BALLYMENA 1914-1918

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Neely - Young


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.


SAMUEL NEELY, Parkhead, Ballymena

NEELY, Samuel,  44376, Corporal,  12th North Staffordshire Regiment, died of chest wounds at No.1 Australian CCS on the 12th September 1918.
Neely’s unit were operating in the area around the River Lys and on the 8th August moved ‘into front line ... Nieppe System.’ They were immediately active on the 9th August ‘around the village of Pont de Nieppe’ and had established a post at Manchester Keep. They were engaged in 'active patrolling' on the 10th August, the record then noting that on the 11th/12th August ‘under cover of darkness our left flank moved forward through Pont de Nieppe village’. On the 12th August the ‘enemy attempt to recapture the village was driven off’. Later, on the night of the 12th/13th August ‘a patrol intending to cross the river Lys … found the river in flood and the bridges destroyed, and it was consequently unable to carry out the intended operation on the eastern bank.’ In short, the 12th North Staffordshire Regiment was pushing forward along the road from Pont de Nieppe that crosses the River Lys and leads to Armentieres.
The 12th North Staffordshires were relieved on the 13th August and went to billets in Grand Beaumart. It, therefore, seems likely that Neely was one of the casualties during ‘the tour’, noted in the War Diary as being 2 officers wounded, 15 other ranks killed, 35 wounded and 13 missing.
He was born at Tullygrawley, Cullybackey on the 1 June 1885, the son of Matthew and Margaret Ann Neely, nee McCaughy. The family were at Parkhead, Ballymena in 1901 (Neilly) and at Ballyclosh/Ballyclose, Cullybackey, Co. Antrim in 1911 (Neely), and Samuel was the husband of Margaret Neely, nee Colvin and from nearby Artibrannan. They later lived at Parkhead, Ballymena. The couple had married in High Kirk Presbyterian Church on the 16 October 1912.  
Samuel was 18/942 of the Royal Irish Rifles and 396569 of the Labour Corps before he moved the North Staffordshire Regiment. He is buried in La Kreule Military Cemetery, Hazebrouck and commemorated in 2nd Ballymena Presbyterian Church.

Left: NEESON, 48698 Sergeant Charles, 7/8th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (formerly 2550 of the 6th Connaught Rangers), was killed in action on the 11th October 1918.

The War Diary says that 'the Battalion moved into the line' on the 5th October from their former position at RE Farm (HQ),  a site NE of Wulverghem, and on the 11th October 'the enemy bombarded Battalion HQ with HE and Mustard Gas shells from about 2 pm to 8 pm.' The C.O., Capt. Thompson, Lt. Worskett, Capt. Roche, and Capt. McMahon 'were all removed to hospital suffering from gas poison, as were 64 Other Ranks of the HQ Company'. CWGC indicates that  C Neeson and S Cooke died on the 11th October and we must assume the above events account for their demise.

He was born at Galgorm Street, Ballymena on the 27 July 1893 and was the son of sawyer John & Elizabeth Burns Neeson, nee Burns, of Ballymena. The family lived in Belfast at 12, McCleery Street and are recorded there in the 1901 and 1911 census record, and Charles enlisted in the city.

He is buried in Voormezeele Enclosure No. 3, Ypres. His brothers, Patrick and James, also served.


