This record of men from Ballymena and District who fell in the Great War was compiled by John Hoy.
N. B. 'Commemorated' means that he is remembered in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Roll of Honour, 1914-19, on a tablet or plaque in the church named or that his name is on a family headstone in the churchyard. Place names may refer to an area, e. g. 'Cullybackey' often means 'from the Cullybackey area' rather that from the village itself.
ADAMS, James William, 9554, Sergeant, 1st Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on 2nd December 1917 by a trench mortar. The War Diary does not make clear what befell him. The entry for the 2nd December says only 'Remained in Brigade Immediate Support until Brigade was relieved that evening by Battalions of the 14th Division. Relief was quiet. Casualties: 1 Other Rank killed, 9 wounded & 1 missing'. The CWGC lists Adams and three other men who died that day: 4253 John Hickey, 3956 Michael Condron and 7712 Corporal Henry Dunn.
On the 30th November the unit had 'moved from Haslar Camp, St Jean ... about 3.30 am via Wieltje ... and occupied sector of the line NE of Passchendaele'. They were shelled heavily during the move and sustained more than thirty casualties. The next day, 1st December, they were 'covering the forming up of the remainder of Brigade for the attack' and then they 'moved back into Brigade Support in trenches and shell holes near Meetcheele, except 'D' Company to whom the relief failed to get through, and which held the line during the fight which followed'. It may be that Adams was one of the latter, or that he died in the trenches of Brigade Support.
He was born and lived at Garvaghy, Portglenone and enlisted in Ballymena. He was born on the 1 January 1894 and was the son of blacksmith Matthew Adams and his wife Catherine (Kate), nee McCullough (or McCulloch). The couple had married on the 5 April 1893 in Castledawson Presbyterian Church, Co Londonderry. Catherine was a farmer's daughter from Ballynease, near Portglenone, and Matthew was from the village itself. Catherine remarried after Matthew's death. Labourer and widower Daniel McArthur of Airdrie, Scotland married widow Catherine in 2nd Ahoghill (Trinity) Presbyterian Church on the 30 September 1913. Catherine McArthur later lived at 8, Bellsdyke Place, Airdrie, Lanarkshire.
ADRAIN, William Kearns, 2nd Lieutenant, 5th Royal Irish Regiment (attached 1st Royal Irish. Rifles), born 27th January 1896, was killed in August 24th, 1916. He is buried in Vermelles British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. Aged 20, he was the son of Robert and Jane, Ballyclare & 5 Donard Villas, Belfast. He is associated with Barclay & Crawford's shop in Ballymena and named in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church. A former RBAI pupil, he was in Queen's University OTC and lived at 25 University Avenue at the time of his commissioning into the 5th Royal Irish Rifles, soon transferring to the 1st Battalion.
His death is recorded in the War Diary as follows:
In the 'Quarries' Sector. At about 10.50pm, the enemy attempted to enter the 'Northern Crater'. Bombs were thrown opposite Boyau (trench) 98 to distract their attention. A party of between 20 and 30 of the enemy attempted to raid the crater. They were discovered when within 20 yards of the crater, rapid fire was opened and bombs were thrown. The enemy scattered and were seen to carry some of their men back. 2nd Lt Adrain and 1 OR killed, 14 OR wounded. Battalion subsequently withdrawn to brigadier reserve in Curley Crescent.
The family headstone in Ballynure reads as follows:
...William Kearns Adrain, 2nd lieut. 5th Batt. Royal Irish Regiment, killed in action in France, 24 Aug 1916 aged 20 years, third son of Robert Adrain. Jane, wife of Robert Adrain, died 10 Apr 1931 aged 74 years...
Right: ALLEN Charles, 1535, Private, 1st Irish Guards, was killed in action on November 18, 1914 and he is listed on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. He was born at 39, North Queen Street, Belfast on the 15 August 1884 and enlisted in Ballymena. He was the son of William and Elizabeth Allen, nee McClean, of Alexander Street, Ballymena. He worked in Liscolman Spinning Mill near Ballymoney and had a wife Matilda and three children at Dervock.
Charles Allen initially enlisted in Ballymena on 18th November 1902 and spent three years with the colours. He then spent nine years in the reserves before being called back to his regiment on 5th August 1914. His unit, mobilized on the 4th August, marched into Belgium on the 20th and reached the Mons area before being forced to retreat on the 26th; this was the famous Retreat from Mons, and for Charles Allen it was a fighting retreat of about 140 miles. The unit was sent into billets at Hazebrouck in October but was then moved through Ypres and into trenches in Klein Zillebeke in November. On his second spell of duty in the trenches there - it was snowing and the Germans were shelling them heavily - and he was killed.
Allen was in a dangerous area, as indeed most soldiers were during the initial German onrush of autumn 1914. His 1st Irish Guards unit had been told on the 14th November to ‘return to the 4th Brigade HQ near Klein Zillebeke and take over trenches from the South Wales Borderers.’ The Battalion Diary says that the relief ‘was completed about 3.30 am’ on the 15th November, and the entries for the 15th, 16th and 17th all indicate that there was daily heavy shelling of their trenches. Moreover, at noon on the 17th November ‘the enemy attacked in force’ and the Brigadier later said that 1200 Germans had been killed or wounded when their onslaught was repulsed by the various front line units. The Irish Guards ‘did great execution and numbers of dead lay about 100 yards to our trench’. They lost only one man killed, their much valued 552 CSM Arthur Munns, the 36 year old son James and Harriett Munns, of 24, Hervey St., Northampton, who had just been recommended for a commission.
The Germans made another half-hearted attempt at 3 pm, and then raked the front lines with concentrated periods of MG and rifle fire at 6 pm, 9.30 pm and 11 pm.
On the 18th November, the day Allen died, ‘for nearly an hour, after heavy shelling, the enemy made a fire attack which did not develop into anything more serious. The remainder of the day passed off with a certain amount of heavy shelling, but not so much as usual.’ Guardsman Charles Allen’s unit was relieved at 9 pm that evening.
Charles had two brothers at the front. They were Driver William Allen, Royal Engineers, and George Allen, 5th Royal Irish Regiment. Three of his wife's brothers also served - Charles, William G and Samuel McClean, all of Liscolman.
Left: ALLEN, William, 59, Rifleman, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds in France on May 2, 1918, buried Bolougne Eastern Cemetery, France. He was born and lived in Ballymena, enlisted Belfast. He was the 19 year old grandson of Ellen McKee, 1, Toome Road, Ballymena.
William Allen appears to be William Robert Allen, born at Tullynamullan, Kells on the 14 August 1896, the son of Joseph Allen and his wife Hannah, nee Mckee. The couple, both from Tullynamullan, had married on the 5 December 1882 in 2nd Antrim Presbyterian Church.
William appears in the 1911 Irish census and he was living in Ballymena with Ellen McKee, then of Ballee, Ballymena. She is said to be 68 years old and had been married for 40 years. She said she had had eleven children of her own, nine of whom were still alive in 1911. She listed daughters Aggie (23) and Minnie (21) and William Allen, 12 years old and her grandson. This would have made him 21+ years old at the time of his death. The age given in Soldiers Died in the Great War and by the CWGC is 19 years.
Ellen McKee, recorded as being just 50 years old, was living at Kildrum, Kells with her husband David (55) in 1901. The census records William (30 and mentally impaired), Bella (Isabella, born 5 Dec 1878 at Appletee. Kells), James (18 and born 27 February 1883 at Appletee, Kells), Andrew (15 and born 9 December 1884 at Appletee, Kells), Agnes (14 and born 14 May 1887 at Appletee, Kells) and Minnie (18 and born 14 February 1889 at Appletee, Kells). Ellen McKee's maiden name was Allen.
Left: ALLEN, 6530 Rifleman William, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds (He received leg wounds on May 13th, 1916) on 17th May, 1916. He is buried in Forceville Communal Cemetery, France.
His wounding, according to the Battalion's War Diary, occurred on a damp day when the 12th Royal Irish Rifles were in Hamel and working on improving trenches. It was generally very quiet and the record deals with mundane things only - the weather, the work, etc. There were occasional bursts of machine gun fire and one of these may have caused Allen's injury, though no injuries or deaths are recorded.
He was born at Dunnyvadden, Ballyclug on the 17 August 1896 and enlisted in Ballymena. He was the 19 year old son of Samuel and Ellen Allen, nee Montgomery, of Dunnyvadden, Kells.
Farmer Samuel Allen of Dunnyvadden, Kells had married milliner Ellen of Ballymena in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church on the 12 April 1883.
Right: ANDERSON, 4932 Rifleman David, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died on the 5th July 1916 of wounds received on the Somme battlefield, and he is buried in Puchevillers British Cemetery, Somme.
Aged 39, he was born at Galgorm Parks, Ballymena on the 24 June 1877 and enlisted in Ballymena. He was the son of Adam and Jane Anderson, nee Higgins. His sister Martha lived at 9, Bridge Street Place, Ballymena, as he did at the time of the 1901 and 1911 Irish census.
ANDREWS, Robert, Merchant Marine, was an eighteen year
old Wireless Operator on the SS Vienna, a
4,170 grt merchant steamer, when he died on the 11th September 1917, his
ship, en route between Brest and New York, being torpedoed by the U49 some 340 miles from Ushant. Though the vessel belonged to Gow,
Harrison and Co., Glasgow and he is listed as the son of Hugh and Agnes
Andrews, Kennishead Road, Thornliebank, Renfrew, the family were from
the Ballymena area. Local records show he was born on the 7 March 1899, the son of Hugh and Agnes Andrews, nee Morton, Cullybackey. The family had moved to Scotland some considerable time
before the outbreak of the World War One.
They are not mentioned in the 1911 Irish census but appear in that for 1901. Two year old Robert is there listed as living with his father, a general labourer, and his mother, 47 and 45 respectively, and his brothers and sisters, Maggie (aged 12), Agnes (aged 10), Minnie (aged 8) and brother John (aged 5). Another daughter, Bella Magowan, a 26 year old dressmaker, and her 1 year old son John are also listed as living in the family home.
Robert Andrews is named on the Tower Hill Memorial.
U49, ordered on the 4th August 1914 and part of III Flotilla 7 after August 1916, sank thirty eight merchant ships during her career. However, she too was sunk on the 11th September 1917. Captain Richard Hartmann entered into a five hour surface battle in the Bay of Biscay with the SS British Transport, a vessel en route from Brest to Archangel. The struggle ended when the merchant vessel rammed the submarine and she was lost with all of her crew. Captain A T Pope got a DSO for his feat.
(Thanks to Wesley Wright & friends for their help.)
ANDREWS, William James Morrison, 2nd Lieutenant, Royal Flying Corps and General List, was killed in a flying accident during his training on Salisbury Plain on June 4, 1917. He was the 26 year old son of Alex Andrews, a tea merchant, formerly of Woodvale, Ballymena. The family are primarily associated with Dungannon.
William James Morrison Andrews was born at Coolhill, Dungannon on the 6 October 1890, he attended Dungannon Royal School, and his family lived there. He is buried in Drumcoo Cemetery, Dungannon, but is also commemorated in West Church (Presbyterian), Ballymena. He had studied engineering in London before joining the RFC.
Alexander and Violet Andrews had four children: William James Morrison Andrews, Annie May Andrews, Arthur Alexander Andrews, Fred Stanley Andrews. The three boys all served in the forces. Second Lieutenant Arthur Andrews, formerly employed by the Belfast Banking Company in Coleraine and Belfast, and of Royal Irish Fusiliers, was severely wounded in the thigh on the 1st July 1916 during the fighting on the Somme. He had received his commission on 23rd August 1915. Fred Stanley Andrews got his commission in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
ARMSTRONG, Alexander, 12958, Private, 1st Canterbury Regiment, NZ Expeditionary Force, previously wounded, was killed in action on December 3, 1917. He had embarked on the 6th May 1916 with the 3rd Reinforcements to the 3rd Battalion, G Company (elsewhere 3rd Reinforcements to the 4th Battalion, H Company). He is remembered in Buttes New Cemetery Memorial, Belgium, in 1st Broughshane Presbyterian Churchyard and on Broughshane War Memorial.
He was a labourer from Fairview, Pollee, Broughshane and had been born the son of James Armstrong and Margaret McAlister on the 23 September 1872. See Ballymena New Zealanders.
