BALLYMENA 1914-1918

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Ballymena Canadians: N - End

Canadian War Diaries: Available from Library and Archives of Canada - http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/Pages/war-diaries.aspx

766653 Archibald (Archie) Nelson, 123rd Battalion, Royal Grenadiers, lived at 41, Cameron Street, Toronto at the time of his enlistment on the 10 December 1915. He was, however, an Ulsterman and came originally from Kildrum, Shankbridge, Kells, near Ballymena.

The 1901 Irish census return shows Sarah Nelson, a 36-year-old widow and domestic servant who had been born in Co Londonderry, at Ballycowan, Kells. She listed three children. They were Joseph, 14 and a farm labourer, Archibald (10) and Mary Jane (8).

The 1911 Irish census return shows Sarah Nelson, a 51-year-old widow, at Kildrum, Kells. She said she had been married for 15 years and had had five children, three of whom were still alive in 1911.  Only sixteen-year-old Jane, a linen weaver, is listed with her mother on the day of the census – Jane later married. Archie’s brother Joseph, killed while serving with the CEF, refers to her in his file as Mrs Jane McWhirter.

Archie Nelson was born on the 5 August 1889 and was single and employed as a teamster in Toronto.  He was a 5’ 9” tall Anglican, and he had blue eyes and fair hair.  He trained initially in Canada and then sailed aboard the SS Cameronia from Halifax, N S to Liverpool in August 1916.  He went to Europe with the 123rd Battalion (Royal Grenadiers) in March 1917 but was to enjoy only a short military career. He was ‘digging trenches’ close to the Cite de St Pierre, near Lens on the 24 August 1917 when he was ‘hit by a shrapnel bullet which smashed [his] left leg badly between knee and ankle’; elsewhere a medical document says ‘a square piece of shell’ struck him.

He was treated at No 6 Casualty Clearing Station and by 9 Canadian Field Ambulance before being moved on to the Canadian General Hospital, Etaples. He went to England as soon as practicable. He spent sixteen weeks in hospital there, at Queen Mary’s Military Hospital, Whalley, Lancashire in September, and thereafter at No 5 Canadian General Hospital, Kirkdale, Liverpool.  His left leg had been amputated in France above the knee, the wound below the knee having become gangrenous.

He was clearly ‘medically unfit’ for further service and was returned to Canada aboard the SS Araguaya after the 29 December 1917. He arrived back in Halifax, Canada on the 9 January 1918 and went into hospital again for a period of eight months. He was not finally discharged from the CEF until 18 September 1918.


201868 Private Joseph Henry Nelson enlisted in the 95th Overseas Battalion, Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, on the 3 November 1915 and trained at Exhibition Camp, Toronto before going overseas from Halifax, NS aboard the SS Olympic with his unit on the 6 May 1916.  He arrived in Liverpool on the 8 June and went to Shorncliffe Camp. The 95th sent drafts principally to the 1st, 3rd, and 75th Battalions and to the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles. Joe Nelson was posted to the last.

Joseph Henry Nelson was born in Co Antrim on the 3 June 1886, the son of Sarah Nelson of Kells, and it is thought that he went to Canada in about 1913. He was single and a teamster at the time of his enlistment, and he is described as being about 5’ 11” tall with brown eyes and hair.

The 1901 Irish census return shows Sarah Nelson, a 36-year-old widow and domestic servant who had been born in Co Londonderry, at Ballycowan, Kells. She listed three children. They were Joseph, 14 and a farm labourer, Archibald (10) and Mary Jane (8).

The 1911 Irish census return shows Sarah Nelson, a 51-year-old widow, at Kildrum, Kells. She said she had been married for 15 years and had had five children, three of whom were still alive in 1911.  Only sixteen-year-old Jane, a linen weaver, is listed with her mother on the day of the census – Jane later married. Joseph refers to her in his file as Mrs Jane McWhirter. He also referred to his remarried mother as Mrs Sarah Porter.

Joseph Henry Nelson was killed in action on the 23 April 1917. The 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles had relieved the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles on the night of the 21/22 April and taken up position in the Outpost Vimy Line in front of Ashville, Mericourt and Avion. On the 23rd April the battalion was ordered to advance its left flank line in co-operation with the 5th Division. Whilst the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles reached their objectives, the 5th Division did not. The 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles drew back under enemy counter-attack by about 150 soldiers, which attack was broken up by prompt action of the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles machine gunners. The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and the 49th Battalion relieved the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles on the night of the 24th/25th, and they moved back to shelters at Fort George, then to billets in Villers-au-Bios. It is not known at what stage in this action Joseph Henry Nelson was killed.

56145 Private John Nicholl, 19th Battalion, CEF, enlisted in Toronto on the 29 March 1915, indicating that he had previously served for one year in the Royal Grenadiers.  He said he was born on the 18 November 1888, that he was single, and that he was a labourer by trade. He was a 5’ 9” tall Presbyterian and he had brown eyes and red hair. However, John Nicholl was a son of County Antrim and named as his next of kin his mother, Mrs Agnes Nicholl, Craignageeragh, near Ahoghill. Elsewhere he mentions his brother William, then living in the  Ballybeg area.

The 1901 census return records William Nicholl, 69 and an agricultural labourer, living with his wife Agnes, 60 and a linen weaver, at Craignageeragh (the townland lies between the Glenhugh Road, Ahoghill and the Portglenone Road, Ahoghill. Ballybeg is a contiguous townland).  Two offspring are named on the return: William was 21 and a labourer and John was 13.

The 1911 census shows William (78) and Nancy (Nancy, a familiar name for Agnes), 69, still living in Craignageeragh. No other family are named.  They said, however, that they had been married 45 years by 1911 and that they had had three children, all of whom were still alive.  William Nicholl, named in 1901, who John said lived in Ballybeg but who is not recorded on the 1911 return, seems to have got married to Lizzie (33), and the couple had William, a three-year-old child.  Margaret Logan, William’s mother in law, lived with them.

John Nicholl trained in Canada and left Montreal aboard the SS Scandinavian and arrived in England on the 22 May 1915. The 19th Battalion went to West Sandling Camp, Shorncliffe, England, on the 23 May 1915 for further training. Nicholl went to France from Southampton on 14 September 1915. There is no detail about his military service and his existing record is mainly about his bouts of illness. 

He had influenza after the 27 December 1915 and 5th Canadian Field Ambulance sent him onward and he spent time at the Divisional Rest Station, Godewaersvelde in December 1915 (Godewaersvelde is in northern France on the Belgian border, less than half an hour from Lille and Dunkirk.), was at the Divisional Rest Station, Monts des Cats in January 1916, and then at to the North Midland Division Casualty Clearing Station before being discharged to duty on the 11 January 1916.

He reported to No 8 Canadian Field Ambulance on the 29 September 1916 again with influenza and he was not returned to the 19th Battalion until the 6 October 1916 or 25 November 1916; the records disagree.

He went to Canadian Field Ambulance on the 28 September 1917 and his complaint is listed as ‘French shins’ and ‘Trench skin’ on different records.  He passed through 42 Casualty Clearing Station and No 10 Canadian Field Ambulance before being returned to the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade on the 10 October 1917.

He was also ill after the 11 January 1919 and passed through 6 Canadian Field Ambulance, No 1 Casualty Clearing Station, 7th General Hospital, Wimereux and No 9 Canadian Stationary Hospital, Camiers, before being discharged.

He was returned to Canada aboard the SS Regina from Liverpool after the 15 July 1919 and was landed in Halifax, NS on the 23 July. He was discharged from the CEF at once and stated he was going to live at 898, Dundas Street, Toronto.  He may have been married at this juncture.


Extract from 1911 Irish Census - Robert Nicholl, Craignageeragh, Ahoghill, Co Antrim.

279604 Sapper Robert Nicholl, 8th Canadian Railway Troops, enlisted in the 218th Battalion in Edmonton, Alberta on the 13 May 1916. He was born on the 11 July 1878 and was a farmer, though he had had some pervious military experience as an ‘intern guard’, and there is a reference in his file to a ‘Canadian concentration camp’. This presumably means he served at one of the controversial camps, set up at the war’s outbreak in 1914, to house immigrants from Germany, Austria-Hungary, and later Turkey and Bulgaria, who were thought to be possibly disloyal. As many 8,500 people were interned as prisoners of war across Canada.

The 218th Battalion also had a colourful past. On October 11, 1916, its soldiers tried to triumph over the local police in Calgary, one local press report stating, "The city virtually is in the hands of the soldier mob." On February 8, 1917, soldiers from the formally re-formed battalion again rioted in Calgary on hearing of their immediate departure to Europe. They attacked 14 stores, restaurants and cafés throughout the city. It seems unlikely that Nicholl was involved.

He said also that he was a farmer and husband of Jessie Matilda Nicholl of Craignageeragh, Ahoghill. Though his record does not say so, he was the firstborn son of William Nicholl and his wife Agnes, Craignageeragh, Ahoghill, and the third of the children they said in the 1911 Irish census return they had had. He was the brother of William, who remained in Co Antrim and of 56145 Private John Nicholl, 19th Battalion, CEF (see above for details). He had married on the 12 June 1899 and in his file he said he had had six children, 4 girls and 2 boys. He named them as Bob (14), Jessie (11), Nellie (10), Lizzie (7), Mary (5) and John (6). The 1911 census return for the family also indicates that they had had six children before 1911 and one child had died. He also said in the document, regrettably undated though probably 1915, that both his parents were dead.

He was 5’ 11” tall and had brown hair and brown eyes.  He was a Presbyterian and he and his brother John are listed under 1st Ahoghill Presbyterian and as serving in Canadian Forces in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Roll of Honour 1914-1919.


Canadian railway troops using 'scrapers' to prepare the gound during construction of a railway at Lapugnoy (near Bethune), 11 March 1918. Using the scraper to remove earth.  Image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum London - © IWM (Q 10728)

He sailed from Halifax to England aboard the SS Southland on the 16/17th February 1917 and arrived at Liverpool on the 27 February. The 12 March 1917 saw him posted to the Canadian Railway Troops and subsequently to the 8th Canadian Railway Troops, organized at Purfleet, Essex in March 1917 under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel J. K. Cornwall. The personnel from the 211th and 218th Battalions formed the nucleus of the unit. The War Diary says, ‘Wednesday, 21st March 1917: Organisation of the 8th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops authorised. 575 Other Ranks transferred from the 211th Overseas Battalion, CEF and 523 Other Ranks transferred from 218th Overseas Battalion, CEF. 29 Officers were transferred from the Depot to this Battalion.’

He was trained and in France on the 30/21 March 1918.  The unit arrived in France on 20 April 1917 and Nicholl’s very late arrival amongst them may be linked in part to the fact that he had had influenza and was in the military hospital in Purfleet from 13 January to the 31 January 1918.

There is little mention of what he did in France, but Canadian Railway Troops built and maintained railways of all types, built bridges, etc, and it was along their lines that men, shells and SAA ammunition, casualties, thousands of tons of food, timber, barbed wire, etc moved daily. Horse transport would never have coped alone.

Robert Nicholl was returned to England, to Knotty Ash, Liverpool, and later officially demobilised there on the 12 June 1919, presumably to return to Ireland and his family. It seems he may have tired of waiting for discharge and gone AWL, Absent Without Leave, on the 20 February 1919.  There is a document in his file saying he had disappeared and taken his equipment with him, equipment the Canadians valued at £11-5-3 ¾!
413070 William Nicholl, who enlisted at Lindsay, Ontario on the 24 March 1915 and who lived at 68 Hubert Street, Toronto, served primarily with the 39th and 26th Battalions, CEF. He came originally from County Antrim and said his mother was Sarah Green, Taylorstown, Grange Corner.  He also said at attestation that he had been born on the 24 September 1892, that he was single and that he worked as a rubber shoemaker. He was 5’ 7” tall and had brown hair and brown eyes.

He sailed from Canada to Europe aboard the SS Missanabie on the 17 June 1915 and then went to France on the 27 October that year.  He had some illness during his service and was wounded once.  He was struck by shrapnel in the right thigh and the left forearm, though the wounds were superficial.  He went to the 10th General Hospital at Rouen on the 1 October 1916, then onwards aboard the HS Aberdonian to the 2nd Western General Hospital, Manchester on the 5 October.  He was released to the convalescent hospital at Woodcote Park, Epsom on the 10 November and discharged from there on the 17 November.

He continued to serve until he was returned to Canada aboard the SS Lapland from Liverpool and discharged from the CEF on 12th April 1919.
2293614 Private William John Nimmon, was drafted under the terms of the Military Service Act, 1917 and was part of the 10th Draft to Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians).  He lived at Bladsworth, Saskatoon, and he enlisted in Winnipeg on the 10 November 1917.

Nimmon was a County Antrim man and was born at Kells, near Ballymena.  He was the son of James and Maggie Nimmon, farmers.  The 1901 Irish census records James (40), his wife Maggie (32) and five of their family. Robert was 15, William J. was 13, Jeannie was 11, Maggie was 4 and Sarah was an infant.

The 1911 Irish census return lists James (51) and Maggie (42), and the couple say they had been married for 26 years and had had 9 children, 8 of whom were still alive in 1911. William John was 28 (This is a transcription error. On the original document the figure is 23, though the number is poorly written.), Minnie was 18 (Later referred to as Minnie Blair in his will), Maggie was 14, Sarah was 10, Roberta was 7 and Eva was 4.

William John Nimmon was born on the 11 May 1888 at the family farm in Kells.  At the time of his call up he was a single farmer, and he is described as being 5’ 9” tall with blue eyes and fair hair.  He was a Presbyterian and Presbyterian Church in Ireland Roll of Honour 1914-1919 has him listed under the banner of Connor Presbyterian Church and correctly designated as serving with Lord Strathcona's Horse.

He left Halifax, NS in April 1918 aboard the SS Melita and arrived in England on the 28 April.  He travelled onward to Shorncliffe Camp, there to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade and to the Canadian Reserve Cavalry Regiment.  He was posted to Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) in August and was with the Canadian Cavalry Reserve Corps, Abbeville, France for a time before going to be with his unit in the field after 7 September 1918.  He remained with them until returned to England in April 1919. He left Liverpool on the 21 May 1919 and was demobilised on the 2 June 1919.  He said he was going to his brother Robert’s address, 305, Inglewood Street, St James’, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Photograph courtesy of https://sites.google.com/site/greatwarbelfast/home

79121 Arthur Cecil Orr, 31st Battalion & Canadian Army Medical Corps, CEF was born in Ballymena on the 19th January 1891 and he named his mother as his next of kin.  She was Margaret J Orr, 4021 Centre Street, Calgary.

Arthur Cecil Orr was actually James Arthur Cecil Orr, but he rarely used his first name, actually the name of his father. However, it is as James Arthur that he appears on the Irish census returns of 1901 and 1911.

In 1901 James Orr, 47 and a hotel waiter born in Co Londonderry, was married to 44 year old Margaret Jane Orr, originally from Co Down, and they lived in Lawn View Place, Ballymena. Five children are listed – William, a 17 year old postman who had been born in Co Cavan, Ada (15), Amelia (12), Arthur (10), and Norah (2).

In 1911 Margaret Jane Orr was a 54-year-old widow living in Galgorm Street, Ballymena - James had died in 1905 in tragic circumstances in Ballymena Workhouse.  She said she had had five children and all were alive in 1911.  She listed three present on the day of the census. William Archibald was 27 and a postal clerk, James Arthur was 20 and a dental mechanic, and Norah was 12.
Arthur Cecil Orr enlisted in Calgary where his mother then lived on the 16 November 1914.  He was an Anglican, a single man who worked as a clerk.  He was almost 5’ 9½ “ tall and he had blue eyes and light brown hair. He had some previous military service in a Canadian militia, the 103rd Calgary Rifles. It was part of the Canadian Non-Permanent Active Militia, organized at Calgary by General Order on 1 April 1910. He went to war with the 31st Battalion, CEF as an infantry soldier.

His unit after basic training in Canada left Canada for Europe and sailed to England on the 17 May 1915 aboard RMS Carpathia.  Orr left Canada somewhat later on the 29th May aboard the SS Northland, but went to Shorncliffe Camp with the unit and was with the 31st Battalion on the 18 September 1915 it disembarked in France. There it fought with the 6th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division in France and Flanders until the end of the war.

He was wounded on the 20 April 1916 and, suffering from ‘slight’ shrapnel wound just below the knee on his right leg – he would eventually be left with a scar 2½ long and ¾ inch wide. He was treated at 10 CCS and moved to No 3 General Hospital, Boulogne. On the 29 April he was moved to No 1 Convalescent Depot, Boulogne and remained there until discharged to duty. He went, having requested and been granted a transfer in the field on the 1 April 1916, to the 6th Canadian Army Medical Corps. He seems to have worked with the Canadian Army Dental Corps in the field, not surprising as he had been a dental mechanic in Ballymena, and was not struck off strength with the unit until 23 November 1918. Some of his service must have been in England. Indeed, from the 23 November to 10 January 1919 he was in hospital at Bermondsey Military Hospital and No 16 Canadian General Hospital, Orpington suffering from Bronchitis.  He reported on the 13 January 1919 to the Canadian General Hospital, Witley Camp. A process soon started by which he would be returned to Canada and he was demobilised on the 24 April 1919. He  said he was going to 1449, Papineau Avenue, Montreal.

By then he was Sergeant Orr and a married man. He had been granted permission to marry on the 30 January 1918, and Mrs E S Orr, 5 Litchfield Grove, Church End, Finchley, London would soon join her husband in Canada.  They remained in Quebec and James Arthur Cecil Orr died there on the 14 July 1973.
132178 Corporal John Linton Orr enlisted in the CEF in Montreal on the 3 September 1915 and saw service in Europe with the 13th Battalion, Royal Highlanders of Canada, a unit of the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Canadian Division. He gave his brother’s name as his next of kin.  He was Simpson Orr, 67, Souvenir Avenue, Montreal. Elsewhere he said his sister was Mrs L (Lizzie) Smith, 1246d Messier St, Montreal.

John Linton Orr was a Co Antrim man and said he came from Ballymena, but other records in his file suggest he was associated with Frocess, several miles north of Ballymena in the Glarryford-Clough-Cloughmills area.  The 1901 census records James Orr, a 52 year old agricultural labourer, and Eliza, 51, living at Frosses (Dundermott). They listed some of their family who were present on the day of the census – Thomas was 15 and an agricultural labourer, Janey was 13, Lizzie was 11, and John was 9.  James, 62 and still a labourer, and his wife, now 62, are recorded in the 1911 census return, but no family are listed.  They said, however, that they had been married for 41 years in 1911 and that they had had ten children.  All were alive in 1911.

John Linton Orr was born on the 23 February 1892.  He was 5’ 7½“ tall and he had hazel eyes and fair hair. He worked as a life insurance agent. He was a Presbyterian and he is named in the listing for Clough Presbyterian Church, as is his brother Thomas, and both are correctly identified as a Canadian soldiers.

Orr left Halifax, NS aboard the SS Adriatic on the 31 March 1916 and arrived at Liverpool on the 9 April.  He was designated of war service overseas on the 18 June 1916 and was with his unit in the field on the 1 July 1916. He spent  four months there but was then injured in what is described as an ‘accident in the trenches’ and he was treated for synovitis of the right knee (swelling of the synovial membrane, usually painful, particularly on motion, and characterized by fluctuating swelling) at No 6 General Hospital, Rouen. Though this was not really a dangerous issue he was returned to England and did not return to France until the 20 August 1918. He was then wounded on the 27th September 1918.

