100th anniversary of battle of Passchendeale

July 30, 2017

Today, 31 July 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of the commencement in WWI of what became known as the Battle of Passchendaele (or the Third Battle of Ypres). The battle took place on the Western Front from 31 July to November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders. Passchendaele lay on the last ridge east of Ypres, and it was vital to the supply system of the German army.

Michael -‘Mick’ Sheahan, born in 1896 in Carlton, Victoria, had been a boarder at St Patrick’s College in 1912, following his brother Francis -‘Frank’ who attended SPC between 1907-1908. Both boys enlisted for service in WWI. The College Annual of 1916-1917 wrote a tribute to Mick for his bravery in going to war -“-

-‘Gunner M B Sheahan left Australia with the 6th Battery 2nd Field Artillery Brigade, 1st Division, October 1914. He served throughout the campaign at Gallipoli until the evacuation. At present Mick is with his battery in France, and judging by his letters seems to be in excellent spirits.’

After serving at Gallipoli until the evacuation in December, 1915, Mick was redeployed to the Western Front. He was part of the contingent which attacked the enemy on 31 July, the first day of the Passchendaele battle. Fighting was brutal and terrifying, and Mick sustained a shrapnel wound to his chest and neck, which was pronounced -‘dangerous’. He was transported to the casualty clearing station at Rouen, and shipped back to England where he recovered to some extent. Telegrams sent to his family back in Carlton relayed that their son was progressing over the weeks from -‘dangerously ill’, to -‘convalescent’.-

By January 1918, Mick was returned to Australia for -‘a change’. This was a fairly common practice whereby soldiers were sent back home to recuperate, before being put back to their battalion. In Mick’s case, he was discharged from further duty on 25 June 1918.-

Back in Australia, Mick Sheahan married in 1925 at the age of 29 to Veronica Ann Carolan, in Melbourne. They had one son in 1930. Mick married a second time, to Eunice Millicent Nicholls in Ballarat, in 1936. They had no children.

Mick died on 14 April 1969, aged 72 years. He was buried at the Melbourne General Cemetery in Carlton.