Gallipoli Map - showing the area where Neeson died
NEESON, 5308, Private James, 7th Royal Munster Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 16th August 1915.
The 6th & 7th (Service) Battalions had embarked together on 9 July 1915 from Liverpool, later stopping at Mudros on Lemnos before going on to Gallipoli. They were amongst those landed at Suvla Bay on 7 August and were immediately in the thick of the fighting. Neeson was to lose his life in the battle of Kiretch Tepe Sirt, August 15th-16th 1915. The events are well documented:
the line ... ran from the sea at Beach '' B " to the two hills held by the 31st Brigade and ... northward across the Anafarta Plain at an average distance of three miles from the sea. On Monday, the 9th, the Corps Commander had decided to attack the high ground behind Anafarta Saghir … The 6th Royal Irish Fusiliers and the 6th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, neither of which had sustained very heavy losses in the previous fighting, were detailed for this duty ... The objective allotted ... was a height known as Hill 70, the culminating ridge of a spur which ran out to the north-east of Chocolate Hill between the hill and Anafarta Saghir about a mile and a half south-west of that village ...
the Fusiliers effected a lodgement on the ridge … however, the 32nd Brigade … were compelled ... to withdraw to their original alignment. … The Fusiliers ... returned to their first position. While these operations were in progress, the remainder of General Hill's force had been employed in support.  … On the following day, August l0th, the day on which the struggle on Sari Bair reached its height, another unsuccessful attack was made on the Anafarta ridge … General Birdwood ... decided to occupy the Turks by attacking along the crest of the Kiretch Tepe Sirt, and thus rendering it impossible for them to bring an enfilade fire to bear against our operations on the Anafarta plain. This attack was to be made on August 15th, and the l0th Division was ordered to undertake it.
… the enemy occupied a strongly entrenched position, and was known to have received large reinforcements. … The dispositions adopted ... were as follows: The 30th Brigade (Dublins and Munsters) were to form the left ..., with the extreme left of the 7th Munsters resting on the Gulf of Saros. They thus covered the whole of the northern and part of the southern slope of the Kiretch Tepe Sirt. … To their right two battalions of the 31st Brigade were to advance through the southern foothills of the Kiretch Tepe Sirt and across the open plain to attack a spur known as Kidney Hill ... The 5th and 6th Royal Irish Fusiliers and the 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers were in reserve.
…  the attack commenced, and it was at once evident that the Turks were holding their position in strength … The actual crest ... was a bare rocky ridge covered with great scattered boulders running for about a mile-and-a-half at a height of six hundred feet ... Part of the ridge rose about fifty feet higher than this, and from this central portion three small eminences stood out. ... Turkish trenches ran across the hill between that point and the ''Pimple." …  Both slopes of the hill were covered with thick dry scrub …  a great impediment to movement of any kind ... little ground was gained … General Nicol, seeing ... that darkness would soon make further operations impossible, directed that an attempt to advance should be made along the northern slope of the ridge ... the 6th Dublins pressed forward accordingly, and succeeded ... Then, as night was falling and nearly a mile of ground had been gained, a halt was called so that the captured position might be consolidated.
On the right, meanwhile, the attack had unfortunately been less successful … The casualty list was a terribly heavy one. The result of the failure of the right attack was that while we held the northern slope of the Kiretch Tepe Sirt up to and even beyond the Pimple, yet on the Southern face of the hill we had been unable to advance our line much beyond the trenches which we held when operations on the 15th began. As a consequence, the line ... resembled a Z ...This trench was exposed to fire not only from the hills which continued the line of the Kiretch Tepe Sirt eastward, but also from a spur known as 103, which ran northwards into the sea … The ... Reserve were ... called up … The first ... counter-attacks began about 10 p.m … After a stiff fight, the attackers disappeared over the crest ... Before the first light ... a fresh Turkish attack was made ... the assault was led by bomb throwers, and ... succeeded in establishing themselves on the southern slope of the Kiretch Tepe Sirt. From this position they proceeded to bomb the whole length of our line incessantly, throwing the grenades over the crest of the ridge so that they burst in the midst of our ranks with deadly effect … Gradually the shattered units withdrew to their original line ... The l0th Division had been shattered.
Extracted from The Tenth (Irish) Division in Gallipoli by Bryan Cooper
Aged 23, Neeson was born on the 20 March 1893 at Ballylummin, Ahoghill and he enlisted in Belfast. He was the son of labourer Thomas and Ellen Neeson, nee Morgan, of Ballylummin, Ahoghill. He died in Gallipoli and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey.


Right: NELSON, Joseph Henry, 201868, Private, 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles (Central Ontario Regt.), was killed in action in the trenches at Vimy on the 23rd April 1917. He was almost 5' 11" tall and a teamster.  He had emigrated to Canada in 1913 and lived at 110, Parliament Street, Toronto. He was born on the 4 June 1886 at Connor, the 30 year old son of Joseph and Sarah Nelson, nee Porter, later of Kildrum, Shankbridge, Ballymena. In 1901 the family had been at Ballycowan, Kells. He nominated his mother as his next of kin, giving her address as Shankbridge Post Office. He is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial, France. See Ballymena Canadians


NELSON, Samuel, 8180, Rifleman, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds in No. 13 Stationary Hospital on the 12th December 1914. He had been previously wounded at Mons and had been back in France only six weeks before his death.

His unit were in the Kemmel area and on the 12th December were 'still in trenches. 1 killed, 2 wounded. Returned to billets in Locre.'  Nelson could be the man killed, though CWGC lists three 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles soldiers who died that day, and we do not know the date of his wounding.

Aged 30, he was born on the 24 October 1888 at Coach Entry, off Castle Street, Ballymena, the son of painter Samuel and Catherine Nelson, nee McKillop, of Castle Street, Ballymena (1901 census) and Henry Street, Belfast (1911 census).

Labourer Samuel married Margaret Thompson at People's Hall (Methodist) Chapel, Belfast on the 20 January 1911. He enlisted in Belfast and lived at Little York Street, later at 8, North Ann Street, Belfast.

Samuel Nelson is buried Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France.

