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Bergin, Michael, 1879-1917, Jesuit priest and chaplain

  • IE IJA J/140
  • Person
  • 18 August 1879-11 October 1917

Born: 18 August 1879, Fancroft, County Tipperary
Entered: 07 September 1897, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 1911
Final vows: 17 November 1916
Died 11 October 1917, Passchendaele, Belgium (Australian 51st Battalion) - Lugdunensis Province (LUGD)
Buried at the Reningelst Churchyard Cemetery, Belgium
First World War Chaplain.

Transcribed HIB to LUGD : 01 January 1901

Fancroft is on border of Offaly/Tipperary. The border dissected Fancroft Mill, the family home on one side (Tipperary).
by 1901 in Saint Stanislaus, Ghazir, Beirut, Syria (LUGD) Teacher and studying Arabic
by 1904 in Saint Joseph’s, Beirut, Syria (LUGD) teaching

◆ Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University online :
Bergin, Michael (1879–1917)
by J. Eddy
J. Eddy, 'Bergin, Michael (1879–1917)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bergin-michael-5217/text8783, published first in hardcopy 1979

Died : 11 October 1917 Passchendaele, Belgium

army chaplain; defence forces personnel (o/s officers attached to Australian forces)

Michael Bergin (1879-1917), Jesuit priest and military chaplain, was born in August 1879 at Fancroft, Tipperary, Ireland, son of Michael Bergin, mill-owner, and his wife Mary, née Hill. Educated at the local convent school and the Jesuit College at Mungret, Limerick, he entered the Jesuit noviceship at Tullabeg in September 1897. Two years later he was sent to the Syrian mission where English-speakers were needed; he felt the break from home and country very keenly but became absorbed in his missionary work and the exotic customs of the local peoples. After learning Arabic and French he studied philosophy at Ghazir, and in October 1904 began teaching at the Jesuit College in Beirut.

In 1907 Bergin was sent to Hastings, England, to complete his theology studies and was ordained priest on 24 August 1910. After a short time at home he returned to Hastings for further study and then gave missions and retreats in the south of England. He returned to the Middle East in January 1914 and was in charge of Catholic schools near Damascus until the outbreak of World War I; along with other foreigners in Syria, he was then imprisoned and later expelled by the Turkish government. By the time he reached the French Jesuit College in Cairo in January 1915 the first Australian troops had arrived in Egypt, and Bergin offered to assist the Catholic military chaplains. Though still a civilian, he was dressed by the men in the uniform of a private in the Australian Imperial Force and when the 5th Light Horse Brigade left for Gallipoli he went with it. Sharing the hardships of the troops, he acted as priest and stretcher-bearer until his official appointment as chaplain came through on 13 May 1915. He remained at Anzac until September when he was evacuated to the United Kingdom with enteric fever.

Bergin's arrival home in khaki, complete with emu feather in his slouch-hat, caused a sensation among his family and friends. Though tired and weak after his illness, he was anxious to get back to his troops for Christmas. He returned to Lemnos but was pronounced unfit and confined to serving in hospitals and hospital-ships. Evacuated to Alexandria in January 1916, he worked in camps and hospitals in Egypt and in April joined the 51st Battalion, A.I.F., at Tel-el-Kebir. He accompanied it to France and served as a chaplain in all its actions in 1916-17; these included the battles of Pozières and Mouquet Farm, the advance on the Hindenburg Line and the battle of Messines. He was killed at Passchendaele on 11 October 1917 when a heavy shell burst near the aid-post where he was working. He was buried in the village churchyard at Renninghelst, Belgium.

Bergin was awarded the Military Cross posthumously. The citation praised his unostentatious but magnificent zeal and courage. Though he had never seen Australia he was deeply admired by thousands of Australian soldiers, one of whom referred to him as 'a man made great through the complete subordination of self'.

Select Bibliography
L. C. Wilson and H. Wetherell, History of the Fifth Light Horse Regiment (Syd, 1926)
Sister S., A Son of St. Patrick (Dublin, 1932)
51st Battalion Newsletter, July 1962
F. Gorman, ‘Father Michael Bergin, S. J.’, Jesuit Life, July 1976..

