Somme victim to be focus of new book

Author and historian Trevor Temple has announced plans for a new work centering on an ex-Manchester United footballer and soldier from Londonderry, killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Temple's idea sprang from research conducted in those from the city who died in the 1914-18 global conflict for the Diamond War Memorial Project, undertaken by the Holywell Trust.

During his research into the city's war dead, Trevor Temple uncovered the story of Private Bernard Donaghey.

Known as Barney Donaghey, his records show that he was born at "Templemore, enlisted in Derry, and was killed in action in France on July 1, 1916."

Private Donaghey's name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing at the Somme. Donaghey was listed as the husband of Sarah Donaghey of 106, St Columb's Well's, in the heart of the Bogside.

"He was killed on the first day of the Somme and this is usually associated with the Ulster Protestant community, yet people seem to forget that Catholics like Barney Donaghey were killed that day too," Trevor Temple said.

Fascinatingly, the sacrifice of those killed in World War I, often referred to as a wasted generation, is made more poignant by the fact Bernard Donaghey was a first class footballer.

Having played for Derry Celtic and Belfast Celtic as well as Ireland, Donaghey also played cross-channel for high profile teams such as Hibernian and Burnley.

However, from 1905-1906 Donaghey played for the first ever side that took the field known as Manchester United. It was in this season that under their previous name, Newton Heath, that United won promotion from the Second to the First Division.

Trevor Temple said: "It is strange to think that a man from the city helped Manchester United into the top division and they have now become the biggest club in the world."

Army records show that Barney Donaghey was previously wounded in the head by shrapnel and spent time recovering in a Egyptian hospital. On that occasion he wrote a letter home saying he was on the road to recovery and added: "The other four soldiers that were beside me were killed. It was an awful sight. I am sure it was the prayers that saved me."