BALLYMENA 1914-1918

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Cairncastle Presbyterian Church - Memorial Names

Cairncastle, near Larne, Co Antrim, cannot be considered to be within the Ballymena ambit but I had these names and felt they should be put online because no-one else has made them available. I hope someone will find the material helpful.


Cairncastle Presbyterian Church
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Kenneth Allen - geograph.org.uk/p/428630

Photograph courtesy of the Reverend Fiona Forbes and Mr William Hunter, Cairncastle Presbyterian Church

65594 Private James Brown of the 2nd Bn, Otago Regiment, NZEF was killed in action on 2nd September 1918.   He was the 2nd son of James Brown, Corkermain(e), Cairncastle, and his wife Margaret (Maggie). The 1901 Irish census shows the family there. James Brown, 60 and a farmer, and his wife Margaret (51) listed William (22), James (21), Aggie Jane (19), John (18 and a coachbuilder), Hugh (15), Maggie (14) and Thomas (11) as present on census day.

In 1911 James (70) and his wife Maggie (62) said they had been married for 35 years, and that they had had nine children. Eight were still alive in 1911 and the couple listed William M (31), Agnes Jane (27), Maggie (24) and Robert (18) as present on census day.

James Brown, who said he was born on the 20 February 1879, had been farming in New Zealand for seven/eight years and had his own farm at Otangiwai, Taumarunui, North Island. He enlisted on the 28 July 1917 and his records show that he was 5’ 6 ¼ “ tall with hazel eyes and black hair. He trained in New Zealand until the 30 December 1917.

He went overseas aboard HMNZT 99, Athenic, on the 31 December 1917 from Wellington, disembarked in Glasgow, and marched into No 4 Camp, Larkhall, Salisbury Plain on the 26 February 1918. He moved to Sling Camp on the 6 April and went to France in May 1918. He served for a time with the 2nd Entrenching Battalion but moved to the 4th Company, 2nd Otago Battalion on the 28 August 1918. His military career was very short and he was killed in action on the 2 September 1918.


His grave is II. C. 19 in Bancourt British Cemetery. It is located 4 Km east of Bapaume, and it is likely that he died in the 2nd battle of Bapaume, 21 August-3 September. This was the second phase of the battle of Amiens, the British offensive often taken to be the turning point of the First World War on the Western Front.

The town of Bapaume actually fell into the hands of 'the superb New Zealand Division’, as stated in 1918 Year of Victory, The end of the Great War and the shaping of history, edited by Ashley Ekins, on 29 August 1918, and as also stated, The Times pointed out that capturing Bapaume was 'an honour'. . . that the New Zealand Division ‘had well-earned’. However, there were to be four additional days of hard fighting to wrestle the area around the town from the Germans, and this was when Brown was killed.

The New Zealanders had to capture the villages of Bancourt and Fremicourt and then drive the Germans from the the Bancourt Ridge that lay about 700 metres east of both villages. The Germans fought furiously to keep every inch of the ground they still held and twice counter-attacked. One of these counter-attacks was led by tanks, another crushed only when artillery batteries kept up a relentless fire on the advancing ranks. Only on the evening of 2 September did the resistance finally come to an end and thereafter the exhausted and dispirited Germans began to surrender. 'Bloody Bapaume', as it is sometimes called, was finally over.


The New Zealand front line was then over 20 miles east of Hebuterne from where it had been ten days earlier. Historians now think over 800 New Zealanders were killed in this action and 2300 + were wounded.   The battle of Bapaume was, therefore, a very significant action for New Zealand troops, one of their  bloodiest engagements on the Western Front.


Brown’s only visit home had been early in May 1918.   He was survived by two brothers in New Zealand and two on active service with the New Zealand Force.