NEVIN, William, 14/15696, Company Sergeant Major, 14th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 16th August 1917, first day of the Battle of Langemarck (3rd Ypres or Passchendaele). He was 22 and originally from Ballymena.
Nevin's unit, part of the 36th Division's 109th Brigade, struggled to advance that day. They had to get across a marsh around the Steenbeek. This delay meant the infantry lost the protection of the barrage and machine-gun fire from Pond Farm and Border House forced them to take cover. An insight into the general situation is found in the 8pm summary in the War Diary. It says, ‘During the whole day the Bosche never ceased his bombardment of our line - we have had to shift our Headquarters … news came dribbling in that we were having heavy casualties and wanted reinforcing, but reinforcements could not be found’. Units did 'dig in' and held on as best they could but as the summary later noted 'the whole thing has been a miserable failure'.  The report also said, 'our men did all that was asked of them'. The 14th were relieved on the 17th August and at that time believed they had suffered 10 officers killed, wounded or missing; 222 of the men were also killed, wounded or missing.
William Nevin was born on the 29 May 1895 at Clonavon, Ballymena and was the son of painter Samuel and Isabella (Bella) Nevin, nee Anderson, later of 'Beaumaris', Finaghy Park, Belfast. His wife lived at Mill Street, Ballymena. He is  commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
NEVIN, William James, 7910, Private, 4th (Reserve) Highland Light Infantry, drowned while swimming near Fort Rennie and after becoming entangled in seaweed on 17th September 1914. He was aged 17.  He was born on the 24 June 1897 at Gloonan, Ahoghill and he was the son of labourer William and Matilda Nevin, nee Kennedy,  8, Cedar Avenue, Ballydollaghan, Newtownbreda. He is buried Hooe (St. John) Churchyard Extension.


NEWELL, Robert Mitchell, 204624, Corporal, 1/4th Northumberland Fusiliers, was killed in action at the Battle of Passchendaele on the 26th October 1917.

The men had problems from the very start, finding it 'extraordinarily difficult to get to the front line' as the route to the front line was 'under direct observation and there was no cover except for shell holes'; there was 'incessant shelling, especially on line running along the road NW & SE of Tranquille House.' Moreover, the 'front line Company were constantly shelled by our own howitzers, and some casualties resulted'.

Despite the problems the men moved into position for the attack between 7 - 9 pm on the evening of the 25th October. They were initially to attack on a three Company front but this had to be remodelled owing to the 'swampy state of the ground' - it became a two Company front, but 'when the tape was laid, it was found that there was only sufficient room for a one Company frontage'.

The men attacked at 5.40 am on the 26th October and 'were all clear before the enemy's barrage was put down.' However, things went wrong almost immediately. The Allied barrage 'consisted entirely of shrapnel which was quite useless against line of concrete huts, which were our first objective ... rain fell heavily and conditions of mud & water were perfectly appalling. Our attack was held up about 80 yards West of the line of huts, and machine gun fire and sniping were so severe that any movement of any kind was quite impossible'. There was also confusion.

At one point Brigade thought the 'first objective taken and men advancing well to the 2nd objective. This information was wrong'. The truth was that casualties were heavy and the attack was stalled at the huts. Two runners were sent by Brigade 'to the front line to get information. These runners did not return.' Finally, at around 6pm, the truth dawned and 'two Platoons of Reserve' were told to 'consolidate our original line held before the attack'. Efforts were made to extract the wounded but 'the slightest movement in the front line was checked by machine guns and sniping'.

The Battalion was  relieved  and proceeded via Railway Street, a duckboard track, to Red Crossroads Camp, later to Boesinghe and then onwards to Caribou Camp. They had lost about one hundred men in the assault, one of them Newell.

Robert Mitchell Newell was born on the 28 September 1885 at Craignageeragh, his parents James and Mary Newell, nee Nicholl, Craignageeragh, Ahoghill. His wife Sarah and three children were also at Ahoghill. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial and in 1st Ahoghill Presbyterian Church.

Quotations extracted/adapted from Battalion War Diary

NICHOLL, Hugh, 40941, Rifleman, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 18th April 1917. The 2nd Battalion were in the trenches around St Quentin Cabaret after the 13th April and did not get relieved until the 19th April. The War Diary for the 18th April gives little detail and merely states that '1 Other Rank  Killed in Action, 1 Other Rank Wounded In Action, 1 Other Rank accidentally wounded.' The CWGC record shows only one 2nd Royal Irish Soldier died that day, one 40941 H. Nicholl.
He was born on the 14 November 1892 at Glynn, near Larne, and he was the eldest son of John and Jane, nee McWilliam, Nicholl, 18, Jubilee Street, Larne.
He played football for Galgorm and Foundry Thistle and was the husband of Ellen Nicholl, nee Stewart. The groom, an engine cleaner,  and bride, from High Street and Ladysmith Terrace respectively, had married in High Kirk Presbyterian Church on the 13 March 1912.  They had three children by the time of his death and his widow lived at 16, Bridge Street Place, Ballymena.
He is buried in St. Quentin Military Cemetery, France and commemorated in 2nd Ballymena Presbyterian Church (High Kirk).
NOBLE, 12/18566 Rifleman George, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action when 29 years old on the 1 July 1916 on the Somme and he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial and on the war memorials in Larne and Ballymena. 
George Noble was the son of Martha Mitchell and had been born at Taylorstown, Ballyscullion, Toome on the 23 October 1887. He is associated with Riverside, Antrim (1901) and Herbert Avenue, Larne.  His sister, Kezia McFadden, nee Noble, lived at 27 Herbert Avenue, Larne. She had married William McFadden of Herbert Avenue, Larne in Larne Parish Church (Cof I) on the 30 November 1912. George Noble is commemorated on the roll of the British Aluminium Company (Larne Harbour).

