

[11] ‘Lord and Lady Rathdonnell are spending the autumn at Lisnavagh, their place in Co Carlow, where they had a shooting party last week. Their eldest son. Mr Tom [sic, should be Tim] McClintock-Bunbury, has just returned home after an absence of two years abroad.’  The Queen, 24 September 1910

[12] Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser – Saturday 15 October 1910, p. 8.

[13] ‘Sir Richard and Lady Butler, Bellin Temple [sic, Ballintemple], co. Carlow, Ireland, have given the names Thomas Pierce to their little boy who was born on September 18th, and christened on October 20th.The ceremony took place at Aghede [sic, Aghade] Church, co, Carlow, the Hon. and Very Rev. the Dean of Hereford, assisted by the Rev. J. Cooper (vicar of Aghede) officiating. Miss Edith Butler, the Countess of Chichester, Major J. C. Shakerley and the Hon. T. McClintock Bunbury are the godparents, and the baby’s presents included a silver tankard from Lady Chichester; silver goblet, Hon. T. McClintock Bunbury ; silver bowl, Miss Edith Butler; silver spoon, Mrs. Yeats Browne; gold and turquoise safety pins, Hon. Mrs. J. W. Leigh, plain gold safety pin, Sir Richard Butler, silver porringer and spoon from Heads of Departments of Lord Bute’s estate, Rothesay.’ Gentlewoman – Saturday 12 November 1910

[14] On Wednesday 11 January 1911, The Sydney Morning Herald carried a story on page 5 entitled ‘AUSTRALIANS ABROAD’ with news from their special correspondent in London filed on 9th December. It read: “Hon. T. L. McClintock Bunbury, who has just been appointed private secretary to the High Commissioner for Australia, Sir George Reid, is the eldest son of Lord Rathdonnell of Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, County Carlow, in Ireland. For over a year Mr. Bunbury was private secretary to the Governor of Fiji, Sir Everard im Thurn, with whom he returned to England in the R.M.S. Makura a few months ago from Suva.”

[15] Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 31 August 1912.

[16] London Evening Standard – Friday 27 January 1911, p. 4.

[17] Dublin Daily Express – Thursday 14 March 1912, p. 4.

[18] Newcastle Daily Chronicle – Saturday 04 May 1912, p. 3.

[19] Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 31 August 1912: “The Commonwealth Office in Victoria Street is about to lose one of the most amiable and popular members of Sir George Reid’s staff. The Hon. Thomas McClintock-Bunbury, who has been the High Commissioner’s private secretary for a long time past, and is now with Sir George and Lady Reid in Canada, has been appointed secretary to the Director of the Imperial Institute (Mr. Wyndham R. Dunstan), in succession to Major E. J. Lugard. I understand that Major Lugard is leaving England to join his brother, General Sir Frederick Lugard. Mr. McClintock-Bunbury, who is the eldest son and heir of Lord Rathdonnell, takes over his new duties on his return from America. Before he went to the Commonwealth Office he was for some time private secretary to Sir Everard Im Thurn, when the latter was Governor of the Fiji Islands and High Commissioner of the Pacific. Mr. McClintock-Bunbury is to be married in October.”

[20] Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 31 August 1912.

[21] In 1925, management of the Imperial Institute would pass to the Department of Overseas Trade (under the Board of Trade). At this time the UK had a policy of Commonwealth Preference in its trade relations.

[22] The Dominions Office and Colonial Office List, p. xxiii, 1914.

[23] Proceedings of the 3rd International Congress of Tropical Agriculture, June 23rd to 30th, 1914, J. Bale, Sons & Danielsson, 1914, p. 89.

[24] Gloucester Citizen, 26 September 1912. The churches of the West End had lately also hosted the weddings of Ernest Brabazon to Dorothy Ricardo; Dorothea Lawrence to the Hon. Eric Collier, youngest son of the late Lord Monkswell; and Dorothy Harmood-Banner, daughter of Mr. J. Harmood-Banner, M.P., and Captain Minshull Ford, of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

[25] Irish Independent, 27 November 1912.