Left: ARMSTRONG, William, 9196, Private, E Company, 1st Royal Highland Regiment (Black Watch), was killed in action on October 29th, 1914. He is named on Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate). He was the son of stonemason Robert Armstrong and Agnes (Nancy) Huston, of Pollee, Broughshane and he had been born on the 30 June 1882.
'Willie', noted for being a 'genial companion' and a 'kind friend', had lived at Warden Street with his parents prior to his marriage. He was the husband of Agnes Armstrong, nee Montgomery, and the pair and their two children lived at 10 Windsor Terrace, Ballymena. They had married in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church on the 5 March 1910 and William is remembered in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church. He was employed as a carpenter at Queen's Island (shipyards) in Belfast.
His younger brother Robert, Bobbie, was severely wounded by a shell at the Battle of Mons and he was in an English hospital at the time of his brother's death.
Robert Bammer, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
BAMBER/BAMMER (also Bammer and Balmer), 27519 Robert, Trench Mortar Battery, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action instantly by a shell on August 16th, 1917 (CWGC says 'Bammer' and '15 Aug 1917'). He is named on Tyne Cot Memorial and remembered in St Patrick's Parish Church, Ballymena.
The 9th Battalion records say the 'Battalion moved up to the line' on the 14th, and 'on the night of the 15th/16th [they] moved up to support the 14th Royal Irish Rifles. 1, 2 & 3 Coys moved to behind Capricorn Trench in support of the 11th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers'. It notes then that 'on the morning of the 16th inst.the attack commenced at 4.45 am.' It would seem that Bammer was killed somewhere amid these transfers of location prior to the opening of the main attack.
He was born at Dreen, Cullybackey, the son of Susan Balmer (sic) and he enlisted in Ballymena. Susanna Bamber, aged 28 and single, was living at the Dreen, Ballyconnelly, Ballymena in 1901, and Robert Balmer, aged 14, was a farm servant employed by William John Agnew and his sister at Limnaharry, Ahoghill in 1911. Susan was later living at Springwell Street, Ballymena. His commanding officer wrote: 'He was a good boy and a brave soldier.'
BANKHEAD, 424544 Private Frank John, 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles (Saskatchewan Regt.), died in the Ecurie Sector of wounds on October 29th, 1916. His Circumstances of Death Register Card says he was 'shot through the head ... by an enemy sniper while doing duty at an advanced post'. He is buried in St. Catherine Cemetery, Pas de Calais.
Born Pretoria, South Africa on the 25 June 1890, he was the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Anne, Ballymena. They were at William Street in 1901 and later at High Street. They had also lived for a time in Ballymoney.
Frank enlisted in Winnipeg - he lived at 963 William Avenue - and was well known in Carberry. Frank is commemorated in St. Patrick's Church of Ireland, Ballymena.
See Ballymena Canadians
BARR, Matthew (registered mistakenly as Duffin), 18/1197, Rifleman, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on December 8th, 1916, a day described thus in the Battalion's War Diary: 'Quiet day with nothing special happening'. He is buried in La Plus Douve Farm Cemetery, Belgium.
He was born on the 15 May 1897 at Cromkill and enlisted in Ballymena. He was the son of Duffin and Eliza Barr, nee Dempster, Cromkill. Eliza, Duffin's second wife, married him in High Kirk Presbyterian Church, Ballymena on 26 August 1893. Matthew, half-brother of John (Above) is commemorated in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena and the family gravestone is in Kells and Connor New Presbyterian Cemetery, Kells.
Right: BEATTIE, 18860 Lance Corporal Samuel, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on March 7th, 1916. He is buried in Hamel Military Cemetery, Somme.
He was born on the 25 May 1882 at Bridewell Court, the son of James and Ann, nee McVeigh, and he enlisted in Ballymena. He had married Maria Sutter in Ballymena Methodist Church on the 30 January 1909; he gave his address as 18, Duke Street, and Maria said she lived at 95, Queen Street. The couple lived at Prospect Place, Ballymena in 1911 and his widow later lived at 91, Queen Street, Ballymena.
Ballymena Observer reported the death on 17th March 1916 - See Weekly War for report and letter from Lt W B Stuart.
The 12th Royal Irish Rifles War Diary for the 7th March 1916 says: 9.00 am - At STONE BRIDGE a L/Cpl was hit by a sniper in the head. He died shortly afterwards, but the body had to remain till the evening relief. Line quiet'.
BELL, William McNiece, 11073, Private, 4th South African Infantry Regiment, died of unspecified causes on March 24th, 1918. He is named on Pozieres Memorial, Somme. He was born on the 13 November 1880 at Ballylesson, Ballyclug, Ballymena, the son of farmers John and Mary Bell. The family were at Ballyclug in 1901 and at 68, Queen Street, Ballymena in 1911. His wife, Hanna Grace Bell, lived at Cromkill, Ballymena; South African records give her later address as 5 Waring Street, Ballymena and refer to her husband as a farmer. He is commemorated in Harryville Presbyterian Church.
BENNETT, 269426 Engine Room Artificer 1st Class Henry John, died on the 6 August 1914 in the sinking of HMS Amphion. He was the son of Henry Bennett, Torr, Culfeightrim, Ballycastle, a boatman in the Coastguard Service, and Susan, nee Pengalley sic (Pengelly?), and he had been born on the 25 August 1877. He was a Royal Navy regular and had served in the South African War and he held a medal for long service. He was, as indicated by his date of death, one of the first casualties of the Great War.
HMS Amphion was lost in the sinking of the Konigin Luise, a former ferry reworked as a minelayer. She left Emden on the 4th August to lay mines off the Thames Estuary.
On the 5th August HMS Amphion and others caught her laying mines
and engaged. The Konigin Luise was only lightly armed was quickly sunk. She had been no
threat to her attackers but Biermann, the German Captain, had drawn the British
ships into a newly laid minefield. At 06.45 on 6th August, HMS Amphion struck a
mine which broke the ship’s back. She lost control and struck other mines in the
same row. She sank at 07.05 and 151 men were lost. A Ballymena man, Charles George McConachy, was also one of those lost.
BLACK, Robert, 12109, Lance Corporal, 2nd Highland Light Infantry, was killed in action on October 24th, 1914 when his trench was blown up by the Germans. He is named on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate). He was born on the 24 December 1896 at Kirkinriola, Ballymena, the son of labourer Jeremiah and Matilda Black, nee Lowery, and he enlisted in Paisley, Scotland. Local press says the family had family at Ballygarvey, Kirkinriola, Ballymena. He was the brother of William.
The War Diary of the 2nd Highland Light Infantry does not mention an trench being blown up, merely that on the 24th October they had been 'ordered to clear Polyglone Wood (sic, Polygon Wood), the Germans having broken through line. HLI on right, Worcesters of left. Cleared wood and took up position facing east on edge of wood'. The margin is annotated '5 casualties'.
Widower Jeremy (sic), a farmer of Rokeel/Rathkeel, Broughshane had married Matilda Lowery, Ballygelly, Broughshane in Buckna Presbyterian Church on 19 December 1879. In 1911 they said they had been married for 29 years and all of their 8 offspring were then alive.
BLACK, William James (brother of Robert above) 11302, Lance Corporal (De Ruvigny says Sergeant after November 1914), 2nd Highland Light Infantry, was killed in action on November 14th, 1914. He is named on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate). He was born on the 4 February 1891 at Craigywarren, Ballymena, the son of labourer (Surfaceman) Jeremiah and Matilda Black, nee Lowery/Lowry and daughter of Joseph,
and he enlisted in Scotland in April 1909. Local press says the family lived at Ballygarvey, Kirkinriola, Ballymena.
On the 14th, the day Black died, the entry reads, 'More heavy shelling. Relieved at night by the South Staffords - marched to farm at 8 kilo stone on the Ypres-Menin Road'. The margin is also annotated and says, 'Lt Dickson killed, 17 NCOs & men killed, 31 NCO's & men wounded, 5 men missing.' De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, Volume 1, gives precise details of Black's death. It says he was 'killed in action on the Rossitier Road in Zonnebeke village'.
The 2nd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry were engaged throughout this 1st Battle of Ypres and had helped the Allies retain the important Gheluvelt–Polygon Wood Sector. It came at a price. When they finally left Ypres on the 16th of November there were about 30 men left from the approximately 1000 soldiers who had left Aldershot three months before. Both Black brothers had died there.
Left: BOAL, James Spence, 2nd Lieutenant (MIC says Captain), 109th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, died of wounds on January 29th, 1917.
He is buried at Dernaucourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme. He was born on the 20 May 1889 at Tullygarley and was the son of John and Margaret Boal, nee Carson, Tullygarley. He is commemorated in Wellington St. Presbyterian Church and in Ballymena Academy.
BOAL, John Kirk, Captain, 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, KIA on May 3rd, 1917, Roeux, France.
May 3rd was a difficult day for the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers and many others. The War Diary tells the tale thus:
Aged 20, he was the son of John and Sophia Boal, Antrim House. The other soldier mentioned on the memorial stone is Private James Coleman Kirk, 437056 of the 3rd Canadian MGC, aged 36, who was killed on 27th September 1918. He was the son of John and Sophia Kirk, Antrim House. J K Boal's father was 33 in 1901 Census, his mother 29; James Coleman Kirk's father was 53, his mother 56, in the same census and he had three brothers then listed: Martin Harper (20), Robert James (24) and Norman (17).
Editor: John Kirk Boal, as seen in the original photograph above, was identified as being from Ballymena. This now seems a mistake, but I will leave his details here.
BONNAR, John 6293, Rifleman, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on 1st July 1916, and he is named Thiepval Memorial, Somme. He was born/had kin at Racavan, Broughshane. He enlisted in Ballymena and lived in Ballyclare. He is commemorated in Buckna Presbyterian Church. Local press at the time said:
Information has been received by his sister that Rifleman John Bonnar 12th
Royal Irish Rifles (Central Antrims) has been killed in action on July
1. Rifleman Bonnar enlisted in May 1915 prior to which he was in the
employment of Mr. James Curie, Rocavan. Rifleman Bonnar who was only 18
years of age, was a son of the late Mr. James Bonnar, Rocavan.
John Bonnar was probably born on the 8 February 1898, the son of farmer James Bonnar and his wife Margaret McGahon of Carnstrone, now usually Carnstroan, Racavan, Broughshane. His mother died on the 22 April 1900 and widower James married Agnes Shaw, Carnstroan, Racavan on the 20 April 1901. The family appear in the 1901 and 1911 Irish census returns. James was 48 in 1901 and a widower. Annie (9), William (11), James (5) and John (3) are also listed. In 1911 James was 60, new wife Annie was 42, and some children from both marriages are listed. Annie (18) and John (13) are listed alongside Samuel (6), Joseph (5), Agnes (3) and Daniel (1).
James Bonnar died on the 16 November 1911, hence the reference in 1916 to the 'late Mr.James Bonnar'.
8364 Private James, 2nd Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), died of wounds on 20th
November 1915, aged circa 41 years. He was born the son of John and Margaret Boorman, nee Kelly, on the 10 January 1875 at Glenbuck near the village of Dunloy, Co
Antrim, though family seems to have lived in Belfast at the time of
WW1. He enlisted in Dunfermline, Scotland.
His unit apparently took part in a diversionary attack north of the La Bassee Canal, part of the Battle of Loos, and then his unit remained in the general area. This is true but there is no information to suggest, as claimed, that he was seriously injured in a November attack at Laventie, a quiet month for the 2nd Bn. Deaths and woundings were few in October and November, mainly associated with shelling, working parties, etc, the daily grind of trench warfare. He was, however, wounded in the area and taken to the hospital at nearby Sailly-sur-Lys and it was there that he died. He was the brother of Mrs Maggie McCartney, 57, Melrose Street, Belfast.
BOYLE, William, 424218, Private, Labour Corps (formerly 9472 Royal Irish Rifles), died at sea on the 3rd August, 1918. He is named on Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton. He was born in Ballymena and enlisted in Belfast.
William Boyle cannot be positively identified but he appears to have been William James Alexander Boyle, born 20 July 1893 and the son of unmarried Agnes Boyle, William Street, Ballymena; Ellen Boyle was present at the birth. William and Ellen Boyle, both 50, listed William (8) as their grandson in 1901. In 1911 the same family was at Springwell Street, Ballymena and 18 year old William was working in a linen mill.
Ellen may be the key. William left his effects to his guardian, a woman called Nellie Boyle. Nellie is a variant form of Ellen and Ellen had always been his 'mother' and guardian.