Right: NIXON, James, 8313, Rifleman, 1st Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 9th May 1915.  He was born in the Ballymena area, the son of Robert John of Galgorm and Margaret Nixon of Broughshane, nee Anderson; they had married in 2nd Presbyterian Church on the 6 August 1879. The family were listed at Railway Place on the 1901 census and at Parkhead at the time of the 1911 census. James had been 13 years in the forces and had fought at Mons and Neuve Chapelle in the early part of the war. His wife lived at 11, Parkhead, Ballymena. He is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium.

The War Diary of the 1st Royal Irish Rifles, here much adapted, gives a vivid account of the action in which he died. It reports thus:

The Battalion … marched to assembly trenches at La Cordonnerie Farm (in the Aubers Ridge area)… to take part in attack … at Rouge Bancs ….

At 5.40am … ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies advanced … and rushed a portion of the front German trenches and advanced a portion beyond it to a portion of the road ….

‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies followed … immediately behind … and were subjected to a very heavy MG and rifle fire obliquely from both flanks. The two Platoons mentioned above, one advanced obliquely to the right under the Commanding Officer, and the other under the RSM to the left, to … stop the fire. Both Platoons were ... beaten back or killed or wounded. In the meanwhile the remainder of the Battalion was holding … the road … under oblique MG and rifle fire, and was expecting another Regiment to go through them and continue the advance. The Regiment failed to appear … after waiting half an hour beyond the appointed time … the order was given to retire … What was left of this part retired to the Captain’s portion of the front German trenches and established themselves there …. They remained all day 9th instant and until about daybreak on the 10th when they were drawn out by bombs (grenades) and heavy fire and returned to our original trenches. The Regiment having lost all Officers, either killed, wounded or missing, they were brought out of action by the RSM and returned to their billets.

The cost to the 1st Royal Irish Rifles was explained in the entry for 10th May 1915:

O'CONNELL Rifleman 7/8400 Michael, 7th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles, transferred to (424799) 191st Coy. Labour Corps, was killed in action on Thursday, November 29, 1917.  He is buried in Haringhe (Bandaghen) Military Cemetery.
He was born at Cushendall on the 26 October 1885 and was the son of seaman Joseph O’Connell and Sarah McNeill. The couple, 17-year-old seaman Joseph from Chatham (Chatam sic) and 21-year-old servant Sarah McNeill, then both living in Cushendall, had married in Cushendall Roman Catholic Church on the 25 January 1885. Sarah was living at High Street, Cushendall with the McNeill family in 1901, and with her brother John in Cushendall in 1911. She said in 1911 that she had had two children and that one was alive at that time. It was he who died in 1917.
O'CONNOR (CWGC says Connors, IWM (MIC) say O'Connors, another list by Guardsman 2623630 says Conners), Patrick, 11239, Guardsman, 2nd Grenadier Guards, died in fighting at Festubert and of wounds on the 22nd May 1915.
He was born Ballymena and lived in Bristol. So little information about him can be found that he cannot be positively identified, though the 'best fit' local record would suggest that he is Patrick Connor, born at Straid, Ahoghill, near Ballymena on the 4th December 1882, the second son of agricultural labourer John Connor and his wife Mary, nee Small. The couple had married in 3rd Ahoghill Presbyterian Church on the 2nd March 1878.
The War Diary of 1st Grenadier Guards took pleasure in recording that, 'In the evening the 2nd Grenadier Guards came up on the left ... and occupied part of the original German line, and the memorable situation occurred of two Battalions of the Regiment being in action in the field side by side'.
The 2nd Battalion War Diary tells us that on the 17th May the unit 'started out at 3.45 pm and marched to Rue de Caillaux (actually Cailloux) and commenced taking over new line just in front of captured German trenches just north of La Quinque Rue about 5 pm ... 1st Battalion on our right.' One officers and two men were wounded. 
There is no entry for the 18th and on the 19th the record tells us the Battalion was 'relieved ... about 8 pm and marched to billets at Le Casan and Mespleaux - casualties 1 killed, 14 wounded.'
They moved to billets at La Pugnoy 'to rest' on the 20th May and were still there on the 21st and 22nd.
We do not know when 11239 Guardsman Patrick Connor was wounded, only that he died of his wounds on the 22nd May. He was probably one of the wounded mentioned above, but even that is not definite. He is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery,  France.
O'DORNAN, Fireman  Henry, died on the 25th December 1914 when S.S. Gem struck a mine at 6.15 p.m. on the 25th December 1914, broke in two, and sank in the North Sea 3.5 nautical miles (6.5 km) south east by east of Scarborough. He was then 23 years old.
He was born at Killyharn, Aughafatten, Co. Antrim, and was the son of Ann O'Dornan (Henry O'Dornan Snr. of Feystown, Glenarm had married Margaret Ann Hamill of Buckna in Braid RC Chapel on the 23 June 1887).
He was the husband of Catherine O'Dornan, nee Hamill, of Millisle, Carnlough, Co. Antrim.  Catherine was a widow aged 30 and formerly called Mellan - (Records show a Henry O'Dornan, son of Nancy/Agnes -(sic, no father listed, probably just an omission, and one of two children, Henry and Patrick, who appear on the 1911 Irish census at Longmore, Aughafatten. She was the daughhter of Charles and Catherine Mellan, born 5 May 1883.), born at Breckagh, Longmore/Aughafatten on the 18 March 1891. The birthday exactly matches his age on his marriage record.  There it says he was married in June 1913 and that he was 22 &3 months old.)