Credits:
: Transport Column -14-9-18
New Zealand Battalion transport passing through recaptured Bapaume, World War I. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013609-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22358132
20768 Robert Clarke, Signaller, 9th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was the eldest son of the late Rev. Samuel Boyce Clarke, of The Manse, Brookfield, Cairncastle, Co. Antrim, by his wife Mary Carmichael Clarke, nee Roberts. Robert was born at Ballygalley, Cairncastle on the 29 June 1898 and was educated at Larne Grammar School. He joined the Mechanical Transport on the 18 October 1916 but transferred from London to Edinburgh Training School in January 1917. He was sent to join the Royal Dublin Fusiliers at Cork in April 1917 and subsequently served with the British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from September 1917. He died in No. 43 Casualty Clearing Station from blood poisoning on the 25 October 1917.

The 9th Battalion, were part of the 48th Brigade, 16th Division and were involved in the Flanders Offensive (3rd Battle of Ypres) from 7th June - 10th November 1917 and it was presumably something that happened on that battlefield that led to infection and his demise. The pain of his death was made worse for Mrs Clarke as her husband, the Rev. S B Clarke, had died on the 1 July 1915.

11090 Private John Crawford Moore, son of Mary Moore, of 123, Dumbarton Rd., Glasgow, and the late William Moore, was born at Cairncastle, Co. Antrim, and died aged 30 while serving with the 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.

2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment were in Mhow, India when war broke out in August 1914 but were immediately sent to England. They were training for service in France and Flanders when orders changed and they were hurried to Gallipoli. They left from Avonmouth on the 29th of March 1915, the whole division reviewed by the King, before W and X Companies sailed aboard the HMT Aragon, Y and Z Companies aboard the HMT Manitou. They went via Malta to Alexandria, reached Mudros in April. They subsequently transferred to the steamer River Clyde and landed at Cape Helles, Gallipoli on the 25 April 1915. They were involved in heavy fighting until the evacuation on the nights of the 7th and 8th of January 1916 when they returned to Egypt. John Crawford Moore died early in their struggle on the 8 May 1915 and he is commemorated in Cairo War Memorial Cemetery.


Private Robert James Stewart, Canterbury Infantry Regiment (NZEF), Ballyhacket Cairncastle Antrim

Photograph from Larne Times and by courtesy of Nigel Henderson.

42825 Robert James Stewart, son of John and Agnes Stewart, of Ballyhacket, Cairncastle, Larne, Ireland. He was killed in action aged 32 while serving the 3rd Battalion, Canterbury Regiment, N.Z.E.F.

John Stewart, Ballyhackett, Cairncastle, son of Robert, had married Agnes White (aged 19), Little Deer Park, Glenarm, daughter of Benjamin, in Glenarm Presbyterian Church on the 4 March 1879. The 1901 Irish census records John (46) and Agnes (42) at Ballyhackett with nine children. Benjamin (21-6/1/80), Lizzie (18-28/11/82), Robert J (16-1/2/1885), John M (13-19/2/88), Sam Mc (10-25/4/90), Sarah J(ane) (8-19/4/92 ), Agnes W(hite) (6-5/8/94), Joseph K (4-17/9/96) and Thomas (2-7/9/98) were listed on the day of the census.

The 1911 census records the family in the same place and John (56) and Agnes (54) state that they had been married for 32 years and that they had had 12 children; 9 were still alive in 1911.

Robert Stewart enlisted on the 3 January 1917, stating that he was born on the 1 February 1885. He said he had been in NZ for two years and that he was an orchardist employed by Tasman Fruit Lands at Nelson. He was described then as being 5’ 8” and as having blue eyes and fair hair. He nominated his father at Ballyhackett, Cairncastle as his next of kin and also gave the name of his brother, John M Stewart, Tasman, Nelson, NZ.

He had left NZ on the 2 April 1917 aboard HMNZT 80, ‘Corinthic’, from Wellington and disembarked at Devonport/Plymouth, England on the 10 June. He completed training at Sling Camp and went to France and Flanders after 6 July 1917. He was at Etaples on the 9th and was sent to 12th Company, 3rd Canterbury Regiment, 4th NZ Infantry Brigade.  He was slightly wounded, probably by gas, and treated in France by No 4 NZ Field Ambulance from the 9th - 20th October. He rejoined his unit on the 25 October and his short military career ended when he was killed in action on the 21st November 1917. He is buried in Buttes New British Cemetery (NZ), Polygon Wood.

