T.P. Walsh - London Irish War Hero

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T.P. Walsh - London Irish War Hero

by PaulHP on Wed Dec 03, 2008 5:09 pm

In a Passion of Exile by Peter Bills, there is a picture on page 61 of the 1938-39 Harry St. J. Gallagher’s team. It says underneath “ Nine first team players from this side were to lose their lives in the Second World War”. One of that nine in that picture (sitting 1st left) was Thomas Patrick (Pat) Walsh.


Pat Walsh played for London Irish for over 10 seasons starting as a 16 year old with the “C XV” in the late 1920’s, ending with a couple of run outs for the Shamleeks (combined London Irish & Welsh) in November 1939. During this time playing for London Irish he was awarded 3 Honour Caps (possibly the only player ever to do so), the first was in 1928-29 whilst playing for the “C XV” (see below),

3rd from right standing

the next was in 1933-34 playing for the “Extra A’s”, and the last in 1937-38 playing in the 1st XV (listed as T.D. Walsh on the LIARFC website)

The tassles were removed by his son Peter (when a small child!)

Pat Walsh was born in Ballykealy, Durrow, Co. Laois on the 2nd November 1911, where he lived until he was sent to St Joseph’s College on the Isle of Wight. Around 1928 Pat left school and moved to London where as a fresh faced 17 year old he put on the emerald green of London Irish for the first time.

In 1934 he was chosen to play for the First XV to play Rosslyn Park at Old Deer Park, and played in most games until the end of the 1938-39. In January 1936 Pat Walsh travelled over to Ireland with London Irish to play Trinity College at College Park. The weather that weekend in Ireland was very poor, resulting in a match against Trinity being restricted to two 30 minute half’s. Later on in the year he got married to Elizabeth Mary (Kay) Kivlehan and was also picked to play for Middlesex for the first time.

United Services and London Irish teams 1937

The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, September 1937

London Welsh v London Irish - Tatler article 1939


In 1940 Pat switched Sunbury for Sudbury and turned out for Wasps in a number of wartime matches. The following year he put his wholesale grocery business into his wife Kay's care and enlisted into the army, where he continued to play rugby in intra-army matches. Whilst away with the army his home in Mill Hill was bombed by the Luftwaffe, resulting in Kay and the two young children moving away to Cheshire.

Pat Walsh is middle second from the left

In 1944 as a Sergeant he was stationed in Italy with the 27th Lancers Royal Armoured Corps. In Italy at the same time was J.C. Daly, who Pat had stayed in contact with during the war. (Below are a couple of extracts of letters Pat wrote to his wife in 1944):

17 August 1944
"Unfortunately I missed going to Siena last Sunday, as the lorry did not call, and by the time I managed to get other transport it was too late. If I had gone I would have met John Daly. He is not very far from me and I wrote him a few days ago. You can guess how disappointed I was in not seeing him."

21 August 1944
"I had a long letter from J Daly. He is in grand form and sends you and the family his love.He is just as usual wondering about the future of the world. I told him one of his first dates is dinner with us. We will also try to get H Kelly (Harry Kelly who was a member of the LI club) over. By the way John is attached to an Indian Division and he has a lorry of his own and a driver. The driver insists on waiting on him and he is rather browned off with it. It is also making him lazy. Do you realise he is now 27?"

Pat Walsh and Jack Daly

On the morning of the12th September, whilst out on patrol in Castello he was killed in a Mortar attack. He is buried at the Coriano Ridge War Cemetery, near Rimini. His former CO wrote a letter to his daughter explaining the circumstances of his death (click on link below).



Pat Walsh in action (3rd from right in front of Charles Reidy)

Thanks to Pat’s son Peter for his help
Last edited by PaulHP on Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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by PeterS on Wed Dec 03, 2008 5:45 pm

Great stuff, Paul. A very moving story.
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by JamesC on Wed Dec 03, 2008 6:31 pm

Outstanding piece of work - thank you
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by Loobs on Wed Dec 03, 2008 6:41 pm

Wow. What Peter and James said.
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by eek_the_weeble on Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:07 am

Thank you Paul
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by PGT on Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:15 am

Absolutely fantastic, for the work you put into these glimpses into our clubs forefathers you deserve great credit. It has been said here before, and I'll say it again, the biographies and interviews should be published. I am sure Andrew Coppell would appreciate being directed to this particular story if he has not seen it already.

On a light-hearted note, I see that the Tatler article was written by 'Harlequin'. Could this have been a relation of the Mighty Julian of some notoriety a few years ago - as some of the older residents will appreciate, this comment should serve to waken an otherwise peaceful chicken coop!
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by AlecW on Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:06 am

Fantastic piece of research!
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by AlecW on Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:08 am

On, and what a wonderful letter from the CO.
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by dom_pedro on Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:16 am

Great stuff!

I spoke to Paul about the Tatler article, but the London Irish bit is just the two paragraphs of text beneath the picture on the left and the section that you can see more clearly as a second image with the team photo ... the rest of the page is given over to a letter from "HARLEQUIN" moaning about an inter-services match between the army and navy or something :roll: .
This cruel country has driven me down, teased me and lied.
I've only sad stories to tell to this town
My dreams have withered and died.
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by Huck the hooker on Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:32 pm

All the adjectives have been used, superb.

I wish they had that clappy emoticon thing on here.
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by Shawshank on Fri Dec 05, 2008 11:06 am

Super piece.

Amazing recollection by the CO of the tragic events over 36 years later.
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by gabriel on Sat Dec 06, 2008 11:59 pm

Thank you.
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by FrTed on Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:34 am

Excellent. Many thanks.
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by James LI on Tue Dec 09, 2008 4:45 pm


Great research. Well done.

Keep up the good work.
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by PaulHP on Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:15 am

I have just found out that Pat played for Wasps during the war and have amended the above.
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