HS Warilda (Photo courtesy of Australian War Memorial, AO2847)
BOYLE, William, 424218, Private, Labour Corps (formerly 9472 Royal Irish Rifles), died at sea on the 3rd August, 1918. He is named on Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton. He was born in Ballymena and enlisted in Belfast.
William Boyle cannot be positively identified but he appears to have been William James Alexander Boyle, born 20 July 1893 and the son of Agnes Boyle, William Street, Ballymena; Ellen Boyle was present at the birth. William and Ellen Boyle, both 50, listed William (8) as their grandson in 1901. In 1911 the same family was at Springwell Street, Ballymena and 18 year old William was working in a linen mill.
BRADY, Patrick, 28735, Private, 6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on October 7th, 1918 and he is buried in Bellicourt British Cemetery, France. He was said to be aged 33 and to be born at Killyfast, the son of John of Portlee/Ballynamullan. His wife Margaret lived at Staffordstown, Randalstown.
The Irish census of 1911 shows Patrick Brady, 35 and a farmer, and his wife Margaret (37) living at Gillistown, Ballyscullion with their four children: James Henry, 9 and born in the USA, Hugh Francis, 7 and born in the USA, Rose Ann, 4 and born in the USA, and Mary Ellen, 2 and born in Co. Antrim. (Ballynamullan, Portlee, Killyfast, Gillistown and Staffordstown are all adjacent townlands near Randalstown and just north of Lough Neagh.)
Brady’s 6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers arrived in the UK from Egypt on 1 June 1918 and went onwards to France that same month, but it was only on 1 October, and after extensive training, were they moved to dugouts near Epehy before their first action on the Western Front. They did so as a battalion of 151st Brigade in the 50th (Northumbrian) Division; they were going to participate in the attacks on the Hindenburg Line. This action cast British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and United States Divisions as key players.
This formidable obstacle was first attacked on the 12 September and three actions had unfolded before the 6th Inniskillings arrived at the front, the Battle of Havrincourt, 12 September 1918, the Battle of Epehy, 18 September 1918, and the Battle of the Canal du Nord, 27 September – 1 October 1918. Four more would follow, the Battle of the St Quentin Canal, 29 September – 2 October 1918, the Battle of Beaurevoir, 3 – 5 October 1918, the Battle of Cambrai, 8 – 9 October 1918, and the pursuit to the Selle, 9 -12 October 1918. Brady would die on October 7th, 1918 before the victory was complete.
Inniskillings attacked on the 3rd
October ‘and gained their objective, Prospect Hill near Gouy’
That afternoon at 2.30 pm the ‘Battalion (less ’B’ Coy &
of ‘D’ Coy still attached to the Australians on the right)
relieved the 7th
Wiltshire at 9.30pm and returned to Bony’. On the 4th
October they were in the trenches at ‘Knob Wood, SE of Vendhuile’.
They spent the 6th
in ‘Tino Trench & Tino Support, west of Vendhuile’, and they
were still there on the 7th
when Brady was killed. There is no evidence of any fighting recorded
in the War Diary and after the 8th October the unit moved away progressively from the frontline and were not back in action until the 16th October.
Left: BROWN, Joseph, 830415, Private, 44th Canadian Infantry (New Brunswick Regiment), died of wounds on 28th September, 1918 and was buried in Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux. He lived at lived 304 Laura Street, Winnipeg. He was born at Aughavary, Ahoghill on the 1 August 1892 and his parents were James and Jane Brown, nee Hollinger, Aughavary, Ahoghill, Co. Antrim.
Joseph is commemorated in Grange Church of Ireland, Toomebridge. See Ballymena Canadians
Right: CALDWELL (registered as Calwell), Samuel Coleman, 17396, Serjeant, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds on July 3, 1916, and he is buried in Puchevillers Cemetery, Somme. He was born on the 1 January 1889, the son of Robert Torrens Calwell and Mary Elizabeth Calwell, nee Coleman, of Ross Lodge, Kells, Co. Antrim. He enlisted in Ballyclare, where he was boarding with John and Maggie Coleman, Ballynure Road, Ballyclare, and he is commemorated in Kells and Eskylane Presbyterian Church and in Ballylinney Presbyterian Church, Ballyclare. His brother John, named in Kells & Eskylane, is recorded as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 18th Royal Irish Rifles.
CAMERON James (MM) 160496, Sergeant, 50th Regiment, Canadian Infantry, died of wounds on 5 June 1917, and he is buried Barlin Communal Cemetery, France. Aged circa 25, he was the son of James and Sarah Cameron, nee Service, and had been born at Queen Street, Ballymena on the 13 October 1891. His parents, both of Ballymena, had married in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church on the 10 November 1884. They later lived at Church Street, Antrim and at Duncairn Gardens and 52 Brookhill Avenue, Belfast.
See Ballymena Canadians
CAMPBELL, S/8176 Private Robert, 7th Seaforth Highlanders, was killed in action on 10 July 1916, and he is named on Thiepval Memorial, Somme. The 7th Battalion War Diary for that date says, 'Battalion in Carnoy trenches got orders to be ready for emergencies ... casualties 5 OR killed & 4 wounded'. No cause of death or injury is given.
He was from Fernagh, Rasharkin, though he had worked as a miner in the coalmines near Glasgow before the war and it was in Glasgow that he enlisted on 24th April 1915.
He was the son of Alexander and Eliza Jane (often referred to as Jane) Campbell and was born on the 17th December 1894 at Fernagh. His parents were from Cullybackey. Alexander Campbell, a labourer from Hillmount, Cullybackey and son of John Campbell, had married Eliza Jane Bailey (Bailie sic), daughter of carpenter Thomas Bailey from Dreen, Cullybackey, in 1st Ahoghill Presbyterian Church on the 29 January 1875.
Private Campbell's sister was Mrs. William Kirkpatrick, 12 Albert Place, Ballymena.
Right: CAMPBELL, 18961 Private Robert Alexander, 11th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 1st July 1916, and he is named on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.
A sketch map in the War Diary shows the 11th Inniskillings, in support role, occupied Inniskilling Avenue behind the 14th Royal Irish Rifles in Elgin Avenue; Paisley Avenue was on their left and the right boundary was Gordon Castle. The War Diary, however, says, 'The Battalion moved up in support of the 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers'. The War Diary of the 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles says the same: 'The advance of the 109th Brigade commenced, from the right 9th & 10th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers supported by the 11th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and 14th Royal Irish Rifles on a frontage of 500 yards.'
They left their trenches at 7.30am, 'A' and 'D' Companies leading, 'B' and 'C' behind. The War Diary says "'A' suffered severely as they were getting out from machine gun fire from Thiepval" and the OC's Reports on the action says the unit were 'exposed to the heavy barrage which was on our front line and also searching MG fire from ... Thiepval', this meaning many men were hit 'before reaching the Sunken Road'. The troops nevertheless got into the German 'A' and 'B' line and beyond:" 'D' Company reached their objective (the Crucifix) and remained there, the remainder of the Battalion is distributed in 'C' line". The unit, as did others, continued in action all day, but on the 2nd July the 11th Inniskillings 'received orders to move to ... Martinsart Wood', and on the 3rd were further ordered 'to move ... to Hedauville'.
Robert Alexander Campbell fell on the opening day of the action. He was born on the 19th March 1889 at Gallanagh, Connor, close to Kells, the son of John and Euphemia Campbell, nee McBride. The couple married on the 11 June 1886 in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church. John was from a farmer Gallanagh, his father being Robert, and she from Tobergill, somewhat closer to Antrim and her father was called Willliam. The couple appear in the 1901 census, both 37, and list six children, Robert being then the second listed and 12 years old. Robert Alexander Campbell enlisted in Belfast and he lived at Maryhill, Glasgow.
CAREY (Sometimes incorrectly Cary, M'Cary), Rondaine Tristram 17359, Private, 11th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died in Ballymena Workhouse Infirmary (later called Braid Valley Hospital) of measles on February 27, 1915. He was then 19 years old. He was born in Liverpool and was the son of Henry Stevenson and Wilhelmina Margretta Carey. He is buried in Ballymena New Cemetery, Cushendall Road.
Original 'Dog Tag' - Identity Disc
Right: CARLETON (Carlton) David, 12/19245, Rifleman, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds on the 10 November 1916, and he is buried La Plus Douve Cemetery, Belgium. The War Diary reads as follows:
9-11-16: Relieved 12th Royal Irish Rifles in Left Sub-sector relief completed 7-10 p.m.
10-11-16: Enemy shelled trench U.1.5. with 77 mm shells and scored direct hit on Centre Coy H.Q.
10 am: Enemy shelled left Coy. 2 0.R. killed and 5 wounded.
1 pm: Patrol 2 Officers 16 O.R. reconnoitred the Steenbeck. No enemy seen, no casualties.
David Carleton was probably one of those wounded in the shelling of this area lying midway between Wulverghem and Messines, just east of Steenbeck brook. He died soon after and was buried locally.
He was born on the 21 January 1887 at Bracknamuckley, Portglenone, the son of weaver Hugh Carleton and his wife Margaret Ann McLean (also Margaret Anne McClean). The couple had married on the 14 March 1873 in Portglenone Parish Church. They lived at Glenhugh, Ahoghill in 1901 and at Killane, Ahoghill in 1911. David married Mary McNeice, daughter of James McNeice, Tullygowan, Gracehill on the 25 April 1915 in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church, giving his details the as 'soldier,' 'Newtownards, Co Down'.
David had enlisted in Belfast and lived with wife Mary at Tullygown, Gracehill.
CARROLL, 4051 Private Robert, 1st Royal Irish Regiment, died of wounds on 7 August 1919, and he is buried at Crebilly RC Chapel Burying Ground . He was born on the 15 October 1874 at Henry Street, Harryville, Ballymena and he was the son of 'gas man' Henry Carroll and his wife Mary Ann Farrel.
Robert, a 20 year old plasterer of Railway Street, Ballymena married Martha Keenan, a milliner of Mill Row, Ballymena in All Saints RC Church on the 6 April 1896. She died of pulmonary tuberculosis on the 13 June 1908, leaving at least one child called Martha. The family had been living with pedlar Daniel Keenan and his wife Mary at the time of the 1901 census.
He married his second wife, a widow named Sarah McTrustry (sometimes Metrustry) of Broughshane street, Ballymena on the 3 October 1909. Her previous husband had been Patrick McTrustry, Ballycowan, Ballymena and she was Sarah O'Hara, 14, Larne Street, Ballymena at the time of the marriage, the 4 February 1896. The 1911 census records 43 year old Sarah, a 'char woman', at Broughshane Street, Ballymena with children - Charles Metrustry (14), Mary Metrustry (12) and infant Robert Carroll. She confirmed she had been married for two years and had had by 1911 one child during her second marriage.
Robert Carroll died at 13, Cape Street, Belfast, said to be the address of his daughter M. Carroll. The record of his death says he died of 'general paralysis, 3 years', this being presumably the result of his military service. His wife Sarah still lived at Broughshane Street, Ballymena.
CARSON, 3110635 Private John, 'H' Company, 2nd Battalion, 315th Infantry Regiment, 79th Division, US Army, died of wounds on 5 November 1918. He was killed near Sedan, France and was buried in an isolated grave in the Commune of Etraye, Meuse before being reburied in the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery. He lived in Philadelphia and was the third son of schoolteacher John and Margaret Carson, nee Kernohan, Drumcon/Craigs, Cullybackey, and he was born on the 25 September 1893. The parents, both from Craigs, Cullybackey, had married in 1st Ahoghill Presbyterian Church on the 21 January 1882. He is commemorated in Cuningham Memorial Presbyterian Church, Cullybackey and named on the family headstone in the Pound Cemetery, Cullybackey.
Left: CARUTH, James Gordon, 2nd Lieutenant, 5th Royal Irish Rifles, attached 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on September 25, 1915 and he is remembered on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate), Belgium. He was born on the 3 September 1896 at St Pancras, London and in 1901 was living at 14 Park Road, Mitcham, Surrey. He was the son of solicitor James Davis and Constance Helen Caruth, Hugomont, Ballymena. He is commemorated in West Church Presbyterian Church, Ballymena.
James Gordon Caruth was lost during a diversionary attack made by the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles and others as part of the Battle of Loos, the men being ordered to keep the Germans bogged down in the Ypres Salient while others made the attack further south.
