WELCOME to the first website devoted to Ballymena and District in the First World War. It now also includes any Glenarm, Cushendall, Cushendun and Carnlough men encountered during research.
Please use the site information freely for your own projects and please also include a tribute to Ballymena and the Great War in your work. Sadly, few currently do this.
We hope that it will help you to understand the magnitude of the sacrifice made by the fine young men of this district, and we trust you will find yourself increasingly proud of them as you see their story unfold. This is not a perfect telling of their tale but the site is modified to correct errors as information becomes available.
USING THIS SITE
Researching a soldier from the Great War period can be a daunting task, but this site should make the job a lot easier. Have a look at the 'buttons' at top of your screen. You will see a list of options.
For those who wish to know more about an ancestor who died during the war, simply search the alphabetical listings, the 'Virtual Memorial'. These will give you the man's rank, unit and army service number. A date of death and the nature of his demise is also provided along with cemetery or memorial details. That's the really easy part!
'The Weekly War': This is a collection of pictures and reports from the files of the Ballymena Observer newspaper of the period. By cross referencing dates of death with the appropriate 'Weekly War' section, you should be able to find out more about your ancestor.
TRACKING DOWN SERVICE AND FAMILY DETAILS
Be aware that not all soldiers' deaths were reported in the local press, and that stories printed at the time of the Great War are not always accurate. Be aware also that the spelling of names and places varies considerably due to spelling errors and who wrote them down, eg Rea, Rae, Ray, Reay, or Rathcavan, Rocavan or Racavan. However, the 'Weekly War' is almost unique in that it contains a vast amount of detail and pictures about men who served, when they enlisted, their wounds and gallantry awards.
Make use of the online Irish Census to trace locations, other family members, occupations, migrations etc - http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/
The wills of some soldiers are also available online from the same source - http://soldierswills.nationalarchives.ie/search/sw/index.jsp
There is online help for locating townlands - https://www.townlands.ie/
The website of John Hoy and Des Blackadder
Special thanks to all the following for their contributions:
Des Blackadder, though he is no longer involved with this enterprise, for the vision he had in creating this site. It has been since its inception helping Ballymena's people around the world to learn their story of their kith and kin.
John Hoy for painstaking work on the Virtual Memorial research pages, his listings of Australian, New Zealand and Canadian soldiers, and his on-going interest in this project.
Ralph J. Whitehead for vital insights into the 'other side of No-man's Land' and loads of other stuff! Paul Reed for answering Somme queries with enthusiasm and promptness despite his busy schedule. Andy Pay for some truly generous help with research on the 12th Royal Irish Rifles. All the troops on the Great War Forum for their enthusiasm and interest. Special mentions to the 'Irish Brigade' (north and south)!
Cheers to you all.