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/news/jesuitica-irish-jesuit-at-the-front-2/

JESUITICA: Irish Jesuit at the front
When they remember their war dead on Anzac Day, Australians include in that number Fr Michael Bergin SJ, an Irish Jesuit who signed up with the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF)
in order to accompany them as chaplain to Gallipoli. Two facts give Fr Bergin particular distinction. Firstly, though he served with the AIF he never set foot on Australian soil. And secondly, he was the only Catholic chaplain serving with the AIF to die as a result of enemy action – not, however, in Gallipoli, which he survived, but in Passchendaele, Belgium, in 1917. According to the citation for the Military Cross, which he received posthumously, Fr Bergin was “always to be found among his men, helping them when in trouble, and inspiring them with his noble example and never-failing cheerfulness.”

https://www.jesuit.ie/news/jesuitica-mungret-man-at-the-front/
Tomorrow, Remembrance Day, we might think of Michael Bergin, born in Roscrea, schooled in Mungret, a remarkable Irish Jesuit chaplain with the Anzac force, which he joined as a trooper in order to accompany the Australians to Gallipoli. He was the only Australian chaplain to have joined in the ranks, and the only one never to set foot in Australia. He always aimed to be where his men were in greatest danger, and having survived the Turkish campaign he was killed by a German shell on the Ypres salient in Flanders. The citation for the Military Cross, awarded posthumously, read: “Padre Bergin is always to be found among his men, helping them when in trouble, and inspiring them with his noble example and never-failing cheerfulness.”

https://www.jesuit.ie/news/featured-news/roscrea-remembers-heroic-jesuit/

Roscrea remembers a heroic Jesuit
An exhibition of the life of Jesuit war chaplain Fr Michael Bergin, who died on 12 October 1917 at Passchendaele on the Western Front, was launched on 4 October in Roscrea Library, Tipperary. Fr Bergin grew up in the millhouse of Fancroft, just a couple of miles north of Roscrea.
Though an Irishman, Fr Bergin joined the Australian forces during the war. He befriended some Australian soldiers during a stint in Egypt and then joined them, first as stretcher-bearer in Gallipoli and later as chaplain in Belgium. It was there he died from German shell-fire, one of the half-million casualties of the Third Battle of Ypres, at Passchendaele.
The exhibition was launched by Simon Mamouney, First Secretary and Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy. The curator of the exhibition, Damien Burke, assistant archivist of the Irish Jesuit province (pictured here), also spoke at the event. In attendance too were Fr. Frank Sammon, a distant relative of the Bergins of Fancroft, and Marcus and Irene Sweeney, current owners of Fancroft Mill. Irene Sweeney, in fact, is a cousin of another Irish Jesuit, Fr Philip Fogarty. The exhibition remains open until 31 October.
Damien Burke also marked the anniversary of Fr Bergin’s death on Tuesday, 10 October, with a talk in Mungret Chapel, Mungret, Limerick – appropriately, as Fr Bergin attended the Jesuit school Mungret College. About thirty people attended the talk. It was 100 years to the day since Fr Bergin made his way to the Advanced Dressing Station of the 3rd Australian field ambulance near Zonnebeke Railway Station, Belgium. The following day he was badly wounded by German artillery fire, and a day later, 12 October, he died from his wounds. He was posthumously awarded the Australian Military Cross of Honour. Damien mentioned that Michael Bergin was President of the Sodality of Our Lady while a boarder at Mungret College and “would have prayed and formed his vocation to the Jesuits here in this space”.

https://www.jesuit.ie/news/newsletter/jesuits-at-the-front/

Jesuits at the front
This year of commemorating Irish Jesuit chaplains in the First World War will continue with an exhibition by Irish Jesuit Archives at Roscrea Library, Tipperary, from 2nd to 31st October. It will focus mainly on Fr Michael Bergin SJ (pictured here), a Roscrea-born Jesuit who was killed at the front in 1917, and five other Jesuits who served as chaplains with the Australian army in the First World War.
Fr Michael Bergin SJ holds the distinction of been the only member of the Australian forces in the First World War never to have set foot in Australia, and he was the only Catholic chaplain serving to have died as a result of enemy action.
Born in 1879 at Fancroft, Roscrea, Fr Bergin was educated at Mungret College, Limerick, and joined the Society of Jesus in 1897. From 1899 until the outbreak of war in 1914, he worked on the Syrian mission, which entailed his transfer to the French Lyons Province. When war broke out he was interned and then expelled by the Turks from Syria. While in Egypt in 1915, he become friendly with the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF), then training in Cairo.
In May of that year he went to Gallipoli with the Australian Forces, having enlisted as a Trooper. He carried out his pastoral duties as a priest, and worked as a stretcher-bearer and medical attendant. After his formal appointment as a chaplain in July 1915, Fr Bergin suffered influenza, chronic diarrhoea and enteric fever at Gallipoli, and was evacuated back to London to recover. Even though it was obvious that he was medically unfit to return to the front, he insisted on doing so and was back at Gallipoli in December 1915. Due to his ill health, however, he was transferred to hospital work.
In June 1916 Fr Bergin went to France with the 51st Battalion of the 13th Brigade. He lived in the front trenches, hearing confessions and celebrating Mass. He accompanied his men through such battles as Poziéres and Mouquet Farm, and was promoted from Captain to Major.
On 10 October 1917, his battalion moved up to the Front line Jesuitat Broodseinde Ridge. The next day he was with the Australian Field Ambulance when German shell-fire severely wounded him. He died the next day. There are a number of different accounts of his death but he died the following day. He is buried in Reninghelst Churchyard Extension, Belgium.
One colonel who knew the padre remarked, “Fr Bergin was loved by every man and officer in the Brigade... He was the only Saint I have met in my life.” The citation for the Military Cross awarded posthumously but based on a recommendation made prior to his death read: “Padre Bergin is always to be found among his men, helping them when in trouble, and inspiring them with his noble example and never-failing cheerfulness.”