The History of the First Seven battalions of The Royal Irish Rifles in the Great War, Vol. II By Cyril Falls says, 'The V Corps was attacking between the Menin road and the Roulers railway. The 2nd Royal Irish Rifles was to be on the left flank of its division, and its objective was the southern half of the western shore of Bellewaarde Lake and an imaginary continuation of this 200 yards farther south. Its advance, from the present British line covering Hooge, was to be, therefore, in a north-easterly direction. On its right was to be the 2nd South Lancashire ...'.
Speaking of the action General Haldane said of the unit, 'the Royal Irish Rifles notwithstanding the enemy’s preparation, not only pierced the German lines but actually held their first line trenches for 24 hours, but on account of the corps on their flanks failing to achieve their object, the battalion was unfortunately obliged to retire to their own lines, having no one in support on their flanks.'
The action cost much. The losses of the 7th Brigade were 23 officers and 706 other ranks killed, wounded, and missing. Half of these casualties to its brigade befell the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles. Its total losses were I5 officers and 316 other ranks killed, wounded, and missing. Caruth and six others were from Ballymena were among them.
Left: CATHCART, Second Lieutenant David Andrew, 7th Battalion, Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment, was killed in action on the 13 July 1916 when aged 33; he was said to have been born on the 31 August 1884 at Ballymena, County Antrim.
He had married Emma Mahala Weeks in St Paul's Church, Canterbury on 2 December 1909 and he became the father of Ewart Aliwal Andrew Cathcart, and Hazel May Cathcart, of The White Lodge, Bearsted, Maidstone, Kent. Emma died on the 19 March 1917.
At the time of the 1911 census he was at Netheravon Cavalry School, Wiltshire and was 5066 Sergeant David Cathcart, 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys). On the 17 August 1914 he was posted to the British Expeditionary Force and on 1 December 1915 he was commissioned.
2nd Lt David Cathcart was killed Cathcart was killed in fierce fighting around Trones Wood. ‘B’ and ‘C’ Companies of his West Kent battalion took up positions in the southern end of Trones Wood, while ‘D’ Company waited in support on the eastern edge of Bernafay Wood. 'A' Company were somewhat further to the rear on the evening of 12th July. The West Kent role was to assist in clearing the wood from south to north in preparation of a major attack on the 14th.
Their effort helped secure the right of the British attack and was written of appreciatively by General Maxse, Commanding Officer of the 18th Division, but it had cost the Royal West Kents about 250 casualties, among them Cathcart. He had been "pierced" by shrapnel and died without gaining consciousness.
Cathcart’s valet wrote to Cathcart's widow and said, "He died doing his duty, leading his transport to the last. A braver man there could not have been; even when he was so badly wounded, he gave orders for the transport to get out of the danger. He died within an hour of being hit. I could not have lost a greater friend".
Emma Cathcart, apparently unable to accept her husband’s death, died less than a year later on the 19 March 1917.
David’s brother John lived at Alfred Street, Ballymena, his sister at Slatt, and his father, the late James, was formerly of Slatt. He is commemorated 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church.
The account of the action at Trones Wood is loosely based on material from The Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment 1914 -1919 by Captain C T Atkinson, published by N & M Press.
2nd Lt David Cathcart - Obituary from The Times, 26 July 1916
CATHCART, William Rea, 7716, Private, 16th Australian Infantry, died at No 3 NZ Military Hospital, England. He was born on the 30 January 1887 at Moat Road, Ballymena and was the the son of Thomas and Margaret (Maggie) Cathcart. The couple had married in Great Victoria Street Church, Belfast on the 23 December 1871. She was from Belfast and he was a joiner born in Ballymena, the son of farmer James Cathcart. Margaret's father Hugh ran a 'postal establishment'. The moved to Ballymena and were ultimately at Windsor Terrace, Kinhilt Street, Ballymena. He is buried in Codford St Mary New Cemetery, Wiltshire, England and named in Ballymena New Cemetery, Cushendall Road.
Cathcart, single, almost 5 feet 9 inches tall and 150 lbs weight, was a bookkeeper by trade. He lived in Perth, Western Australia and enlisted there on 27th May 1917. He sailed from Sydney on HMAT Medic on the 1st August 1917, landed in Liverpool on 3rd October 1917, but died of disease on the 25th November 1917. He was initially admitted to Australian Group Hospital on the 9th November with gastritis but transferred to the New Zealand hospital where he subsequently died from diabetes. See Ballymena Australians.
Right: CLARKE, Captain John, 1st/1st Welsh Field Ambulance, was killed in action on 9 September 1915. He was a single man, the son of William Clarke, Boot & Shoe Manufacturer and his wife Mary Ann White. The couple had married in May Street Presbyterian Church on the 12 July 1877. He said then that he was from Belfast and a shoemaker, the son of John Clarke, a farmer. She said she was from Ballymena, the daughter of John White, a flax dresser.
The couple were living at High Street, Ballymena in 1901. William (46) and Mary Ann (47) lived with his sister Mary (39) and they listed eight children – James (22 and a solicitor), Cassie (20), William (19), John (18), Thomas Hugh (16), Lizzie and May (12) and Jane (8). They were still there in 1911 and stated that they had been married for 33 years and that nine of their ten children were still alive.
John educated at Ballymena Academy, at Queens College, Belfast and at Edinburgh University, qualifying L.R.C.P., L.R.C.S. & L.F.P.S. in 1906. He was a doctor living at Hillcroft, Aberbargoed, Monmouthshire. He gained a commission on the outbreak of the Great War, becoming a Lieutenant in the R.A.M.C. (T.F.) on 24th October 1914. He was then attached as medical officer to the 3rd Bn. Monmouthshire Regiment. He was a Captain in the 1/1st Welsh Field Ambulance by 1915 when he joined the battles in Gallipoli on 9th August.
The unit war diary of 17th September 1915 says, ‘The hospital tent ... was fired upon by the Turks, Lieut. Clarke being mortally wounded. Four Australians were also hit and one who had been admitted for dysentery'. A letter sent to his family gave further details. It said that ‘While attending to a patient in the dressing-shed he was hit, and those with him were wounded, as the shell burst right over our post, and while trying to save the lives of others he received his fatal wounds. He was conscious during the short time he lived, and his only thoughts were for others. He had very little pain, but the huge loss of blood made his case quite hopeless from the first, and he knew it.... He only lived half an hour after he was wounded, and last evening at 7 o’clock we laid him to rest on the seashore.’ They indicated that the loss of one 'so full of energy, and so active in doing all he could for those in need of his skill' was a severe blow.
Captain John Clarke is buried in Hill 10 Cemetery, Gallipoli, and he is commemorated Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, then just round the corner from his home, his brother's solicitor's office, and his father's factory, all on High Street.
Family Grave, Craigs Parish Church
COCHRANE Thomas Hill, 59175, Lance Corporal, 21st Bn. (East Ontario Regiment), Canadians, was shot in the chest by a sniper while trying to recover a wounded colleague, on November 11th, 1915. He is buried in Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, Belgium. He was the son of John and Margaret Cochrane, Craigs, Cullybackey and brother of John above. He had emigrated to Canada in 1910 and had married Bertha McDonald in 1912. The couple lived in Bowmanville, Ontario.
The third serving brother was Lieutenant Hugh Henry Cochrane, Canadian forces. He was born on 15th April 1879 and was married to Mary Florence Cochrane. The couple lived in Athabasca, Alberta and he served in the Royal North West Mounted Police. He had previously spent 15 years in the Scottish Yeomanry and had served in the South African Constabulary.
COLGAN, 19418 Rifleman Thomas James, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds on 22 October 1916 and he is buried Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, France.
The 12th Royal Irish Rifles had been in an around Fort Osborne, SW of Messines for most of early October 1916 but they had not been involved in intense fighting, though there was occasional shelling, machine gunning and sniping. There were also wiring details and working parties, the odd patrol, but there is very little record of men becoming casualties, the exception being October 14th, the War Diary saying that that day was 'marked by exceptional activity ... Some 500 or more shells were distributed over our front and communication lines, and several direct hits were made, one 5.9" landing on Coy. HQ at Boyle's Farm, and causing 2 casualties'. On the 16th October they had a further '3 men killed and wounded by a shell near Boyle's Farm'. There were no other casualties listed before Colgan's death on the 22nd October.
Colgan was born on the 1 January 1875 at Robert Street, Ballymena and was the son of coachbuilder Thomas Colgan and his wife Martha McMullen. He was the husband of Catherine Colgan, nee McIlroy of Tullygarley, and the couple had married in Ahoghill Parish Church on the 28 November 1896. The 1911 census records them at Clonavon Road, Ballymena. Thomas was then a yarn bundler and he and Catherine said they had had seven children, all of them alive in 1911. Records show they had a total of ten children with additional Frederick born on 31 October 1911, Alexander born on the 24 September 1913 and Martha born on the 23 September 1915. Rose McGrath, 78 and designated 'grandmother', lived with them and had assisted at the birth of several of the children. The family had variously lived at Leighinmohr, North Street and Mill View, Galgorm Street, Ballymena.
COLGAN, 4291 Private Thomas, 1/5th Seaforth Highlanders, died of wounds from wounds received on 30 July 1916, and he is buried Daours Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme.
Colgan's unit had 'moved to the reserve trenches south of Mametz Wood' on the 26th July and spent three days digging and repairing trenches. It was an active area. On the 27th July there was 'hostile gas shelling during early morning', on the 28th there was 'heavy shelling during darkness', on the 29th '1 man was killed', and on the 30th there was 'very heavy shelling during afternoon. 6 men killed'. Colgan was probably one of the six killed.
He was the son of Thomas James and Catherine Colgan (above) and had been born at Leighinmohr, Ballymena on the 21 October 1897. His widowed mother lived at Galgorm Street, Ballymena.
Right: CONWAY, 50587 Private Andrew, 10th Cheshire Regiment, formerly 30457 Leicestershire Regiment, died of wounds on 23 July 1917 and he is be is buried in Dickebusch New Military Cemetery Extension, Belgium.
Andrew, a 5 foot 1 inch tall harness maker and saddler of 22, John Street, Oakham, Rutland, enlisted in Oakham on the 18th November 1915 and was mobilized on the 7th June 1916. He transferred to the 10th Cheshire Regiment on the 19th March 1917.
He died of wounds and there is no record of when these were sustained. The War Diary for the period immediately before the 23rd July gives us four possible dates.
On the 14th “’B’ and ‘A’ and HQ” were relieved and ‘proceeded to the Ramparts (Esplanade), Ypres … The two Companies got shelled with H E and gas shells … whilst on the way out, 30 casualties.’ On the 16th July the unit diary noted that ‘Some casualties were caused to our carrying parties.’ Elements of the Battalion carried out a raid on Wee Cottage on the 18th July. This had resulted in ‘3 killed, 4 missing and 3 wounded’. On the 20th July the Battalion carried out a successful relief of the 1st Wiltshire Regiment in the area of the Ypres-Roulers Railway and Bellewaarde Beck, and on the 22nd July ‘from 9 am to 2.30 am at intervals of 14 minutes 8” armour piercing delay action shells were fired at the dugout in Railway Wood. Two of these penetrated to a depth of 20 feet, wrecking the signal dugout burying three of our signallers and two others. These could not be dug out though Tunnelling Company worked at it for some time’. No other casualties are mentioned.
Andrew Conway was born on the 7 August 1893 at Granny, Tobermore, the son of William John Conway, farmer of Granny, Tobermore, and his wife Ellen Kelly, farmer of Brackaghlislea. The couple had married on 1 October 1885 in Keenaght RC Chapel.
Andrew Conway married Elizabeth Scullion in All Saints RC Church, Ballymena on the 26 December 1914. He was then a saddler living in William Street, Ballymena, and Elizabeth later lived at at 48, Galgorm Street, Ballymena with their son, William John, born 23rd June 1915, at the time of his death. His brother John lived in Kilsyth, Scotland, and his sister was Mrs John Trainor, Drumsamney, Desertmartin.
Left: COOKE, 19441 Lance Corporal Thomas Haslett, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on the 1 July 1916 and he is named on the Thiepval Memorial. He was born at Larne Street, Ballymena on the 18 August 1896, the son of mechanic Alexander Cooke and his wife Bella McCart. He enlisted Belfast. He is commemorated 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church.
COULTER, 267106 Lance Corporal Thomas J, 6th Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment), was killed in action on the 28 May 1918 and he is buried in Ecoivres Military Cemetery, France.