In March 1918 the German High Command had commenced a series of large-scale offensives along the Western Front, sometimes referred to as the German Spring Offensive. Although German forces achieved significant gains initially, their advance was stopped and counter-attacks followed. An Allied victory at Amiens proved a turning point, and in what is known generally as the ‘Hundred Days’, the Canadian Corps in their area on the 26 August began its advance from Arras.  They were driving the Germans through the “Hindenburg Line” and the “Drocourt-Quéant Switch”. Soon, however, the Canadians were confronted by a major obstacle, the Canal du Nord. The 1st Canadian Division, including the 13th Battalion, drove across the canal at Sains lès Marquion on the 27th September 1918. This passage sums up the achievement.


Extract: The 13th Battalion, Royal Highlanders of Canada, 1914-1919 by R C Fetherstonhaugh, page 279


However, it was in this action that John Linton Orr was hit by a bullet which pierced his right lung. He was treated by No 1 CCS, taken on Army Train 14 to the 20th General Hospital, Camiers, and then onward to England on HS Princess Elizabeth. He went to Queen Mary’s Military Hospital, Whalley, Lancashire and then to the PPCLI Red Cross Hospital at Bexhill-on-Sea.  The treatment at all locations lasted about 96 days and he remained weak for a long time afterwards. He was returned to Canada on the SS Saturnia and demobilised on the 30 June 1919 in Montreal.  He said he was going to 232, Hibernia Road, Point Street, Charles, Montreal.

John Linton Orr died at Sunnybrook Hospital, Toronto on 2 March 1963.


John Millar Orr - Birth Registration

542237 Wheeler Gunner John Millar (Miller on Canadian Records) Orr enlisted in the Divisional Cycle Corps on the 17th/18th October 1916 at Regina, Saskatchewan, but he quickly transferred to the Canadian Field Artillery (CFA) and was to serve in England and France with the 7th Battery, 2nd Brigade, CFA.

Orr came from the Ballymena area.  He was born on the 1st February 1890 and said he was born at Ahoghill, though the registration of his birth says he was the son of Hugh Henry Orr, a blacksmith, and his wife Jane Orr, nee Millar, and that he was born at Killyfast, Duneane. He did nevertheless spend most of his life in Ahoghill.

The 1901 Irish census return records the family at Limnaharry (or Liminary), Ahoghill. John Millar, an 86 year old farmer, was head of the household and he lived with his wife Elizabeth (62) and his son, John C Millar (51). His daughter Jane C Orr (33) and her three children, John Millar Orr (11), Kathleen Millar (9) and Jane Lizzie Millar (8), also shared the house.

The 1911 Irish census return records the family still at Limnaharry (or Liminary), Ahoghill. John Clarke Millar (61) shared the farmhouse with his step-mother, Elizabeth Millar, 73 and a widow, and Jane Millar Orr, 43 and a widow, and her three children,  John Millar Orr (a farmer and 21), Catherine A Hill Orr, (19) and Jane Elizabeth Orr (18).

John Millar Orr, a Presbyterian (His name is recorded on the memorial tablet in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church), was 26 ¾ years old at enlistment and stood 5’ 9 ¾ inches tall.  He had hazel eyes and reddish brown hair and he had been working as a carpenter.  He said his sister Lena at Ahoghill was his next of kin. On another document he states that both his parents were dead, and in his will of December 1916 states that his property and effects are to go to his two sisters at Limnaharry, Ahoghill, Miss Lena (derived from Catherine/Kathleen) Miller (sic) Orr and Miss Elizabeth Millar Orr.

He trained in Canada, only leaving for overseas service aboard the SS Ansonia on the 4 March 1917. He docked at Liverpool on the 15 March and went to Shorncliffe Camp for further training. He was in France and was posted to the 2nd Brigade, CFA on the 21 April 1918.  He served with them without injury until his return to England and Canada in early 1919.  He had been returned to Canada aboard the RMS Olympic and was discharged in Montreal on the 23 April 1919; he said he was going to Victoria, British Columbia.

(Wheeler – soldier responsible for the wheels of the guns and limbers.  Most such were, like Orr, carpenters.)

1081526 Corporal Thomas Orr, No 1 Construction Battalion (later designated Canadian Railway Troops), lived at 1868 Cartier Street, Montreal with his wife Sarah Ellen Orr, and he earned his living as a carpenter.  He said he had been born at Cloughmills on the 11 January 1886 and his birth registration says he was indeed born on that date and that he was the son of James, a labourer, and Eliza Orr of Frocess, Dundermott, Cloughmills.

The 1901 Irish census records the family at the Frocess, Cloughmills.  James was 52, his wife Eliza was 51. Four children were listed: Thomas was 15 and a labourer, Janey was 13, Lizzie was 11 and John was 9.

He said at enlistment that both his parents were dead. He had married in April 1908 and he and his wife had three children by September 1916.  They were James (8), Minnie (4) and Ruby (2). By 1918 his wife was listed as living at 82, Gourlay Street (later 23, Ayr Street), Springburn, Glasgow, and he waived his right in March 1919 to have his family returned to Canada with him.  Whether they rejoined him later is unknown.

He enlisted on the 6 June 1916 at Montreal.  He was 5’ 6” tall and he had grey eyes and light brown hair. He was a Presbyterian and his name appears in the listing on this site for Clough Presbyterian Church, as does his brother Jack. He was John Linton Orr – see above.  He trained in Canada and then left Halifax aboard the SS Northland for England on the 13 September 1916.  He arrived in England on the 23rd September and went overseas to 1st Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops on the 25/26 October that year. He had influenza in July 1918 but otherwise served without injury throughout the war.

He returned to Canada aboard the SS Saturnia in March 1919 and was demobilised on the 11 April 1919.  He died on the 28 June 1964 at Queen Mary Veterans Hospital, Montreal.

Photograph from Ballymena Weekly Telegraph by courtesy of Nigel Henderson, Ulster History Hub

460819 Acting Corporal William Pennie enlisted in the 61st Battalion in Winnipeg on the 8 June 1915 but he had been born on the 23 August 1888 (birth register says 21 August 1888) at Ballygarvey, Ballymena, the son of James and Martha Pennie. The 1911 Irish census returtn records James  (51) and Martha (54) at Ballygarvey, and the couple said they had been married for 33 years.  They had had 8 children and 7 were still alive at the time of the census.  Thomas, 24 and a woollen dyer, Willliam (22) and David (15) are listed, as is David Scott, a 5 year old grandson.

The 1901 return again records the family in Ballygarvey. James (42) and Martha (44) listed four children: James (18), Thomas (14), Susanna (11) and David (5). The 1901 census elsewhere records William working as a farm labourer for Thomas Hegarty, Broughshane Lower, Ballymena; he was just 13 years old.

Pennie was single and 5’ 7” tall. He had grey eyes and fair hair.  He was employed in Canada as a farm labourer and said at the time of his enlistment that he had served in the 106th Regiment, a militia.  

He left Canada for Europe on the RMS Olympic on the 1 April 1916 and arrived in Liverpool on the 11 April.  He transferred to the 11th Reserve Battalion at Shorncliffe before being taken on strength with the 16th Battalion for overseas service.  He was in France from the 18 July 1916.  

His very short military career ended on the 8 September 1916 when he died of wounds at the 2/1st South Midlands Casualty Clearing Station. The War Diary says that on the 7 September 1916  '... Very heavy shelling. Remaining Companies relieved by 14th Canadian Battalion with difficulty. ... Went out to billets. in Albert. Total results of trip - 401 casualties, 25% of which were killed or are missing'. It would seem he was wounded on the 7 September. On the 8th the 'Battalion rested'

His was a short and very hard life, and he is buried in Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension.
681754 Private Samuel Penney (also Penny), 172, George Street, Toronto, enlisted in the 170th (Mississauga) Battalion of the CEF on the 24th April 1916.  He named his mother, Agnes Penney, as his next of kin and said she lived at 11, Clarence Street, Ballymena. He said he was born on the 18 June 1891 and records indicate that he was the son of Thomas Penny (sic), a labourer who died of bronchitis on 15 February 1913 at Clarence Street, and Agnes (nee McVeigh) Penney, originally from Clogher townland, Ballymena.

The 1911 Irish census records Thomas, 63, and Agnes, 61, living at Clarence Street, Ballymena.  They said they had been married for 45 years and had had ten children.  Nine were alive in 1911. Agnes, 32, Thomas, 27, and Samuel, 19, are recorded. Thomas and Samuel were labourers and Agnes was a hem stitcher.

The 1901 census shows the family at Kirkinriola, near Ballymena. Thomas (45) and Agnes (43) listed four children: Agnes (24), Jane (15 and a winder), Annie (12) and Samuel (9).

Samuel Penney was at his attestation said to be 6’ 1” tall, with blue eyes and brown hair.  He was living in Toronto, he was single and he described himself as a deckhand. Penny (sic) is listed on the tablet in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church.

He left Canada aboard the SS Lapland or SS Mauretania (records conflict) from Halifax on the 30 October 1916 and landed in Liverpool.  He transferred to the 58th Battalion for service in France, service which lasted from the 29 November 1916 until 7 January 1919. He was slightly wounded in the left buttock by shrapnel on the 27 August 1917. He was treated at No. 7 General Hospital, Etaples, No 6. Convalescent Depot, Etaples and No. 13 Convalescent Depot, Trouville before returning to duty on the 29 September 1917. He went eventually to the 2nd Canadian Machine Gun Battalion and served with them from the 31 May 1918 to 6 January 1919. He was suffering from influenza from 17 November 1918 and went from 57 Casualty Clearing Station to 22 General Hospital, Camiers, No 6 Convalescent Depot and No 5 Convalescent Depot, Cayeux before being discharged in December 1918. Thereafter he was processed via the usual routes to Kimmel Park and return to Canada.

Penney was returned to Canada aboard the Empress of Britain and was discharged from the CEF on the 22 March 1919.  He had been diagnosed as suffering from nephritis, kidney disease, at the time of his pre-discharge medical and was subsequently discharged as ‘medically unfit’; doctors recommended that outpatient treatment for the condition continue in Canada. At discharge he gave two addresses in Toronto, c/o B Parsons, Fairbank, Ontario and 250 Adelaide Street, Toronto, but he died in Shaughnessy Hospital, Vancouver on the 20 September 1973. His wife, Rita Pearl Brown, had predeceased him. This hospital was established for veterans in 1917 and later administered in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The facility was turned over to the provincial government in 1974 and closed in 1992. Samuel Penny  was amongst its last veteran clients.
313958 Corporal John Purdy enlisted in the 88th (Victoria Fusiliers) Battalion, CEF on the 19 November 1915 in Victoria, British Columbia, and he gave his address as Admirals Road, Esquimalt, Victoria. He said he was born on the 1 September 1889 (local records say he was born at Magheramully townland near Broughshane on the 20 August 1889) and that he was single and employed as a teamster.  His papers also describe him as being 5’ 7” tall and state that he had brown eyes and brown hair. He said his mother Annie lived at Glenarm, Co Antrim.

Joseph and Annie Purdy, nee Hume, married on the 15 May 1891. Joseph was then living at Loughconnolly, Broughshane and is described as a miner and labourer on the birth records of his children. The family are recorded in the 1901 census living at Lisnahay South, Cairncastle, near Larne. Annie was 32, and in 1901 she listed John (13), Hugh (9 – born Aughareamlagh, near Glenarm on 14 February 1892) and William (6 – born Aughareamlagh, near Glenarm on the 7 February 1895) as being present.
 
Annie (46) and her family were at Mullaghsandall, Cairncastle in 1911, and she listed Hugh (18) as present with her on the census day.

John Purdy left St John aboard the SS Missanabie and arrived in Plymouth, England on the 26 February 1916.  He had transferred to the Canadian Field Artillery, to the 10th Brigade Ammunition Column, on the 21 January 1916. He moved from the 10th Brigade to the 11th Brigade in May 1916 and then to the 82nd Howitzer Battery in October that year. He was posted to the 1st Divisional Ammunition Column for service in France and was then sent to the 2nd Brigade, later designated the 7th Field Battery. He eventually became Shoeing Smith Corporal in 1918.

He was ill at times but suffered no injury during his war service. He was returned to England from France after the 18 February 1919 and sailed to Canada from Southampton aboard the SS Olympic. He was discharged from the CEF at Montreal on the 23 April 1919 and said he was going to Victoria, BC. 

He died on the 21 December 1956.
622046 Private James Rainey served with the 44th and 52nd Battalions, Canadian Infantry.  He enlisted on the 22 December 1914 in Winnipeg where he had been working there as a freight checker for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Rainey had been born on the 8 October 1890 in Randalstown, his parents being James and Margaret Rainey of Leitrim, a townland just west of the town.

The 1901 Irish census shows James (Snr) and aged 52 working as a road labourer. His wife Margaret was 54 years old.  The couple said they had been married for 29 years and that they had had 7 children, 5 of whom were still alive.  In 1901 they listed Alexander (14), James (12), John (11), Sarah (9) and Thomas (5).  In 1911 the family were living at Creeve, Randalstown and Alexander (25), James (24), John (21), Sarah (20) and Thomas (15) were all employed in the linen industry.  Their father was then an agricultural labourer.   In 1914 James Rainey was not quite 5’ 7” tall and he had grey eyes and black hair.  He was still a Presbyterian.

James sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the SS Lapland on the 23 October 1915 and was in England on the 30th.  He trained and then went to France on the 16 April 1916 with the 52nd Battalion - he had transferred from the 44th Battalion on the 15th April.  He was with his unit in the field after the 7 May and was killed in action while serving with them in the trenches west of Courcelette on the 17 September 1916. He is one of those remembered on the Vimy Memorial.

The 52nd Battalion had been heavily engaged prior to the the day of Rainey’s death and the War Diary for the 17th September reads: Following line now held by us - Frontline from ... to Fabeck Graben - 4 Officers and 109 OR. Support Line held by 2 Officers and 67 ORs. Bombing post ... in Zollern Graben Trench held by 1 LMG (Light Machine Gun), 10 bombers and 10 riflemen. Remainder of Battalion is in Sunken Road.  Steady shelling all day but few casualties. Large parties working evacuating wounded and burying dead.' It seems Rainey was one of the unfortunate few and killed, as it says in the Circumstances of Death Register,  in the ‘trenches west of Courcelette’.

His mother, a widow, later lived at Paradise Avenue, Harryville, Ballymena.

(Graben is the German word for trench.)

A20451 Private John Rainey enlisted in the CEF in Winnipeg on the 5 January 1915 and was to serve primarily in the 43rd and 16th Battalions.  He was a Presbyterian, single and a labourer.  He was said to be 5’ 8” and was recorded as having grey eyes and fair hair. He said he was born on the 16 June 1891 and that his father was James Rainey, Leitrim, Randalstown.

 

James and Margaret, nee Lee, Rainey were living at Leitrim, Duneane, Randalstown in 1911.  They said they had been married for 29 years and that they had had seven children of whom five were still alive. They listed the family as follows: James was 52 and an agricultural labourer, Margaret was 54. Alexander was 25 and a linen tenter, as was his brother James (24). John was 21 and a damask weaver, Sarah was 20 and a hemstitcher, and Thomas (15) was a linen card cutter.

 

In 1901 the family were at Creeve townland, Duneane, Randalstown. James was 36, and Margaret 40. Alexander, 14 and born 12 April 1886, James, 12 and born 8 October 1888, John (11), Sarah (9) and Thomas, 5 and born 16 June 1895, were recorded on census day. John and Sarah were born in Dumbarton, Scotland and their births are not registered locally.

 

John Rainey left Montreal aboard the SS Grampian in June 1915 and then went to France and Flanders on the 17 July 1915. He was almost immediately taken ill and was in No 14 Stationary Hospital, Wimereux from 20 July to the 4 August 1915. Thereafter he went to his unit, the 16th Battalion.  He was wounded on the 9 January 1916 by a rifle bullet which struck him on the left knee. He was dealt with by 2 CCS and then moved by 21 Ambulance Train to 18 General Hospital, Camiers. He travelled onward by HS Newhaven to England and was admitted to the Military Hospital, Shorncliffe.  He also spent time at Barn House Hospital, Whitstable, a convalescent home, before being moved to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Woodcote Park, Epsom on the 27 April 1916.  He was discharged on the 7 June 1916.

 

Rainey returned to duty and disappeared in the autumn of that year.  His record is annotated as follows: ‘previously reported missing, now for official purposes, presumed to have died on or since the 25th/28th September’ 1916. The Circumstances of Death Register simply states that he was lost in the ‘trenches north of Courcelette’. Strangely, the 16th Battalion War Diary says the unit was in billets from the 17th to the 30th September 1916. We can only assume he was obliterated by a random shell.

3031383 Sapper Robert Rainey, 13th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops, was attested and joined the Central Ontario Regiment on the 24 December 1917.  He was a plumber from Steelton, Ontario, part of Sault Ste Marie, and he enlisted there and gave his address as 125, Albert Street, Sault Ste Marie.  

He said he was born on the 10 May 1884 (birth registration says 4 May 1884).  He was just 5’ 5” tall and he had blue eyes and brown hair. He was a Presbyterian and is listed in the Roll of Honour in West Church, Ballymena. He was single and nominated his mother Margaret as his next of kin. Her address was later given as Paradise Avenue, Harryville, Ballymena. The family cannot be identified with certainty in the Irish census but the registration of Robert’s birth shows his father was James, a labourer from Ballyminstra, Ahoghill, and Margaret, nee Bartholomew.

Robert Rainey arrived in England aboard the SS Scandinavia on the 16 February 1918 and transferred to the 13th Battalion (Depot), Canadian Railway Troops.  He was with the Canadian Railway Troops in the field after the 29 March 1918.  He served in France and Belgium until demobilisation without injury.

He has a poor record of service. He faced a Field General Court Martial for disobeying a direct order in the field on the 17 April 1918 from Major Harold Portal Burrell, MC.  He had been told to stop throwing earth from a cut (trench or cutting) but he wilfully ‘continued to do so’.  He was sentenced to 42 days Field Punishment No. 1. On the 7 August 1918 he was awarded 5 days Field Punishment No. 1 for being AWL (Absent Without Leave). He was sentenced on the 18 November 1918 to 5 days Field Punishment No. 1 for causing a disturbance ‘after lights out’. On the 11 December 1918 he was to get 3 days Field Punishment No. 1 for again being AWL. He faced another Field General Court Martial for ‘drunkenness’ on active service on the 30 December 1918 and was punished by a further 28 days Field Punishment No. 1.

He was eventually returned to Canada aboard the SS Aquitania from Southampton and arrived in Halifax, Canada on the 25 May 1919. Two days later he was discharged.


Field Punishment No.1


The prisoner was tied to a fixed object, a post, a fence, a gun wheel, etc, his feet and hands secured as seen. Punishment lasted for two hours per day for the allotted number of days.

3039282 Robert L Rainey lived at 1217, Fayette Street, Syracuse, New York but he was originally from Clonkeen (‘Clown King’ on his attestation paper), a townland that lies between Randalstown and Toome in Co Antrim. He said he was born on the 22 March 1887 and he listed his father William John Rainey as his next of kin.

 

The registration of his birth indicates that he was the son of William John Rainey, a labourer from Clonkeen, Drummaul and the couple’s marriage registration indicates that they were wed on the 3 July 1878 in Ballymena Register Office.  Her full name was Mary Jane Moody.

 

Robert L Rainey enlisted on the 21 May 1918 and was attested at Toronto and attached to the 1st Central Ontario Regiment, 1st Depot Battalion, for training. He was a 5’ 8 ½“ labourer, and he had blue eyes and brown hair.  He was a Presbyterian but there appears to be no recording of his name in a local church Roll of Honour.