Left: O'DORNAN, Samuel, 4301, Private,  6th Connaught Rangers, died of wounds on the 11th September 1916. We do not know when he was wounded, but we do know his unit was involved in a failed attack around Guinchy on the 9th September. They were largely unable to do anything as the attacking waves they were to follow were shattered by intense machine gun fire almost as soon as they left their trenches. 'C' & 'D' Companies, thinking these had been successful, tried to move forward but were cut down yards from their own positions. The 6th Connaught Rangers were relieved at 4.40 am on the 10th September. They had suffered nine officers and 83 other rank casualties.

He was born in the Braid, at Tamybuck, Broughshane on the 7 June 1892, the son of Henry and Margaret Anne, nee Hamill.  In 1911 he was 18, described as a grandson and living in the household of John and Nancy Hamill, Ballyligpatrick, Broughshane. He was a member of Irish Volunteers and enlisted in the British Army in May 1915. His wife Margaret and two children lived at 11, William Street, Ballymena. He is buried in Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L'Abbe, Somme. (He appears twice on the Ballymena war memorial as Samuel O'Dornan and Samuel Dornan.)


OGILBY, 7505 Rifleman Joseph, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died on Saturday, August 11, 1917 around Passchendaele, Belgium. 12th Royal Irish Rifles had left Bandhoek at 5.30 am on the 7th August, travelled to Ypres by train, and then 'marched by Platoons to Support Trenches east of Wieltje'. They remained there being shelled daily until the 'Battalion relieved 11th Royal Irish Rifles in the front lines' on 9th August, and the shelling continued. The 'enemy shelled the front line heavily throughout the the day, causing several casualties' on the 10th, and on the 11th August the 'enemy continued to shell our lines during the day, sometimes reaching great intensity'.
The unit were relieved on the 12th August and the War Diary says, 'During the tour of 5 days the Battalion  had 2 Officers (Lt. W D McKee killed, 2nd Lt W J Thompson slightly wounded) and 128 Otjer Ranks casualties'. 7505 Rifleman Joseph Ogilby was one of the killed.
‘Josie’, was one of eight children in the family of Alan Ogilby and Jane Beggs, the latter born at Kilwaughter, Larne. The family later lived at Waterfall Rd, Glenarm. They had moved from Carrickfergus when Alan had found work in the limestone industry around Glenarm. Five of the six boys served in the naval service but Joseph, a talented artist, opted for the 12th Royal Irish Rifles.  He was the only one killed.
O’GORMAN, Captain John, S.S. Jessie, Mercantile Marine, died of exposure on the 2nd November 1917 as a result of an attack on his ship by an enemy submarine. He was aged 35, the son of John and Bridget O’Gorman. He was the husband of Catherine O’Gorman, of The Bay, Glenariffe, Co. Antrim. He was born at Carrigaholt, Co. Clare.
SS Jessie, a cargo ship built in 1901 by S. McKnight & Co., Ltd., Ayr, and in 1917 operator by Shield SS. Co., Ltd. (Walker & Bain), Grangemouth,  was shelled and damaged in the North Sea 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) north east of Flamborough Head, Yorkshire by SM UB-35 (Karl Stöter) with the loss of four of her crew. SS Jessie was beached but was declared a total loss.
The submarine sank 43 ships in 26 patrols but was depth charged and sunk by British warships including HMS Leven in the English Channel on 26 January 1918.
O'HARE, Hugh, 19713, Private, 1st Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. 
He had enlisted in Glasgow but he lived at Carmegrim near Portglenone, Co Antrim.  He had enlisted early in the war, his service being noted in the Ballymena Observer Supplement of the 7th May 1915. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme.
9134 Joseph O'Neill
O'NEILL, 9134 or 3/9134 Rifleman Joseph McKeown, who served with 1st Bn Royal Irish Rifles (his medals were issued under their authority), was killed in action on the 6th September 1918. SDGW, as per Eddie's Extracts, says he was serving in the 1/8th London (Irish Rifles) Regiment at the time. However, his body was exhumed for burial in Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France and the documentary record (above) was annotated 'att'd 18/London Regt' to show that he was attached to (but had not transferred to) the 18th Bn. London Regiment, the 1/18th often referred to as the London Irish Rifles. Moreover, the location of his original grave, 62C.D4.C.5.5, would also seem to suggest he was attached to the 18th Battalion. This grave was right in the centre of the left square just below Nurlu (Top centre-See map below). 1/18th London Regiment is also on his financial records (above).
The 1/8th London Regiment and the 1/18th London Regiment were both in the same area at the time. The War Diary of the 1/8th Battalion says that on the 6th September 1918 they were at Hindleg Wood, near Hem and got a 'warning order ... Battalion moved at 3.30 pm ... arriving at Moislains at 10 pm, marched ... to Villewood (bottom left of map) and arrived there at 12.15 am (i.e. 7th September) taking over from the 23rd London Regiment'. No casualties are mentioned and there is no suggestion of fighting, though O'Neill could have been killed during the manoeuvre.
The 1/18th were in action on the 6th September 1918. 'On the morning of the 6th the 19th and 20th Battalions were ordered to capture the line of trenches 800 yards east of the Peronne-Nurlu Road by 8 am ... the London Irish were ... to push through them, capture the village of Lieramont (right bottom of map) and establish a line ... 600 yards east of Lieramont. ... The London Irish ... captured the village  ... and reached our objective ... at 1.12 pm. The Battalion was relieved ... the same night ... moved back to huts east of Moislains'. In short, while both units were in the same area, it was the 18th who were fully in action and it appears he fell as the 18th Bn. moved east during the attack on Lieramont.