[26] Victor’s sister Rhoda Mabel Hope Pochin, married (1 Aug. 1894) Frederick Arden Peacock (Cottesford Place, London) and had a son, Anthony Frederick Peacok (b. 1898) and daughter Violet Frances Emmie Peacock. See: The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal: Being a Complete Table of All the Descendants Now Living of Edward III, King of England. The Isabel of Essex Volume, Containing the Descendants of Isabel (Plantagenet) Countess of Essex and Eu, with a Supplement to the Three Previous Volumes, Melville Henry Massue Ruvigny et Raineval (marquis de), Marquis of Ruvigny & Raineval, Melville Henry Massue Ruvigny et Raineval (marquis de) (Genealogical Publishing Com, 1994)

[27] Marianne Pochin died on 31 July 1896 (when Victor was 17). George was married secondly on 10 Dec 1898 to Mildred, daughter of John Nickisson.

[28] The Times, September 9, 1972, p. 16.

[29] The Times, September 9, 1972, p. 16. The Grand Old Man of Leicestershire, Victor Pochin, Squire of Barkby, died earlier this week within a few days of his 93rd birthday. He was a man respected by all who came into contact with him- his advice on personal and county matters was wise, sympathetic, selfless and available to all who sought It. His was a life dedicated to the country, his roses and his 5,000 acres of land, part of which had been held by his family since the 13th Century. Had he lived a few months longer he would have served on the Leicestershire County Council for no less than 60 years. For 36 of these he was vice-chairman to that great character, Sir Robert Martin, from whom he took over the chair in 1960. He did this only after pressure from all members of the county council and in spite of his being over 80 years of age at that time. He was a staunch supporter of the Church and particularly his local parish, a keen sportsman, cricket being one of his great loves, shooting and fishing the others. In fact, I believe he actually caught several salmon when staying with the late Sir Harold Nutting in Scotland last year. He was also a supporter of the Quom Hunt, and they never failed to find a fox on the Barkby Shoot. The county has lost one of its best known and best loved sons. He will be remembered for many years and much missed by all who knew him.’

[30] The Times,  1 Aril 1913; pg. 9; Issue 40174; col G – Funeral Of Lord Wolseley. He was described by The Times as ‘representing the Director of the Imperial Institute

[31] The Scotsman, 27 January 1914, p. 7.

[32] London Evening Standard – Thursday 17 April 1913, p. 11.

[33] On 23 November 2014, the 4th Baron’s only son Ben Rathdonnell hosted a small party in honour of the centenary.

[34] Birmingham Daily Post – Tuesday 07 December 1915, p. 3. Contemporary newspapers mistakenly referred to him as the brother, rather than the son, of then then Baron Rathdonnell.]

[35] The Hon. T. L. McClintock Bunbury, M.A. (Cantab.), resigned his post as Assistant Secretary on 22 December 1915. Folio(s): 553-556, The National Archives, Kew. Also look at: Quarterly Record of Progress in Tropical Agriculture and Industries and the Commercial Utilisation of the Natural Resources of the Colonies and India, edited by the Director and prepared by the Scientific and Technical Staff of the Imperial Institute. (Vol. xvii. 1919)

[36] The Colonial Office has a letter from January 1916 referring to the appointment of A J Hedgeland, formerly of the War Trade Department, to succeed him as Assistant Secretary. The National Archives, Kew – 4354/1916

[37] The Times, Monday 20 November 1916. As he was mentioned in despatches the same day this report reached The Times, one assumes he was involved in these actions.

[38] Supplement to the London Gazette, 5 March, 1917, p. 2245. Temp. 2nd Lts. to be temp. Lte. 20th Dec. 1916 : — E. C. Farquharson. The Hon. T. L. McClintock-Bunbury.

