People on board
When John Brennan enlisted in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in 1915 he gave his age as twenty-one, which would give a date of birth of 1894. However the Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives his age as thirty-two in 1918 which translates to his birth being in 1886. Neither birth record nor census returns have yet been found for John Brennan to clarify his age. For the same reason his parents are not known or his place of birth.
On his Attestation Form in June 1915 he gave his address as 83 New Road, Portsmouth although he enlisted in Holborn, London. He gave his trade as Labourer. Initially he was ranked a Private, but five days later he was promoted Lance Corporal and in October 1915 he was promoted again to Temporary Corporal. Clearly good at his job, in February 1916 he was promoted again to Temporary L/Sergeant and in May to Temporary Sergeant. He served first in the 19th Battalion which landed in France in early June 1916. In 1917 John Brennan transferred to the Hawke Battalion of the Royal Naval Division, re-joining the 9th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in July 1918 when he was sent into the field again.
He was granted leave to the UK from the 1st to the 18th of October and appears to have travelled to Ireland, returning on the 10th. There were twenty-one R.W.F. men on board RMS Leinster that day and fourteen lost their lives, including John Brennan. However his body was recovered and he was buried in Grangegorman Military Cemetery in Dublin.
His military records show that his next of kin was his uncle John Quirke of Portnahully, Co Kilkenny, just three miles from Waterford city, and it was to him that his medals were sent in 1921. In 1886 John Quirke had married Mary Brennan, also from Portnahully, so it is to be surmised that she was sister to one or other of John Brennan’s parents.