Lt. Albert Guy Dignan

Co. Roscommon

lT. Albert Guy Dignan (1894-1918)

Albert's Early Life and Family background

Lt. Albert Guy Dignan was born in 1894 to Charles and Angelina Dignan Nee Burke. Angelina, like Charles, came from a wealthy background. Her family home is currently the Abbey Hotel, Roscommon.

Charles Coleman Dignan was a solicitor and was under Sheriff in Roscommon. In 1914, he was appointed Recruiting Officer for Roscommon.

Albert was born in Ballinaguard House, Roscommon, Co.Roscommon. They lived in a 12 bedroom house, with outhouses and stables. 

There were nine children born alive and one still born birth to the Dignan family. They had four boys, Albert, Joseph Patrick, Alfred, Cecil and five girls, Maud, Mabel, Evelyn, Hilda and Ethel. 

Albert like all of his siblings attended national school in Roscommon. When Albert was 14 years old, they immigrated to Manchester. Here, the boys attended to St. Bede's College and the girls were sent to Loreto Convent. The family were all practising Roman Catholics. They would be recognised as Catholics and loyal to the crown. They attended Church regularly and were active in church affairs. 

Albert's Recruitment into the South Irish Horse

Albert joined the army from school, going into officer training college. He lived in the barracks where his unit the South Irish Horse were stationed. Most of his career in the military was served in France and Flanders. Albert was commissioned into the South Irish Horse on the 3rd of September 1915 as a second Lieutenant. Albert travelled to France with his regiment in November 1915 and saw service in Bethencourt, Flessells, Ypres, Loo's and the Somme. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on the 11th of October 1916. 

Albert's Last Battle

It was during the German offensive of March 1918 the Kaiserschlact ( Kaiser's Battle) that Lt. Albert Guy Dignan lost his life.The Germans for the first time introduced their newly trained soldiers, the Storm Troops. They attacked on the morning of the 21st of March 1918, a damp, cold, misty morning. Their attack came out of the blue and was not expected. The Germans caught the Allied troops by surprise and in places surrounded the Allied troops. They killed or captured most of the Allied army. The South Irish Horse were billet in the village of Ronsoy. 

A and B Company were in front line trenches when they were attacked on the morning of the 21st of March. According to the War Diaries of the South Irish Horse, no soldier from A or B Company survived the attack. Lt. Dignan was, like the rest of his company, reported missing, this was later upgraded to Killed in Action (KIA).

Lt. Albert Guy Dignan has no known grave. The German offensive was so severe that all bodies in the front line were vaporised. It is not known if he was shot or poisoned by gas, as the German artillery bombarded the Allied troops with gas at the start of the offensive. 

Lt. Dignan is remembered on Pozieres memorial on the Somme.  

Commemoration after death

Lt. Albert Guy was awarded the Victory Medal, Mons Star and Great War Medal 1914-1919 (Pictured L-R) A memorial scroll and plaque, a telegram, a medal index card and a kit store would have been sent to Albert's next of kin following his death. 

Albert's Relatives

Albert Dignan had two other brothers who fought in the war. Joseph Patrick was killed in Ypres on the 16th of October 1916. Cecil survived the First World War and immigrated to Australia, where he married and settled down. He worked in the Civil Service but enlisted in the Military Police of the Australian Commonwealth Military Force (ACMF). Cecil died on the 18th of July 1942 after a short illness, he was only 43 years of age.

Alfred stayed at home to look after the family business. He never married and when his father died, the house and property had to be sold to pay off taxes as Charles died intestate. 

Of the girls, Maud was the first lady to ride in the RDS on her horse called "Hell". A feisty female she was, she was often referred to as "The Devil". When they would turn up at an event, the other competitors would say "Here comes Hell and the Devil".

Evelyn was a leading member of the Roscommon hunt and a very experienced horsewoman. She met and married a local farmer called Jack Brennan. Jack was well known in IRA circles and this union did not sit well with the family. He had spent time in prison for his membership of the IRA.

The rest of the girls married and reared families, only Mabel lived in Roscommon. She married Dr.Charles Kelly and lived in Spinney, at the rear of her mother's home.

The war had taken it's toll on the Dignan family and the family name was lost forever in Roscommon after the death of Alfred.


"Dulce Bellum Inexpertis"~ War is sweet for the inexperienced

My story

My name is Tessa Cunnane. I am 17 years old and attend Scoil Mhuire Strokestown, Co. Roscommon. I have been very lucky to have been chosen to represent my county in this "Adopt a Soldier" project.I had heard about this amazing opportunity in early November when my History teacher, Mr. Brendan Fox, informed our class about this unbelievable chance to travel to Belgium/France where we will visit the many war cemeteries to commemorate the soldiers that had died in the Battle of the Somme.

Each applicant had to write a short 300 word essay detailing why they should be chosen to represent their county on the Somme. I wrote about my deep love of history and remembered a story my grandfather had been told as a young boy attending Elphin Community College. His principal had a son who served in the war, I found this extremely interesting and explained this in my email to Gerry Moore.

However after looking into this soldiers life further, I discovered he was not buried on the Somme. I quickly began researching other soldiers, when Lt. Albert Guy Dignan caught my eye. Although from a wealthier background than most, he fought in the war and sadly lost his life in the Kaiserschlact. With the help of Danny Tiernan, I discovered his family were also just as interesting. Danny helped me get access to war diaries and more in-depth information.

COLLINS Barracks 7/3/2015

On the 7th of March every student that is  participating in the My Adopted Soldier programme,along with all the organisers and teachers involved, met in Collins' Barracks. A few of the participants gave PowerPoint presentations on their soldiers and we also split into groups according to our provinces to get to know each other a little bit better before our trip.

This is a video from our day at Collins' Barracks. 

This is a video briefly introducing myself and my soldier, Lt.Albert Guy Dignan.

I am extremely excited to travel to France/ Belgium and to visit the Somme, where this bloody battle took place. I am really looking forward to seeing the trenches and commemoration monuments for the soldiers who lost their lives fighting for us.