The History of the Canterbury Regiment, N.Z.E.F. 1914 - 1919, Chapter XII, The Polygon Wood Sector and the Polderhoek Chateau Attack, author Captain David Ferguson, published by Whitcombe and Tombs Limited, 1921, Auckland gives some insight into the circumstances in which Stewart’s death occurred.  It says,

On the night of November 14th/15th, the 3rd Wellington and Auckland Battalions of the 4th Brigade relieved the 110th Brigade in the left of the Divisional sector, having the 49th Division on their left; and on the 16th the 3rd Canterbury Battalion, in reserve, took over from the 6th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment the Railway Dug-outs in the embankment of the Ypres-Menin railway line, just east of where it crosses the Ypres-Messines road. On the night of the 21st/22nd, the (3rd) battalion relieved the 3rd Auckland Battalion in the left of the brigade sector, with its right flank at the ruined buildings called Joiner's Best. The trenches were incomplete and unprotected by wire; but before the battalion was relieved it had completed both front line and support trenches, and wired with a single belt the whole of its frontage.

(N.B. 42825 R J Stewart appears as 42825 B J Stewart in the casualty list at the end of this volume.)

It looks as if Stewart may have been killed during the relief on the night of the 21/22 November.


Positive ID - from the military record of 6303 James Crawford

6303 James Crawford, 25th Battalion, Australian Infantry, was killed in action on the 10 June 1918.  He was born Raloo, Larne and was the son of Samuel Crawford, a farmer.  The 1901 Irish census records the family at Tureagh, Raloo. Samuel was 54, his wife Jane 43. The couple listed six children present on the day of the census. They were James (15), John (13), Matthew (11), Stuart (9), William (7) and Thomas (5).  They were still in the same townland in 1911.  Samuel (64) and Jane (54) said they had been married for 25 years and that they had had six children.   They listed Matthew (22), Stuart (22 and a saddler.  A later address for him was 26 Main Street, Larne.), William (18) and Thomas (16). James was probably in Australia by 1911 and he was a carpenter and stated on his enlistment papers that he had served his apprenticeship for 4 ½ years with Mr John Bell, Ballynarry, Ballynure. Bell was single and 51 in 1901 and his census paper records him as a farmer/carpenter. He then employed another carpenter called Alfred Agnew; James must have replaced him at some point.

James Crawford papers record him as being 5’ 9” tall and having grey eyes and dark brown hair. He was then nearly 31 years old and said he had been born on the 21 January 1886 - local records say 23 January 1886 and that his mother was Jane Craig. He was a single Presbyterian and was then apparently living at Ingham, Queensland.

He left Sydney aboard the HMAT Demosthenes on the 22 January 1916 and he arrived in Plymouth on the 3 March 1917.  He went to the camp at Rollestone and the 7th Training Battalion before eventually going to Le Havre, France on the 20 June 1917.  He transferred to the 25th Battalion on the 9 July and was gassed while serving with them on the 9 November 1917.  He wasn’t too badly affected and remained in France, passing through 17 Casualty Clearing Station, 1st General Hospital, No 6 and No 5 Convalescent Depots before rejoining his battalion on the 5 February 1918.  He was with them only a short time when he was killed in action on the 10 June 1918.

The operation in which he was killed is described thus in the unit war diary:

The 7th Australian Infantry Brigade will ... capture enemy position between SAILLY LAURETTE and MORLANCOURT. The 4th Division is advancing its flank and the 6th Brigade will carry out two raids in co-operation. The 27th ... will attack on our (i.e. the 25th Battalion) right and 28th Battalion on our left. The 26th... Battalion will be in reserve.
 
The operation went well.

At Zero (9.45 pm) the men left the trench and advanced in a good line with touch on both flanks following the barrage at about 75 yards distance. Considerable enemy Machine Gun fire was encountered immediately but practically no enemy shelling. The advance regulated by our barrage was too slow. Mopping up parties carried out their work well and very few cases of our men being shot from behind were recorded. The success signal was fired at 10.50 pm...