His unit were operating in the area just west of Gavrelle, NE of Arras. On the 28th May, the day he died, the War Dairy reads as follows: 'Bombardment of one hour by the Bosche mainly on the right and left of our sector ... Shelling very regular during the forenoon on our reserve line.' This may have been the cause of his death.
He was born on the 8 October 1889 at Crossland Road, Glasgow, the son of Mr. and Mrs. N. Coulter, of Govan, Glasgow. He enlisted in Glasgow and lived in White Street, Govan (Crookston Street, Glasgow in 1901). He had married Matilda Wylie on the 31 December 1913 in St Anthony's RC Church, Glasgow and she lived at Drumsough, Randalstown.
Right: COURTNEY 20/40 Rifleman Robert, 20th Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds in Belfast's Foster Green Hospital. He had enlisted on the 19th November 1915, been wounded July 1st, 1916 and was discharged as medically unfit for military service on the 24th May 1917. He died on 13th November 1917 as a consequence of heart and lung problems.
He is buried in 3rd Ahoghill (Brook Street) Presbyterian Church. He was born on the 14 February 1896 at Limnaharry, Ahoghill and was the the son of textile labourer Robert Courtney and his wife Elizabeth Ervine (or Erwin). They had married in 2nd Ahoghill Presbyterian Church on the 6th September 1889. There were at least four children in the family and the eldest, Elizabeth, 9 in 1901, had been born in Glasgow, Scotland. In 1911 Elizabeth (Snr) was a 42 year old widow and grocer living at High Street, Ballymena with her children William John (18), Robert (15) and Minne/Mary Ellen (1).
Robert is commemorated in West Church Presbyterian Church, Ballymena.
COWAN, Lieutenant Adam E., Lieutenant, 82nd Field Company, Royal Engineers, was killed in action on 18 November 1916.
The men were working around Bainbridge Trench (NNE of Thiepval and south of Grandcourt, Somme) and the GOC of 57th Brigade ordered ‘4 bridges … thrown across the Ancre’. The men ‘left at 3 am … picked up eight 9”x3” baulks which they carried up … behind the infantry … At 6.10 the barrage opened and the bridging parties followed the infantry as closely as possible … [but they were] feeling the strain of the long carry.’ There were ‘casualties … from our barrage … but the parties kept up with the infantry [and] nothing serious occurred. However, physical exhaustion necessitated a halt … and subsequent progress was not rapid enough to escape the hostile barrage which was creeping down Battery Valley … heavy casualties were now suffered … the sappers took what cover there was in shell holes and shallow trenches and opened fire on the Germans who were exposing themselves.’ Cowan was killed, as were five of his men; another six were missing and believed to be dead. Twelve were wounded seriously and another seven were wounded but remained on duty.
He is buried in Connaught Cemetery, Somme. He was the only son of John Cowan and his wife Susan McCalmont of 'Rathcavan', Broughshane Street, Ballymena. The couple had married in May Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast on the 25 June 1879. John Cowan was a shop keeper from Ballymena and his wife was the daughter of a Belfast printer. Adam is commemorated in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church, and on the family headstone in Racavan (sometimes Rathcavan or Rocavan) Cemetery.
Left: CRAIG, 4934 Rifleman Adam, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 15 August 1917, the day before the Battle of Langemarck. His unit took the train from Brandhoek to Ypres and then marched to the assembly area. The War Diary says that 'during the day the ... artillery was active on the back areas, but our casualties were small'. The troops , 'After dusk ... moved up to their positions in support of the attacking battalions' and the diary notes that throughout the night of the 15th/16th August 'the shelling on both sides was very heavy'. We must assume Adam Craig was killed in the shelling of the back areas or before midnight as his unit began to occupy the positions allocated to their support role.
He was born at Lisnafillon, Ahoghill, the son of Adam Craig and his wife Eliza Steele. Adam, 22 year old son of engineman James, was a bleacher from Dunminning, Cullybackey and his bride was the 21 year old daughter of William from Tullygrawley, Cullybackey. They married in Ballymena Register Office on the 6 March 1875.
4934 Adam Craig's wife, born Jane Anderson and daughter of labourer William of Ballymena, had married him in High Kirk Presbyterian Church, Ballymena on the 17 April 1908. The family lived at Bridge End, Galgorm, and in 1908 Adam described himself as a beetler in the linen industry.
He is commemorated in Cullybackey UF Church and named on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
27488 Private Thomas, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, formerly 6068 3rd
Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds on 9 August 1917. He is buried Mont Huon Military Cemetery, France.
He was born on the 16 June 1876 at Tullygowan, Gracehill, the son of William Crawford and Letitia Irvine. The family lived in Ahoghill in 1911. Letitia (recorded as Leticia) was 72 and a widow, and her sons Thomas (33) and Henry (29) lived with her as did daughter-in-law Jane (28) and her children Sarah (4), William (2) and infant Mary Ellen. Jane Gillespie, Straid, Ahoghill had married Thomas, Ahoghill, in 1st Ahoghill Presbyterian Church on the 13 October 1906. He enlisted in Ballymena and he is commemorated Ahoghill Church of Ireland.
The 2nd Inniskilling Fusiliers were operating in the area where the trenches met the sea between Nieuport and Ostende. They been relieved in the line on the night of the 4th/5th August, were at Ribaillet Camp, and they remained there from the 5th to the 13th August 1917. However, the War Dairy says the men were 'employed on working parties in the line'. It is probable that he died while engaged in such work. Ribaillet Camp itself was not entirely safe. It was shelled on the 14th August and more shelling two days later led to it being evacuated.
CRAWFORD, 681631 Private Thomas, 15th Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment), was killed in action on 2 September 1918 in an attack on the Drocourt-Queant Line, part of the follow-up to Allied success at the Battle of Amiens and the start of efforts to reach and destroy the Hindenburg Line (Siegfriedstellung or Siegfried Position). The Drocourt-Quéant Line was itself an in-depth system consisting of a front line system and a support line system, each part employing two lines of trenches. The system additionally incorporated numerous concrete bunkers, machine gun posts and concentrated belts of barbed wire. Aged 34, he was born on the 20 February 1884 at Loughconnolly, Broughshane, the son of Thomas and Agnes Crawford, Tullymore, Broughshane. Thomas Crawford (Snr.), Skerry, Broughshane had married Agnes Crawford, Toreagh, Raloo, near Larne on the 22 February 1882. Thomas (Jnr) is buried in Dominion Cemetery, Hendecourt-Les-Cagnicourt, France and commemorated in 2nd Broughshane Presbyterian Church.
335429 Private Robert Crawford, who served in Canada and England for a short time in the 64th Canadian Field Artillery and then the 2nd Tank Battalion, was his brother.
The family headstone (above) in Broughshane proudly records details of the action in which Thomas he died.
Local press reported that 'Mrs. Mary Jane Devlin, 11 James Street, Ballymena, was officially informed on Saturday last that her son Pte. Samuel Cromwell Devlin, Royal Irish Fusiliers, was killed in action on 12th October 1916. Private Devlin was at the front during the last four months and he enlisted shortly over a year ago. Prior to joining he was a farm servant. He took part in quelling the recent rebellion in Dublin. Pte. William J. W. Devlin, Royal Scots, another son of Mrs. Devlin, has been at the front over a year and was once wounded.
Ballymena Observer November 10, 1916.
His mother had clearly remarried, hence the addition of Devlin to his name. He also nominated Miss Mary Jane Devlin as his beneficiary.
Another newspaper entry of says, 'Mrs. Devlin 11 James Street, Ballymena (same address as above) has received official information that her SON, Pte. William G. WILSON, Royal Scots (Probably the preferred name for the brother named in the original article as William J W Devlin, the W standing for Wilson?) has been wounded in action. He has been at the front for nearly two years and was wounded before. His brother Pte. Samuel Cromwell Devlin, Royal Irish Fusiliers, was killed in action in October 1916.'
The implication appears to be that Mary Jane had three different husbands.
CUNNINGHAM, 81534 Private Joseph, 134th Field Ambulance, RAMC, died on 28th July 1916 and is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery.
The War Diary tells us exactly what happened to him when it states that 'Pte Cunninghan J. died at 33 CCS [as] result of being struck by Pte Cullen, RAMC.' Next day a 'Court Martial document sent to ADMS re manslaughter charge against Pte Cullen, RAMC.' A further note on the 31st July says, 'The unfortunate death of Pte Cunningham on the 28th was the first casualty of this nature'.
There was apparently a drunken brawl between Cunningham and Cullen, and Cunningham died from a cerebral haemorrhage after hitting head on pavement. 142805 Pte J Cullen's court martial ended when he was acquitted of manslaughter. J Cullen survived the war and died on the 20th July 1920 at the age of 40. He is buried in Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Dublin.
Joseph Cunningham was the 31 year old son of James and Rose Cunningham, nee Graham, born at 5am on the 8th June 1886 at Shane's Castle, Randalstown; his twin sister Rose had been born at 1.30 am. He was the husband of E Cunningham, 40, Duncruin Street, Maryhill, Glasgow, Scotland. His name is recorded on the family headstone in St MacNissi's Church, Randalstown.
Left: CURRIE, 18/319 Serjeant Samuel, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds on 24 November 1917. The 12th Royal Irish Rifles and been involved in unsuccessful attempts on the 22nd & 23rd November to capture the village of Moeuvres; this action was part of the Battle of Cambrai.
He was born on the 2 December 1894 at Springwell Street in Ballymena and enlisted in Ballymena. He was the son of shoemaker William John Currie and Jane Henry. Widower William John Currie had married widow Jane Henry, formerly wife of Edward Rowan, on the 22 October 1889, his first wife having died of typhus fever at Mill Row/Robert Street on 25 May 1886. Samuel's brothers, James and John Currie, also died. His sister lived at 8 Patrick Place, Ballymena. He is buried in Grevillers British Cemetery, France and commemorated in West Church, Ballymena.
Right: CURRIE, 2 Lt William Henry, 55th Squadron, RAF, was killed in action on 16th July 1918. His wife lived at Drumrankin, Cullybackey. He is buried at Charmes Military Cemetery, Vosges, France.
Little is known of him locally but a Ballymena Weekly Telegraph report included his photograph and reads as follows:
Mrs. W. H. Currie, Drumrankin, Cullybackey, has been notified that her husband, 2nd Lieutenant W. H. Currie, Royal Air Force, was killed in action in France on 16th July 1918 in a fight with German aeroplanes. Deceased was a son of the late Mr. William Currie of Clonard Gardens, Belfast and joined the army previous to the outbreak of war. Some time ago he was transferred to the RAF where gained rapid promotion. His younger brother is a POW in Germany.
He was probably the son of 40 year old widower William Currie, a textile mechanic or fitter. The 1901 census shows the family at Merkland Street, Belfast, and James A (16), Christina E (13), William H (4) and Joseph (3) are listed. Ana Bella Morison (36) was their house keeper. William's wife Martha Morrison had died on the 1 January 1900 at 20, Westland Street, Belfast. The couple had had a son, William Henry Currie, on the 4 May 1896; they were then at Ashmore Street, Belfast. The newspaper says William H had joined the army before the Great War and 'Lives of the First World War (IWM) records 21574 Corporal William Henry Currie in the Royal Field Artillery. William Henry Currie has a separate entry for his RAF service and he is said to have been born on 4 May 1895 (sic).
Currie served with No. 55 (Day) Bombing Squadron, a unit which used DH4 aircraft, known in the black humour of the day as 'Flaming Coffins'; the fuel tank was situated in the fuselage between the pilot and the observer/gunner behind him. His aircraft was hit by ground fire while engaged in a bombing raid on railway sidings at Thionville, north of Metz. Lt E Blythe was wounded and W H Currie was killed.
William Earl Johns, author of the Biggles stories, was also a pilot in 55 Squadron and he was shot down over Mannhein on the 16 September 1918. His colleague. 2nd Lt A E Amey, was killed and Johns crash landed. He spent the rest of the was as a prisoner.
DARRAGH, Lieutenant James Robinson, 'B' Company, 1/6th Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment, died on the 5th July 1917 of wounds received on June 24, 1917. He had been commissioned on 5 October 1915 and was posted to the 6th Battalion, West Riding Regiment.
The War Diary says that 'Our 'D' Company on the left put up a smoke barrage for 50 minutes ... The raiding party stayed in the enemy's lines about two and a half hours and captured 15 prisoners ... There was rather more retaliation than expected, Brigade HQ perhaps getting rather more than their share'. One man was killed and three wounded, one being Darragh. The diary indicates he was 'wounded in knee by shell'.