 

He went overseas aboard the SS Cassandra on the 3 June 1918 and transferred to the 12th Reserve Battalion for further training.  He was moved to the 15th Battalion, Canadian Infantry for overseas service in Europe.  He was in France by the 29 October 1918 and served there without injury. The war ended on the 11 November 1918 and he stayed in France until he was returned to England for return to Canada and demobilisation.  He chose to be demobilised in England on the 21 July 1919 rather than in Canada.

406612 Private William Rainey, a railway worker, had served in a Canadian militia, the 44th Regiment (Lincoln and Welland Canal Force), for one month before he enlisted in the CEF.  He enlisted at Hamilton, Ontario on the 14th April 1915, went to the 36th Battalion, then to the UK before transferring to the 1st Battalion, Canadian Infantry. Rainey, however, was Ulsterman, his mother being Mrs Margaret Rainey, a widow, of Paradise Avenue, Harryville, Ballymena.  This means he is the brother of Robert Rainey (above).

Rainey said he was born on the 9 March 1883, but the registration of his birth says he was the son of labourer James Rainey, of Killane, Ahoghill, and Margaret, nee Bartholomew, and that he was born on the 9 March 1879.  His military papers say he was single, 5’ 10” tall, and that he had blue eyes and light brown hair. He was a Presbyterian and he is recorded on the Roll of Honour of in West Church, Ballymena.

William Rainey left Montreal aboard the SS Corsican on the 19 June 1915 and was in England on the 28 June. He went overseas to France with the 1st Battalion, Canadian Infantry and was to serve with them for three years and five months; he had spent 11 months with the 36th Battalion. He was wounded on the Somme while serving with them, suffering a shrapnel wound to his forehead on the 22 September 1916. This left him with concussion and a ruptured eardrum. He was treated and went to No 1 Convalescent Depot at Boulogne, and he was assigned light duties at base, possibly with the Canadian Salvage Corps, from 12 October 1916 until 22 March 1917. 

The fighting in which Rainey was wounded was intense and had been ongoing for some time. On the 21 September 1916 the War Diary says at one point, at 8 am to be precise, that ‘the men are  nearly worn out and in no shape to go into an operation tonight ... two Platoons lost way during relief and got into forward saps; it was impossible to get them back before daylight. Many were killed and wounded during the morning.’ The operation was postponed, but it was bad on the 22nd also. The War Diary says, ‘Courcelette again under barrage. Enemy shelling Sunken Road and Quarry; hostile snipers active.’ There were problems with the Allied artillery barrage falling short; this left sections of the German lines untouched and caused some ‘friendly fire’ casualties. ‘At 8.29 pm just as final preparations were being made for advance a murderous artillery and machine gun fire broke out against our front.’  The attack went ahead and fighting was intense. Lt Cuddy and Lt Unwin, leading the 1st and 2nd waves respectively in one sector, were both killed.  Other parts of the line were experiencing similar conditions and these excerpts help to convey the horror that was unfolding at this time all along the attacking front in which the 1st Battalion was a key player.

William Rainey served with 1st Battalion after his recovery and was not released for return to Canada until 1919. He sailed to Canada aboard the SS Saturnia on the 25 July 1919 and arrived in Montreal on the 4 August. He was demobilised at London, Ontario on the 12 August, his intention being to go to Vancouver, BC.

He died on the 11 August 1953.

11th Regiment (Irish Fusiliers of Canada) at Vernon Camp, British Columbia, 1914
Photograph courtesy of City of Vancouver Archive. (Copyright: public domain).

629058 Private Samuel McNeilly (McNeely) Ramsay (also Ramsey), 7th Battalion, CEF enlisted in the 47th Battalion at Vernon, British Columbia, but he was the son of James and Catherine (nee McNeely) Ramsay, Lisnafillon, Ahoghill, near Ballymena. James and Catherine, both 49, had been married for 24 years in 1911 and they had had four children, all of whom were alive at the time of the 1911 Irish census.  They listed two sons on the 1911 return. William was 21 and Robert 19. All the men were employed in the local bleach works at Lisnafillon.

The 1901 Irish census return shows James Ramsey (sic) and his wife Cathrine (sic) at Lisnafillon, Ahoghill with all of their children. William (11), Samuel R (sic and probably a recording error), Robert C (9) and Ellen (7) were all scholars.

Samuel, a labourer, enlisted in the 47th Battalion on the 14/15th July 1915 and stated that he had served previously in the 11th Regiment (Irish Fusiliers of Canada), a militia. His Attestation Paper says he was a Presbyterian, 25 years and four month old and that he was 5’ 5” tall, also that he had blue eyes and dark brown hair.

Basic training over in less than five months, he left Canada for overseas service on the 13 November 1915 aboard the RMS Missanabie and landed at Plymouth on the 23rd of the same month. He completed his training and went overseas to France with the 47th Battalion and was at Le Havre on the 11 August 1916. He was slightly wounded in the left shoulder and left hand on the 17 September 1916 and on the 19 September was transferred for treatment on board the HS St Patrick to England.  He went to Northampton War Hospital, Durston and later to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Woodcote Park, Epsom.  He was discharged to service on the 20 October 1916.

He transferred to the 7th Battalion on the 4 May 1918 and was much more seriously wounded a second time on the 2 September 1918. He had bad injuries to his left hand and to his head. His little and ring fingers and part of the palm of his hand were eventually lost, and there was some impairment of the functioning of the next finger.  The head injury was diagnosed as a fractured skull caused by a bullet or shrapnel strike which had also removed a 2.5x1.5 inch fragment of bone. A foreign body was still lodged in his head and was removed in a subsequent operation.

No 2 Canadian Field Ambulance initially took him to No. 18 USA General Hospital but No. 23 CCS then moved him to 13 General Hospital,  Boulogne (A formal takeover of No. 13 General Hospital was undertaken by the staff of the American Base Hospital No. 5 on Nov. 1, 1917. The hospital’s central building was the casino at Boulogne, and the staff found the hospital at capacity with about 650 patients. It had previously been used as an evacuation hospital but after the takeover it was changed to become a specialist surgical unit. This was because of No 5's surgeon and physician expertise.), and he was then transferred to England.

He was returned to England aboard HS Pieter (Pieter de Conick was one of four Belgian Government Mail Steamers used as Ambulance Transports during WW1) and was treated at Kitchener Military Hospital, Brighton (No. 10 General Hospital was organized in September, 1917 and took over Kitchener Military Hospital at that time.), King George’s Hospital, Stamford Street, London, No. 16 Canadian General Hospital, Orpington, and No. 5 Canadian General Hospital, Kirkdale, Liverpool before being invalided to Canada and Shaughnessy Military Hospital, Vancouver.  He continued with periods of treatment there, including skin grafts on his left hand, until at least July 1919.

Ramsay had been wounded in an attack on the Drocourt-Queant Line. Operation Order 162 had said, the Canadian Corps will break through the Drocourt-Queant Line on 2 September 1918. Zero Hour will be 5 (Five) a.m.

The War Diary of the 7th Battalion, the unit with which Ramsay was then serving, says, At 5.00 am, Zero Hour, the barrage opened and the attack commenced.  The Assault Companies ... at first met with considerable opposition from Machine Gun fire, but shortly afterwards the tanks ... made their appearance: from then on the Battalion advanced with comparatively little opposition and by 7.30 am had reached ... its objective ... the 7th Battalion captured between  six and seven hundred prisoners and inflicted heavy casualties ... ‘.

The account ends by recording the casualties among the 7th Battalion: two named officers and 23 soldiers were killed.  There were two officers and  89 men wounded, one of them Ramsay,  and a further 10 men were missing.

Ramsay was discharged ‘medically unfit’ from the CEF on the 10 October 1919. He died on the 10 November 1939 and is buried in Hazelwood Cemetery, Abbotsford, Fraser Valley Regional District, British Columbia.  His headstone says he was the son of James Ramsey and Katherine McNelly, that he served in the 7th Battalion, CEF and that he was survived by his wife, Edna May Ramsey. The spellings are as written on the stone.
195764 Andrew Rea, 33 Lafayette Street, Peterborough, Ontario was a 5’ 8” tall, single and an electrician.  He had blue eyes and brown hair and he was said to be 27 years and 11 months old when he enlisted on the 21 February 1916.  He said he was born on the 26 March 1888, though his birth registration says Andrew, son of Thomas and Sarah, nee McCleary, was born in Killyree, Clough on the 7 May 1886 - (Killyree townland is south of Clough and nearer Ballymena). He was an Ulster Presbyterian and his name is on the list for Cloughwater Presbyterian Church, Co Antrim. There it is stated that he came from ‘Cloughgaldonagh’ sic - Cloghgaldanagh townland is the area immediately around the village of Clogh or Clough.

Andrew said his mother was Mrs Thomas Rea, later Sarah Rea.  The 1901 Irish census records 55-year-old Thomas, a linen weaver, at ‘Ballycraigagh’sic, now Ballycregagh, Clough (the townland lies between Clough and Cloughmills), his wife Sarah (50) and five children. Margaret (24), Sarah Jane (19), James (16), Thomas (15) and Andrew (13) were present on the day the record was taken.

The 1911 census records Sarah (59) and a widow with daughter Maggie (33) and Thomas (24) living at Ballycregagh, Clough.  Records show that Thomas had died aged 59 of heart disease on the 7 November 1903, his daughter Maggie at his bedside.

Andrew Rea sailed to Liverpool, England from Halifax aboard the SS Empress of Britain on the 15 July 1916 and was attached to the 93rd Battalion, CEF among others.  He never served outside of England but was attached to various units, depots and garrisons until he was returned to St John, Canada aboard the SS Scotian in January 1919. This was his fate as he had very poor eyesight and he was eventually discharged at Kingston on the 7 February 1919, his record marked ‘defective vision’.

778267 Lance Corporal David Rea, 57 Boston Avenue, Toronto, who had previously served in the 12th York Rangers, a local militia unit, joined the 127th Overseas Battalion (York Rangers) on the 3 January 1917.  He said he was born on the 17 December 1884 (local register of births says 16 December 1882), that he was a single man and a tailor. His papers also show that he was 5‘ 7” tall and that he had blue eyes and light coloured hair.  He was a Presbyterian.

David Rea was born in Co Antrim. He was the son of James, deceased 1910, and Sarah, 12 Waveney Avenue, Ballymena, though his family originally came from the Broughshane area. There were at least ten children, generally recorded with the surname of Rea, though two of them who worked in Scotland adopted the Scottish spelling of their name. 15973 Private James Hoy Rae, 12th Royal Scots (Lothian Regt), was KIA on the 28th September 1915 and 15910 Private Richard Rae, 12th  Royal Scots (Lothian Regt), was KIA on the 15th or 18th July 1916 – see ‘Royal Scots Brothers'.

David Rea sailed from Halifax with the 127th Battalion on the 21 August 1916 and was at Liverpool on the 30th. He trained in England and went to France and Flanders on the 12/13 January 1917.  His unit was redesignated on the 10 February 1917 and was thereafter known as No 2 Canadian Railway Troops. He wasn’t wounded during the war but suffered injuries that would have been common among men involved in labouring and construction.

He was at No 63 Casualty Clearing Station on the 28 August 1917 and was subsequently moved to No 26 General Hospital, Etaples on the 30 August.  His injury, recorded as ‘I C T left leg’ (‘Inflamed Connective Tissue’), would refer to any injury to muscles, ligaments, etc.  He went eventually to the No 6 Convalescent Depot, Etaples and was discharged from there on the 14 September 1917.

He was back at No 7 Canadian General Hospital on the 18 September 1917, his injury designated ‘I C T foot’, possibly referring to a reoccurrence of the same injury.  He subsequently spent time at No 6 Convalescent Depot, Etaples and No 5 Convalescent Depot at Cayeux, not being discharged until the 28 November 1917.


David Rea was returned to the UK after 16 January 1919 for return to Canada.  He went back home on the SS Minnekahda and was discharged in Toronto on the 29 March 1919.

37204 William John Rea was born on the 14 September 1887 at Racavan, Broughshane and he was a blacksmith at Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. His application to join the CEF was finalised at Valcartier Camp, Quebec on the 23 September 1914. He was then 27 years and 11 month old.  

He was single, 5’ 8 ½” tall and he had blue, elsewhere brown, eyes and brown hair. He gave as his next of kin Samuel Wharrie (normally Wharry), Racavan, Broughshane. He enlisted in the 5th Battalion and was to serve at various times with CASC Mechanical Transport Repair Unit, in No 1 Divisional Ammunition Park and also the CASC in the 3rd Canadian Divisional Mechanical Transport Company. He also received at one time an extra $1 per day for his blacksmithing skills.

He went overseas aboard the SS Franconia in October 1914 and was in France after 4 February 1915. He served without incident until he was returned to Canada aboard the RMS Scotian from Liverpool and demobilised on the 18 May 1919. He intended to return to Maple Creek, Saskatchewan.

William J Rea, born 1887, died on the 12 August 1952 and appears to be buried in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan.
443569 Sapper William John Ritchie enlisted in the 54th (Kootenay) Battalion of the CEF at Vernon Camp, British Columbia in October 1915. The unit had been organized in May 1915 and drew recruits from throughout rural British Columbia. It was mobilized in June 1915 and was to become part of the 4th Canadian Division, 11th Infantry Brigade in France on August 13, 1916. Two drafts of 250 men and 5 officers proceeded to England on July 21 and October 23 before the rest of the battalion sailed aboard the SS Saxonia on November 22nd, arriving in England eight days later. 443569 Sapper William John Ritchie was one of the latter, his name appearing in the Nominal Roll, as also the names of Adam Barr and Daniel Robert Montgomery.  Like them William John Ritchie was a Ballymena man.

Ritchie said he was born in Larne but named his next of kin as Tom (Thomas) Ritchie of Carncoagh (This is shown as ‘Toni’, a transcription error in some of his documents, though not on his will or on the Nominal Roll.), and Thomas was probably his brother. The 1901 Irish census records the Richie family there.


1901 Irish Census Entry


Born 12 March 1886, Carncoagh, Skerry - William John McIlrath - father - ------,  mother Margaret Jane Ritchie - ...

William John Ritchie is listed as William J McIlwrath or McIlrath (transcribed as McIlurath) and was an illegitimate child, as seen in the registration of his birth. Note that the registration does not agree with him that he was born on the 17 March 1886 and also that the census says the family were Presbyterians. William John Ritchie’s attestation papers say William John was a Roman Catholic, though his name appears on the list of men of Cloughwater Presbyterian Church who served in the Great War.

Ritchie was 5’ 11” tall and had brown hair and eyes. He described himself as a miner, the census showing that to be a family profession, and that may explain his later transfer to the Canadian Engineers, specifically the 2nd Tunnelling Company to which he went on the 1 March 1916.  He went to France with them that month and served with them throughout the war.

Ritchie was affected by ‘shell gas’ (mustard gas) on the 1 February 1918. Australian Field Ambulance took him No 8 Stationary Hospital at Wimereux, France. He was later moved to the 3rd Western General Hospital, Newport, Wales, but was at the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Bear Wood, Wokingham, Berkshire on the 22 February 1918.  He was discharged on the 23 March.

William John Ritchie was returned to Quebec, Canada aboard the SS Olympic in January 1919.  He said he was going to Princeton, British Columbia. The area's main industry was then mining—copper, gold, coal, and some platinum – and he may have been returning to his previous trade.

He died on the on the 5 January 1928.

The family grave in Clough Graveyard reads:

1900
Ritchie
Erected in memory of John Ritchie, Carncoagh who died 3rd Feb 1900.
Also his wife Hannah J Ritchie died 17th July 1902
Also their son John, killed in action in France, 15th September 1916
Also their daughter Sarah died 8th December 1938
And of two children who died in infancy
Also his son Thomas who died 12th April 1948
Also Jeanie who died 4th Feb 1981

23/2078 Private JOHN RITCHIE, 2nd Bn. Wellington Infantry Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force, was KIA on the 15th September 1916. Aged 45 (sic), he was a labourer and the son of John and Hannah J. Ritchie, of Carncoagh, Rathkenny, Co. Antrim, Ireland. He listed his uncle Thomas Ritchie, Rathkenny as his next of kin. He is commemorated on the Caterpillar Valley Memorial, Somme and in Clough Cemetery and Cloughwater Presbyterian Church.


Lieutenant James Robinson, Royal Irish Rifles (extracted from Letters from the Front, Vol 2, a record of those from the Canadian Bank of Commerce who served in WW1)

Lieutenant James Robinson, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, employee of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, was the son of Joseph and Agnes Robinson, nee Gordon, of Rokeel/Rathkeel, Broughshane. The 1911 census records the family. Joseph was aged 40 and a farmer, his wife Agnes 37. The couple said they had been married for 19 years and that they had had four children. All were alive at the time of the census. James (16), William John (14), Andrew 16 (sic - actually born 31 Dec 1899) and Lizzie (8) were all present on the day of the census. The family also appear in the 1901 census.

129568 Samuel Carson Robinson joined the 72nd Battalion (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada) in Vancouver, British Columbia on the 20 September 1915, but he was born in Co Antrim. He was the eldest son of Samuel Carson Robinson, a farmer, and Caroline (Carolina) Lynn, who were married on the 11 April 1884. They lived at Whiteside’s Corner, Procklis, Ahoghill.

The 1911 Irish census shows the family in Procklis, the townland where Whiteside’s Corner is located. Samuel Carson Robinson, 62 and a farmer, and Caroline (44) said they had been married for 26 years and that they had had 12 children, 11 of whom were still alive at the time of the census. They listed Samuel (25), Spence (21), Jannie (15), William (13), Elizabeth (11), James (9), Robert (6), David (4) and Ellen (2).

They lived in the same location in 1901. Samuel was 52, Caroline 34.  They listed 7 children: Samuel (15 and born on the 17 September 1885), Martha (13), Jeremiah (11), Maggie (9), Jane (6), William (4) and Lizzie (1).

Samuel Carson Robinson was 30 years old, 5’ 6” tall, and he had blue-grey eyes and brown hair.  He was single (He married Dina in 1916) and was working as a teamster in Vancouver in 1915.

He arrived in Liverpool, England aboard the SS Empress of Britain on the 7 May 1916 and was in France by the 12/13 August 1916.  He served without being wounded, but he almost died from problems that were a direct consequence of his service.

He pulled on a gas hood on the 8 September 1916 and chemical residue in it burned his scalp.  He was treated by Canadian Field Ambulance after the 13 September and was discharged to duty on the 22 September. Tetanus, however, set in and he was taken to No 10 Stationary Hospital, St Omer on the 7 October 1916. He was described as being ‘dangerously ill’. He was treated there for some weeks and was then moved to England and to Southwark Military Hospital, Dulwich Grove from the 9 November. He was there for a month and was then released to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Woodcote Park, Epsom after 9 December 1916.  He was finally discharged on the 3 January 1917.

He spent some time in reserve units and wasn’t sent back to the 72nd Battalion until the 17 May 1917, and he did not rejoin his unit in the field until 4 June 1917. He remained with them until returned to England for transfer to Canada.  He arrived back in Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the RMS Olympic on the 18 June 1919.  He returned to Vancouver and lived at various addresses with his wife Dina.  

He died on the 1 September 1964 at Shaughnessy Military Hospital, Vancouver.

101542 William Ross Robinson served with the 66th and 49th Battalions, Canadian Infantry and with the 2nd Tunnelling Company, Canadian Engineers.  