https://www.jesuit.ie/blog/damien-burke/anzac-archives-and-the-bullshit-detector/

On Saturday 25 April, the annual dawn Anzac commemoration will take place. It is the centenary of the failed Anzac engagement at Gallipoli. Six Jesuits, five of them Irish-born, served with the Australian Imperial Forces in the First World War. Frs Joseph Hearn and Michael Bergin both served at Gallipoli.
Fr Bergin describes Gallipoli in 1915: “There are times here when you would think this was the most peaceful corner of the earth – peaceful sea, peaceful men, peaceful place; then, any minute the scene may change – bullets whistling, shells bursting. One never knows. It is not always when fighting that the men are killed – some are caught in their dug-outs, some carrying water. We know not the day or the hour. One gets callous to the sight of death. You pass a dead man as you’d pass a piece of wood. And when a high explosive catches a man, you do see wounds”

https://www.jesuit.ie/news/commemorating-the-sesquicentenary-of-the-arrival-of-irish-jesuits-in-australia/

Commemorating the sesquicentenary of the arrival of Irish Jesuits in Australia
This year the Australian Province of the Jesuits are commemorating the sesquicentenary of the arrival of Irish Jesuits in Australia. Australia became the first overseas mission of the Irish Jesuit Province. To mark the occasion the Archdiocese of Melbourne are organising a special thanksgiving Mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne 27 September. On 20 June Damien Burke, Assistant Archivist, Irish Jesuit Archives gave a talk at the 21st Australasian Irish Studies conference, Maynooth University, titled “The archives of the Irish Jesuit Mission to Australia, 1865-1931”. In his address Damien described the work of this mission with reference to a number of documents and photographs concerning it that are held at the Irish Jesuit Archives.
Irish Jesuits worked mainly as missionaries, and educators in the urban communities of eastern Australia. The mission began when two Irish Jesuits Frs. William Lentaigne and William Kelly, arrived in Melbourne in 1865 at the invitation of Bishop James Alipius Goold, the first Catholic bishop of Melbourne. They were invited by the Bishop to re-open St. Patrick’s College, Melbourne, a secondary school, and to undertake the Richmond mission. From 1865 onwards, the Irish Jesuits formed parishes and established schools while working as missionaries, writers, chaplains, theologians, scientists and directors of retreats, mainly in the urban communities of eastern Australia. By 1890, 30% of the Irish Province resided in Australia.
By 1931, this resulted in five schools, eight residences, a regional seminary in Melbourne and a novitiate in Sydney. Dr Daniel Mannix, archbishop of Melbourne, showed a special predication for the Jesuits and requested that they be involved with Newman College, University of Melbourne in 1918. Six Jesuits (five were Irish-born) served as chaplains with the Australian Forces in the First World War and two died, Frs Michael Bergin and Edwards Sydes. Both Michael Bergin and 62 year-old Joe Hearn, earned the Military Cross. Bergin was the only Catholic chaplain serving with the Australian Imperial Force to have died as a result of enemy action in the First World War.