He was aged born on the 13 November 1890 and was the son of late Samuel and Jane Darragh, nee Sterrat, Ballycraigy, Ballymena. He is buried Choques Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais and commemorated 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church. He was the brother of 128 Trooper John Darragh and 2nd Lt. Matthew Sloan Darragh - see below.
Right: DARRAGH, Matthew Sloan, 2nd Lieutenant, 6th Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment, was killed in action while leading a patrol on 20th March 1917.
He was born on the 25 July 1892, the youngest son of a farmer, the late Samuel Darragh and Jane Sterrat, Ballycraigy, Ballymena. The couple had married in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church on the 27 October 1874. They hailed from Kilgad and Lisnawhiggel, Kells, respectively.
Matthew attended Ballymena Academy and then served an apprenticeship as a grocer with Mr T McKeown, Wellington Street, Ballymena. He then emigrated to Canada to follow his trade in Easton's store, Toronto.
He returned to Ireland at the start of the war and enlisted with his brother John in the in the 6th Dragoon Guards (Inniskillings). He applied for a commission in 1915. He trained at No.4 Officer Cadet Battalion, Oxford, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 14 July 1916 and was subsequently posted to the 6th Battalion Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment, though he was later attached to the regiment's 5th Battalion.
On 20 March 1917 he was killed in action near Richebourg l'Avoue, just south of Neuve Chapelle. According to the 5th Battalion War Diary: A patrol consisting of 2/Lt. Darragh and 6 other ranks of No.3 Company went out ... to reconnoitre the German Wire on the Northern side of the Boars Head ... at 7.pm. They apparently lost their direction in the maze of shell holes and old trenches and stumbled into a German Post held by 6 or 8 men. They were fired on by rifles and bombs. 2/Lt Darragh was killed and 2 other ranks were Missing believed killed. The bodies were not recovered although two search patrols were sent out during the night.
He is named on Loos Memorial, Pas de
Calais, France and is commemorated in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church. His mother lived at Alma Terrace, Portadown.
Left: DAVISON, 17714 Private Andrew Dinsmore, 108th Company, Machine Gun Corps, formerly 18942 of Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on 1st July 1916. He was the son of Samuel Davison and Eliza Nicholl, Bridge End, Galgorm, and he was born on the 5 December 1897. He had enlisted Ballymena. He is buried in Mesnil Communal Cemetery, Somme and commemorated Ahoghill Church of Ireland.
DAWSON, Eveline Maud, Matron, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Nursing Service, drowned in sinking of hospital ship 'Salta' on 10th April 1917. She had been a missionary and had worked for eight years in St. Catherine's Hospital, Cawnpore, India. On the outbreak of war, and being on leave in Ballymena, she had decided to help with the war effort and had spent two years and eight months on nursing duties. She had intended to return to India after the war. She drowned in the sinking of HS Salta and is buried Etaples Military Cemetery, France. She was born at James Street, Harryville on the 17 May 1866 and was the 3rd daughter of Albert Dawson and his wife Mary Crozier, Ballymena. Her sister resided at 27 Queen's Road, Bromley, Kent.
See separate page - The Drowning of Nurse Dawson.
Right: DEMPSEY, 27520 Private Isaac, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died of wounds in No. 62 Casualty Clearing Station, Arneke, France on the 29th July 1918. These wounds were received at Bonnegues earlier in the day.
The unit, having been at Bavinchore, had arrived there on the 24th July, and elements of it had been engaged in patrolling and serving on carrying duties. Casualties were few: '2 OR wounded' on the 27th, '1 OR wounded' on the 28th, and '2 OR wounded' on the 29th, one of the last pair being Dempsey. No details of what happened are given in the War Diary.
He was the son of William Dempsey, farmer, of Artiferal, Dunloy and his wife Agnes Davison, and he had been born on the 11 January 1886 at Kildowney, Glarryford. His wife Mary, nee Beattie, lived at Dunboy, Dunloy. They had married in Garrryduff Presbyterian Church on the 25 January 1916, and is commemorated in Killymurris Presbyterian Church, Glarryford.
DEVLIN, Samuel Cromwell - there is NO RECORD of a Samuel Cromwell Devlin being killed on the date in question. It is highly likely that he served as Henry James Cromwell.
DORNAN, 55634 Private James, 198th Coy., Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), formerly 34542 of Royal
Scots, was killed in action on 20th September 1917.
Dornan's unit were operating immediately west of the Steenbeek and just north of St Julien on its opposite bank. They had been at Dumbae Camp on the 19th September and had carried out a successful practice for the upcoming attack. Thereafter they marched to camp at Reigersburg, though No 3 Section went straight to the lines in order to make preparations. The War Diary for the 20th September then reads:
'Alberta - 5.40 am Zero. Attack progressed very well. All guns reached their objectives except 1 of 2nd Lt. Pepperal's and 1 of Lt Smith's, both of which were hit.'
We must assume that Dornan was killed in one of these incidents.
He was born on the 27 September 1893 at Skerry East, Newtowncrommelin and was the son of miner James Dornan, of Skerry East, and Elizabeth Connelly (Connolly), of Tamneybrack (Tamybuck), Racavan. The couple had married in Ballymena Registrar's Office on the 26 July 1873. They later lived at Newtowncrommelin. James enlisted in Glasgow and he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
Right: DUNCAN, MC, Lieutenant Andrew Warwick, 38th Bn. Canadian Infantry (East Ontario Regiment), was killed in action on 9th April 1917. Aged 25 son of Archibald and Margaret, Carnearney, Kells. He is buried Villers Station Cemetery, Viller au Bois, Pas de Calais and commemorated in Connor Presbyterian Church.
See section on Canadian soldiers.
DUNLOP, 5700 Rifleman Nathaniel, 7th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on 16th August 1917 (Note the date on the family headstone, 1st July 1916), the first day of the Battle of Langemarck (3rd Ypres-Passchendaele).
The 7th RIR began to move forward to assembly positions east of Wieltje on the 15th August and were in position by 2.30 am on the 16th August. 'C', 'D' and 'A', right to left, led the assault, and 'B' Coy. was in support.
The 7th had already sustained casualties 'from shell fire, one direct hit on Menin Gate wounded several men', and 'at about 4 am enemy shelled the position pretty heavily'.
'At Zero Hour ... the enemy opened with machine guns and shelled the Black Line', and during the advance to the Green Line, the first objective for 'C', 'D' & 'A' Companies, 'enemy machine guns were active from several places on the Ypres-Roulers Railway and the direction of Borry Farm and concrete dugouts. At the latter point the guns kept in action as the barrage passed over them. This machine gun fire caused a great many casualties. All the officers were hit before the Green Line was reached.' 'D' & 'A' Companies were so badly mauled that they 'were not able to go on'. 'C' Company managed to clear the 'huts and dugouts' and then began moving along the railway and across Hanebeek (stream) and onwards, together with a few others, to the Red Dotted Line, the 2nd objective. Everywhere else 'the whole line came to a standstill'; that also applied to Battalions on the right and left of the 7th RIR. The gravity of the situation is summed up in the following: 'Lt Kingston was killed while using his revolver against the machine guns and what was left of his platoon was knocked out by a shell.'
The 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers came forward to help 'B' Company, but the 7th RIR HQ did not know what was happening, even at the Green Line; an officer and four men had been sent forward but they had vanished. A Company of the 8th RDF offered to go forward but the men were not able to make progress against the whirlwind of shells and bullets. It was just not possible to get information. It was clear, however, that some of those who had advanced furthest were already cut off. Moreover, the Germans were counter-attacking tentively from Zonnebeke and elsewhere.
The men in the Hanebeek Valley suffered a terrible fate, the 7th RIR War Diary recorded that both sides heavily shelled it, the author noting, 'I do not think any of them could have been left alive.'
The account for the 16th August finishes and says, 'The line on the west of Potsdam Dugout gradually dwindled away in casualties, and the last six men with some 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers came back to the Black Line under cover of darkness.' On the 17th the 'day passed quietly and relief came at dusk', though not for Dunlop.
Nathaniel Dunlop was born at Loan, Craigs, Cullybackey on the 19 February 1898, the son of carpenter John Dunlop, Loan and Esther Boyd, Loan. The couple had married in West Church, Ballymena on the 2 May 1892. The family were at the Loan, Cullybackey in 1901 and 1911 and Nathaniel lived there. He enlisted in Ballymena. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial and in Cullybackey United Free Church.
ELLIOTT, 66484 Private Thomas, 62nd Bn. Machine Gun Corps (formerly 7657 of Connaught Rangers), was killed in action on the 26th March 1918. His unit was operating in the area south of Arras and had hurriedly positioned their teams on the 25th only to told to move quickly on the 26th March: 'Orders were received for the two Brigades to withdraw from Achiet le Petit and to take up a position some 1000 yards east of and covering the village of Bucquoy astride the Achiet Le Petit Road. The position ... extended roughly from ... Bucquoy village to Pusieux village. Two machine guns companies were ordered to support the infantry in the defence of this line ('B' Coy. on the left, 'C' Coy. on the right). The remaining two companies, 'A' and 'D' ... occupied a line further in rear of village of Bucquoy held by the 187th Brigade which had arrived from Arras ... The positions thus hurriedly taken up remained substantially the same throughout the next few days of fighting.' The fighting continued until the end of March and the 62nd MGC remained in the line. On the 2nd April their War Diary recorded that 'During the time the Battalion was in the line very heavy casualties were inflicted on the enemy.' This was confirmed by a British artillery officer and a German prisoner.
It would seem Thomas Elliott fell early amid this unfolding battle. He was born in Ahoghill and was the son of weaver John Elliott, Ahoghill, and domestic servant Margaret Mullan, Ahoghill. The couple had married in Ahoghill RC Chapel on the 11 August 1872. Thomas enlisted in Glasgow. He was a keen boxer and a boxing champion. He is buried in Bienvillers Military Cemetery, 15 miles south west of Arras, and he is commemorated on a family headstone at Ahoghill Roman Catholic Cemetery.
ELLIS, 19472 Lance Corporal Samuel, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on
the 1st July 1916. He was born at Mossend, Scotland, enlisted in Antrim, and lived at
Toomebridge. He was active in the South Antrim UVF and so joined the 11th Royal Irish Rifles (South Antrims). He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. The William Ellis who contaced the family appears to be the 4612 William Ellis, killed 1 September 1916 - see below.
The 11th Battalion War Diary suggests he may have died in a terrible debacle involving gas. It says as follows:
1st September 1916 - 1.30 am: 'Gas was released from trench 140 ... it commenced to blow back. A great many men of 'A' Company were gassed ...
2.15 am: Two Platoons of 'B' Company were moved ... to assist 'A' Company to hold the front line. From 1.30am enemy shelled our line, but from 2.00am he was very quiet'. Six named officers 'and about 120 Other Ranks gassed.
10.15 am: ... three cylinders were still leaking. A good many men were gassed by these cylinders.'
It would seem, given very limited shelling and no infantry engagement, that he was probably a victim of the mishandled gas.
Left: ERWIN (Ervine), James, 10621, Private, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died of wounds received 10th June 1916 on 19th June 1916. The unit diary brackets the 7th to 13th June as one entry and says, 'In Authuille defences. Working parties of 20 Officers and 700 Other Ranks found daily for work on front line and support trenches'. He was presumably injured doing this work on the 10th June.
He was born on the 3 April 1896 at Ballygarvey, Ballymena and was the son of John Erwin, Magheramully, Broughshane and Margaret Thompson, Clogher, Broughshane. He lived at Ballygarvey and enlisted Ballymena. He is buried in Puchevillers British Cemetery, France.
Right: FENTON, 17629 Lance Corporal James, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in actionon the Somme on the 1st July 1916. Born third of a family of six on the 7 May 1890, he lived near Dunloy, the son of farmer Samuel Fenton and Margaret J Caves. The couple had married in Ballyweaney Presbyterian Church on the 28 October 1879. James's sister Maggie married Richard McKendry in 1919, a boy whose brother William (1777, 12th Royal Irish Rifles) had been killed on the Somme on the same day as James. Maggie died a few years later and Richard McKendry married Sarah McCracken. Her brother David (9035, 2nd Highland Light Infantry) had been killed at Loos in September 1915. James, who was just 19, is commemorated Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.