Joseph McKeown O'Neill was born on the 25 July 1899 at Coach Entry, (off Castle Street) Ballymena, the son of David and Ellen O'Neill, nee Moore, later of Springwell Street, Ballymena. His brother David served in the Royal Irish Rifles, and another brother, John, was discharged unfit for further service.
O'NEILL, Luke, 22128, Private, 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 12th October 1916. His unit had received orders on the 11th October 'for an attack on German position 600 yards in front of main Le Transloy line on the 12th inst.'
On the 12th 'The Battalion left the trenches in great style. Pressing too close to it [the barrage] as some ... were hit by our own shells ... suddenly machine guns opened through the barrage in front ... enfilading the whole line ... they were forced to halt ... this gave the Germans ... just enough time to bring up their machine guns and the Regiment then had no chance at all.' Chaos ensued and HQ did not know what was happening. Communications broke down as many officers were killed or injured and partly because 'the enemy put a very heavy barrage on our front line for over five hours.'
At about midnight, however, news reached HQ that the men were in the objective, the trench taken from the British at the start of the Somme battle, and 'orders were received ... to consolidate on line and to push out patrol to Dewdrop trench'. They did so and were then relieved by the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders on the 13th October.
Luke O'Neill's war was over on the 12th October. He had been born on the 25 March 1894 at Gortfad, Portglenone, the son of Roger and Mary Ann O'Neill, nee Dunlop. The family were at Lisrodden, Lisnagarran in 1901 and at Gortgole, Portglenone in 1911.  He enlisted Coatsbridge and lived at Rasharkin. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

CAPTAIN ARTHUR E. B. O'NEILL, MP, 2nd  LIFE GUARDS

This statue of Erin mourning for her fallen sons was presented to Lord and Lady O'Neill (circa1922), a memorial for their son who had died in the Great War. It stands beside the family's vault in Shane's Castle, Randalstown.


O'NEILL, Arthur Edward Bruce, Captain, 2nd Life Guards, was KIA on the 6th November 1914. He was aged 38, born 19 September 1876, and was the 2nd son of Baron O'Neill of Shane's Castle, Randalstown and his wife Louisa Katherine Emma. He had married Annabel Crewe-Milnes on the 21 January 1902 at St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge, London. He was the MP for Mid-Antrim and was the first MP to die in the war. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate), Belgium.                                                                                                                       See Weekly War 1914 for fuller account.