◆ David Strong SJ “The Australian Dictionary of Jesuit Biography 1848-2015”, 2nd Edition, Halstead Press, Ultimo NSW, Australia, 2017 - ISBN : 9781925043280
After his education at Mungret, Michael Bergin entered the Society at Tullabeg in 1897, and two years later volunteered for the Syrian Mission and was sent to Lebanon to study Arabic and French before moving on to philosophy at Ghazir, and in 1904 to teach in the Jesuit College in Beirut.
Bergin did his theology in England at Hastings, and following ordination did retreat work in southern England until returning to Syria in January 1914. With the outbreak of World War I, he was interned by the Turks and then expelled from the region to arrive in Egypt in January 1915. Bergin offered to assist the Catholic chaplains of the newly arrived AIP, and, though still a civilian, was dressed in a privates uniform by the men of the 5th Light Horse, and left for Gallipoli with them.
He acted as priest arid stretcher-bearer until his formal appointment came through in May, and he remained on Gallipoli until invalided home in September with enteric fever. A photo taken of him in slouch hat and emu feathers created something of sensation at home, but he was not there long, returning to work on hospital ships until January 1916, when he went to Egypt with the 51st Battalion. He followed the battalion to France, serving as chaplain during some key battles leading up to the attack on the Hindenburg line. In 1917 a long-range shell burst near the aid station where he was working and killed him.
Bergin never came to Australia, but was awarded a posthumous Military Cross and in the late 1990s was awarded the Australian Gallipoli Medal. There is a memorial to him at the back of the Cairns Cathedral, as the soldiers he mainly worked with were from North Queensland. His life is included here because of his unique connection with Australia.
John Eddy has an entry on him in the Australian Dictionary of Biograpy, p. 274.

Note from Edward Sydes Entry
He and the Irish Jesuit Michael Bergin, who served with the AIP but never visited Australia, are the only two Australian Army chaplains who died as a result of casualties in action.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Michael Bergin 1879-1917
Fr Michael Bergin was born at Fancroft, about two miles from Roscrea, on August 16th 1879. His early education he got at the Sacred Heart Convent Roscrea, and then at Mungret. In 1897 he entered the noviceship at Tullabeg.

Together with two other scholastics, Mr Hartigan and Mr Fitzgibbon, he was sent to Syria and the University of Beirut. Here under the French Fathers, he did his Philosophy and Regency. While in Beirut he volunteered for the Syrian Mission, and there he returned after his ordination in 1913.

On the outbreak of the First World Ward he, with all the other priests and religious, was expelled by the Turks, and he went to Cairo. There Fr Bergin became Chaplain to the Australian Expeditionary Force. He came to France with them, and he was killed by a shell at Zonnebeke, North East of Ypres on October 11th 1917. He was buried near Reningelst.

His life story was written by his sister, a nun, under the title “A Son of St Patrick”, and it gives an idea of the steadfast, simple yet heroic life of Michael Bergin.

Browne, Francis M, 1880-1960, Jesuit priest, photographer and chaplain

  • IE IJA J/7
  • Person
  • 1880-1960

Born: 03 January 1880, Sunday's Well, Cork City
Entered: 07 September 1897, St Stanislaus College, Tullabeg, County Offaly
Ordained: 31 July 1915, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final vows: 02 February 1921
Died: 07 July 1960, St John of God’s Hospital, Stillorgan, Dublin

Part of the Milltown Park, Dublin community at the time of death

Francis Mary Hegarty Browne

by 1902 at Chieri Italy (TAUR) studying
by 1917 Military Chaplain : 1st Battalion Irish Guards, BEF France

◆ Royal Irish Academy : Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press online :
Browne, Francis Patrick Mary
by James Quinn

Browne, Francis Patrick Mary (1880–1960), photographer and Jesuit priest, was born 3 January 1880 in Sunday's Well, Cork, youngest of eight children of James Browne, flour merchant and JP, and Brigid Browne (née Hegarty; 1840–80), who died of puerperal fever eight days after Francis's birth. The family was well-off and owned a large house at Buxton Hill; Brigid's father, James Hegarty, was a wealthy tanner and a JP, and served as lord mayor of Cork. Francis attended the Bower convent, Athlone (1885–92), the Christian Brothers' college, St Patrick's Place, Cork (1892), the Jesuit college at Belvedere, Dublin (1893), and the Vicentian college at Castleknock (1893–7). He excelled in the classics and modern languages, enjoyed sports, and played on the Castleknock first rugby XV. On leaving Castleknock he made a tour of Europe with his brother William (1876–1938) (also a priest and photographer), and took many photographs, which even at this stage showed considerable talent. On his return in September 1897 he joined the Jesuits, and served his noviceship at Tullabeg, King's Co. (Offaly). After his father drowned while swimming at Crosshaven (2 September 1898), his education was overseen by his uncle, Robert Browne (qv), president of Maynooth College and bishop of Cloyne (1894–1935). Francis took his first vows 8 September 1899, and studied classics at the Royal University at St Stephen's Green, Dublin, graduating with an honours BA (1902). At university he was a contemporary of James Joyce (qv), and ‘Mr Browne, the Jesuit’ makes an appearance in Finnegans wake. He studied philosophy (1902–5) at Chieri, near Turin, travelling throughout Italy during the summer holidays and studying Italian painting. Returning to Ireland in 1905, he taught at Belvedere (1905–11), where he founded a cycling club, a camera club, and the college annual, The Belvederian, which featured many of his photographs.

In April 1912 he sailed on the first leg of the Titantic's maiden voyage (10–11 April) from Southampton to Queenstown (Cobh) via Cherbourg. Friends offered to pay for him to complete the trip to New York, but the Jesuit provincial in Dublin refused him permission. He took about eighty photographs on the voyage, including the last one of the Titanic's captain, Edward Smith, and the only one ever taken in the ship's Marconi room. The Titantic's sinking catapulted his work to international attention, his photographs appearing on the front pages of newspapers around the world. His name forever became associated with the Titanic and he assiduously collected material relating to the disaster, which he used to give public lectures.

He studied theology (1911–15) at Milltown Park, Dublin, and was ordained 31 July 1915. Early in 1916 he became a military chaplain in the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, with the rank of captain. Present at the Somme and Ypres (including Passchendaele), he showed great courage under fire, tending the wounded in no man's land and guiding stretcher parties to wounded men. He himself was wounded five times and gassed once, and won the MC and bar and the Croix de Guerre. His commanding officer, the future Earl Alexander, who became a lifelong friend, described him as ‘the bravest man I ever met’ (O'Donnell, Life, 46). During the war he took many photographs, now held in the Irish Guards headquarters in London. He returned to Ireland late in 1919, completed his tertianship (July 1920), and was again assigned to Belvedere. On 31 October 1920 he cycled to the viceregal lodge to make a personal appeal for the life of Kevin Barry (qv), an Old Belvederean.

He took his final vows (2 February 1921) and was appointed supervisor of St Francis Xavier's church, Gardiner St. (1921–8). Because of the damage done to his lungs by gassing during the war, he spent the years 1924–5 in Australia, making a 3,000-mile trip through the outback, where he took many memorable photographs. By now he and his camera were inseparable and he used it widely on his return trip through Ceylon, Yemen, Egypt, and Italy. Returning to Dublin in late 1925 he resumed his position at Gardiner St. and began regularly to photograph inner-city Dublin life, taking about 5,000 photographs of Dublin over thirty years. In 1926 he took flying lessons and took many aerial photographs of Dublin. He became an important member of the Photographic Society of Ireland and the Dublin Camera Club and was vice-president and a key organiser of a highly successful international exhibition of photography (the First Irish Salon of Photography) during Dublin's ‘civic week’ in 1927; further exhibitions were held biennially until 1939. Appointed to the Jesuits' mission and retreat staff, he was based at Clongowes Wood, Co. Kildare (1928–30), and Emo Court, Co. Laois (1930–57).

Many of these were of the great cathedrals of England, which had a particular fascination for him. With war looming, in 1937–8 he was commissioned by the Church of England to photograph the churches of East Anglia to enable their accurate restoration should they suffer bomb damage. In 1939 his offer to serve as chaplain to the Irish Guards was accepted, but he was refused permission from the Irish Jesuit provincial.

Travelling throughout Britain and Ireland, he continued to photograph and assiduously to practise the technical aspects of photography and build up an impressive array of photographic equipment, including his own developing laboratory at Emo. Most experts believe that his talent matured fully in the 1930s. Given a Kodak 16mm cine-camera by his uncle Robert, he shot a film of the eucharistic congress in Dublin in 1932, and made several subsequent films for state and educational bodies. In 1933 he visited the Kodak works at Harrow, north-west of London, and afterwards received a supply of free film for life and regularly contributed articles and photographs to the Kodak Magazine.

In the 1940s and ‘50s he photographed almost every aspect of Irish life – pilgrimages, ruined monasteries, great houses, and leading religious, political, and literary figures – and his photographs featured regularly in Irish publications. Much of his work dealt with new industries and technology, especially his fascination with transport: aircraft, shipping, and trains. A booklet issued by the Department of Health on the ‘mother and child’ scheme in 1951 was illustrated with his photographs. All his earnings from photography (c.£1,000, 1937–54) were forwarded to the Jesuit provincial treasurer and used for the education of Jesuit students.

As his health faded, he resided at Milltown Park from 1957, and many of his photographs from the late 1950s recorded the themes of old age and death. He died in Dublin 7 July 1960, and was buried in the Jesuit plot in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin.

He took an estimated 42,000 photographs throughout his life, but his fame as a photographer was largely posthumous: most of his work lay unnoticed in a trunk in the Jesuit archives until 1986. His photographs were neatly captioned and dated but were mostly on deteriorating nitrate film, and a major restoration effort was required to transfer them to safe film. Photographic experts were astounded at the quality of the work, generally considering it the outstanding photographic collection of twentieth-century Ireland. Fr Browne had all the attributes of a great photographer: a natural eye for line and balance in composition (a talent developed by his study of Italian art) and an ability to anticipate the decisive moment. In photographing people his lens was never intrusive or exploitative, and his sympathy with his subject is always evident. Scenes involving children, in particular, are captured with a natural ease and dignity. He has been described as ‘one of the great photographic talents’ (O'Donnell, Life, 123) of the twentieth century, and compared favourably with the great French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Since 1986 his work has been regularly exhibited, published in various collections compiled by E. E. O'Donnell, SJ, and featured in television documentaries.

Rudyard Kipling, The Irish Guards in the great war (2 vols, 1923), i, 136, 141, 145–6, 170, 182; ii, 173; Ir. Times, 18 Nov. 1989; E. E. O'Donnell, SJ, ‘Photographer extraordinary: the life and work of Father Browne’, Studies, lxxix (1990), 298–306; id., Father Browne's Dublin (1993); id., Father Browne: a life in pictures (1994); id., Father Browne's Titanic album (1997)

◆ Jesuits in Ireland : https://www.jesuit.ie/who-are-the-jesuits/inspirational-jesuits/francis-browne/

Francis Browne
Few can claim to have seen as much in their life as Francis Browne, sailing on the Titanic, serving in World War I, travelling the world. Not only did he live it but, as an amateur photographer, he also recorded his life and experiences, allowing us today immeasurable insight into that period in our history.
Born in Cork in 1880, Francis Browne was the youngest of eight children. His mother died of puerperal fever not long after his birth and his father died in a swimming accident when he was nine, so Browne was taken care of by his uncle, Robert Browne. After finishing school in Dublin in 1897, Browne went on a grand tour of Europe, seeing France and Italy. For his travels, his uncle bought him his first camera as a present, and this began Browne’s lifelong interest in photography.
Upon returning to Ireland, Browne entered the Jesuit noviciate in Tullabeg. He studied at the Royal University of Ireland in Dublin, where he was classmates with James Joyce. In 1911 he began studying theology in Milltown. The following year, his uncle gave him a ticket aboard the newly built ship Titanic, to sail from Southampton to Queenstown, now Cobh. Browne brought his camera, as was his hobby, and took many pictures. When he arrived in Queenstown he would have continued on the crossing to America, but was told in no uncertain terms by his superior to return to Dublin. When word arrived days later of the sinking of the Titanic, Browne realised how valuable his photographs were and sold them to various newspapers leading to the publication all over the world.
Browne was ordained in 1915, and the following year was sent to Europe where he served as chaplain to the Irish Guards. During his time in the service, Browne was at the Battle of the Somme, at Flanders, Ypres, and many other places at the frontline of the war. He was wounded on five occasions, and was awarded a military cross and bar for valour in combat. During this time too he took photographs, recording life at the frontline.
Returning to Dublin in 1920, Browne experienced recurring ill health from his time in the war, and was sent to Australia in 1924. Never parting from his camera, he took countless photos of the places he saw on his way over, as well as in Australia. After returning, he was appointed to the Retreats and Mission staff, and travelled all across Ireland. By the time of his death in 1960, Browne had taken photographs in nearly every parish in Ireland. When his negatives were discovered, twenty five years later, there were in the order of 42,000 of them. Twenty three volumes of his work have now been published and the importance of his work has been recognised internationally.

https://www.jesuit.ie/blog/damien-burke/the-last-parting-jesuits-and-armistice/

The last parting: Jesuits and Armistice
At the end of the First World War, Irish Jesuits serving as chaplains had to deal with two main issues: their demobilisation and influenza. Some chaplains asked immediately to be demobbed back to Ireland; others wanted to continue as chaplains. Of the thirty-two Jesuits chaplains in the war, five had died, while sixteen were still serving.
Writing on 13 November 1918, Fr Frank Browne SJ describes the day of the Armistice:
Isn’t it grand to think that the end has come & come so well for our side: please God it will come for us at home soon, & equally well. Here all is excitement and rejoicing. I happened to be in Dieppe at the fateful 11 o’clock Monday last. I was at the Ordnance store outside which is a great railway siding... Eleven o’ clock was signaled by every engine furiously blowing its whistle. Then nearly all of them proceeded to career up & down the hacks – still whistling. On several of them men sat astride the boilers waving flats & ringing bells. This lasted for 20 mins. On the other side of the quarry Co. of Engineers burst a charge displacing several tons of rock, & then fired Verey lights & flares. But all this was nothing compared with the French outburst in the town. As I drove into the town our car was pelted with confetti by girls, all of whom were gay with tricolor ribbons. The Belgian emigres organised a march through the town with their military band and all the soldiers & Officers present. The bugles were blowing as they entered the main street, which was crowded with rejoicing people. Suddenly, the bugles stopped, & the Band struck up the Marseillaise. For a moment there was a kind of silence, then with a roar, the whole crowd of people took it up. Woman appeared at every window waving flags, & singing: assistants rushed to the doors of shops & joined in the great chorus: children shouted & sang & wriggled through the crowd. It was one of the most inspiring spontaneous demonstrations it has ever been my fortune to witness.

◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 7th Year No 4 1932

China :

The Seminary Aberdeen :
The Seminary is now in full working order. We have all the ordinary exercises of our houses of studies circles, tones, etc. The students take kindly to the tones and are frank in their criticisms. A variant of the ordinary tones is a sermonette on the Life of Our Lord, We are using the Epidioscope and the beautiful slides which Father Frank Browne so kindly sent us. Thus a more vivid picture of the Gospel scenes is impressed on their minds. They have also given lectures to the village-folk with a Synoscope which Father Bourke brought out.

◆ Irish Province News

Irish Province News 35th Year No 4 1960

Obituary :

Fr Francis M Browne (1880-1960)

The song has it that “old soldiers never die, they only fade away”. Fr. Frank Browne was an old soldier who never said die. He just faded away for a few months until the King whom he served so long and so faithfully called him to the eternal colours on 7th July, 1960, in the 81st year of his life.
Francis Mary Hegarty Browne was born in Cork on 3rd January, 1880. He claimed two Alma Maters - Belvedere and Castleknock - and never lost his affection for both. There must have been militarism in his blood, and the instinct for noble deeds and daring exploits. He went the Ignatian way, entering the noviceship at Tullabeg in 1897. At the completion of his noviceship he was one of a group of brilliant scholastics studying for the Royal - Edmund Power, Patrick Gannon, Austin Hartigan and others. In after years he sometimes mentioned his ability to equal and even surpass in classical lore some of these literary geniuses. After three years philosophy in Chieri, Northern Italy, he spent seven years teaching in Belvedere and Clongowes - mostly in Belvedere. During this period Mr. Browne was the life and soul of Belvedere. The college was small in those days, numbering about 250 boys. There he endeared himself to many who in later years reached the top of their professions. It was there, too, that he became wedded to his camera. While doing full teaching he had cycling club, camera club and every kind of outdoor activity except games.
At the conclusion of this long period of colleges came theology at Milltown Park and Ordination in July 1915 at the hands of his uncle, Most Rev. Robert Browne, Bishop of Cloyne. During his theologate he rarely missed opportunities of long treks over the mountains. It was all a preparation for his duties as military chaplain. World War I broke out in 1914 and in 1916 Fr. Browne became chaplain to the Irish Guards in France and Flanders. He was wounded several times, returning home to hospital with severe shrapnel injuries to his jaw, On his return again to the front he served in the same Irish Division as Fr. Willie Doyle, and was close to Fr. Doyle until the latter was killed in August 1917. From then onwards until the war ended in 1918 Fr. Browne was with the Irish Guards and received several distinctions. As well as frequently being mentioned in despatches he was awarded the Military Cross and the Belgian Croix de Guerre.
Tertianship was in Tullabeg, 1919-1920, and then Belvedere College for two years. A visitation of the Irish Province took place just then and two appointments made by the Fr. Visitor - Fr. W. Power, U.S.A. were Fr. John Fahy as Provincial and Fr. Browne as Superior of St. Francis Xavier's, Gardiner Street. Both were, in a sense, as a bolt from the blue. The advent of a young priest as Superior of Gardiner Street - especially one so dynamic as Fr. Browne-was quite unusual. He was the youngest member of the community. The quiet hum of church work became a loud buzz during his six years as Superior. He was a great churchman. As well as a very eloquent preacher, he was devoted to the confessional, Moreover he was a man of great taste and made many improvements in administration. But he worked himself to a standstill and had to go on a long rest. The long rest was a trip to Australia. It provided Fr. Frank with plenty of shots for his camera and matter for many illustrated lectures in which he was a specialist.
From 1928 until a few years before his death Fr, Browne was on the Mission Staff of the Irish Province. He was stationed in St. Mary's, Emo from the time it opened in 1931. This life gave him ample scope for his unbounded energy. He loved his rest periods in Emo and his camera provided a helpful and lucrative relaxation. His photographs of places of historic interest in every part of Ireland were eagerly sought after by papers like the Irish Tatler and Sketch. In his scholastic days he had made a reputation for himself as Editor of The Belvederian. Anyone who scans the volumes of that magazine will find some wonderful photographs. It was while there he accepted the invitation to go on the first leg of the maiden voyage of the famous Titanic, later sunk by an iceberg in the Atlantic. Fr. Frank's photos of the inside of this luxury liner were about the only ones extant.
It is hardly to be expected that younger members of any religious order could have a correct view of older members, seen and known only in their decline. It is for that reason possibly that these obituary notices appear. It is only fair that a man's life should be seen in its entirety, God does not look at the last decade of a man's life, or indeed at any one decade. God views the whole span, and so should we. Else we miss much that we ought to know for our encouragement. The Society has its menologies, and wants the lives of Jesuits to be known by succeeding generations. For this purpose the menology is read every day. In this rapid and complex world our dead are too soon forgotten. The Irish Province has had many devoted sons to whose favours we of today owe much.
What were the outstanding qualities of Fr. Frank Browne? They are here outlined in order of priority as the writer sees them after forty, if not more nearly fifty, years of acquaintance.
He was a most priestly man. To see Fr. Frank at the altar was most impressive. There was no sign of slovenliness, speed, distraction. From his ordination till his death he put the Mass first. This had one rather amusing aspect. The pair of shoes in which he was ordained he preserved to the end, and only wore them at the altar. They were known to his colleagues as “The Melchisedeck Shoes”. This, in itself, shows his anxiety to preserve the fervour of his early priesthood. There was always a dignity about Fr. Browne whenever he functioned in the church, A man of fine physique and carriage, he looked magnificent in priestly vestments. But there was no shadow of affectation, no over-exaggeration. It was simple, honest and devout.
This priestliness he carried into the pulpit. He was never cheap, witty, frivolous. His preaching was always impressive, his words well chosen, his examples apt. He had a very friendly and sympathetic approach to his congregation. His confessional was always crowded and never hurried. There was the kindly word for everyone. With the secular clergy he was extremely popular, yet always reserved and dignified. It is the truth that he never forgot he was a priest and a Jesuit. He might at times be demanding, but always in a pleasant way,
He was a brave man-brave in every sense of the word. As chaplain he was rewarded for his courage under fire. The soldiers admired him and the officers revered him because of his calmness under fire. An Irish Guardsman, still alive, wrote of Fr, Browne :
“We were in a church somewhere in Belgium and Fr. Browne was in the pulpit. Shells began to fall all around. We began to look around and up at the roof already with many holes in it. Fr. Browne thundered out : ‘What's wrong? Why don't you listen? Which are you more afraid of - God or the Germans?”
In the home front, when he was in Belvedere College, 1920-1922, many a time when the crash of a bomb, thrown at British lorries passing down North Frederick Street, was heard, Fr. Browne was down to the scene at once to minister to any injured. People scattered in all directions, but he remained firm. In October 1920, because he considered it his duty, he made a personal appeal to the military authorities on behalf of Kevin Barry.
He feared no man and feared no man's views. He never gave in an inch on a matter of principle even to the point of being irascible. One can imagine the influence he excited on non-Catholics in the British Army, A high-ranking officer, later a Field Marshal and a Viscount, had the greatest veneration for Fr. Browne and always wore a medal of Our Lady that Fr. Frank gave him.

◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973

Father Francis (Frank) Browne 1880-1960
Fr Francis Browne was a colourful character, full of life and go. He was famous as a Chaplain in the First World War, being decorated many times for gallantry under fire. A soldier wrote of him “We were in Church somewhere in Belgium, and Fr Browne was in the pulpit. Shells began to fall all around. We began to look around and up at the roof which already had many holes in it. R Browne thundered out “What’s wrong? Why don't you listen to me? Which are you more afraid of, God or the Germans?”
Through the good offices of his uncle the Bishop of Cloyne, Fr Frank travelled in the Titanic, on her voyage from Belfast to Cork, where luckily he disembarked. Being an excellent photographer, he had taken snaps of the interior of that famous ship, which are the onl;y ones extant to this day.
As a chaplain he was equally popular with Catholic and Protestant, and counted among his friends the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VII and later again Duke of Windsor. A high ranking Officer, a Field-Marshall and later a Viscount had the greatest veneration for him, and always carried a medal of Our Lady round his neck, which he had received from Fr Frank.
His outstanding devotion was to the Holy Mass. The pair of boots in which he was ordained he kept apart to the end, and in no others did he ever celebrate Mass.
During his period as Superior of Gardiner Street he was responsible for many improvements in the Church, mainly the fine porch and new system of lighting.
The latter part of his life he spent as a most zealous and successful missioner
He died on July 7th 1960.