8362 Corporal William, 2nd Royal Irish Regiment, was killed in action on the 8th May 1915. He was born on the 6 April 1889 at Cardonaghy, Ahoghill.
The unit was badly mauled at Le Pilly during fighting at La Bassee but it was rebuilt over the winter and on the 14th of March 1915 it became part of the 12th Brigade, 4th Division. They fought in the Second Battle of Ypres with the 12th Brigade but on the 26th of July 1915 they transferred to 11th Brigade, though still with 4th Division.
The 2nd Royal Irish Regiment were in the trenches N E of Ypres and north of Wieltje on th 8th May when Ferris was killed. The Battalion War Diary says as follows: Heavy bombardment of our positions. Fresh dispositions made to meet possible attack from direction of moated farm (later renamed Shell Trap Farm) ... Heavy shelling until the evening'. There were some officer casualties and '74 other casualties'. Deaths were in the teens and William Ferris was one of them.
William Ferris was the son of Francis Ferris and Martha Donnelly, later 69 Cundy Road, Custom House, London. His great uncle was J Patton, Liverpool. He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
Rifleman David Fisher, 8th Royal Irish Rifles & 53 Solway Street, Belfast
(Not 35 as stated on the press photograph)
Photograph courtesy of Nigel Henderson
FISHER, 13907 Private Hugh, 1st Royal Scots, died of wounds on 30th September 1916. He was born on the 17 November 1893 at Connor and was the son of woollen finisher Samuel Fisher and his first wife Margaret Griffen (died 4th Sept 1900. Samuel's second wife was Sarah Stirling, married 18th March 1903), later Old Green, Kells. The couple had married in Ballymena Register Office on the 21 February 1880.
Hugh enlisted in Glasgow and he died fighting the Bulgarians. The 1st Royal Scots had been in India on the outbreak of war, were in France and Flanders initially, but the 81st Brigade of the 27th Division were ordered to Salonika in November 1915. It was February 1916 before the whole Division finally arrived.
27th Division’s first major action the Struma Front was the capture
of the Karajakois, Karajakoi Bala and Karajakoi Zir, between the 30th
September – 2nd October. Bala was captured easily, the enemy
cleared in just 20 minutes; the capture of Zir took the rest of the
day. An account of the battle appears in a little book, A Subaltern
in Serbia and Some Letters from the Struma Valley, Capt. A Donovan
Young, Indian Army, London.
He writes, ‘… It was obvious that Zir was not going to be given up without a fierce struggle ... an attempt by the Argylls had been held up 500 yards from the village … The Argylls beat off the counter attack, but were themselves unable to go forward.
... orders came that Zir was to be taken forthwith ... I witnessed the advance of the Royal Scots ... The Royal Scots suddenly emerged from the cover of the sunken road with bagpipes playing, and marched through a devastating fire as unconsciously as if they had been on parade… As they neared the Bulgar trenches in front of Zir, the Bulgar fire ... grew slacker, and when the Scots ... dashed forward with bayonets, they found the majority of the defenders with their hands up ... The Scots went through the village and pulled up on the far side … Six times the enemy advanced, determined to retake Zir, and six times they were forced back ... The fiercest counter attacks of all came at 2 am. on the following morning and again on the following night, after which the enemy was forced to realise the hopelessness of any attempt to drive the stubborn Scots back from their hard-won positions.’
Hugh Fisher was wounded and died on the first day of the action. He is buried Struma Military Cemetery, Greece and is commemorated Kells Presbyterian Church.
1077 Guardsman John Forsythe
FORSYTHE, 1077 Guardsman John, 2nd Coy. Machine Gun Guards, formerly 10779 Irish Guards, was killed in action on 9th October 1917. The machine gun units of the Guards were then in action north east of Langemarck and just south east of the Houthulst Forest. The War Diary records that 'one gun & a team was annihilated by our own guns when 200 yards in rear of the leading wave.' This may have been Forsythe's team as he was one of four men from 2nd Company, Machine Gun Guards that the CWGC list as having died on the 9 October 1917 and who are buried together in Artillery Wood Cemetery. The other man of the unit who died that day is buried elsewhere.
He was born on the 8 March 1891 at Commissioner's Cottages, Ballymena and was the son of James Forsythe and Maria Jane Gilmour. James of Boyd's Court had married Maria Jane of Fountain Place in St Patrick's Parish Church on the 27 August 1877. She died of TB and aged 25 on the 9 March 1894, and John's father, a waterworks inspector, then married Mary Robinson, Maxwell's Walls, Connor in St Saviour's Parish Church, Connor on the 29 July 1904. John enlisted in Ballymena and lived at Castle Street, Ballymena. He is buried in Artillery Wood Cemetery, Belgium and commemorated on a headstone in Ballymena New Cemetery, Cushendall Rd.
Left: FOSTER, J/36501 Able Seaman David, was born on the 11 February 1898 at Ballycraighy, Ballymena and was the son of farmer David Foster from Liminary, Kells and his wife Elizabeth (Lizzie) McCausland from Dunnyvadden, Kells. The couple had married in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church on the 10 August 1895, and David was their second child. They were living at Ballycraigy, Ballymena at the time of the 1901 and 1911 census recordings and in 1911 the couple said they had had five children, all of them still alive at the time.
David Foster died after a mine explosion sank HMS Ariel in the North Sea on 2nd August 1918. HMS Ariel was an Acheron Class destroyer which was converted to mine laying in 1917. Her main claim to fame was that she, together with HMS Attack and HMS Acheron, rammed and sank the U12 off Aberdeen. David is commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial and in Harryville and Connor Presbyterian Churches.
Right: FOSTER, 5412 Rifleman Robert, 7th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on 7th September 1916. He was born at Liminary, Ballyclug, Ballymena on the 30 December 1896, the son of farmer John Foster, Liminary and his wife Margaret (Maggie) Bryson, Ballymarlow (now Ballymarlagh), Ballyclug. The couple had married in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church on the 25 November 1893. They were at Liminary in 1901 and 1911, and in 1911 the couple said they had had nine children, all of whom were then alive: Martha (17), Robert (14), James (12), William (10), Sara (9), Jane (7), John (4) and infant Thomas George. David (15) was at his grandmother Sarah's that day. She was a 71 year old widow who had been born in the Co Down and who also lived in Lininary. David enlisted in Ballymena and he is commemorated on Thiepval Memorial.
The War Diary of the 7th Royal Irish Rifles gives a clear account of what was happening at the time of Robert Foster's death. It reads, 'On this evening we relieved the 2nd Border Regiment in the front line west of Ginchy, where our men spent the night connecting shell holes to form an inhabitable system of trenches. 'A' and 'B' Coys were in the front line and 'C' and 'D' in support'.
Left: FRANCEY, 404342 Private George, 14th Bn.Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regt.), was killed in action between 12th June 1916 and 13th June 1916. He was born at Artnagullion, Connor on the 27 July 1890 and was the son of textile worker John Francey and Jane Johnston(e). The family later lived in the village of Kells, Co Antrim and in 1911 the couple, married for forty years, said seven of the eight children born of the marriage were still alive. George, aged 20 in 1911, is recorded.
George Francey is buried Bedford House Cemetery and commemorated Connor Presbyterian Church.
See Ballymena Canadians.
Thomas Francey died in action at Festubert. At 9 pm on the 15th/16th May the ‘Battalion formed up in the breastworks for attack, ‘A’ & ‘D’ in the front line, ‘B’ & ‘C’ in support. Attack started at 11.30 pm. [6th Infantry Brigade on our right, and Worcesters on our left]’. The aim was to capture the German 1st and 2nd line, and to consolidate on the latter.
The War Diary later notes that the ‘right half of the attack of Battalion was successful, left half failed, also the Worcesters and the Indian Corps’. The successful element of the 2nd Inniskillings occupied the 2nd line but withdrew to the German 1st line, and ‘remained in captured German trench till evening of the 16th, when ordered to withdraw to Reserve breastworks’. They had lost 19 Officers killed, wounded or missing. 39 Other Ranks were killed, 371 were wounded, and 239 were missing. It would prove to be the worst single day for Royal Inniskilling Fusilier losses in all of the Great War. They nevertheless ‘remained in the Reserve breastworks on the 17th May and were relieved … at midnight 17th/18th, and marched to billets at Le Touret’.
Thomas Francey is named on the Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, a memorial that has 245 Royal Inniskilling Fusilier names, most of which are there due to this Festubert action.
Right: FULLERTON, 20/58 Rifleman George Edmond, 13th Royal Irish Rifles, died at home in Foster Green Hospital on the 19th March 1917 from an illness caught at the front. He was born on the 18 October 1894 at Lismurnaghan, Ahoghill, the son of druggist/photographer John Fullerton and Ellen Cameron, Ahoghill. They remained at Lismurnaghan, Ahoghill but Ellen moved to 9 Clonavon Road, Ballymena after the death of her husband on the 23 May 1904. The couple had married in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church on the 16 December 1882.
George Edmond had been employed in the Bridge Street Bakery before joining the forces in December 1915. He went to the war zone in Flanders and was there for about three months before being invalided home. He is buried 1st Ahoghill Presbyterian Churchyard.
Herbert A Fullerton, Royal Army Medical Corps, was his brother.
(photo courtesy of N Henderson, Great War Ulster Newspaper Archive)
FULTON, 418938 William Alexander, 42nd Bn. Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regt.), died of wounds in accidental rifle discharge on 4th February 1917. His widowed mother Margaret (70) resided at Casement Street, Ballymena and in the 1911 census return she said her resident son was a clerk. The family were at Paradise Avenue, Harryville in 1901, virtually across the road from the later Casement Street address, and William's father Alexander was a 60 year old gardener. Records say he died of pneumonia at Casement Street aged 71 years on the 14 June 1908.
William Alexander Fulton is buried in Ecoivres Military Cemetery, France and commemorated in Harryville Presbyterian Church.
See Ballymena Canadians
Left: FURGROVE, 6362 Lance Corporal, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on the 1st July 1916.
He was born at 14, St Mary Street, Belfast on the 17 November 1891, enlisted in Ballymena, and was the only son of William Furgrove of Main Street, Cullybackey. John Furgrove, 19 Cambrai St, Belfast had married Agnes Alderdice, 84, Ewart's Row, Belfast in St Anne's Parish Church, Belfast on the 12 March 1883. He is buried in Ancre British Cemetery, Somme and commemorated in Cuningham Memorial Presbyterian Church, Cullybackey.
Right: GALBRAITH, 15160 Private Robert, 2 Bn. Otago Regiment, N.Z.E.F., died of wounds in 13th General Hospital Boulogne of wounds received on his first day in trenches, the 15th November 1916; he passed away 8th December 1916. He was born at Carnlea Ballymena on the 4 January 1892 and was the son of farmer Alexander Galbraith and Elizabeth Cubitt, Carnlea, Ballymena. The parents had married on the 26 February 1881 in West Church, Ballymena. He is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas de Calais and commemorated in Clough Presbyterian Church. The family grave is in Clough New Cemetery.
See Balllymena New Zealanders
GALLOWAY, (sometimes mistakenly Galway, as per CWGC entry) 19510 Rifleman Alexander, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, was 21 when he died of wounds on the 17 June 1916. We do not know when he was wounded, though the War Diary tells us they 'moved to huts and shelters in Martinsart Wood' on the 14th June. The 11th Battalion were on the 16th June forming 'working parties under RE (Royal Engineers) digging assembly trenches in Thiepval Wood.' This may be when he was injured.
He is buried in Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension. He was born on the 6 April 1894 at Taylorstown, Ballyscullion, near Randalstown. He was the son of John Galloway, Ballybollen, Ahoghill and Mary Murray, Ballydunmaul, Randalstown. The couple had married in 2nd Randalstown Presbyterian Church on 7 April 1886. They were at Taylorstown, Ballyscullion in 1901, though their first child, Matilda, had been born at Ballybollen, Ahoghill on the 12 November 1887. The three boys, Thomas (8 Dec 1891), Alexander (6 April 1894) and Nathaniel Robert (23 July 1899), were all born at Taylorstown. The family were living at Church Street, Antrim in 1911.
Left: GAMBLE, 18993 Rifleman Frank, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 1st July 1916.