He said he was born on the 9 March 1894 and registration of birth registers show he was indeed born on that date and that he was the son of James Robinson, a farmer of Mossview, Moneynick, Duneane, his nominated next of kin, and Catherine Robinson, nee Ross, also of Moneynick, Randalstown. He was a labourer and single when he enlisted on the 22 November 1915 at Edmonton and his attestation papers record that he was 6’ tall with grey eyes and brown hair. He was a Presbyterian.

The family appear in the Irish census returns of 1901 and 1911. James, 40 and a farmer in 1901, lived at Moneynick with his wife Catherine (36).  They listed two children as present on the day of the census – William Ross (Rose sic) was 5 and James was a 3 year old. They also listed two servants.

They were still at Moneynick in 1911.  James was said to be 52, and his wife Katherine (sic) was 50. They said they had been married for 20 years and the they had had five children. Four were alive in 1911.  Marie was 18, William was 17 and James was 13.

William Ross Robinson sailed from Halifax aboard the SS Olympic after 28 April 1916 (They didn’t actually sail until the 1 May 1916) with the 66th Battalion and landed in England on the 7 May. He transferred to the Canadian Engineers and went to France with the 2nd Tunnelling Company. He wasn’t wounded during the war but was often ill for long periods.  

His record of indiscipline is startling.  He was AWOL at times, sentenced to periods of Field Punishment No.1, and was on occasions sentenced to be confined to barracks (CB).  One long period of illegal absence led to a Court of Inquiry in December 1917 and he was deemed a deserter.  He was apprehended, returned to France, and made subject to a Field General Court Martial (FGCM).  He was found not guilty of desertion but was sentenced to one year of imprisonment with hard labour; this was eventually suspended in February 1918 and he was sent to the 49th Battalion, Canadian Infantry.

William Ross Robinson was eventually discharged in London on the 11 July 1919.  He may have been married by then.  He was sending some of his pay to Mrs D Robinson, Ormiston Park, Belfast but the army were not sure if this was his wife, one record marked ‘wife?’.

446990 Private George Raphael (sometimes Raphel) Ross, 10th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, enlisted in Calgary, Alberta where he was working as a labourer, but he said he was from Galgorm, Ballymena and he listed his father John as his next of kin.  He gave his address as 3, Circular Road, Belfast [later 23, Henderson Avenue, Cavehill Road, Belfast).

George Raphael Ross was born on the 10 March 1875 and was just over 40 years old when he enlisted on the 25 May 1915.  He was 6’ tall and he had brown eyes and dark brown hair.  He was a Presbyterian and he said he had served in the Ulster Volunteer Force, the pre-war anti- Home Rule militia of Sir Edward Carson that became the core of the 36th Ulster Division, for two years and 3 months.

He completed basic training in Canada and sailed from Montreal to England after the 11 September 1915 aboard the SS Metagama.  He transferred from the 56th Battalion to the 10th Battalion for service in France on the 22 September and was at Le Havre on the 17 March 1916.  He was with his unit in the field on the 19 March. His military career ended less than three months later when he was killed in action on the 14 June 1916.

Canada’s Circumstances of Deaths Registers say only that he was killed in action in the ‘trenches at Mt Sorrel, S E of Zillebeke’, but this tells us quite a lot. Study and summary of the 10th  Battalion War Diary tells us that between the 19th March and the 14th June, the day when he was killed, the 10th Battalion were in the trench line from the 22nd – 27th March, from the 9th April – 16th April, 4th May -10 May, and from the 27th May – 2nd June.  On the 3rd June they were hurriedly deployed at Armagh Wood, Square Wood and Leicester Square to help a battalion under attack. They were not in the trenches again until the 7th June and after the 10th June again went into reserve, first at Dominion Lines and then at a reserve camp.  It was from the later that position that they were called to action. The Story of the 10th Canadian Battalion, 1914-17 by J A Holland (Page 24) and the 10th Battalion’s War Diary record the maelstrom into which Ross went. 


The Story of the 10th Battalion, 1914-17 by J A Holland, printed and published by the Canadian War Records Office, printed by Charles & Son, London, page 24.


The Germans had, after a devastating barrage, launched their ferocious assault around Mt Sorrel at the beginning of June 1916 – the 10th Battalion had been rushed in to help on the 3rd June and they deployed at Armagh Wood, Square Wood and Leicester Square, as the diary records. Their next spell in these trenches from the 7th -10th June was 'passive', much of their time spent fixing damaged trenches under heavy shelling and casualties were severe, as Holland says. They refitted after they went into reserve. On the 11th June the War Diary notes said, ‘Draft of 264 reinforcements arrived. Men physically well built but soft and badly in need of training. None appeared to have had any instruction in bombs and the majority were unacquainted with the Enfield rifle.’ (The Canadians began to abandon their own unsatisfactory Ross rifles about this time.)

All changed for them on the 13th June , as the diary states,


‘In Divisional Reserve Camp “E”. At 2:30 p.m. received orders to relieve 16th Battalion and hold the captured trenches then being held by this Battalion.


On the way to the trenches the Battalion was heavily shelled and this shelling was continued all night with varying intensity. The trenches, both our old trenches and those constructed by enemy were very badly battered by the shellfire to which they had been subjected by both sides and large stretches had been completely obliterated and blown in. Owing to the lack of guides and the confusion as the result of the shelling on the road up, the relief was considerably delayed, and no regular reports reached headquarters. By 7:00 A.M. of 14th it was finally reported that all 16th Battalion were clear.


14th June - In Trenches. Enemy bombarded our position steadily all day increasing the fire to an intense bombardment for 10-15 minutes every two hours. It was found impossible ... to do   organised work on the trenches, but in the various sections, companies and detachments ...  worked at clearing the trenches and opening up communication. A number of wounded Germans and Canadians were found in the trenches and so far as possible these were evacuated, the remainder were collected in safe places to be evacuated as soon as opportunity occurred. Owing to the trenches, fire and communication, being levelled in places, cover ... could only be maintained at intervals when a slackening of the enemy shelling permitted. It was also found that in the area held by the Battalion, isolated units of 2nd and 4th battalions were stationed, which had not been told of the relief. Arrangements were made to take over the trenches held by these details, either at once or at night as circumstances permitted. The whole ground was so ploughed up with shell fire and a network of old and new trenches [so] battered out of recognition that it was impossible to form more than a rough idea of the position of the trenches and the troops holding them.’

In short, Canada’s Circumstances of Deaths Registers say only that he was killed in action in the ‘trenches at Mt Sorrel, S E of Zillebeke’ because the carnage was such that no one knew exactly what happened to him. He perished amid chaos, has no known grave and is named on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.

75955 Private Robert Ross, 29th Battalion (Vancouver), CEF, who enlisted in November 1914 in New Westminster, near Vancouver, British Columbia, came originally from Ballymena and named his father, Mr John Ross, 28, Albert Street, Ballymena as his next of kin.

The 1911 Irish census records John Ross, an 80 year old retired labourer, and his wife Margaret (Magret sic), 75 and a former domestic servant, living with the family of Charles and Maggie McAllister. John is described as Charles’s father-in-law.  He and Margaret had been married 54 years in 1911 and they had had 13 children; 7 were still alive at the time of the census.  They were also living with the family in Albert Street at the time of the 1901 census. Their ages were then given as 68 and 66 respectively.

Robert Ross was born on the 17 July 1878 and was working in Canada as a labourer – his record mentions employment as a shoemaker and a lumberjack. He was also an old soldier of the British Army who had spent 12 years in the Royal Artillery in Punjab, India.

Ross was 35 and single when he enlisted, though one medical record said he appeared to be fifty.  He was 5’ 9” tall and had blue eyes and very fair hair.

He left Canada aboard the SS Missanabie aboard on the 20 May 1915 and completed training in England.  He went to France on the 17 September 1915 and was there for less than three months when on the 15th November at Kemmel, near Ypres he was struck by a piece of shrapnel that pierced the inner side of his knee.  It fractured his patella.

He was given immediate treatment in the field and went to No 8 British Red Cross Hospital, Paris Plage on the 21 November. No.6 Canadian Field Ambulance had moved him to the hospital at Etaples by the 23rd November and he was subsequently returned to England, being admitted to Queen’s Canadian Military Hospital, Beachborough Park, Shorncliffe. He remained there for three months.  He was released to a reserve unit on the 18 December 1915. However, knee problems continued and he went to the Central Hospital, Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe for a further nine weeks; this period included a spell at the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Monks Horton, Kent. He was discharged on the 6 April 1916.

The knee problems were not all down to shrapnel.  He had accidentally fractured the kneecap in Plymouth in 1902 and it had healed without medical intervention, but X-rays showed abnormal bone growth.  This and the shrapnel injury caused his knee to lock at times and he would fall over. Doctors decided that he was no longer fit for duty in France and he was returned to Canada aboard the SS Missanabie, arriving at Quebec on the 15 May 1916. He went to Esquimalt Hospital, Vancouver until the 15 July 1916. After further tests he was deemed‘no longer physically fit for war service’ of any sort and was discharged from the CEF on the 30 June 1916.

He died on the 12 April 1941.
Old Canadian Press photograph


Thomas George Rutherford was the son of the Reverend Thomas Rutherford, originally from Co Fermanagh, and Margaret Rutherford, nee Finlay, and from Co Down. The couple had married at Donegal Place Methodist Church on the 11 September 1877, and the record of the marriage says that Thomas was a Methodist minister who was then living at Tandragee, Co Armagh. He was the son of George Rutherford, a farmer. Margaret’s father was John, a Belfast baker and grocer.

 

The couple had had six children. A Methodist minister, Thomas Rutherford moved around the country on a regular basis, as the birthplaces of his children on the census confirm. John Finlay Rutherford was born on the 30 June 1878 at Banbridge, Co Down; Thomas George was born on the 20 April, 1880 at Newcastle, Co Down; William was born on the 29 March 1886 at Mallins, Co Donegal; Robert Montgomery Finlay was born on the 18 November 1888 at Bowling Green, Strabane, Co Tyrone; Charles W was born on the 24 November 1891 at Lurgan, Co Armagh; and Mary Jane Rutherford, born on 8 April 1883 at Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh.  She died in 1900, as stated on a family headstone in Ballymena New Cemetery, Cushendall Road.  It reads:  In loving and sacred memory of May, only daughter of the Revd. Thomas and Margaret Rutherford who fell asleep 15th June 1900, aged 17 years.’ She succumbed to pleurisy and the certificate says her father was present with her at time of death.

 

Thomas George is also named on the headstone - see above.

 

Thomas George was not present when this 1901 Irish census was taken. The family were then living at Ballymoney Road, Ballymena, but he appears in the census as an apothecary’s apprentice who was then boarding at Orient Gardens, Clifton, Belfast.


The 1911 census lists Thomas, still a Methodist minister, and Margaret Rutherford living in Church Street, Magherafelt, Co Londonderry.  Their servant Hessie Torney is the only other member of the household named.

 

Thomas George Rutherford was living in Canada, working as a druggist. A local Canadian newspaper said he had ‘worked for the Gordon-Mitchell, the Dunlop and the Martin, Bole and Wynne drug companies.’ He was living with his wife Margaret at 283 Pacific Avenue, Winnipeg at the time of enlistment, but other Winnipeg addresses also appear in the records. 771 Simcoe Street, Winnipeg was said to be the family address at the time of his death. His widow is also listed as Ethel M Rutherford, Eaton House, St Columb Minor, Cornwall, though finally listed as living at Hilliers, Vancouver Island, Canada.

 

He enlisted at Valcartier, Quebec on 28 September 1914 and it was noted that he was 5 feet 8½ inches tall with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair. His attestation papers also state that he had been serving in the 106th Winnipeg Light Infantry for the previous seven months.

 

He enlisted as an ordinary soldier, as Private 20878 T G Rutherford, 10th Battalion, CEF, and his unit sailed for the UK from Quebec aboard the SS Scandinavian on the 4 October 1914.  He was a good soldier and rose rapidly to the rank of Company Quartermaster Sergeant; he was even Acting Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant for a time. His record also records that he was ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’. He was sent to Cadet School in December 1915 and was on the 30 January 1916 appointed Temporary 2nd Lieutenant, 8th Battalion. He returned to the 10th Battalion on the 20 June 1916 as a Lieutenant.

 

He served in France and was first wounded in 1915.  His record says he, then Sergeant Rutherford, was at No 2 London Casualty Clearing Station on the 21 May with a wound to his hip. This wasn’t serious and he was released to duty on the 30th.

 

The second wounding happened in 1916 and there is some confusion about when it happened. His record states that he was wounded in the right thigh on the 14 June 1916 and says he ‘remained at duty’. The 10th Battalion was in the front line on the 14 June 1916 and they were involved in heavy fighting during which shelling was severe. However, the Circumstances of Death Registers say his wounding occurred after his unit took over front line trenches northeast of Courcelette on the night of the 10/11 October 1916.  It says they were subjected to intermittent shelling and he was hit on the right thigh by a piece of shrapnel. He was soon reported ‘dangerously ill’ at No 1 Red Cross Hospital, Le Touquet and he died there on the 12 October 1916, his record marked ‘gas septicaemia’.  It seems unlikely that such severe septicaemia would have developed in that short time interval.

 

The last address given for his mother is Mrs Thomas Rutherford, 4, Seaview Terrace, Holywood, Co Down. She, suffering from bronchopneumonia, died there on the 28 January 1920 at the age of 65. Her son William, Corofin, Co Clare was present.

622364 Private Archie Scott, 27th Battalion, CEF, (actually Arthur Scott and referred to as such once in his military record) enlisted in the 44th Battalion, CEF at Winnipeg on the 14 May 1915. He said he was a locomotive fireman working for the Canadian Pacific Railway and he lived in Winnipeg. 260 Owena Street and 682 Logan Avenue, Winnipeg appear as addresses for him in his record, and the two streets meet at right angles close to the CPR tracks.

Scott was 5’ 7” tall and had grey eyes and light brown hair.  He said he was an Anglican and that he was born on the 19 August 1894. His record indicates he hailed from near Randalstown, Co Antrim, and he nominated Mrs Scott, Drumanaway, Randalstown as his next of kin.

The birth registration for Arthur Scott says he was born on the 19 August 1892, not 1894 as he said, and that his parents were Thomas and Ellen Scott, nee Baxter, Drumanaway, Randalstown. The 1911 Irish census records Thomas, 47, and Anglican and an agricultural labourer, and his 47-year-old wife Ellen.  The couple said they had been married for 23 years and that 7 of the 8 children born into their marriage were still alive.  They listed William (22 and an agricultural labourer), John (20 and a linen mill worker), Arthur (18 and a linen mill worker), Mary (16 and a linen mill worker), Thomas (14), Matilda (10) and James (7).

The 1901 Irish census records the family and gives a more precise location for them – they lived at Aghaboy, Drumanaway.  This townland is just north of Randalstown and on the west bank of the River Maine. Thomas was 36, his wife Ellen 35. They listed John (10), Arthur (8), Mary (6), Thomas (4), and Matilda (infant).

Archie/Arthur Scott sailed from Halifax to England aboard the SS Lapland with the 44th Battalion on the 23 October 1915. He finished his training and then went to France with the 27th Battalion on the 15 April 1916.  He was with his unit in the field after the 6 May.  He was wounded near St Eloi, Ypres on the 7 July 1916 – there is one reference to him being buried by a shell and it is recorded that he was struck on the left side of his chest by shell shrapnel. The unit were near Bedford House, St Eloi in a support role at the time and it is possible he was part of a work party at the time of his wounding.

No 3 Canadian CCS sent him to 6 Canadian Field Ambulance for immediate aid.  They subsequently sent him to hospital at Boulogne and from there he was transferred to England aboard HS Dieppe. He went to 1/5th Northern General Hospital, Leicester and was thereafter to spend time at the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Woodcote Park, Epsom, Moore Barracks Canadian Hospital, Shorncliffe, and at Granville Canadian Special Hospital, Ramsgate.   He wasn’t discharged from the latter until 29 May 1917.

He had bits of shrapnel lodged in his chest that couldn’t be removed and other problems that were slow to resolve.  Doctors decided he was no longer fit for military service and he was returned from Liverpool to Canada and discharged from the CEF on the 31 January 1918.
180311 Corporal Samuel Beggs Service enlisted in the 88th Battalion (Victoria Rifles), CEF on the 6 November 1915 in Victoria, British Columbia. He gave his address as c/o Maywood P. O. (later Hulton P. O.). However, Samuel Service hailed from Co. Antrim and said he had been born at Glenwherry on the 20 July 1895, the son of William John. Records show that he was indeed born on the given date and that he was the son of William John Service, a labourer, and Jenny, nee Beggs, of Kerneyhill, Glenwhirry- (also Glenwherry). One document in the record shows his father’s address as c/o Robert J Allen, Carnlea, Ballyeaston.

Samuel, brother of William John - see below - was said to be 20 at enlistment and was deemed to be 6’ tall, with blue eyes and fair hair.  He was working as a teamster. He was a Presbyterian and is named on the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Roll of Honour, 1914-1919 on the listing for Glenwherry Presbyterian Church.

His unit sailed from Halifax aboard the SS Olympic on the 31 May 1916. He was attached to reserve units and trained before going to the 7th Battalion for service in France and Flanders.  He was at the Canadian Base Depot on the 22 April 1917.  He served there throughout the war, leaves excepted, without incident and was returned to England on the 31 March 1919. He travelled back to Canada on the SS Northland from Liverpool and reached Halifax on the 23 May 1919.
463561 CSM William John Service served in France and Flanders with the Canadian Army Service Corps, specifically with No 4 Company, 4th Divisional Train, but he enlisted on the 31 July 1915 in the 62nd (OS) Battalion of the CEF at Vernon in British Columbia. Service hailed from Co. Antrim and said he had been born at Glenwherry on the 2 July 1892, the son of William John. Records show that he was indeed born on the 2 July, though in 1893, but he was the son of William John, a labourer, and Jenny Service, nee Beggs, of Kinnegalliagh, Glenwhirry (also Glenwherry).

William John Service was a single man, a policeman, at the time of his enlistment.  He was 6’ tall and had brown eyes and brown hair. He was a Presbyterian and, like his brother Samuel above,  is named on the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Roll of Honour, 1914-1919 on the listing for Glenwherry Presbyterian Church.

Service left Halifax, Canada aboard the SS Baltic in March 1916 and soon after his arrival in England he transferred to the Canadian Army Service Corps. He eventually became part of the 4th Divisional Train and was in France and Flanders after the 12 August 1916.  He served without incident and rose through the ranks to become Company Sergeant Major. He also won the Military Medal (LG 31227).

He returned to Canada aboard the SS Olympic and was discharged in Halifax on the 21 June 1919.  He said he was returning to Victoria, British Columbia.

311957 William Bryce Simpson, 310 Edmonton Street, Winnipeg enlisted in the Canadian Field Artillery on the 17 January 1916 and was destined to serve in France. He was a Ballymena man, the son of John and Elizabeth (Lizzie, nee Barr) Simpson, Dunfane, Kirkinriola.  The couple had married on the 30 December 1884 in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church. John’s father was Matthew Barr, a farmer of Loughmagarry townland, and Elizabeth’s father William of Dunfane townland was already deceased.

 

The 1911 census records the family at Dunfane. John was 60 and a farmer, as was Elizabeth.  They said they had been married for 26 years and that they had had 4 children, all of whom were still alive in 1911.  They listed the three children present of the census day – Janie (25), William (21) and John (18).

 

The 1901 census does not list John, but Lizzie is listed.  She was in the Dunfane home of her mother, the 77-year-old widow Jane Barr.  Lizzie was said to be 52 years old and her 4 children are recorded. Janie was 15, Matthew was 13, William was 11 and John was 8. James Barr, a 53-year-old visitor and a traveller for a sewing machine company, was also listed.

 

William is recorded in his military papers as being born on the 24 October 1891 (the registration of his birth says 24 October 1889). He was 5’ 6” tall and had bluish grey eyes and dark brown hair. He was single and worked as a clerk. He was said to be an Anglican, though the Irish census says the family were Presbyterians and William’s service is recorded in the record of 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church. 

 

He sailed from St John, Canada aboard the SS Metagama in March 1916 and landed in Liverpool. He initially served as a Driver with No 3 Section, 3rd Divisional Ammunition Column after his arrival in France in July 1916 but he was transferred to the 4th Divisional Ammunition Column in June 1917. He served, apart from having bronchitis and a sore toe, without incident throughout the war and was returned to England in April 1919. Shortly afterwards he was transferred to Canada and demobilised in Toronto on the 6 June 1919.

 

He died on the 25 March 1974 at Victoria, British Columbia.

452032 CQMS William John Simpson served in the 58th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, part of the 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division.  He had joined the unit on the 14 July 1915 at Toronto and at the time indicated that he already served in a militia, the Governor General’s Body Guard (GGBG).

William John Simpson said at attestation that he was born on the 25 December 1895, that he was single and that he worked as a teamster.  He was just less than 5’ 4” tall and he had blue eyes and dark brown hair.  He was an Anglican. He also said he was born at Crankill, Ballymena – Crankill is a townland just north of the town and he nominated his grandfather, a Mr John Montgomery of Crankill, as his next of kin. John Montgomery and his wife Peggie appear in the 1901 and 1911 Irish census returns.

He left Halifax, Canada aboard the SS Saxonia on the 20 November 1915 with the 58th Battalion and he was to serve with them throughout the war.  He served without incident in France from February 1916 until February 1919, save for a slight shrapnel wound to his right wrist. He received treatment in France and was off duty for just four days.

Simpson was returned to Canada aboard the RMS Baltic from Liverpool and discharged from the army in Canada on the 24 March 1919.  By then he had been ‘Mentioned in Despatches’ by Haig, a fact recorded in the London Gazette, 31448, of 11 July 1919. This listing is a continuation of Sir Douglas Haig’s despatch of 16th March 1919.

3082253 Private Robert Small was living in Coeymans, New York State, USA when he went to Canada to enlist on the 25 February 1918 in the 1st Depot Battalion of the Quebec Regiment, CEF at Montreal.  He was then about 24 years old and had moved to the USA from Ireland just prior to the outbreak of the war.

Robert was single, a tailor and a Presbyterian.  He was 5’ 9 ½ “ tall and he had blue eyes and brown hair.  He was the son of farmers Samuel and Jane Small, nee Cameron, and his birth registration says he had been born on the 27 July 1891 - not 1893 as it says on his attestation papers – at Ballykeel, Ballyclug, Ballymena.

The 1911 Irish census records the family at Ballyminstra, Ahoghill. Samuel was 49, his wife Jane 48. The couple said they had been married for 26 years and that they had had 10 children.  Seven were alive in 1911 and they were recorded on the census day: Robert (19), George (16), Annie (15), Samuel D (13), Sarah A (11), James (8), and John Alexander (6).

Robert Small left Canada aboard the SS Scandinavian in March 1918, landed in England in early April, and he went to Bramshott Camp.  He was posted to the 14th Battalion (Royal Montreal Regiment), Canadian Infantry for overseas service and went to France in August 1918.  He was with his unit in the field in late August but was with them only a few days when he was wounded on the 3 September. The wounds were not life threatening – a flesh wound to the right arm and injury to the right leg near the knee.  He was treated at No. 16 General Hospital, Le Treport, France and then moved to England and admitted to Northamptonshire War Hospital on the 8 September 1918; some of his time there may have been in Cottesbrooke Auxiliary Military Hospital, one on the many units attached to the main hospital. He was later moved to Woodcote Park Convalescent Hospital at Epsom.

He was posted to the 23 Reserve Battalion after his injury and return to England and it would seem that he was allowed to travel to Ireland on leave after his release from hospital. It was there, possibly when he was beginning the return to his unit, that he was killed boarding a train in an accident at Ballymena Railway Station on the 23rd December 1918.

He is buried in the churchyard of 2nd Ahoghill (Trinity) Presbyterian Church.
27789 Private David Smyth, 15th Battalion (48th Highlanders of Canada), lived at 133 Chester Avenue, Toronto but he was originally from Ballymena. He had been born on the 23 December 1890 and was the son of William John and Bridget Smyth.

The 1911 Irish census records the couple at Hope Street Terrace, off Princes Street, Ballymena. The couple said they had been married for 26 years and that they had had 8 children, 7 of whom were still alive at the time of the census. They were all Anglicans, though the 1901 census records Bridget as a Roman Catholic. William John was 48 years old, deaf and a shoemaker. Bridget was 47. Isabella (25) and Hugh (18), both flax mill workers, Maggie (11), John (8) are listed as being present in the home on census day, as were William Gault, 41 and a labourer, and his wife Mary Ann, nee Smyth, and their 3 year old child William J. William and Mary Ann had been married for 4 years.

In 1901 the Smyth family lived just across Galgorm Street and about 100 yards from Princes Street and Hope Street Terrace at Mill Row.  William J was said to be 36 years old, his wife Bridget 35.  Mary Ann (14) and Bella (15) were mill workers; David (11), Hugh (8) and infant Margaret were also present. The family had boarders: Lizzie McClaskey, a 33-year-old spinner and a RC, and Jane Keenan, an unemployed spinner and a RC, were recorded.

David at enlistment on the 20 September 1914 at Valcartier Camp was 5’ 8” tall and had blue eyes and dark brown hair.  He was single and an Anglican, and he was employed as a groom. He trained in Canada and then sailed aboard the SS Megantic from Quebec to the UK in early October 1914. He transferred to the Headquarters Sub Staff at Shorncliffe and went overseas via Le Havre in August 1916 with the 12th Canadian Infantry Brigade. He was transferred to the 3rd Canadian Division HQ as a groom in April 1917, later at his own request to the 4th Canadian Division HQ.  He served, apart from a couple of bouts of illness, without incident until he was returned to England for transfer to Canada. One of his papers says that he was struck off strength in France with the Canadian Division HQ and was posted to the Canadian General Depot at Seaford ‘on proceeding with horses of the GOC’.

He left Liverpool aboard the SS Regina for Halifax in July 1919 and he was demobilised on the 27th of the month, stating that he was going to 47 Chester Avenue, Toronto.  At least one other member of the family lived in Canada as his record refers to his sister, Miss Bella Smyth, of Admiral Road, Toronto, and indicates that she later became Mrs Isabella Grant, 225 Ontario Street, Toronto.

74122 Private Frederick Robert Smyth (or Smith) enlisted on the 28 November 1914 at Winnipeg and went eventually to the 28th Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan Regt).  He gave his brother Ed’s name (Edmund’s name?) when asked for his next of kin, and Edward, as stated on records, was then contactable c/o R J Whitlock & Co, Winnipeg, later 688 Strathcona Street, Winnipeg.

Smyth was allegedly born in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh but he had lived before emigration at 8, Atlantic Avenue in Portrush with his parent Elizabeth Jane Smyth, a fruiterer; his father Robert was deceased since 1900.

The 1901 Irish census records the family at Causeway Street, Portrush. Elizabeth Jane Smyth, a widow and 46-year-old fruiterer, lived with her mother, Margaret McIlvennan, a 71-year-old widow. Robert Frederick Smyth, 15 and an apprentice druggist, and Alfred French Smyth (13) lived with her. They had a 68-year-old lodger, Charles Quaill, a French polisher from ‘Derry’.  Strangely, given Fred Robert’s military papers which say he was born in Enniskillen, the boys were said to have been born in ‘Derry’ also.

The 1911 census return shows them at Atlantic Avenue, Portrush.  Eliza Jane was still a widow and a fruiterer, and now said to be aged 57. Her mother Margaret McIlvennan was 79 (records show she died on the 25 January 1915) and Alfred French Smyth was 23.

Smyth was 6’ 1” tall and had grey eyes and brown hair. He is recorded as a Presbyterian, though the census return of 1911 says Elizabeth and Margaret were Plymouth Brethren. He sailed to England aboard the SS Northland from Montreal in May 1915 and had qualified as a bomb thrower by September that year. He went to France via Boulogne on 18 September 1915 and was hit while in a trench south of Ypres, Belgium on the 28 September 1915. There was some confusion about when and how he died and his record was subsequently annotated as follows:  ‘on duty in trench. The wounds were caused by an enemy trench mortar. He never regained consciousness.’ He was buried in the Locre Churchyard, his grave being on the north side of the church and near the northeast corner of the site.

The Smyth family had unknown Ballymena connections, and Frederick Robert’s father is buried in Kirkinriola Cemetery, Ballymena. Frederick Robert Smyth is also named on the headstone (the stone has now fallen & broken). It reads as follows:

1900    
Erected by Alfred French Smyth, and Edmund James Smyth, Portrush.
In loving memory of their father Robert Smyth, died Aug. 28th, 1901, aged 50 years.
Also their mother Elizabeth Jane, died Feb 23rd, 1923, aged 71 years.
Also their brother Frederick Robert, 28th Canadian Infantry, killed in action in the Ypres salient Sept 28th, 1915, aged 29 years.
Passed over a little while instead.
252624 Private Thomas Stevenson, a clerk, enlisted in the 209th Battalion, CEF on the 28 March 1916 at Swift Current, Saskatchewan. The unit, which was based in Swift Current, had begun recruiting in early 1916 in that city and in the surrounding district. Men trained in Canada and then went to England from Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the SS Caronia in November 1916 and later disembarked in Liverpool. The battalion was absorbed into the 9th Reserve Battalion on January 4, 1917; it was disbanded on May 21, 1917.

Thomas Stevenson was single and a clerk. He was just 5’ 6” and he had blue eyes and brown hair. He was born on the 13 March 1886 at Kells in Co Antrim, though his father John and the rest of the family had long been domiciled at Shaunavon, Saskatchewan.  They were Presbyterians and Thomas Stevenson’s name appears in the listing for Connor Presbyterian Church.

Stevenson transferred to the Canadian Machine Corps and went to their Crowborough depot in January 1917. He was posted to the 2nd Machine Gun Company on the 4 November 1917 and to the Canadian Machine Gun Pool in France on the 28/29 November. He was to serve in the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division.

He was gassed while serving near Loos on the 19/20 March 1918. He went to No 2 Field Ambulance Depot and then onwards to the St John Ambulance Hospital, Etaples on the 9 March. He was returned to England and admitted on the 14 March 1918 to the Chester War Hospital. He was eventually transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Epsom on the 24 May 1918, later to the King’s Canadian Red Cross Special Hospital at Bushy Park. He was not discharged to leave until the 14 August 1918.

Thomas Stevenson remained in the CEF and was not returned to Canada until the 5 March 1919. He left Liverpool on board the SS Megantic and landed in Halifax. He was discharged in Winnipeg on the 29 March 1919.

Officers, No. 3 Coy., 2nd Battalion, C.M.G.C. January, 1919
Mikan 3522504, (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/lac-bac/results/images)
830221 Sapper Harry Stewart enlisted in the 144th Battalion, CEF at Winnipeg on the 30 December 1915 and stated that he lived at 1479 Pacific Avenue, Winnipeg.  He said he was born on the 29 December 1887 and that he was single and a labourer.  His papers state that he was 5’ 6” tall and that he had blue eyes and black hair.  He was a Presbyterian.  He nominated his sister as his next of kin and she was Mary A Stewart of Randalstown, Co Antrim.

The Irish census returns of 1901 and 1911 record the family. In 1901 John Stewart, 46 and a linen weaver, lived at Groggan, Randalstown with his wife, 39 year old linen weaver Sarah. The couple listed seven children. Martha (16), Rose Jane (14), Henry (13), Mary Anne (11), Margaret (9), Francis (7) and William (5)

Sarah, born Sarah Osborne at Hillstown, Randalstown, was 49 and a widow in 1911. She said she had had seven children, six of whom were still alive at the time of the census. She listed Henry, a 23-year-old labourer born at Tannaghmore, Mary Anne, 21 and born at Tannaghmore, Francis, 17 and born at Groggan, and William, 15 and born at Groggan. Records show that her husband had died on the 24 February 1909, and that daughter Margaret had died aged 17 on the 15 August 1909.

The 144th Battalion left Halifax aboard the SS Olympic on the 18 September 1916 and the ship docked at Liverpool on the 25th.  Harry Stewart transferred to the 2nd Canadian Labour Battalion and went to France and Flanders with them on the 10 February 1917.  His unit was redesignated and became 12 Canadian Railway Troops after the 25 November 1917 and he served with them for 17 ½ months until he was returned to England and the unit’s Purfleet base – he had been deemed medically unfit for further service in France. One record of the 22 February 1918 suggests he had problems relating to a deformed chest, another refers to curvature of the spine. He was to be returned to Canada after the 7 October 1918 and he was discharged from the CEF on the 9 November 1918.

Private Samuel Stewart (Right) and his Brothers, parents at Main Street, Randalstown, Antrim
Photograph courtesy of N Henderson

420458 (Sometimes A20458) Samuel Stewart enlisted in the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of Canada), CEF in Winnipeg on the 5 January 1915. He was single and was a painter living in the city.  He was 24 ½ years old at the time of his enlistment and was 5’ 5” tall.  He had brown hair and brown eyes.

 

Samuel Stewart was a Randalstown man.  He was the son of Robert and Jane Stewart, nee Givens, of Lisnagreggan, Drummaul (The townland is just NW of Randalstown and close to the A6 Randalstown to Portglenone Road.) and he was born on the 23 August 1893 (His attestation paper says the 23 September 1893, actually the date when his birth was registered). The 1901 Irish census records the family at Lisnagreggan. Robert was 40, a Presbyterian and a ‘road labourer’ and Jane was a 36-year-old Anglican. They listed the following children as being present at the time of the census: Robert, 14 and a farm labourer, William (10), Samuel (7), Maggie (6), Martha (5), James (3) and infant Henry.

 

He did his basic training in Canada and the left Canada from Montreal with the 43rd aboard the SS Grampian on the 1 June 1915.  He was transferred on the 17 July 1915 to the 16th Battalion, Canadian Infantry to undertake active service in Flanders and he was with them in the field by the end of the month. He was to spend about ten months with them before he was wounded while serving near Ypres on the 15 April 1916.

 

He was struck in the head by a small piece of shrapnel.  It entered his skull just behind his left eye socket and stopped ‘mid-line 1” below and internal to apex of occipital bone’, and it left him ‘dangerously ill’.  He was comatose for a time and muttered unintelligibly when brought in and medics reported that ‘serum and brain pulp oozed from the wound’.  He was bandaged, made some recovery, and was taken to No 13 General Hospital, Boulogne.  They could do little but kept him until he was well enough to be transferred to England and to the King George Hospital, Stamford Street, London on the 30 April.  They operated by trepanning his skull and removed the ¼-inch metal fragment. He recovered, being well enough to go to the Convalescent Hospital at Bromley on the 27th July.  Inability to remember instructions, etc was his main problem by then.

 

He was, being no longer fit for military service, discharged from the CEF at Bath, England on the 31 August 1916. He probably returned to Ireland, to his father’s home at Main Street, Randalstown. 

 

He died on the 7 December 1966, though the location of his death is not known.

2293731 Private Samuel Stewart, Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) was called up under the Military Service Act, 1917 and joined Canada's army on the 5 January 1918 at Winnipeg.  He was a farmer, a single man and a Presbyterian. He gave his address as c/o Baring PO, though on demobilisation he said he was going to his brother Robert at Grenfell, Saskatchewan. He was at least 5' 3" tall (possibly 5' 8") and he had blue eyes and fair hair. His name is listed on the roll of Glenwherry Presbyterian Church.

The family appear in the census returns of 1901 and 1911. The 1911 Irish census says his father, John Stewart, was a 55-year-old farm labourer living at Crosshill, Glenwherry with his 47 year old wife Grace, nee Robinson.  The couple said they had then been married for 28 years and that they had had 10 children; all were alive in 1911.  They listed as present Andrew (27 and a farm labourer, David (14), Mary Agnes (12), George (10) and Grace (9); this last daughter was born on the 14 November 1901. Two other children of the family also appear elsewhere in the 1911 returns. Robert (20) was working as a farm labourer at Jockey's Quarter, Glenwherry and Samuel (16) was a farm servant at Cloghinearney, near Slemish.


The 1901 census return also records the family at Crosshill, Glenwherry. John was 40 and an agricultural labourer and wife Grace was 38 years old. They listed 8 children present at the time of the census. John, 15 and an agricultural labourer, born 15 October 1884 at Tully, Ballyclug, William J (James, 13, born 30 June 1887), Robert (10, born 27 July 1890), Thomas (8, born 30 May 1892), Samuel (6, born 29 June 1894 and not 10 October 1897 as it says on his attestation paper), David (4, born 6 April 1898) and George (1, born 7 January 1900).

Stewart trained in Canada and then left Halifax aboard the SS Melita on the 15 April 1918. He went to France and Lord Strathcona's Horse on the 10 August 1918; he was with them in the field on the 7 September.  He remained with them until he was returned to England on the 17 April 1919 and left Liverpool for Canada on the 20 May aboard the RMS Carmania - Carmania had served as an armed merchant cruiser before being refitted as a troopship after March 1916.

The family headstone in Glenwherry Presbyterian Churchyards reads as follows:
1866    
Thy Will Be Done
Erected By John Stewart,
In Memory Of His Mother Mary Stewart, Died 15th Sep. 1866, Aged 35 Years.
Also His Father John Stewart, Died 10th May 1868, Aged 64 Years.
Also The Above-Named John Stewart, Died 29th Aug. 1922, Aged 66 Years.
Also His Wife Grace Stewart, Died 26th Feb. 1942, Aged 80 Years.
His Daughter Mary Agnes Stewart Died 21st Dec. 1951.
 And His Son William J. Stewart Died 26th June 1953.
174938 Private Samuel Strange, 86th Machine Gun Battalion, CEF, enlisted in Hamilton.  This 86th Battalion was established on 22 December 1915, and with recruits drawn from several local depot regiments from in and around Hamilton, it was actually mobilized in the city. It was at Camp Niagara for a time and was later stationed at the Old Armouries, James Street, Hamilton. The unit embarked for the UK on 19 May 1916 (Samuel Strange is on the Nominal Roll), and on reaching land, it moved into Risborough Barracks, Shorncliffe for more advanced training. It was redesignated on June 22, 1916 and became the Canadian Machine Gun Depot.  The personnel thereafter were moved as required to units that were already serving on the Western Front.

Strange gave 118 Locke Street, North Hamilton (Later 208 Locke Street.  Samuel after the war was associated with the Pine Bluff Coffin Company, Barraque Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, USA)  as the location of his next of kin and this is connected to Margaret Strange in his records; this is probably his sister, perhaps the two having emigrated together. He also said was born at Crosshill, Glenwherry, near Ballymena, and a portion of his wages was being sent to his mother, Mrs Margaret Strange, Crosshill, Glenwherry.

The Strange family were farmers at Crosshill, Glenwherry and appear in both the 1901 and 1911 Irish census returns at that address.  Samuel and Margaret Strange, nee Saunderson, were married in Glenwherry Presbyterian Church on the 27 December 1882 and they went on to have ten children, nine of whom were alive in 1911.  The children, as recorded in the registration of birth returns were: Mary, born 16 June 1884; John, born 15 May 1886; Margaret Jane 26 July 1888; Martha 22 October 1890; Samuel, born 3 March 1893; Ellen, born 18 April 1895; William, born 25 March 1898; Agnes, born 21 December 1900 – died of TB meningitis on the 23 April 1907; Andrew, born 28 June 1904; and Agnes, born 3 July 1907.

Samuel was single and worked as a driver/teamster.  He was 5’ 6” tall and had blue eyes and fair hair.  He was a Presbyterian and is on the memorial listing for Glenwherry Presbyterian Church. He enlisted in the 86th Machine Gun Battalion, CEF when it was formed and sailed with them from Halifax to Europe aboard the SS Adriatic on the 19 May 1916.  He was transferred from the Canadian Machine Gun Deport, i.e. the redesignated 86th Machine Gun Battalion, to the Yukon Motor Machine Gun Battery on 5 October 1916.

Strange was wounded by shrapnel on the 22 February 1917, sustaining damage to his upper left arm and upper leg.  He went to the St John’s Ambulance Brigade Hospital, Etaples on 24 February before being transferred by H S Stad Antwerpen to England and the Middlesex Military War Hospital, Holland Road, Clacton on Sea on the 28 February. On the 5 March he went to the Red Cross Earl’s Colne VAD Hospital in Essex and was then moved on the 13 April to the Canadian Military Convalescent Hospital at Woodcote Park, Epsom. He was discharged on the 1 May 1917 and was transferred back to the Canadian Machine Gun Depot. However, he was back in No 14 Canadian General Hospital, Eastbourne on the 27 December 1917 with an infected hand, and he was not released until the 1 February 1918. Thereafter he was in April 1918 transferred to the Canadian Army Service Corps.

He was returned to Canada via Halifax aboard the SS Olympic after the 17 January 1919 and was finally discharged on the 11 February 1919.


The Wounding of Samuel Strange


Lt Harkness with 2 gun crews proceeds to front line sap in ... to take part in raid by 38th  & 78th Canadian Infantry Battalions on enemy line ... Privates Newton & Strange are wounded & Pte H T Henderson is killed ... Privates Newton & Strange all carried out by Lt Black & party ...

from War Diary

428636 Private John Suitters enlisted in the 47th Battalion, CEF at Camp Vernon, British Colombia on the 29 June 1915. He stated that he was single and a labourer, and that he had previously served in a local militia. He was just 5’ 4” tall and had brown hair and eyes. He gave his birthday as 23 April 1888 and stated that he was born in Ballymena, Co Antrim, his mother living at 2 North Street. Indeed, registration of birth records show John, son of Alexander Suitters and Elizabeth or Lizzie, nee McDowell, as being born on the 17 April 1888 at Bridge Street, Ballymena; North Street intersects Bridge Street.

The 1911 Irish census shows the family at North Street. Alexander Suitters was the 55 and a yarn bundler, his wife Lizzie was 55. The couple said that they had been married for 37 years and that they had had 12 children. 7 were still alive in 1911. Four children were listed: Lizzie (27 and a reeler), John (22 and a flax dresser), Maria (20 and a reeler), and Agnes (18) – in short, the family were mill workers. The Braidwater Spinning Mill was within 50 yards of the home and other mills were only a short walk away.

Suitters left Canada aboard the SS Missanabie from Montreal in November 1915 and completed his training in England before going to France on the 10/11th August 1916.  He served largely without incident, though he did sustain a very slight shrapnel damage to the fingers of his left hand on 15 November 1917.  The injury only required medical treatment locally from 13 Field Ambulance and he was back on duty the same day.

Suitters was returned to England in April 1919 and discharged there on the 28 May 1919.  He may have returned to Ireland.
139223 Acting Corporal James Alexander Surgeoner enlisted in the 75th Battalion in Toronto on the 6 August 1915.  His attestation papers say he was born on the 10 March 1890, that he was single and an accountant; elsewhere he is referred to as a clerk.  He was Anglican and 5’ 6 ½ “ tall with blue eyes and brown hair. He said he was born at Moorfields, near Ballymena, and he named his father Alexander as his next of kin.  His address was then Glebe House, Carnmoney, near Belfast, though he was formerly of Moorfields. One document also lists this as the address of Annie J Surgeoner, his daughter.

Alexander’s marriage certificate says he was married in the Church of Ireland, St Patrick’s in the parish of Kilconriola and Ballyclug, and is the the closest Anglican Church to Moorfields. There he married Margaret Allen of Moorfields on the 6 May 1889.  He was described as an engineman, a mill worker.

The 1901 Irish census records the family at Cross townland, Moorfields and 40-year-old Alexander was a butler.  This is clearly an error – he was still an engineman and operated a beetling engine in a mill. Maggie was 36. The couple listed five children: James Alexander was 11, John (9), Annie (7), Thomas (5), and Sam (2).

The 1911 census records them at nearby Kilgad, Kells. Alexander was 52 and a widower and he lived with the five children he said had been born of his marriage.  James Alexander was 21 and a clerk, John was 19 and a clerk (born 10 Oct 1891 at Cross), Annie Jackson (17), Thomas (15), and Samuel was 12 (born 11 June 1898).

James Alexander Surgeoner sailed from Halifax for England aboard the Empress of Britain on the 29 March 1916. He eventually went to the Canadian Army Pay Corps and was never to serve outside the UK. He got permission to marry in December 1917 and his wife is recorded at addresses in Belfast and London during the war, e.g. Mrs M Surgeoner, 41, Maryville Street, Belfast and North Side, Clapham Common, London, 54A Oakmead Road, Balham, London. James Alexander gave his address originally as 113, Kingsmount Park, Toronto but on discharge in Canada he said he was going to 87 Chesley Avenue, Toronto.

He returned to Canada aboard the SS Olympic and was discharged from the CEF on the 19 June 1919.
460169 Private Samuel Sutter, formerly a conductor in Winnipeg and a part-time soldier in the 106th Battalion (Winnipeg Light Infantry), a militia, enlisted in the 61st (OS) Battalion, CEF, in Winnipeg on the 5 June 1915.He was later to serve in France with the 2nd Battalion. The 5’ 10” tall young man had brown eyes and black hair.  He said he had been born on the 17 October 1893 and that he was the son of Alexander Sutter, 130 Queen Street, Harryville, Ballymena.

The 1911 Irish census records Alexander Sutter, a 60-year-old grocer, and his 56-year-old wife Annie, The couple said they had been married for 31 years and that they had had 11 children – 8 were alive in 1911.  They listed as present of the day of the census Mary (29), Maggie (23 and factory worker), John (22 and draper), Samuel (17 and a clerk), Annie (15), and William (14); they also listed their 3 year old granddaughter Annie Boyle.

The family were at Queen Street at the time of the 1901 census. Alexander (50) and Annie (45) listed the following children: Mary (20), James (18 and a carpenter), Agnes (16 and a factory worker), Margaret (14 and a factory worker), John (12), Samuel (8), Annie (6), and William (4).

Samuel Sutter left Halifax aboard the SS Olympic en route to the UK on 1 April 1916.  He arrived there on the 12 April and transferred to the 44th Battalion on the 12 May.  He was transferred subsequently to the 2nd Battalion for service in France and Flanders and was with his unit in the field on the 19 June 1916.  

He was wounded by shrapnel, suffering slight damage to his left hand, head and knee, on the 3 May 1917.  He was treated at No 7 General Hospital, St Omer and then transported to England aboard HS St Andrew. He went to the Norfolk War Hospital, Thorpe, Norwich on the 11 May and remained there until transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Woodcote Park, Epsom on the 28 July. He was discharged fully recovered on the 3 August 1917. He had also been awarded the Military Medal on the 18 July 1917 (London Gazette, 30188)

On the 12 September 1917 the CEF granted him permission to marry.  The wedding took place on the 3 October 1917 in the Church of St Patrick, Kilconriola, Ballymena, Samuel marrying 22-year-old Margaret Spence, Galgorm Street, Ballymena, elsewhere Ahoghill House, Galgorm Street, Ballymena. Her father is described as a ‘publican and car owner’.

He wasn’t posted back to the 2nd Battalion until the 25 March 1918.  He was transferred to the Canadian Machine Gun Corps (pool) on the 13 May 1918 and subsequently went to the 1st Battalion Canadian Machine Gun Corps on the 26 June 1918. He also served from the 21 August 1918 to the 26 February 1919 with the 1st Canadian Division Train.  

He was demobilised in Halifax on the 24 July 1919, and he  went to Winnipeg to be with his wife, her address being given at one time as 108, Hart Avenue, Winnipeg.

 He died on the 27 December 1977.
There are two Sutter graves in the old cemetery at Ballyclug. They read as follow:

1878   
Erected by Alex. Sutter, of Harryville, in memory of his father John Sutter,
who died 12th May 1878 aged 45 years
Also his mother Agnes Sutter,
who died 11th July 1910, aged 75 years
and their son Samuel,
who died 27th March 1887 aged 37 years
Ann Eliza Sutter, who died 25th June 1937, aged 83 years, wife of the above Alex Sutter,
also the above named Alexander Sutter, who died 21st January, 1940, aged 98 years

1880   
Erected by A. Sutters, of Queen St. Ballymena
In memory of his son John.
Born 26th March 1879. Died 6th August 1880.
Also his son William, who died 5th August 1922, aged 25 years.

1024064 Sapper Alexander Taylor, initially of the 234th Overseas Battalion, CEF, served with the 1st Division Signal Corps, Canadian Engineers. He said at enlistment on the 26 April 1916 that he lived at 19 Silver Avenue, Toronto, and that he was a single man and a clerk born on the 24 February 1892. He was described then as being 5’ 10” tall with blue-grey eyes and dark brown hair.  He said his father was James Taylor, Galgorm Parks, Ballymena, and elsewhere that his mother was called Annie.

The 1911 Irish census records James Taylor (55) and his wife Annie (52), nee McCartney, at Galgorm Parks.  The couple said they had been married for 22 years and that they had had six children. All were alive in 1911.  They listed Alexander, 19 and a railway clerk, David, 16 and a draper’s assistant, Sarah McKinley (13) and Robert (10) as being present on the day of the census.

They also appear on the 1901 census. In 1901 James was a railway labourer and he and Annie listed six children as being present on the day of the census. They were Mary (13), John (11), Alexander (9), David (6), Sarah (3) and Robert, an infant.

Alexander Taylor left Canada aboard the SS Canada on the 11 April 1917 and arrived in England on the 22 April. He transferred from the 234th Battalion to the Signal Training Depot (11th Reserve Depot) and eventually to France on the 13 July 1917 and the Canadian Signal Pool. He was posted to the 1st Canadian Signal Company on the 23 September 1917. He served with them throughout the war and suffered no major injury, only some temporary eye trouble which he believed resulted from working in dugouts by candlelight. He was treated by Canadian Field Ambulance from 24 April to 12 May 1918.

Taylor was in the UK in March 1919 awaiting return to Canada. He eventually left aboard the RMS Scotian from Liverpool in May 1919 and was discharged from the CEF on the 17 May 1919.  He said he was going to 14 Beatrice Street, Toronto.
532376 Private Robert Gordon Taylor, 46th Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan Regiment), died of wounds at 11 pm on the 10th July 1918 at 57 Casualty Clearing Station, doctors stating that he died from shock after his wounding. He was 38, originally from 35, Queen Street, Harryville, Ballymena, his father being James Taylor, his mother Ellen. Eight children had been born of the couple’s marriage but only three survived – Robert Gordon, Lily and Sarah Ellen.  

Robert Gordon Taylor lived at 570, Ross Avenue, Winnipeg and was single, 5’ 6” tall and with blue eyes and auburn hair. He was an ironworker by trade.  He said at enlistment on the 13 June 1916 that he had been born on the 18 December 1879 and that he had previously served for four years in the 27th Regiment of Foot, i.e. the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  

He trained in Canada with the 12th Field Ambulance before going overseas to the UK aboard the SS Scandinavian in July 1916. He went to Bramshott Camp for further training but was soon admitted to the camp hospital suffering with synovitis of the knee, really a kind of arthritis. He was treated at Bramshott Military Hospital and at the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Bear Wood, Wokingham, Berkshire between September – end of October 1916, thereafter being allocated a period of light base duties with the 5th Sanitary Section. From that posting he went to the 19th and then the 15th Reserve Battalions during 1917, being then posted to the 46th Battalion for service in France and Flanders after the 28 February 1918.

He died as a consequence of a relief operation in the Marqueffles area around Balmoral Camp.. The battalion diary states as follows:

Operation Order 152 was carried out today, relief of the 6th Gordons and one Company 7th Argylls being completed at 7.10 pm ... During the relief the following casualties were reported: - No. 256004 Pte Lacey, W J – wounded 10/7/18, No. 532376 Pte Taylor, R G – wounded 10/7/18, Captain S H Brocklebank – slightly wounded (at Duty) 10/7/18...

Tayor was the only one who died and he is buried in Aubigny Communal Cemetery,  France.

No  2 Platoon, 76th Battalion, CEF.
Nathaniel Topping is pictured sixth from the right and beside the officer on the middle row.

Photograph from Historical Record of the 76th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, compiled by Rev. E R J Biggs, BA, BD, printed Toronto, Hunter Rose Company Limited. (Copyright expired)
141299 Private Nathaniel Topping enlisted in the 76th Overseas Battalion, CEF in Hamilton, Ontario on the 27 July 1915. The 76th Battalion, organised in July 1915, was mobilised at Niagara Camp on the 15 August 1915. It was initially drawn from fifteen militia units from outside of Toronto, and it also recruited in nearby areas outside the city. Topping said he worked in shipping for George E Tuckett & Son, Hamilton, and that he lived at 58 Locomotive Street, Hamilton. [George Elias Tuckett had made a fortune from tobacco products during the US Civil War and thereafter, and his company survived his death in 1900 to be bought by Imperial Tobacco in 1930.] However, Nathaniel Topping was born at Tannybrake, Kells on the 12 September 1892 and listed his mother, Mrs William Topping, Connor, Co Antrim, as his next of kin.  He was single at enlistment and was just 5’ 5 ½ inches tall, and he had grey eyes and brown hair. He was a Presbyterian and is named on the list of servicemen in Kells and Eskylane Presbyterian Church.

The family were in Connor at the time of the 1911 census. William, a 63-year-old millwright, lived with his wife Mary Jane (59), and the couple said they had been married for 36 years and had had eleven children. Ten were alive in 1911.  They listed as present on the census day Maggie Jane (33), Rachel (29), William S (25), John D (23), David (22), Nathaniel (19), Emily (15), Charlotte M (13) and Athelian sic (6).They also listed Alexander Wallace, a nephew.

The couple also appear in the 1901 census. 51-year-old William and 49 year old Mary Jane listed as present on the census day Robert (26), Maggie Jane (24), Sarah Bella (21) Rachel (19), William Samuel (15), John D (13), David (12), Nathaniel (10), Emily (6), and Charlotte M (3).They also listed Alexander Wallace, a nephew.

Nathaniel Topping sailed from Halifax aboard the SS Empress of Britain and arrived in Liverpool on the 4 May 1916.  He transferred to the 20th Battalion Canadian Infantry for service in Europe in June that year and was with his unit in the field on the 29th. He had been with them only a short time when he was slightly wounded in the right thigh on the 4 October 1916. He went to No 11 Stationary Hospital, Rouen for treatment before being evacuated to England aboard the HS St George. He was at the Coulter Hospital, Grosvenor Square, London on the 7th October and he remained there until the 30th October and transfer to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Woodcote Park, Epsom. He was finally discharged on the 17 November 1916 and thereafter spent time at various military bases in England, notably West Sandling. He was not with the 20th Battalion in the field until June 1917.

Topping was seriously wounded a second time by shrapnel while serving near Lens on the 18 August 1917. Haig had ordered Currie to launch a frontal assault on Lens but Currie thought a better plan would be to capture Hill 70, directly to the north of the city. If this commanding hill could be taken, the Germans would counterattack. Currie planned for artillery and machine-guns to smash these German assaults, thereby weakening the German hold on the entire sector. The Canadians attacked on 15 August and captured many of their objectives, including Hill 70. They then held their gains against 21 furious German counterattacks over the next four days, and it was during one of these on the 18th August that Topping was hurt.

His back, right arm and face were all affected by shrapnel. He was treated at the hospital in Etaples before being moved to England aboard the HS Brighton. He was at the 2nd London General Hospital, Chelsea on the 4 September but was moved to the Ontario Military Hospital, Orpington on the 18th September 1917. He was transferred, his general wounds largely healed, to the St Dunstan’s Hostel, Regents Park on the 4 October, his card marked ‘blind one eye’; his other eye was also affected and his remaining vision was poor.  He was sent to the West Cliff Canadian Ear & Eye Hospital, Folkestone on the 22 October and remained there until transferred to the 5th Canadian General Hospital, Kirkdale, Liverpool pending transfer to Canada.

Topping left England from Liverpool aboard the SS Essequibo and was in Halifax, Canada on the 20 December 1918.  He was still an invalid, and though he said he was returning to 58 Locomotive Street, Hamilton, he was given further medical treatment at Brant Military Hospital, Burlington from the 6-14 January 1919. He was not finally discharged from the CEF until the 24 January 1919.

Nathaniel Topping died on the 7 November 1960.

Topping's parents grave is in Connor New Cemetery and reads as follows:
Topping

In memory of Mary Jane and William

The remains rest until the great shout.
Thess I. Chp.4.ver.16.
42756 Driver Thomas Tuff, 3rd Canadian Field Artillery, serving in the Brigade Ammunition Column, enlisted in the 8th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery at Valcartier Camp, Toronto on the 24 September 1914 when the Great War was about one month old. He was said to have been born on the 13 April 1887 (actually 13 April 1886) and to be single and working as a clerk in the city.  He was believed to be 5’ 11 ½ “ tall and to have had grey eyes and dark brown hair. He had been in the military prior to enlistment and said that he had served 2 years in the Royal Canadian Regiment and 1 ½ years in Canadian Permanent Army Service Corps (CPASC). The latter was a regular unit set up in December 1903 and designated the CPASC in 1906. He nominated his mother as his next of kin.  She was Mrs Mary Tuff, elsewhere Mrs William Tuff, Slatt, Ballymena

The 1911 Irish census records widow Mary Tuff, nee Leith, (65) and daughter Mary (30), a factory winder, and Robert A Kennedy, her grandson, as present on he date of the census. She said she had been married for 41 years and that seven of her ten children were still alive.

The 1901 census records William Tuff, a 57-year-old shoemaker, his 55-year-old wife Mary, and six children. James was 27 and a master shoemaker, Maggie was 24 and a dressmaker, Agnes was 22 and a linen weaver, Mary was 20 and a linen weaver, William was 17 and a shoemaker, and Thomas was 14. Christina Leith their 11-year-old niece was also present.

Tuff left Canada on the 7 October 1914 and then went to France and Flanders on the 11 February 1915 with the 3rd Brigade Field Artillery (3rd Brigade, CFA consisted of Brigade Staff, a Base Company, the 7th, 8th, and 9th Gun Batteries, and their Ammunition Column), and Tuff served in the Ammunition Column.

Thomas Tuff was frequently in trouble.  He was in December 1915 given 14 days Field Punishment No. 1 for being drunk, subjected to a Field General Court Martial in March 1916 and awarded 42 days of days Field Punishment No. 1 for being drunk, was awarded 21 days Field Punishment No. 1 in July 1916 for being asleep on a work detail, and in January 1917 was fined for being ‘absent from the line of march from 9.50am to 7.00pm.’

He was not wounded during the war, though he did spent some considerable time in medical units of various sorts.  He was ill in France with non-battle related illness from the late December 1917 until early February 1918, and he was injured accidentally in September 1918. He suffered ‘abrasions’ to his lower back, and possibly also suffered damage to his left hand,  when run over by a waggon.  The injury was dealt with initially by a Casualty Clearing Station and at 20 General Hospital, Camiers, but he was soon moved by HS Ville de Liege to England and was at the 1st Western General Hospital, Liverpool on the 23 September 1918.  He stayed there until November and was then transferred to No 11 Canadian General Hospital, part of the Moore Barracks complex at Shorncliffe Camp. He was there until 3rd December 1918 and then he was posted to the Canadian Artillery Reserve at Bordon Camp.

Thomas Tuff was repatriated to Canada from Liverpool aboard the SS Aquitania after the 25 January 1919 and soon arrived in Halifax. He was discharged from the CEF on the 20 February and stated that he was going to 22 Gladstone Avenue, Toronto.

Thomas Tuff died in Canada on the 6 March 1954.
690189 Private Edward Turtle, 72 Hunter Street, West Hamilton enlisted in the 173rd Battalion on the 3 February 1916. He said he was born on the 23 June 1890, and that he was single and a billposter by trade.  He was said to be 5’ 6 ¼ “ tall and to have blue eyes and fair hair. He said his father was Adam Turtle of Cullybackey and elsewhere he refers to his mother as Mrs Jennie Turtle, Main Street, Cullybackey.

Adam Turtle, then Broughdone, Cullybackey, married 17-year-old Jane White in Buckna Presbyterian Church on the 17 December 1880. The 1911 Irish census records the family at Cullybackey. The couple said they had been married for 27 years and that they had had nine children, eight of whom were alive at the time of the census. Adam was a 52 year old car owner (Taxicab owner), and Jane was 46.  They recorded children David James, 19 and a gardener, Francis Robert, 17 and a car driver, John, 14 and a law clerk, Maybin (12) and Annie May (7), and also Mary White, 70, she being Adam’s mother in law.

The family were in Cullybackey in 1901.  The census records Adam as 41 and operating a postal establishment, and Jane was 35. They listed as present on the day of the census Jeanie (14), Joseph (12), Edward (10 – Edward is incorrectly recorded in the local register of births as Adam Turtle, though his birthday is correctly given as 23 June 1890), David James (9), Francis Robert (7), John (4), and Mebin sic (2), and mother in law Mary White was 54. William James Hanna, a servant was listed, as was Samuel Kennedy, a boarder.

Edward trained in Canada and then left Halifax aboard the Valacia, and he arrived in Liverpool, England on the 27 August 1918. He went to the 12th Reserve Battalion to complete his training and was posted to the 20th Battalion on the 17 November 1918.  He went to France the next day, and despite the war being over, he served there until returned to England aboard the Saturnia and to the 1st Central Ontario Regiment Depot (1st CORD) on the 30 March 1919. Shortly afterwards he was returned to Canada and discharged from the CEF. He said he was going to live at 535 Logan Avenue, Toronto.

Edward Turtle died on the 5 April 1959. His medals were postumously claimed by his wife Susan, 295 Gerrard Street East, Apt 208, Toronto.  Edward's will of 1917 leaves his property to Jennie Evans, Norvel, near Brampton, Ontario and this may well be his sister.

Men of the Forestry Corps

Three proud members of the Canadian Forestry Corps show off their muscles. The Canadians' reputation as rugged lumberjacks helped lead to the establishment of the Forestry Corps in 1916. Almost 500 Newfoundlanders, with a similar reputation as expert lumberjacks, also formed a Newfoundland Forestry Company that served in Britain.
George Metcalf Archival Collection
CWM 19930065-858
687890 Joseph Robert Turtle enlisted in the 238th Battalion, Canadian Infantry on the 5 August 1916 and had apparently previously enlisted in the 172nd Battalion in March 1916. He has two numbers 687890 for the 172th Battalion and 1037682 for the 238th Battalion – he was posted as a deserter by the 172nd on the 31 May 1916 and there was a Court if Enquiry about the matter. No details are provided. However, he served in England throughout the war with the 238th Battalion and was with it when it was ‘converted’ into the Canadian Forestry Corps.

Joseph Robert Turtle was over 5’ 10 ½ “ tall and had blue eyes and curly fair hair.  He said he was born on the 18 July 1886, and that he was a single man and a Presbyterian,. Indeed, his name appears on a memorial list for Buckna Presbyterian Church. He said he was a labourer and elsewhere stated more precisely that he was a logger. He was then living at Crescent Rooms, Howe Street, Vancouver, but he said he had been born in Co Antrim.  He named his mother as Mrs Matilda Turtle, elsewhere stating that she was the widow of John Turtle, Blackstown, Broughshane, Ballymena.

John Turtle, aged 62 and an agricultural labourer, and Matilda (64) appear on the 1911 Irish census and lived at Ballyligpatrick, Broughshane.  They listed no offspring but said they had been married for 37 years and that 6 of the 7 children born of their marriage were still alive.

They appear at Ballyligpartick on the 1901 census return. John (48) and Matilda (48) listed three children then. Samuel was 20, Joseph was 15 and William was 9. Samuel was later in Joseph’s papers stated to be in Canada and living at 445 Gore Avenue, Vancouver.

687890 Joseph Robert Turtle trained in Canada and left Halifax aboard the SS Scandinavian for Liverpool, England on the 11 September 1916. He eventually went to the Canadian Forestry Corps, a part of the Canadian Army that was created for forestry duties on the 14 Nov 1916 from an existing forestry battalion, the 224th Battalion, and from allocated infantry battalions, notably the 238th Battalion. The unit provided lumber for the Allied war effort and prepared timber in the United Kingdom and on the continent of Europe. Forestry units also cleared terrain to facilitate the construction of installations, e.g.  airfields, and they prepared railway timbers, as well as lumber for the creation of barracks, road surfaces, ammunition crates, trench construction, etc. They were sometimes called on in the Great War to perform as infantry.

Turtle was returned to Canada aboard the SS Lapland between the 2nd-9th June 1919. He had varicose vein problems and was deemed medically unfit for further service.  He appears to have been sent to hospital in Canada for a time, though probably mainly as an outpatient, before his discharge from the CEF on the 9 August 1919.

'B' Squadron, 31st British Columbia Horse
Photograph courtesy of City of Vancouver Archives
reference CVA 99-5187 - B Squadron, 31st B.C. Horse, Vancouver [in front of the Canyon View Hotel]
1250244 Richard Wallace enlisted in Winnipeg in the 76th (Depot) Battalion, Canadian Field Artillery on the 29th January 1917.  He said he was born on the 1 November 1892 and that he was a single man who worked as a clerk.  He was 5’ 8 ½ “ tall and said to have had brown eyes and dark brown hair. He gave his address as 178 Furby Street, Winnipeg and nominated his father Thomas of the same address as his next of kin; a later address was 182 Balmoral Street, Winnipeg. Richard, however, was a Presbyterian and a County Antrim man, and his name appears on the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Roll of Honour 1914-1919 in the extract for the Congregation of Cloughwater Presbyterian Church. It states the family lived at Bally - this is not a townland but is a recognised name locally – and we know Thomas and Annie, nee Hutchinson, had married in Cloughwater Presbyterian Church on the 15 January 1890.  The family also appear in the 1901 and 1911 Irish census returns.

The 1911 Irish census records the family at Bellee townland just north of Ballymena. Thomas, a 47-year-old farmer and his wife Annie (42) said they had been married for twenty-one years and that seven of the nine children born of their marriage were then still alive.  They listed Richard (20 – birth recorded as 1 Nov 1890)), Annie Lowry (17 – born 12 Jan 1894), Selena (14 – born 16 June 1896), William Lyle (12 – born 23 June 1898), Elizabeth Mary (6 – born 10 Jan 1905, and Margaret Jane (3 – born 19 Nov 1907). (The children who died were Thomas Wallace, born 20 June 1901, and Elizabeth Mary Wallace, born the 30 September 1903 and died six days later.)

The family were also at Bellee in 1901.  Thomas was then 37 and Annie was 32.  They listed as being present on census day Richard (10), Robert (9), Annie Lowry (7), Selina (4) and William Lyle (2). They also had a 16 year old servant girl called Mary McCreight (McReight sic).

Richard Wallace left Canada in May 1917 from Halifax aboard the SS Olympic and arrived in England on the 10 June. He went to Shorncliffe Camp to continue training and later went to France and Flanders on the 22 September 1917 with the 3rd Division Ammunition Column, Canadian Field Artillery. He stayed with the unit and served without incident until he was returned to Canada. He was discharged from the CEF on the 1 April 1919 and said he was going to 432 Balmoral Street, Winnipeg.

The Wallace family grave is in Kirkinriola Cemetery, a few hundred yards from Bellee on the Bally Road.    
1872    
Erected By Robt Wallace Of Grovehill in Memory of His Grandchildren
Thomas Wallace, Died 20th June 1901, Aged 3 weeks.
Elizabeth Mary, Died 30th Sept 1903, Aged 1 week.
 Also the above-named Robert Wallace, Died 20th Sept. 1910, Aged 84 years.
Also his Wife Annie Jane Wallace, Died 11th July 1922, Aged 89 years.
(Rear
Side of same Headstone)
Erected By Wm Wallace Of Carncoagh in Memory Of Samuel Wallace, Grovehill, who Died 12th April 1872, Aged 84 years.
Also his Wife Elizabeth Lyle, who Died 15th June 1886, Aged 87 years.
 Lizzie Lyle Wallace, Died 28th March 1900, Aged 52 years.
William Wallace, Died 10th February 1903, Aged 84 years.
Frances Wallace, Wife of William Wallace Died 6th June 1904, Aged 83 years.
John Wallace, Died 11th October 1912, Aged 58 years.
Martha Frances Wallace, Died 5th January 1926, Aged 63 years.
311958 Driver Robert Wallace enlisted in Winnipeg in the Canadian Field Artillery on the 17th January 1916.  He said he was born on the 19 February 1893 and that he was a single man who worked as a clerk.  He was said to be 5’ 6“ tall and to have had blue grey eyes and brown hair. He gave his address as 178 Furby Street, Winnipeg and nominated his father Thomas of the same address as his next of kin. Robert, a brother of Richard (above), was a Presbyterian and a County Antrim man, and his name appears on the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Roll of Honour 1914-1919 in the extract for the Congregation of Cloughwater Presbyterian Church. Family details are as given for Richard Wallace.

Robert Wallace left St John, Canada on 11 May 1916 aboard the SS Olympic and arrived in Liverpool,  England on the 25 March. He continued training and later went to the 3rd Division Ammunition Column, Canadian Field Artillery. Having changed on the 24th June 1916, he went to France and Flanders, on the 14 July 1916 with the 4th Division Ammunition Column. He stayed with the unit and served without incident until he was returned to England after the 15 April 1919.  He sailed to Canada from Liverpool on the SS Empress of Britain, and he was discharged from the CEF on the 6 June 1919. He said he was going to 432 Balmoral Street, Winnipeg.
13405 Private Samuel Wallace enlisted in Kamloops, British Columbia and joined the 31st British Columbia Horse, later transferring to the 5th Battalion (Saskatchewan Regt), part of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. The 5th Battalion are also sometimes referred to as 5th Battalion (Western Cavalry), or unofficially as "Tuxford's Dandys"; Lt.- Col. G.S. Tuxford, was the unit’s commanding officer from the 22 September 1915 until January 11, 1916. Wallace seems to have offered himself for service in August 1914, though he was later attested and given a medical at Valcartier Camp, Quebec, and his service is usually dated from 29 September 1914.  

He was a single man, a rancher, and indicated he was born on the 21 May 1891. He is said to have been 5’ 7” tall and with blue eyes and light brown hair. He said he was born at Ballymena, and he named his mother, Mrs E Marks, as his next of kin and he gave her address as Lisnafillon, Galgorm, Ballymena.

John Wallace, Corbally, Galgorm, a labourer, had married Ellen Casson, Lisnafillon in Wellington Presbyterian Church on the 30 January 1891. Samuel was their son, and there may have been a daughter born of the marriage as Samuel in his record refers to his sister, a Miss Wallace, 231-3rd Avenue, Long Island City, New York, USA. The 1901 Irish census does not name John Wallace. He died on the 12 May 1893 at Lisnafillon, Ellen’s father Samuel being present on the occasion. Ellen then remarried on the 5 October 1897.

Johnston Marks, 33 and an agricultural labourer, and his wife Ellen (32) are listed in 1901 in Lisnafillon, as are their two children Thomas (3) and Rebecca (infant). The couple are also recorded in the 1911 census returns. Johnston Mark (sic), then 45, and his wife Ellen (45) are still at Lisnafillon and their children Thomas and Rebecca are said to be 13 and 11 respectively.  The couple said they had by then been married for 14 years and that both of the children born of the marriage were still alive, as indicated on the return.

Sam Wallace left Quebec, Canada aboard the SS Lapland after the 4 October 1914 and landed in Liverpool on the 21st. He finished his training and went to France on the 15 February 1915.  He was injured by gas on the 27 April 1915 and was dealt with by 9 Casualty Clearing Station and 1 Canadian Field Ambulance; he was not to return to his unit until November 1915.

He was again injured on the 6 June 1916, shrapnel striking him in the cheek and face. The CCS and 1 Canadian Field Ambulance had moved him 1 Canadian General Hospital, Etaples by the 8th June. He later went to No 6 Convalescent Depot, Etaples but, not seriously hurt, was back with his unit after 21 June.

He was wounded again, this time quite seriously, on the Somme on the 26 September 1916.  He was taken to 26 General Hospital, Etaples before being moved to England aboard the HS Brighton. He went to the 5 Northern General Hospital, Leicester and was treated for a gunshot wound to his left leg.  The bullet or shrapnel had passed through his lower left leg, smashing through his tibia and fibula, removing a section of bone and damaging muscle, etc.  He was treated and eventually went to Bear Wood Convalescent Hospital, Wokingham in March 1917, his passage to the latter delayed somewhat by a fall in hospital. He had a much-weakened left leg that was now about ¾ inch shorter than is right leg, and he walked with difficulty.  He was permanently unfit for military service and was sent to Canada aboard the SS Araguaya from Liverpool. He went eventually to Vancouver.  There he was treated at various hospitals, both as an inpatient and an outpatient, from the 8 July 1917 until the 28 February 1918.  Thereafter he was discharged from the CEF.

Wallace was wounded when the 5th Battalion took part in the attack on Regina Trench. They had been at Albert on the 24th September 1916 and moved up to the Chalk Pits on the 25th September. The War Diary, here slightly abridged, tells us what unfolded.

‘... There was very little Artillery fire till about 11.30 a.m. when quite a lot of heavy stuff was fired into REGINA TRENCH. The men had taken up their positions during the night ... About 11.40 the Artillery opened up and till about 12.45 a.m. kept up a heavy fire .... At 12.34 p.m. the numerous Machine Guns placed behind our lines for creating a barrage behind REGINA TRENCH, opened up and sharp at 12.35 p.m. the Artillery opened up an intense barrage just in front of our men ... the attacking force scrambled out of their temporary shelters and advanced close behind it.

The first objective was ZOLLERN TRENCH some three hundred yards in front, and it was reached, taken, cleared and consolidated with very little trouble.... The German barrage fire could not be said to have opened properly till nine minutes after the attack had been launched. During the advance quite a lot of sniping took place and needless to say, no mercy was shown to the Huns who kept that up till cornered, and then threw up their hands.

By the time the first wave had reached the first objective, they had been thinned down considerably, but by the time the third wave, consisting of the 'mopping up' party reached the trench, the first and second waves had united and [they] went forward as one to the second objective, which was the HESSIAN TRENCH. ... The casualties between the first and second objectives were very heavy and the number of men who reached the HESSIAN TRENCH were few indeed, but by 2 p.m. we had occupied and were consolidating this trench. ... Patrols were sent forward and reported, the final objective very heavily wired all along the front, so it was decided that as we could command the valley and opposite ridge quite as well from the HESSIAN TRENCH that the REGINA TRENCH could wait till the Artillery finished cutting the wire entanglements. The enemy Artillery kept up a very heavy fire during all these operations, but after the first objective had been taken, they had to use searching fire only, as their observation posts were gone and it was more scattered than before. ZOLLERN TRENCH had apparently been previously ranged on and the firing on this trench was very accurate in places, but the HESSIAN TRENCH was practically untouched. During the night the enemy kept up barrage fire and several of our Patrols entered REGINA TRENCH on our right....

27th June 1916  ... There was very little Artillery fire after daybreak till about 10 pm. so we were enabled to bring in wounded, send up the needed stores and carry on with consolidating our gains of the day before.  ... About II a.m. our Artillery commenced to pound REGINA TRENCH with the object of cutting the wire and it brought a heavy return fire from the enemy Artillery. The left flank of the 2nd Brigade had not advanced as far as the HESSIAN TRENCH ...  and as a result the ground between our lines was swept by quite a heavy enfilade fire from enemy Machine Guns, probably in STUPP REDOUBT. At 11.45 a.m. the hostile Artillery fire was very heavy and Germans were seen moving along REGINA TRENCH and a counter-attack was prepared for... The expected counter-attack did not come to anything and the enemy’s Artillery fire gradually slackened off to normal. At about 10 p.m. our relief (1st C.M.R. Battalion) began to come in, and after bringing out all our wounded and burying most of our dead, the Battalion proceeded to Billets in RUE DE BRAY, ALBERT.’

5th Battalion War Diary extract courtesy of Library and Archives Canada - http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/Pages/war-diaries.aspx

The 5th Battalion suffered 4 Officers and 52 Other Ranks killed, 12 Officers and 291 Other Ranks wounded; 122 soldiers were also missing.

Sketch showing general direction of the Canadian attack in which Samuel Wallace was wounded. Their Start Line was just below the start of the arrow, though probably further to the right.

Samuel Wallace died in Esquimalt Hospital, Vancouver on the 23 June 1966.
25010 Private William Watt, 13th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, was born in the townland of Frosses, Cloughmills on the 21 October 1895. His parents were James and Maggie Watt. He was the third child in a family of eight who were all members of Clough Presbyterian Church. William's father, a member of the local Orange Lodge, was a farm labourer and for a time worked to John Gregg of Frosses. The family lived in a small house which still stands adjacent to Frosses Orange Hall.

William and an elder brother James had emigrated to Canada just before the outbreak of World War 1, and William was one of the first to join the army when the war started.  He had his medical on the 27 August 1914 and attested on the 23 September.  He went initially to the 5th Regiment of The Royal Highlanders of Canada at Valcartier, near the port of Quebec. The 5th Royal Highlanders of Canada, had been put on active service on 6 August 1914, and the 13th Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada), CEF, was authorized on 1 September 1914. It embarked for the UK on 26 September 1914, and was in France on 16 February 1915, where it fought as part of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division in France and Flanders until the end of the war.

His Attestation Papers, completed on 23rd September, described him as 'an engineer.' He was stated to be 5’ 8” tall and was said to be 'of fair complexion’, and with ‘blue eyes and brown hair.' He gave his age correctly as 19 years but examining doctors were asked also to state their opinion of apparent age. William's youthful appearance made the doctor state that in his opinion the recruit was sixteen years and nine months old.

William Watt sailed from Quebec aboard the SS Alaunia with The First Contingent, Canadian Expeditionary Force on 4 October 1914. The force numbered more than 32,000 men, the largest convoy of men ever to cross the Atlantic.

On reaching England the Canadians endured a long miserable winter in the mud and drizzle of the Salisbury Plain; Watt even went AWOL for a short time from Larkhill Camp! In the spring 1915 it is said the men were deemed ready for the front line and were razor-keen. Nothing, they believed, could be worse than Salisbury. In the years that lay ahead, they were to find out just how tragically wrong that assessment was.

The first engagement of Canadian forces with the enemy was not in France but at Ypres in Belgium. On 22 April 1915 some 160 tons of chlorine gas was used by the Germans to breach the line held by the Canadians. In 48 hours the number of Canadian casualties numbered 6,000. Watt, now 13th Battalion (Quebec Regiment), was hit by shrapnel sometime between the 22nd and 24th April when near St Julien, a few kilometres north east of Ypres, and was taken a prisoner and sent to the German camp at Niederzwehren near Kassel. He died there on 12th May 1915.

Initial reports from the International Red Cross said he died of pneumonia. (Translation  - 'Arrived on May 1st at Ohrdruf Hospital in the evening in a state of extreme weakness - his body was riddled with small pieces of shrapnel. Four or five days later, the tetanus produced a pneumonia which killed him despite the best efforts of the German and French doctors and nurses. He will be buried with military honours.'). A later German document sent to the British disputed this and his record was amended as below.










'According to German List.  Died of wounds whilst  Prisoner of War. Bar Lazarette Ohrdruf (Hospital attached to Ohrdruf POW Camp). Wounds both legs and left hand. Tetanus. Buried Ohrdruf 22/6/15. N.K. (Near Kassel?). Casualty List 120.

His brother James joined the Canadian Army the following year and survived the war. He returned to Ireland to live in Co. Down and frequently visited his mother at the Frosses.

Additional material contributed by Harry Hume of Clough

Charles John Whillier, though he had long lived in Brandon, Manitoba and gave his address as 1930 Rosser Avenue, Brandon, said he was born at Ballymena on the 31 July 1867. His Attestation Paper of the 1 February 1915 also says he was an Anglican and married to Ada Annie Whillier.

He was described as being 5’ 10 ½“ tall and having blue eyes and light brown hair. He was employed as a ‘manager’, though he did not say what he managed.

He was 47 years old at the time of enlistment in 1915, old for acceptance, but he was probably accepted as he had served in the 2nd London Rifles and various militia bodies in Canada, notably the 99th (Brandon) Manitoba Rangers.  The latter became the core unit of the 45th (Manitoba) Battalion, CEF which had been authorised on the 7th November 1914 and which was mobilized at Brandon, Manitoba.  In July 1916 it was absorbed by the 11th Reserve Battalion and the battalion was finally disbanded on 17 July 1917.


Whillier does not appear to have served outside Canada. A 1918 Officer Declaration Paper says the ‘accountant’ was a Major in the '1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment' and '45th Batt, CEF'. The Officer Declaration Paper indicates his attempt to join the ‘Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force’, and the application failed. The Medical Officer recorded him as being ‘unfit’ for overseas service. He did, however, continue to serve in Canada and is later described as Lieutenant Colonel Charles J Whillier.

The later mention is found on the record of his son.  H/6901 Lance Corporal Walter Clifford Whillier, son of Lt.-Col. C. J. Whillier and Ada Annie Whillier, of Brandon, Manitoba, Canada and husband of Hilda Frances Whillier, of Brandon, born on the 31 July 1899, and who had also served in World War 1 with the Canadian Field Artillery after 1917, died at Hong Kong while serving with the Winnipeg Grenadiers, R.C.I.C. on the 9 September 1942.
Ballymena Weekly Telegraph, April 1916

CULLYBACKEY ORANGEMAN KILLED.
CHAPLAIN'S PATHETIC LETTER.

Mrs. Wilson, residing at Main Street, Cullybackey, has received official notification to the effect that her son, Private Robert Wilson, 20th Battalion, Pioneer Staff, (Canadians) died as the result of wounds received in action. Mrs. Wilson had been informed that her son was wounded in the left leg and the right groin, and the news of his death was contained in the following pathetic letter:-

Dear Mrs. Wilson,

I grieve to say that your son’s wounds proved fatal, and that in spite of all the doctors and sisters did for him he passed away yesterday afternoon at one o'clock. He knew himself that his end was at hand, for he told me about an hour before it that this "would do" for him. I had hopes then, however, that it would not be true. This will be a very great blow to you, especially as your son told me that you lost your husband just two years ago. May God in His mercy comfort your sore heart. He knows your pain for He Himself "spared not His own son, but delivered Him up for us all." We buried your boy to-day with every honour given to a gallant soldier in time of war.

The funeral left the hospital at 2.15, and the Congregational minister and I were the chief mourners. No coffin is used at the front, but instead a blanket is sewed round the body by a soldier's hand, and over all the Union Jack is spread. At the graveside the Union Jack was laid aside, and six of his comrades lowered him into the earth. Then we uncovered our heads and I quoted the lines you taught your son yourself – ‘Yeah tho’ I walk in death's dark vale’ and ‘Goodness and mercy all my life’- John xiv, 1-3 verses: 1st Corinthians, xv, 35-38 verses and 54-51 verses. The Congregational minister led in prayer, remembering you in your sorrow, and after the benediction we came to the salute as our last token of respect to your son. I pray that God will answer our prayers and be your strength and stay.

With deepest sympathy, Wm. J. Baxter, Presbyterian chaplain, B E Force.

The late Pte R. Wilson was a son of the late Mr. Samuel Wilson, Cullybackey, and emigrated to Canada upwards of twelve years ago, being employed in Messrs. Eaton's Stores, Toronto, until the outbreak of war, when he enlisted in the Canadian Contingent. Prior to emigrating to the ‘Land of the Maple Leaf,’ Pte. Wilson was a staunch and loyal member of Cullybackey L.O.L. 696, and was held in the highest respect by all who were privileged to be acquainted with him. Although away from his native village for so long a period his memory is still green in Cullybackey and district among many friends who to-day mourn the loss of a true friend and gallant soldier. Another brother, Pte James Wilson, is also serving with the Canadian Contingent [and has] not yet left that country.
Account courtesy of Nigel Henderson.
58104 Private Robert Wilson, 20th Battalion (Central Ontario Regiment), Canadian Infantry, died of wounds on the 5th April 1916. He was said to be aged 35 and was the son of the late Samuel and Eliza Kennedy Wilson, Main Street, Cullybackey. He had lived at 537, Logan Avenue, Toronto, Canada. 

The Ballymena Observer, April 21, 1916 recorded the death thus: ‘Mrs. Wilson, Main Street, Cullybackey, has received official intimation that her son, Private Robert Wilson, Canadian Infantry, has been killed in action. He was a son of the late Mr. Samuel Wilson, Cullybackey and enlisted in Canada shortly after the outbreak of war. He was resident for upwards of 12 years in Canada and was employed in the firm of Messrs. Eaton, Toronto. Prior to emigrating he was a member of LOL 696 Cullybackey.’

Robert Wilson was born on the 1 March 1881 according to local birth registration records and not on the 23 January 1887 as stated on his attestation paper.  He was the son of Samuel and Eliza Wilson, nee Kennedy, both born at Ballyclose, Cullybackey. The couple had married in 1st Ahoghill Presbyterian Church on the 12th July 1878.

Robert was single and worked as a presser in Toronto.  He was said to be 5’ 6” tall with grey eyes and dark coloured hair. He said at the time of his enlistment on the 10 March 1915 in Toronto that he had served for three years in a cadet force in Ireland. He trained in Canada and then went overseas to England aboard the SS Megantic on the 16 May 1915, arriving there on the 24 May 1915.  He underwent further training there and then went from Folkestone to France on the 14 September 1915 and to the 20th Battalion.

Robert Wilson was away from his unit, leave excepted, for two short periods when he suffered a sprained ankle and, later, a bout of pneumonia.  He returned to his unit after the latter on the 14 March 1916. He was wounded in the face and legs by shrapnel at about 11.00 pm on the 4th April 1916 and died of his wounds at 17 Casualty Clearing Station at 1.00 pm the next day.

His Circumstances of Death card is missing but the unit diary gives an insight into the circumstances of his death.  It says, ‘4th April: Left Locre [Locre, now called Loker, is south of Ypres] at 10.30 pm and marched to an emergency camp ... Shells arrived at intervals during our stay. A salvo at 11.00 pm wounded three men.’ One of those was clearly Robert Wilson. He was moved some distance from the site of his wounding, hence the place of his burial.

He is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium and commemorated in the Cuningham Memorial Presbyterian Church, Cullybackey.


Local Press photograph of Private William Wilson, Glenarm & Winnipeg

Courtesy of Nigel Henderson

523772 Private William Wilson, 218, Herbinson, Elmwood, Winnipeg, enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps on the 23 March 1916 at Winnipeg, but he said he was the son of Robert Wilson, Deerpark, Glenarm, Co Antrim.

Robert Wilson, a farmer, was 60 years old at the time of the 1911 census and his wife Jane was 48.  The couple had been married for 24 years. He was the son of David Wilson, Deerpark, Glenarm and his his mother was Jane, nee Thompson, daughter of John Thompson, a farmer of Glenbrackhead, Magheramorne, Larne. The wedding took place in Magheramorne Presbyterian Church on the 18 February 1887. They said in 1911 that they had had 9 children, all of whom were alive at the time of the census.  They listed the following: David (23), John (21), Alexander (19), Mary (18), Robert (16), William (14), Samuel (13), James (11) and Ellen (7).

William, born 22 August 1896, at enlistment said he was a single man, a Presbyterian and a shipper.  He was said to be 5’ 11” tall and to have brown eyes and dark hair. He listed his father as his next of kin but also gave the name of his brother David, then residing at 299, Chambers Avenue, Elmwood, Winnipeg. He went initially to No 1 Field Ambulance Depot, CAMC.

William Wilson left Canada aboard the SS Empress of Britain on the 31 October 1916 and was in Liverpool on the 11 November.  He went to camps at Dibgate and Brighton for further training before going overseas to France and Flanders via Le Harve on the 9 March 1917.  He was part of the 9th Canadian Field Ambulance after the 19th March and served with the unit until he was wounded in action. The unit diary of the 9th CFA notes on the 30th August that ‘on August 29, 523772 Private W Wilson, CAMC, of this unit was seriously wounded in the thigh and buttock’ but gives no specific details of what led to the injuries, other than stating in an earlier entry thaat the unit were resting in cellars at Arras. He had died of those wounds to his hip at 7 Casualty Clearing Station on the 29 August 1918.

He is buried in Ligny-St. Flochel British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France. His name appears on the listing for Carnalbana Presbyterian Church (see Broughshane and District churches) and his address is given as Deerpark, Glenarm, but it incorrectly states that he was killed in action while serving with the Royal Irish Rifles.
502017 Corporal William Wilson, Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps, enlisted on the 25 September 1915 at Vancouver, but he was the son of John and Esther Wilson of Barnish, Connor, Co. Antrim.  

The 1901 Irish census records John Wilson, a 50-year-old farmer, and his wife Esther, nee Graham, and aged 48, living with children Andrew (19), William (13), Jane (9), Robert (7), Hessie (5) and James Alexander (1); Mother in Law Margaret Graham (75) lived with them.

The family also appear in the 1911 census record. John was 61, his wife Esther (Easther sic) was 59. The couple said they had been married for 36 years and that they had had 11 children, all of whom were alive in 1911.  They listed Jane (19) and James Alexander (12), and four grandchildren. They were Jane Hunter (10), Samuel Hunter (8), William McNeilly (7) and Mabel Wilson (1).

John Wilson, Glenwherry, married Esther Graham, Glenwherry, in 3rd Presbyterian Church on the 23 November 1874, His father was John Wilson, hers Samuel Graham, and both were labourers.

Records show John died at Barnish, Connor of thyroid cancer on the 28 August 1915, then aged 65 years. There is no local record of the death of Esther and I suspect she may have gone to Canada to join William, his discharge papers noting that he was going to Point Grey, British Columbia and this is annotated with the word ‘mother’.

William Wilson said he was born on the 5 November 1889 and that he was a trackman, presumably a permanent way worker on the railway. It is stated that he was a Presbyterian, single and 5’ 8 ½” tall. He had blue eyes and light coloured hair of unstated colour.

He went overseas from Canada on the 20 November 1915 and then to France and Flanders via Boulogne after the 11 March 1916.  He was part of the 1st Reinforcement Draft to the Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps, and he was to remain with the unit throughout the war.

The Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps was initially recruited after May 15, 1915, and all the men were experienced construction workers; Wilson was among its earliest personnel. The original 540 men were to grow to thirteen battalions of Canadian Railway Troops, three battalions of Skilled Railway Employees, Railway Bridging Companies and Railway Company drafts and depots. In the last year of the war, there were 8,000 men in active construction work and another 4,000 on repair duties. These soldiers were responsible for the construction and maintenance of railways of all gauges, including light railways, in France and Belgium. Some were formed as Royal Engineer units but after the formation of the Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps in 1917, they became the responsibility of the Officer Commanding the Royal Canadian Engineers, although there never part of the Canadian Engineers military structure.

William Wilson suffered no injury during his service and was returned to Canada aboard the SS Minnekahda, disembarking in Canada on the 23 March 1919.  He was discharged in Winnipeg on the 31 March and, as previously stated, said he was going to Point Grey, British Columbia.

SS Minnekahda, built  in Belfast, has a interesting history. She was involved in a ’friendly fire’ incident on July 23, 1918 while one of five convoy ships carrying 3,800 U. S. troops to Europe. This involved  U.S. Submarine ‘N 3’

The submarine was on the surface at night recharging batteries when one of the convoy ships emerged from the gloom at a distance of about 1,800 yards. HMT Minnekahda, an armed merchant ship,  headed straight for the submarine despite it having given the correct recognition signal, a green Very shell; N3 had followed it with the recognition signal given by blinker, but he transport answered only by sounding her whistle.

The submarine crew heard the order "Fire" being given on the transport despite the submarine captain shouting, "Don't fire, this is an American submarine!" A shell hit the front of the submarine at the water line, and caused significant damage. Men of the submarine crew remained on her deck and shouted to the Minnekahda’s crew as the transport approached to within 50 yards. Finally, someone on the transport asked them to show their flag. It was brought on the submarine’s deck and a light was turned on it;  the transport ceased fire.
3060837 Private William Wilson, 1st Depot Battalion, East Ontario Regiment, enlisted at Barriefield Camp late in the war on the 15 August 1918 and said that he lived with his wife Elizabeth at 207, Shekely Avenue, Butler, Pennsylvania, USA.(‘Shekely Avenue’ cannot be found.) He stated that he had been born on the 12 July 1886 at Belfast; elsewhere he said he was born at Ballymena. He said he was a stationary boiler fireman by trade. He was described as being 5’ 11” tall and an Anglican, and as having blue eyes and brown hair.

William Wilson never saw active service and never served outside Canada. He was released from the Canadian army after 108 days and discharged on the 2 December 1918.  His services, the war having ended on the 11 November 1918, were no longer required.

He is hard to trace locally and nothing definite can be stated, just a 'best fit' suggestion made. Records do indicate that a William Wilson, Moorfields, married Elizabeth Montgomery in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland on the 25 January 1907. His father William was a labourer and her father William was a millwright. A birth record for William Wilson, Castlegore, Connor, son of William and Mary, nee Hollinger, says he was born on the 5 February 1887.  Castlegore, Connor is regarded locally as being at Moorfields, Ballymena, and 12th July, the date of King William III’s victory at the Boyne in 1690, would be a natural date for someone to give ‘tongue in cheek’ if he didn’t know his exact birthday, something not unusual at that time. Moreover, Canadian soldier William Wilson is remembered on the list for Connor Presbyterian Church (See list on this site).
'Cullybrackey' should read 'Cullybackey'

Lieutenant Hill McMurray Woods, 31st (Alberta) Battalion (extracted from Letters from the Front, Vol 2, a record of those from the Canadian Bank of Commerce who served in WW1)

249262 Private Thomas Wright, 208th Battalion, enlisted in Toronto on the 4 April 1916 and said he lived at 325 Greenwood Avenue in the city. He was said to be 5’ 8 ½ “ tall and he was reported to have hazel eyes and light brown hair.  He said he had been born on the 16 March 1897 and that he was single and worked as a teamster. He was a Presbyterian and his service is recorded on the memorial tablet in Cuningham Memorial Presbyterian Church, Cullybackey.

John Wright, Craigs, Cullybackey had married Jane Steele, Craigs, Cullybackey in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church in Ballymena on the 16 August 1880, and the family are noted in the 1901 and 1911 Irish census returns.  In 1911 59-year-old John Wright, a farmer, lived at Galgorm Parks, a townland that lies between Cullybackey and Ballymena, with his wife Jane (53). The couple said they had been married for 30 years and that they had had eight children. Six were still alive at the time of the census.  The couple listed Margaret (29), Joseph (27), Jane (25), Hugh (22) and John (16 and a grocer’s shop boy) as being present on census day.

All eight children were alive at the time of the 1901 census. John (49) and Jane (43) listed them as follows: Margaret (19, born 5/8/1881), Joseph (17, 13/8/1883), Jane (15, born 2/9/1885), Hugh (12), Thomas (10, born 14/3/1890), Minne B (8, born Mary Isabella on 11/5/1892), John (6, born 5/12/1894) and Martha (3, born 27/6/1897). Tragedy struck before the end of the year - Martha died on the 31 August 1901 at Galgorm Parks and Mary Isabella died at Galgorm Parks on the 4 November 1901.

Thomas Wright left Halifax aboard the SS Justicia on the 3 May 1917 and disembarked in Liverpool on the 14th May.  He transferred to the 2nd and 8th Reserve Battalions for training before being sent to the 54th Battalion for service in France and Flanders. He was with the latter unit in the field after the 14 August 1918.

Wright was wounded by a bullet on the 2 September 1918. This passed through his right mid-thigh and exited at his buttock.  11 Canadian Field Ambulance and 23 Casualty Clearing Station dealt with him before 38 Army Train took him to 7 Canadian General Hospital, Etaples. He was moved to England on the 7 September 1918 aboard the HS Ville de Liege and was then taken to 2nd Western General Hospital, Manchester. He remained there from the 8–27 September and was then transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Woodcote Park, Epsom.

The fighting in which Thomas Wright was injured was intense, as the War Diary of the 54th Battalion, here abridged, makes clear.  It says as follows:

1st September 1918: Battalion still in concentration area near NEUVILLE VITASSE, S.E. of Arras. The warning order for move was received, and at 7 p.m. the battalion marched to its assembly position....

2nd September: At 5 a.m. an intense barrage was opened on the enemy's lines by all calibres of our artillery, and at 6.15 the battalion was ordered forward. Enemy shelling, though scattered, was persistent .... On the way several further casualties occurred.... Some gas shell was mixed with H.E. (High Explosive) and it was great good fortune that battalion headquarters reached the jumping off place without a casualty. Battalion H.Q. was first established at Cross Roads. This was the object of heavy enemy shelling and was swept by machine gun fire down main ARRAS - CAMBRAI Road. .... companies were in line awaiting the signal that the preceding battalions had gained their objective .... Here the battalion remained throughout the day under heavy artillery and machine gun fire. The enemy offered a bitter resistance, a hold-up on the left causing the delay.  Rear battalion headquarters remained at Cross Roads all day, 2nd and 3rd.
Abridged Extract from 54th Battalion War Diary, courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.

Thomas Wright did not return to France.  He was returned to Halifax, Canada after the 1 March 1919 aboard the SS Lapland and discharged from the CEF on the 4 April 1919.