This document is from the Soldiers’ Wills collection held by the National Archives of Ireland. These are the wills of Irishmen who served in the British Army prior to Irish independence in 1922. The earliest will dates from 1856 and the majority of the collection dates from the First World War (1914–1918). The wills are of non-commissioned men who were encouraged by the army to make a will before leaving for active service. Most of the wills were made on short forms which were in the men’s army service books. In cases where there were no wills, letters to friends or relatives in which the soldier stated his wish for them to receive his effects on his death were accepted in lieu of a formal will.
Private John Brady served with the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles and died in action in France between 23–26 October 1916. Private Brady had not made a formal will. In a letter written to a family friend, Mrs Byrne of Navan, county Meath, he stated that ‘I have made my will in your favour so what money I don’t get you will get’ and this was accepted by the War Office in place of a will. Private Brady’s remains were never located and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial at the Somme.
There are 9,244 records in the Soldiers’ Wills collection and the National Archives of Ireland has made them available free online to mark the centenary of the First World War.
- Private Brady’s PDF
- Private Brady’s entry on the Soldiers’ Wills website
- Private Brady’ entry on the Commonwealth War Graves website