However there were problems with the artillery barrage that gave cover during the attack.

A number of guns ... were firing short consistently and caused a good number of casualties to attacking troops. ... The rate of travelling of barrage was generally considered to be too slow as troops had to wait for it several times suffering casualties from enemy Machine Guns.
Account extracted from the 25th Battalion War Diary held by Australian War Memorial
Item RCDIG1004782, copy provided for personal non-commercial use.

The operation cost the 7th Brigade 2 Officers and 41 Other Ranks Killed, 10 Officers and 146 Other Ranks wounded, and 8 missing.
John Dale - John McClure Dale Jnr. died at sea after his ship was torpedoed and sunk in the English Channel nine nautical miles (17 km) south south east of the Owers Lightship on the 16th April 1918 He had just finished his apprenticeship in the merchant service when war broke out and was one of the earliest volunteers in Kitchener’s Army. Dale served in France with the 11th Bn., Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (17456) and was so badly wounded that he was discharged.

After a period of recuperation Dale joined the Naval Auxiliary Service. He was serving in the Merchant Marine as 2nd Mate on torpedoed SS Hungerford. Although he managed to get away in a small boat, Dale is believed to have died from exposure. He was the only son of John Dale and the late Mrs Dale of Drains Bay, Cairncastle, Larne. He is buried in Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery.

SS Hungerford had been built in Bremen, Germany in 1913 and was owned at the time of her sinking by The Shipping Controller (G. Heyn & Sons). On April 16th, 1918, SS Hungerford was on a voyage from Havre to New York in ballast when she was sunk by the German submarine UC-75, commander Walter Schmitz.

Eight lives were lost. They were: John McClure Dale, (26), Second Mate; Percy Brown (28), Greaser; James Thomas Clark (36), Fireman and Trimmer; W Hitchings, Fireman; Thomas Jenkins (27), Greaser; Joseph Martin (39), Leading Seaman (no. 7648A); Donald Victor McFarlane (25), Third Engineer (He was born at Lanark and was the husband of May McFarlane (nee Booth), of Cumberland Hotel, 11, Dock St., Belfast.); and Alfred James Rice (26), Junior Second Engineer Officer. Rice was the son of Laurence and Agnes Rice (formerly Edmonds), of 107, Ogilvie St., Belfast and had been born at Newtownards, Co. Down.
Thomas Moore - a plausible explanation but no definite proof.

Photograph courtesy of Nigel Henderson

T Moore appears on the Larne Grammar School memorial tablet and is unknown there, and Thomas Moore is remembered on the Cairncastle Presbyterian memorial tablet. There is no easy explanation of who he was but a clue may lie in the 1911 Irish census return of James Moore, publican, of Ballygalley, Cairncastle. He indicates on his 1911 return that his nephew, Thomas Moore from Belfast, was residing with him,  and he was a 13-year-old scholar, presumably the T Moore recorded on the at Larne Grammar School tablet.


The Thomas Moore pictured above, originally 15/12084 or 12084, is 12084 of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles who was killed on the 31 January 1916.  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission record unfortunately gives no details of his parents or his age.  However, his photograph appeared in the Larne Times and the caption tells us his father was William Moore, 206, Oldpark Road, Belfast.

An announcement of his death was also provided in the Belfast press, notably the Belfast News Letter.  Their entry of the 10th February 1916 reads, ‘Mr William Moore, 206, Oldpark Road, Belfast, has received intimation that his eldest son, Rifleman Thomas Moore, 15th (North Belfast) Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action in France on 31st January. Rifleman Moore, who was only 19, was struck by a piece of shrapnel on the head. His father is the sexton of St Silas’s Parish Church, Oldpark Road.’

His age fits exactly with that of the 13-year-old on the 1911 census return and it is highly probable that this man in the photograph is Cairncastle’s Thomas Moore.