Aged 21, he was born at Lisnawhiggel/Lisnawhiggle, Connor and he enlisted in Ballymena. He was the son of John Gamble, Kells and Elizabeth Montgomery, Ahoghill. The couple had married in Cullybackey Presbyterian Church on 1 August 1878. Lisnawhiggel (Lisnawhiggle), Connor, and in 1911 they said they had had 10 children and that all were alive in 1911. They later lived at The Moat, Kells.
The local press announced his death thus:
MR. John Gamble, The Moat, Kells, received intimation yesterday that his son Rfn. Frank Gamble 12th Royal Irish Rifles has been killed in action. He enlisted in September 1914 prior to which he was a turner in the woollen Mill of Messrs. John Dinsmore and Son, Old Green. Rfn. Gamble was a member of the local company of the UVF. He is a brother of Mr. Lockhart Gamble, ticket collector at Ballymena Railway Station and caretaker of the Masonic Hall.
Frank, the fifth of their seven boys, is commemorated on Thiepval Memorial and in Connor Presbyterian Church.
Right: GASTON, James (MC), Captain, Royal Army Medical Corps, attached 4th Bn. Suffolk Regiment, was wounded on the 3rd September 1916 and died from those wounds on 5th November 1918. He was born on the 10 August 1882 at Carabeg and was the eldest son of Andrew Gaston and Mary Ann (usually Marianne) Tate, Carnbeg (sometimes Carabeg), Cloughmills. He was educated at Ballymena Academy and Queen's University, Belfast and had been a doctor in Washington, Co. Durham before the war - he is named on the war memorial there. He joined the army, landed at Le Havre on the 9th November 1914 and was commissioned in January 1915. He saw much action and won the Military Cross. He is buried Arras Road Cemetery, Roclincourt, Pas de Calais. James is commemorated in Killymurris Presbyterian Church. His brother, born 10 June 1892 at Carnbeg, Cloughmills, was Captain Andrew Gaston, Royal Army Medical Corps.
Left: GETTY (Geddes or Gettis), 6444 Rifleman Robert James, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on 27th October 1914. He was born on the 17 July 1888 and was single, the son of Robert Geddes (sic), Springwell Street and Ellen Sinclair, Parkhead. The parent couple had married in St Patrick's Church, Ballymena on the 7 November 1882. He had originally enlisted Ballykinlar Camp. He trained in Dublin after July 1914 and then went to France. He had formerly been employed as a foundry worker by William Simons & Co, Renfrew, and he was a member of the local Salvation Army.
The soldier was killed in intense fighting at Neuve Chapelle. 'B' and 'D' Companies, in the line from the 26th October, were overwhelmed by the Germans and 'no further trace of these Coys ... could be obtained'. 'A' Company and 'C' went forward, but on the 27th October disaster struck. 'The trenches to the left of ‘A’ and ‘C’ Companies being unoccupied by own own troops, the enemy about 7.00am got round our left flank and rear. After their two Companies had suffered severe losses from shrapnel, howitzer and rifle fire … Capt. Dixon ... was obliged to retire these two Coys. into the village of Neuve Chapelle (250 yards in rear) ... Only 2 officers and about 46 NCOs & men succeeded in getting back out of a total of 5 officers & 250 NCOs & men’. That evening the unit were withdrawn to billets in Richebourg-St Vaast and so it seems probable that Getty was caught up in this incident or its aftermath.
Robert Getty's name is in "Paisley's Fallen in the Great War" – "Robt. Getty (23), 11 Caledonia St., mother Ballymena, Ireland, foundry labourer with Simons, Renfrew - called out with Irish Rifles Militia - killed Oct. 28, 1914"
Ellen Sinclair Getty, later lived at James Street, Ballymena (or James St, Paisley?). He is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais.
Right: GIFFIN (sometimes Giffen), 36034 Private William, 2nd/5th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, formerly 17480 Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds on 28th October 1917. He lived 3 Mackenzie Street, Greenock. He was the eldest son of Frank (Francis) Griffin and Elizabeth McNeice, and he had been born on the 25 October 1882 at Lisnacrogher, Ballymena. Francis Gamble, a carpenter from Drumraw (Drumra sic), Portglenone, had married Lizzie McNeice in 3rd Portglenone Presbyterian Church on the 14 November 1879. They appear in the 1901 and 1911 census returns and live in Drumfane, Ballymena. Frank, born in America, and Lizzie were egg merchants in 1901 and confectioners in 1911. They said that they had had nine children, all alive in 1911. At the time of William's death they were living at 42 Mount Street, Ballymena.
William is buried Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium and commemorated in 2nd Ballymena (High Kirk) Presbyterian Church.
GILDEA (recorded sometimes in error as Gildey or Gildery), 64253 Serjeant James, 122 Field Coy. Royal Engineers, having enlisted in Belfast where he was living in 1914, was killed in action on 27th March 1918.
Gildea's unit were falling back with others in the aftermath of the German onslaught of March 21st (Spring Offensive) and were at the time of his death in the area south-east of Amiens and west of Roye. The Brigade (They were part of the 36th (Ulster) Division and were under the orders of the 108th Brigade, later the 107th Brigade), frequently shelled during the retreat, had reformed at Hangest and 'at midnight 27th/28th ... moved via Plessier-Rozainvillers, Moreuil, Mailly, Thory to Sourdon.' The unit's War Diary records two officers and 38 other ranks killed, wounded or missing during the month.
Gildea was born on the 28 February 1888 at Springwell Street, Ballymena, the son of widower William, Springwell Street and widow Ellen Douglas, Springwell Street. The couple had married in St Patrick's Parish Church, Ballymena on the 7 October 1886. He was a carpenter in a local spinning mill in 1911. He married Margaret (Maggie) McCaughrin (recorded as McCaughron), Springwell Street, Ballymena in 2nd Ballymena (High Kirk) Presbyterian Church on the 8 July 1912. James, a carpenter, gave his address as Holywood Road, Belfast and Maggie said she was from James Street, Harryville, Ballymena.
James had two brothers, George (born 1871) and Robert (born 12 July 1891). He is commemorated on Pozieres Memorial, France and in Townsend Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast. Local press said he lived at 79 Brookmount Street, Belfast at the time of his death.
September 1916 saw the British Fourth Army on the Somme take the top of the ridge which runs from the Albert-Bapaume Road to Morval, and in October the troops were fighting their way down the forward slopes
and towards the German's last prepared defences around Le Transloy and
Bapaume. On the right of the line was Gueudecourt, captured on the 26th
September 1916, and beyond it was a low ridge between that
village and Le Transloy. This was the principal objective
of the fighting in the ensuing three weeks, and it was here that Gilmore found himself.
The War Diary of the 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers records that they marched out from Fricourt Camp, rested for two hours at Bernafay Camp and then moved into trenches around Gueudecourt where on the 20th October they were to relieve the 4th Worcestershire Regiment in Hilt Trench. One Company did so and the 'Battalion supplied parties for carrying fatigues'. Next day, the 21st and the day Gilmore died, the Inniskillings were 'relieved by the 1st Border Regiment' and they 'went into reserve in Switch Trench'. The diary records the death of two soldiers and the wounding of two officers and seven other ranks (CWGC records five deaths of 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusilier soldiers.)
It is made to sound rather 'matter of fact' and easy. However, the account in Worcestershire Regiment In The Great War (By Captain H. FitzM Stacke, M.C., published in 1928 by G. T. Cheshire & Sons
Ltd, Kidderminster.) gives a different account. It says, 'arrangements were made for the relief of the attacking
troops. The 4th Worcestershire and 2nd Hampshire were to be relieved
by the South Wales Borderers and Inniskillings of the 87th Brigade (2nd SWB, 1st KOSB, 1st Inniskillings & 1st Border Regt) ... Hours passed but the relief was
not completed. Rain and the enemy's
shells had almost obliterated the main communication trench, Cocoa
Alley, and the South Wales Borderers and Inniskillings were
finding the greatest difficulty in making their way down to the
firing line. Not till 1.30 a.m. did their first platoons arrive; then
came a long delay. By that time the enemy were pounding
Cocoa Alley with an intense fire of heavy shells, and the
Borderers losses were serious. Not one of their companies was
actually in its allotted position before daylight, and as
the light spread the withdrawal of the 4th Worcestershire became an
increasingly dangerous operation. The men had to be sent back in
driblets, four or five at a time, making their way as best
they could across the mud. At Battalion Headquarters in Pilgrims
Way they were collected into larger bodies and given directions as
to their way to a camp near
Bernafay Wood, five miles back.'
This was the true context in which Gilmore and his colleagues were killed and wounded.
GLASS, 18998 Rifleman Robert, 'A' Company, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds as a POW on 28th June 1918. He was taken prisoner 'aus dem felde' (in the field) on the 21 March 1918 at St Quentin on the opening day of the Spring Offensive 1918 and the German record agrees that he died on the date above. It refers to 'dickdarment' (sic), and 'dickdarmen' is the German word for colon or large intestine, suggesting he died as a consequence of abdominal wounds.
He was born on the 7 August 1889 at Cullybackey, and he lived in Cullybackey. He was the son of James Glass, weaver of Cullybackey, and Eliza Lorimer (recorded as Lormer) of Galgorm Parks. The couple had married in High Kirk (2nd Ballymena) Presbyterian Church on the 7 December 1880. They had had four children by 1911 and Agnes (14) and Robert (12) were the two survivors. Robert enlisted Ballymena. He is buried in Aulnoye Communal Cemetery, France and commemorated in 2nd Ahoghill Presbyterian Church.
Right: GLENDINNING (or Clendenning), 1290 Corporal David, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on 1st July 1916. He was born on the 9 September 1893 at Ballyscullion and was the son of David, Ballygrooby (Ballygruby sic) and Mary Dennison (Denneston sic), Ballygrooby, near Randalstown. The couple had married in St Matthias's Parish Church, Ballyeglish, Co Londonderry on the 13 May 1891.
The 1901 census lists David as age 7, living with the family at house 9 in Ballyriff, Loop, Moneymore. His father was a labourer. David (Sen.) and Mary list their children as: William James, David, Annie, Thomas, and Minnie.
David Glendinning, soldier from Clandeboye Camp, Co Down and who had enlisted in Lisburn, had married Ellen Smyth of Tullygowan, Randalstown in 2nd Randalstown Presbyterian Church on the 19th March 1915. Ellen and his daughter May lived at the time of his death in The Cottage, Ballyronan, Magherafelt. May had been born in Ballyronan on 4th January 1916.
David and Mary Glendinning, had at one time been associated with Duneany, Glarryford. The Ballymena Weekly Telegraph reported David Glendinning of that Glarryford address as being missing in October 1916 and as having died in August 1917.
He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Left: GORDON, 3747 Rifleman James, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, Trench Mortar Battery, was killed in action on the 15th November 1916. He was born on the 28 February 1892 at Straid, Ahoghill, and he was the son of Wilson Gordon and Agnes (Nancy) Brown, Straid, Gracehill, Ballymena. The couple, Wilson, 20 and a labourer and his 19 year old bride, had married in the local parish church on the 11th April 1885. In 1911 they said they had had nine children and that six were still alive at that time.
The exact circumstances of James Gordon's death in the area south west of Messines are not known. The War Diary of the 11th Battalion says that on the 14th November the 'Enemy shelled Fort Osborne Barracks. No casualties, night quiet.' The men spent the next day in the trenches and were 'relieved by the 12th Royal Irish Rifles, moved to Red Lodge' (Camp on the N W tip of Ploegsteert Wood). The War Diary of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles sheds no more light. It says, 'Heavy frost in night ... relieved the 11th Royal Irish Rifles in evening in trenches'. No fighting, shelling or casualties are recorded in either account.
He is buried La Plus Douve Farm Cemetery, Belgium and is commemorated in Ahoghill (St Colmanell's) Church of Ireland.
Right: GORDON, Robert James, 26091, Rifleman, 4th Battalion, 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade, was killed in action in Belgium on the 7th June 1917. He was born on the 24 August 1893 at Lislea, Portglenone, Co Londonderry and was the son of Thomas Gordon and Thomasena McMullan, Lislea, Portglenone and he listed his brother in law, a Mr J T Kyle, Waipukurau, New Zealand, as his next of kin. His mother was a widow at the time of his enlistment, his father having died of head injuries on the 3 February 1903 after being thrown from his horse on the 31 January. Robert James was a farm labourer and had left New Zealand on 25th September 1916 with the 11th Reinforcements 2nd Battalion, F Company aboard the troopship Devon. He is remembered on the Messines Ridge (NZ) Memorial.
See Ballymena New Zealanders