O'RAWE, 23248 Private Felix, 2nd Royal Scots, was killed in action on the 22nd July 1916. The War Diary for the 21st July says the unit 'took over trenches near Waterlot Farm ... orders were received from Brigade to attack the German trenches south of Waterlot Farm in the direction of Guillemont as far as the railway.' On the 22nd July 'the attack was carried out at 2 am ... the objective was reached with only 3 casualties among our men and 1 officer wounded.'
They started consolidating their position but, Zero Hour having been delayed from 1 am to 2 am, 'it was now getting daylight and the ... trench in front was strongly held by the enemy ... We were also heavily enfiladed by ... fire from the new  ... trenches on our left ... a large party ... also counter attacked, advancing down the main road from Guillemont ... at the same time the Germans in the trench in front ... advanced against us, with the result that the position became untenable ... the Companies withdrew to the second objective, which they consolidated and held.' O'Rawe was one of those killed as these events unfolded.
Felix O'Rawe was born on the 30 June 1884 at Cargan/Glenravel, the son of Charles and Ann O'Rawe, nee McDonnell,  and he lived in Bathgate, Scotland. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

Lt. Daniel O'Rorke, Royal Garrison Artillery
O'RORKE FAMILY GRAVE, BELFAST - Photographs courtesy of Nigel Henderson.
... husband Ambrose Howard O'Rorke, ... died 20th Feb. 1902, aged 45 ... their only son Daniel O'Rorke, Lieut. Royal Garrison Artillery, killed in action & buried in Hedauville, France, 30th July 1918, aged 21 ... also ... Isabel ... died 24th March 1944 ...
O'RORKE/O’ROURKE (served as O’Rourke), Lieutenant Daniel, 170th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery was killed in action on Tuesday 30 July 1918 and he is buried in Hedauville Communal Cemetery Extension, France. He is commemorated on the Holywood and District War Memorial, in Helen’s Bay Golf Club, in Rockport School, Craigavad, on the Apprentices to Solicitors Memorial, Four Courts, Dublin, and on Ulster Solicitors and Apprentices Memorial Plaque in the Royal Courts of Justice, Belfast.
Daniel O’Rorke was born on 22 March 1897 at Dunratho, Craigavad, Holywood and he was a son of Ambrose Howard O’Rorke and Isabel Weldon White-Spunner. His sister was Mary Oonagh Isabel, born 21 April 1899 at Dunratho, Craigavad. His grandfather had been Daniel O'Rorke, J.P., of Ballybollen, Ahoghill, near Ballymena, and later of Tinamara, Greenisland.
His parents married on 14 April 1896 in Carrickfergus Roman Catholic Church.  Ambrose Howard O’Rorke was then a 38-year-old bachelor, a Gentleman from Greenisland, Co Antrim, the son of Daniel O’Rorke, also a Gentleman. 
Lt O’Rorke’s father worked as a solicitor and company director and was to die at Dunratho, Craigavad aged 45 on 20 February 1902. His bride was Isabel Weldon White-Spunner, a 28-year-old spinster and ‘Lady’ from Greenisland, though she was born allegedly at Mountrath, Queens County, Ireland. She was a daughter of Benjamin White-Spunner, a clergyman, and his wife Letitia Hannah White-Spunner.
Lt. Daniel O’Rorke was educated at Rockport School, Craigavad and at Clongowes Wood College in County Kildare. He received his commission early in the Great War and was stationed in Gibraltar for two years, but he applied for active service, was posted to France in 1917, and was killed in action on 30 July 1918.
His unit were operating in the Engelbelmer/Hedauville area and the War Diary entry of the 28th July says, 'Lieutenant D O'Rourke rejoined from course at Third Army Artillery School.' The 170th Battery were at the time of his return engaged in a programme of shelling key targets in their area and this continued on the 29th and 30th July, the diary on the latter date recording 'harassing fire on Crucifix Corner to Authuille' and telling of a 'Bombardment Programme on Area 8'. In relation to the latter it says, 'After the Bombardment Programme had been in progress about five minutes the rear position was shelled by a 5.9 gun. The Battery Command Post received a direct hit and Lieut. D. O'Rourke was killed.'
In the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website he is O’Rourke and there is noted a family connection with Hill Mount, Cushendall, Co Antrim.
ORR, S/15921 Serjeant Frederick James Alexander, 5th (Queen's Own) Cameron Highlanders, was killed in action on the 21st March 1918, the opening day of the German Spring Offensive. Their experience was the same as other units in the forward area. The War Diary says that on the 21st March the 'Battalion formed on a 3 Company basis owing to heavy gas casualties in 'A' Company. Occupied the Yellow Line, west of Gouzeaucourt.' At 4.40 am 'the enemy started a very heavy bombardment with gas shells and HE (high explosive). The former ceased about 10 am  but the latter did not diminish until 5 pm.  The Black Watch withdrew ... and the Yellow Line became the Outpost Line'. It would be next day before enemy soldiers were encountered and the withdrawals began as German onslaught rolled forward.
Orr was killed somewhere amid the deluge of gas and HE shells described in the diary. He was born at Killyree, Clough on the 6 July 1889, the son of James and Rose (Minnie) Orr, nee Brown, later of Drumbare, Cloughmills. They were listed as living in Ballybogy (Ballybogey), Clough in 1901 and 1911. He is buried in Fins New Cemetery, Somme and commemorated in Clough Presbyterian Church.