Further, the 1918 Belfast Street Directory records William Moore, his father, at house '206 - Moore, Wm., linen lapper' and then notes 'St. Silas' Church - Rector, Rev. F. W. W. Warren, B.A.; res., The Hermitage, Cardigan Drive; sexton, Wm. Moore, 206 Oldpark Road'.

Private Hugh Steele, 8 Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers
Photograph from the Larne Times,  June 1916 and by courtesy of Nigel Henderson.
12551 Hugh Steele of the 8th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers died on Monday, 22 May 1916 of wounds received in action in France. He was twenty-two years of age and the third son of Thomas Steele of Sallagh, Cairncastle. His wife Martha and two children lived at Old Mill, Cairncastle. Hugh had been an agricultural labourer and was a member of LOL (Loyal Orange Lodge) 692 Cairncastle. He joined the army in September 1914 and served over six months in France. He is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Loos.

Thomas Steele, a widower of Sallagh, Cairncastle, had married Margaret Ann Wray or Rea of Ballyligpatrick, Broughshane in Buckna Presbyterian Church on the 27th February 1888. His first wife, Jane Woods, had died in 1887 and the couple had had a son, James, on the 6 June that year. It is not known if there were other children of the first marriage.

Thomas and Margaret Ann went on to have at least eight children. Samuel was born on the 26 February 1889, Joseph on the 2nd October 1892 (his mother is wrongly listed as Reid), Hugh on the 27 July 1894, David on the 29 May 1896, Archibald on the 15 January 1900, Maggie on the 16 June 1902, and Martha on the 29 June 1904.

Three of Hugh's brothers were on active service at the time of his death. One of these was 354 Private Joseph Steele, 11th Light Horse Regiment, AIF, another Andrew Steele, Royal Irish Rifles. The other has not yet been identified.

Private Joseph Steele, 11th Australian Light Horse Regiment, Sallagh, Cairncastle, Co. Antrim. Hugh Steele, 8th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, brother of Joseph and Andrew, died on Monday, 22 May 1916
Photograph from the Larne Times, Sept 1915, and courtesy of Nigel Henderson.

Rifleman Andrew Steele, Royal Irish Rifles, Sallagh, Cairncastle, County Antrim. He survived the war but had been wounded three times and was taken a Prisoner of War

Photograph from the Larne Times, June 1916, and courtesy of Nigel Henderson.
Lance Corporal Robert Crawford, 14/6100,  formerly 'B' Company, 7th Platoon, 14th Royal Irish Rifles (YCV),  died aged 24 on the 10 April 1918 while serving with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. He was the son of James and J. Crawford, of 2, Shankill Rd., Belfast. He was born at Cairncastle, Co. Antrim. He is buried in Duhallow ADS Cemetery, near Ypres/modern Ieper.

Robert Crawford was born on 7th March 1894 at Ballygilbert, Cairncastle, the son of James Crawford, a publican of Ballygally, and his wife Jane, formerly also Crawford.

The family appear in the 1901 Irish census. James was aged 32 and a spirit merchant of Ballygally, his wife Jane 29 years old.  The couple listed five children as present on the day of the census. Nellie was 8, Robert was 7, John was 5, James was 4 and Samuel W was aged 2. There is no record of the family in the 1911 census return.
George Hylands, George Highlands (sic), formerly of Cairncastle died while serving as an engineer aboard the SS Castle Dobbs which was sunk in the Irish Sea while under convoy on 7 December 1917. His wife Harriet and daughters Annie and Mary lived in Green Street, Carrickfergus. Jane, a sister, and her husband lived at Ballytober, Larne. Hylands/Highlands had been a member of LOL 692 Cairncastle.

The SS Castle Dobbs was a steel-hulled steamship registered at Belfast. The ship was carrying coal from Cardiff to Belfast when on 7 December 1917 it collided with HM Convoy Ship P51, a decoy patrol boat. SS Castle Dobbs subsequently foundered 10 miles southwest of South Stack lighthouse and 7 men lost from the merchant ship. South Stack lighthouse is situated near the North West tip of Wales, on a tiny islet known as South Stack Rock that is separated from Holyhead Island by 25 yards of rough sea.

Private Joseph Andrew McMullan, Lisnahay, Cairncastle. He served in the 18th Battalion, Australian Infantry and died a POW on the 9 June 1917
.
Photograph from the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph, October 1917 and courtesy of Nigel Henderson.
5639 Joseph Andrew McMullan, 15th Reinforcements/18th Battalion, Australian Infantry, A.I.F, died on the 9 June 1917. He was the son of William McMullan, a blacksmith, and Ellen Crawford, Lisnahay, Cairncastle, near Larne. The 1901 Irish census shows William (39) and Ellen (38) and three children: Joseph Andrew was 10 (born 22 November 1891), William J was 6 and Robert J was 6.

Ellen was a 49-year-old widow in 1911. Joseph Andrew (19) and William James (17) were agricultural labourers and their brother Robert John was 13 still at school.

Joseph Andrew McMullan joined the AIF on the 6 April 1916 at Cootamundra in the fertile South West Slopes region of New South Wales, Australia, and in his will he said he lived at Downside, near Wagga Wagga. He was then about 23 years old, 6’ 1 ½ “ tall, single, and employed as a labourer.

He left Australia from Sydney aboard HMAT Euripides on the 9 September 1916 and disembarked in Plymouth on 26 October 1916. He went to Rollestone Camp, Salisbury Plain and the 5th Training Battalion.  His training completed, he boarded the Princess Clementine at Folkestone and arrived in France on the 24 January 1917, joining the 18th Battalion thereafter on the 15 February. He was reported missing in action on the 3 May 1917 and later the Australians received a note which read as follows:  ‘Austr. Sold. McMullan, J A (5639), Australier, am 9.6.17 bei Queant gerfallen’ (Australian soldier J A McMullan, 5639, Australian, fell at Queant on 9/6/1917).  He had been wounded and recovered from the battlefield by the Germans but he subsequently died of his wounds while a POW in their hands. He is named on  the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial.

William James wrote a letter in 1922 stating he was the ‘eldest surviving brother’ and that his ‘father and mother' were deceased. He gave his address as No 1 Halloran Street, Lilyfield, Sydney.
41627 Private Thomas Sittlington, 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers (North Irish Horse) Battalion was the son of Samuel Sittlington, of Droagh Cottage, Larne, Co. Antrim, and he died on the 21st March 1918.

On 21 March 1918, the Germans had launched a huge offensive on the front between Arras and La Fère against the British Third and Fifth Armies, the latter embracing the 36th (Ulster) Division. The Germans had moved some fifty divisions from the eastern front, their aim to outflank the BEF in Flanders, attack its lines of communication, cut off its supply lines from the Channel ports, defeat the British and force a French armistice; if successful, the Kaiser would defeat the Allies and win the war. It was a desperate gamble but the USA had entered the war in April 1917 and the Germans knew they had to win before the well-trained American Expeditionary Force was committed in strength.

The Germans' opening attack, Operation Michael, began at 0440 hours when the heaviest artillery bombardment yet seen on the Western Front pounded the British around St Quentin. The forward trenches were blanketed with gas and smoke, and at 0940 hours the Germans attacked using their recently developed ‘Offensive in Trench Warfare’ tactics. Elite storm troopers led the fast moving assault and the infantry followed, that troops pouring forward out of a morning mist made denser by smoke from the continuing artillery barrages.

The Irish infantry facing the Spring Offensive or Kaiserschlacht (Kaiser's Battle), also known as the Ludendorff Offensive, were the 1st, 7th, 8th and 9th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; the 1st, 2nd, 12th and 15th Battalions, Royal Irish Rifles, and the 1st and 9th Battalions of the Royal Irish Fusiliers. The 1st Battalion, London Irish Rifles bore the brunt of a German attack supporting ‘Operation Michael’ around St Quentin.

The attack eventually failed and the subsequent Battle of Amiens led to the ‘Hundred Days’ and German defeat in the Great War but the Spring Offensive had cost the 36th (Ulster) Division 7,310 casualties.  They and the 16th Irish Division were destroyed as effective units and had to be removed from the British order of battle for reconstruction.

It was in this maelstrom that Thomas Sittlington died. He has no known grave but is recorded on the Pozieres Memorial.
William Crawford was the son of William Crawford and husband of Jane Crawford (nee Hunter), of Fourscore Acre, Cairncastle, Larne, Co. Antrim. He was born at Carnlough. He died on the 13 March 1918 in the sinking of S.S. Castlebar (Belfast), Mercantile Marine.

The SS Castlebar was a 508-ton steam cargo vessel that was completed by Mackie & Thomson, Glasgow in October 1895. The ship was initially named Madge Ballantyne (Official No.105959) for R. B. Ballantyne & Co., Glasgow, but in 1916 she was renamed SS Castlebar by W. M. Barkley & Sons, Ltd., Belfast. The vessel went missing after passing Fanad Head while on a voyage from Glasgow to Limerick with grain, and was presumed to be a war loss.

Chief Engineer William Crawford died on the 13th March with the rest of the crew. They were Mate Robert Cunningham, 2nd Mate James Erikson, 2nd Engineer John Erikson, Steward and Able Seaman Daniel McComish, Fireman Michael O’Keefe, Fireman William John Reynolds Robinson, Master William Henry Ryding, Able Seaman John Tsantaius, Able Seaman Thomas Twyford, Ordinary Seaman George H, Burman (RNVR, Bristol Z 9812), and Leading Seaman, George H Cattrell (RNVR, Bristol Z 9669).

There is a story which says that the ship’s Master, William Henry Ryding, had some premonition of his death on this trip. He and his son were leaving their house in Belfast to join his ship when he ordered is son to remain at home. He gave him his pocket watch. Moreover, in Liverpool two other brothers who should both have been on the ship normally received news that their mother was ill. One brother returned home but the other joined the vessel. He was William Crawford, the Chief Engineer.

The ship had been scheduled to sail to Limerick via a route south of Ireland. However, they deviated from their normal route as there was reported to be German submarine activity around their planned route. They joined a convoy heading to Londonderry and Lough Swilly. On reaching Lough Swilly the SS Castlebar continued on her journey alone towards Limerick along the west coast. She had just dropped out of sight of the convoy lookouts when an explosion was reported. It was assumed the SS Castlebar either had been torpedoed or had hit a mine, but there is no poof of what transpired.
20021 Rifleman Robert J. Todd - Robert John Todd died in France on 29 August 1918 while serving with the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. He was a native of Ballygilbert, Cairncastle, near Larne but lived at 1, Greenville Avenue, Belfast.

William Todd, Ballygilbert, Cairncastle, son of Samuel, married Esther Lilly (20), Ballygilbert, Cairncastle and daughter of Robert Lilly - she is recorded mistakenly as Hester Lilley - in 1st Presbyterian Church, Carrickfergus on the 10th February 1899. The 1901 Irish census records the couple at Corkermaine, Cairncastle. William was 23, his wife Esther 22.  They had a son aged 1 year. He was Robert J Todd, born 8 July 1899 at Ballygilbert, Cairncastle.

The 1911 Irish census records William, a 33 year old 'surface man' (maintained road verges and drainage) and his 32 year old wife Esther.  The couple said they had been married for 12 years and that the six children born of their marriage were all still alive.  Robert John was 11, Nillie (sic) was 9, Samuel was 7, Maggie was 4, Essie was 3 and William was an infant.

Rifleman Robert John Todd is buried in St Marie Cemetery, Le Havre. Le Havre was one of the ports at which the British Expeditionary Force disembarked in August 1914, and except for a short interval during the German advance in 1914, it remained No.1 Base throughout the war and by the end of May 1917, it contained three general and two stationary hospitals, and four convalescent depots. It seems likely that Todd died of wounds in one of these places.

20021 Rifleman Robert John Todd, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, 1 Greenville Avenue Belfast.
Local press photograph courtesy of Nigel Henderson.
The following members of the church served and survived:

1.    Thomas Brown,
2.    Robert J. Lilly,
3.    William J. McMullan,
4.    Joseph Steele (see below),

354 Trooper Joseph Steele, 11th Light Horse Regiment was the brother of Andrew and Hugh Steele and he had enlisted on the 3 March 1915.  He said he was then 22 years and 4 months of age (born 2nd October 1892, the second child of Thomas and Margaret Ann Steele, nee Wray or Rea, Sallagh, Cairncastle), single and working as a farm labourer.  He was recorded as being 5’ 9” tall and as having grey eyes and dark brown hair.

He was deployed to the Gallipoli Peninsula and while there with the 5th Light Horse Regiment was taken ill with colitis. He was moved from Mudros to England aboard HS Grampian after the 26 September 1915 and admitted to 2nd Southern General Hospital (Southmead Section), Bristol on the 11 October. He received medical treatment until discharged to the Weymouth Depot on the 10 January 1916.  He then became one of the 21st Reinforcement Draft and was sent by Ivernia to Alexandria. He was at Heliopolis on the 1 March 1916 and was posted to ‘B’ Squadron, 11 Light Horse Regiment.

He was wounded in action at El Ferdan, a ‘slight’ shrapnel wound to his shoulder, and was treated for short periods in 1 Australian Stationary Hospital, 3 Australian General Hospital and at 14 General Hospital, Cairo before being released to the British Red Cross Hospital at Montazah for further convalescence. He was discharged to Moascar Camp and the 3rd Light Horse Training Battalion on the 11 October 1916. He undertook machine gun training at Zeitoun before returning to the 11th Light Horse Regiment via the 4 Light Horse Regiment on the 7 March 1917.

He was wounded again on the 5 July 1917, this time being shot in the palm of his left hand.  It was self-inflicted and caused by him discharging his rifle while cleaning it. Such incidents were always suspicious – such wounds were often inflicted for the purpose of avoiding duty – and a Court of Enquiry was set up.  Its verdict is set out below.

A’ Troop, ‘C’ Squadron, 11th Light Horse Regiment knew he would not return to duty soon.  He passed through the hands of 4 Light Horse Field Ambulance, 3 Light Horse Field Ambulance, 53 Casualty Clearing Station, 2 Australian Stationary Hospital, 24 Australian Stationary Hospital, and 14 General Hospital, Cairo. He wasn’t at the Port Said Rest Camp until the 27 October 1917.

The decision was made to return him to Australia for a period of six months and he left Suez on the 12 November 1917 aboard HMAT Wiltshire.  It appears that he never returned to active service.
5.    John C. Brown,
6.    James McAuley,
7.    Samuel Moore,
8.    Archibald Steele,
9.    James Campbell,
10.    Samuel McAuley,
11.    James Moore,
12.    James Steele,
13.    Samuel H. Crawford,
14.    David McAuley,
15.    Robert Sittlington
16.    Montgomery Todd (see below),


40408 Corporal James Montgomery Todd, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, Cairncastle, Co. Antrim, Prisoner of War

Photograph from the Larne Times, June 1918 and by courtesy of Nigel Henderson


40408 Corporal James Montgomery Todd, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, Cairncastle, Co. Antrim, Prisoner of War Record

The Todd family lived at Ballywillin, Cairncastle.  The 1911 census records Henry S, 39 and a farmer, and his wife Margaret (36) and four children.  They were Mary Jane (14), James Montgomery (12), Anna (11) and Margaret (8).  The couple said they had been married for fifteen years and that they had four children. All were alive at the time of the census.

The 1901 census return shows them at Ballywillin. Henry (29) and Margaret (26) had three children. They were Mary Jane (4), James Montgomery (2) and Anna (1).
17.    James Graham,
18.    William H. McAuley,
19.    Andrew Steele,
20.    Robert Todd,
21.    Robert Hunter,
22.    Joseph McKee,
23.    Samuel Steele,
24.    Alexander Todd,
25.    John M. Campbell,
26.    Robert Crawford,
27.    W. Stewart Crawford.