[39] See his report on Vesuvius here.

[40] APPOINTMENTS Lieut, the Hon. Thomas L. M’Clintock- Bunbury, M.A., eldest surviving son of Lord Rathdonnell, has been granted the temporary rank of captain whilst specially employed. Captain M’Clintock-Bunbury formerly served in the 2nd Life Guards.’ Northern Whig, 3 March 1919. I am confused by the statement that Tim ‘formerly served in the 2nd Life Guards.’ I can find no other record of his service with this regiment, which was part of the 3rd Cavalry Division until March 1918 when converted to a machine gun battalion.

[41] Order of the Crown of Italy.
Grand Officer.
Colonel (temporary Brigadier-General) Charles Delme-Radcliffe, C.B., C.M.G., C.V.O.
Temporary Lieutenant The Hon. T. L. McClintock-Bunbury, M.B.E., Special Last. Temporary Major Louis Emanuel Jean Guy de Savoie Carignan De Soissons, Special List. Temporary Captain Evan Noel Haselden, late Royal Army Service Corps. Temporary Captain O. L. Richmond, Special List
Supplement To The London Gazette, 21 July, 1919.

[42] The London Gazette, Tho. Newcomb over against Baynards Castle in Thames-street, 1921, p. 925.

[43] Grant No. 14012 gave Allotment No. 186586 to Capt. the Hon. T. L. McCB on 11th April 1922

[44] Great Wadd was occupied by Albert Joy of Kent at the time of the 1881 census. Albert and his wife Mary Chlora had 12 or 13 children, including two sons who travelled to U.S. One of these sons was Algernon Joy who had a son born in US but Algernon’s wife did not like America and they returned to Kent. His brother Ernest James Mace Joy duly went to the US alone; his wife joined him later with her new-born son, Harold E Joy, who was subsequently a superintendent of one of the large Rubber Companies in Akron. By 1886, when Mary Chlora died, the Joys were living at Hungerden House, further out from Great Wadd. This information was provided by Marjorie Walker, granddaughter of Harold Joy’s younger brother Eli.

[45] Bexhill-on-Sea Observer, 22 July 1922.

[46] Hastings and St Leonards Observer – Saturday 20 August 1927.

[47] Belfast Gazette, 9 October 1931.

[48] Dick Cran, who lived in the garden, was a younger brother of William Cran, who also joined the Lisnavagh staff in about 1930. William then married Mary Parr, who also worked at Lisnavagh, and they were parents to Paul Cran, later Group Finance Manager of the Maxol Group. Paul Cran subsequently presented my father with an album of photos that his mother took with a brownie box camera while at Lisnavagh. The Crans later went to Powerscourt and then to Glencormac House (Jameson family). William served in the RAF during WW2 and then returned to Glencormac. The Crans moved to Luttrelstown in 1959.

[49] Tubby Clayton was an Australian born Anglican clergyman who founded Toc H, an international Christian ‘everyman’s club’ for soldiers of all ranks, viewed as the alternative to more decadent clubs.

[50] The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 26 June 1935, page 13.

[51] The Courier-Mail (Friday 5 July 1935, p. 5): ‘Lord Rathdonnell, an Irish peer, who is travelling in the Blue Star Liner, Tuscan Star, which is now in Brisbane, spends much of his time voyaging. ‘I do it for the fresh air, and for no other purpose whatsoever,’ he declared yesterday. He has had a most interesting career. He graduated M.A. at Oxford [no, Cambridge!], and in 1908 and 1909 was High Sheriff of County Carlow, Ireland. In the war he served in the campaign in German East Africa, and was mentioned in dispatches, Then he went to the Italian front, and was awarded the British M.B.E. and the Orders of the Crown of Italy and the Croce di Guerra. Before the armistice Lord Rathdonnell was on special service in Austria.’

[52] Courtesy of Michael Purcell & the Pat Purcell Papers.