Orr's Grave - Then and Now


ORR, Robert Clifford, Captain, 3rd  Somerset Light Infantry, attached 1st Battalion, was killed in action on the 19th December 1914. An account of this action at 'The Birdcage' is found below.

He was born on the 17 September 1880 at Brookvale Terrace, Belfast and was living at Lower Crescent, Belfast in 1901 and at Marlborough Park, Belfast in 1911.  He is also associated with Masoe, Ballymena. He was the son of Robert Harrison and Cassandra Marchaise Orr, 1, Lombard St., Belfast.  He was Adjutant to the North Antrim UVF and worked as a solicitor in Ballymena. He is buried in Ploegsteert Wood Military Cemetery, Belgium.  A brass plate recording his death is held in Ballymena Museum. See Weekly War 1914 for more extensive details of his pre-war life. See also the excellent video at - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A7Z-Nhudeg

Action of 19th December 1914 at 'The Birdcage'

(The map is of a later date and should be used only to ascertain locations. Quotations are from the 1st Somerset War Diary)

The 11th Infantry Brigade was ordered to capture the German trenches situated between the eastern edge of Ploegsteert Wood and the ruins of the hamlet, and on a frontage from Le Gheer to a point about 400 yards South of St Yves. The key objective was a nose-like salient referred to as ‘The Birdcage’ (centre of map)

The 1st Btn. Rifle Brigade attacked on the right and the 1st Somerset Light Infantry on the left. The Somerset Light Infantry attacked with ‘B’ Coy (Capt. C. C. Maud, DSO) supported by ‘C’ Coy (Lt. Ford). The battalion trenches, which ran approximately along the eastern edge of Ploegsteert Wood, were held by ‘A’ Coy (Lt. Bradshaw). ‘H’ Coy (Capt. A. H.Yatman) was held in reserve within the Wood. The left trench of the battalion, which was outside the Wood and close to the German line, was evacuated during the bombardment. Battalion Headquarters were located in a breastwork in Hunter Avenue.

During the morning of December 19th the point to be attacked was lightly bombarded by 2 or 3 batteries of 4.5" and 6 " Howitzer. This was meagre artillery support, and alarmingly, after it had been in delivery for two hours, ‘the officer observing for the 6th Siege Battery came to Brigade HQ and asked for an officer to point out exactly which were ours and which were German trenches. The Adjutant was sent … and pointed out a trench which was about to be shelled as one occupied by the Hampshire Regiment. Several of our shrapnel shells were observed to be bursting over it.’

At 1.30 – 2.30 p.m. the barrage intensified: ‘our guns very heavily shelled but all were bursting too short. The shrapnel frequently burst over the breastwork line and the howitzers seldom pitched east of the Le Gheer - St Yves Road. From 2 to 2.30 pm the Division’s machine guns and the Mountain Battery opened fire from the southern age of the wood. The former was intended to destroy the German wire entanglement, and the latter German House.'

At 2.30 pm precisely the infantry advanced. ‘The men carried … mattresses … strips of wire netting stuffed with straw, which were intended to be thrown over the wire to form a bridge’. Up to this moment there had been little retaliation, but the advance was the signal for fire to be opened by the enemy, ‘B’ Coy coming under heavy rifle and machine gun fire as soon as they left the trenches. Moreover, ‘after the leading Platoon had advanced about 40 yards a howitzer shell of ours burst amongst them and did great damage. The left platoon advanced about 50 yards but was stopped by heavy crossfire from machine guns and rifles … The two supporting platoons of ‘B’ Company were not able to carry the advance much further. ‘C’ Company were sent in to support about 3.15 pm but could get no further than ‘B’ Company’.

Few attackers were able to reach the German wire, which was only distant some 120 yards from their own line, and those who did found the mattresses a completely useless. ‘C’ Company ‘got forward to to the Le Gheer – St Yves Road under cover of darkness’ but ‘their position was not tenable, as it was enfiladed by houses on their right, and the trench along the road was about 3 feet deep in water.’

At 6 pm ‘our left had gained about 80 yards of the road which was our objective and the line then followed about the line of the German wire until it joined the Rifle Brigade … the field was very wet and quite unsuitable for digging. However an order came from Battalion HQ … to entrench the ground gained preparatory to a further advance the next day.’ The Adjutant went back to explain the reality of the situation and ‘it was decided to withdraw to the former trenches in the wood. … it was eventually decided not to attack again the next day.’

It had been a bit of a shambles. Colonel Sutton’s account of the action to his superiors spoke of ‘many valuable lives ... lost in this unsuccessful sortie', and said ