Ballymena Canadians: N - End
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.
Extract from 1911 Irish Census - Robert Nicholl, Craignageeragh, Ahoghill, Co Antrim.
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)
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,
John Linton Orr died at Sunnybrook Hospital, Toronto on 2 March 1963.
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 Ausonia 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.)
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.
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.
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.
1901 Irish Census Entry
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Two of George Wilson's Brothers-in-Law
photographs courtesy of Nigel Henderson
681443 Private James Wilson, living at 18, Givens Street, Toronto, enlisted on the 13 March 1916 in the 170th (Mississauga Horse) Battalion, CEF, a unit based in Toronto, Ontario and recruited during the winter of 1915/16. (The battalion was absorbed into the 169th Battalion, CEF on December 8, 1916 shortly after their arrival in England.) He was Presbyterian, single and a teamster, and he said he had been born on the 15 December 1891 (Local records say 15 December 1890); his record describes him as being 5’ 8 ½ “ tall and with blue eyes and light brown hair. He was an Ulsterman and listed as his next of kin Miss Hannah Wilson, Grange Corner, Taylorstown, Toomebridge.
James Wilson was the son of James, died 9 November 1914 aged 75 years, and Margaret Wilson, nee McDowell. She died on the 16 March 1913 and aged 67 years. The couple, both of Ballybollen, Ahoghill had married in 2nd Ahoghill Presbyterian Church, locally known as Trinity, on the 26 June 1871. Fathers, Samuel Wilson and Alexander McDowell, are named on the marriage licence, and the couple both signed their certificate with an X.
The 1901 census return records James, a linen weaver and aged 60 years old, at Taylorstown; his wife Margaret, then 56, was also a linen weaver. They named Jane (29), Hannah (27), Mary (21), Alexander (18), Martha (13) and James (10) as being present on the day of the census. James was a scholar, the rest linen weavers.
They appear on the 1911 census, the family still at Taylorstown. James (72) and Margaret (64) listed Jane (40), Hannah (37), Mary (31), Alexander (28) and James (20). James had retired and the family, with the exception of Jane and reflecting the collapse of domestic linen weaving, had given up the occupation; the girls were laundresses and the boys agricultural labourers. The couple said that they had been married for 40 years and that they had had a total of 8 children, 7 of whom were still alive.
James trained in Canada and left Halifax aboard the SS Mauretania (One source says SS Lapland, perhaps another ship in the convoy) on the 30/31 October 1916 - the Nominal Roll says 25 October 1916. He trained in England and was to move from the 170th to the 169th Battalion, then to the 2 Reserve Battalion and finally to the 3rd Canadian Infantry for service in France and Flanders. He was with the latter after the 10 June 1917, and he was wounded while serving with them on the 9 August 1917.
The unit diary tells us what befell him. The notes said: ‘may have to move into trenches tonight and relieve the 14th Canadian Battalion east of Loos. Confirmation of this received at 2.30 pm ... Relief not complete to 4.00 am. Trenches in terribly poor condition, there being an average depth of 8” of water... 6 casualties in ‘D’ Company during relief ...’ The rest of the story is found in the report of doctors on the patient. This report says that ‘on the night of 9 August 1917 while going up to the front line in France patient was hit in front part of helmet and in face by pieces of shrapnel, rendered unconscious, remained so for 4 days, spells of delirium for about 4 weeks.’ Another annotation says ‘and fracture of the skull’.
James Wilson had been removed soon after the incident to No 7 Casualty Clearing Station and was ‘dangerously ill’ at 7 General Hospital, St. Omer on the 12 August. He was treated there and was then moved to England, being at the King George Hospital, Stamford, actually the King George Hospital, Stamford Street, London, on the 18 September. (The King George Military Hospital opened in October 1915 and at the height of the Great War, in October 1917, it was said to be the largest military hospital in Britain with 1900 beds. It was on Stamford Street in London and was in a newly built HM Stationery Office and Stores) . He remained there until the 10 October and was then transferred to Hillingdon House Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Uxbridge, not being discharged from there until the 30 October. He was unfit for further military service and was returned to Canada aboard the SS Metagama and was sent to the Casualty Unit, Toronto. He remained there until the 14 February 1918.
Wilson’s recovery was slow and painful, probably partial, but he survived. There are sad references in his medical records to ‘2-10 hour headaches’, ‘impaired vision right eye’, ‘cannot stoop and raise quickly with eyes closed without tumbling over’, ‘a little slow on recalling names – better than 4 months ago’, all this in addition to facial scars.
Local Press photograph of Private William Wilson, Glenarm & Winnipeg
Courtesy of Nigel Henderson
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)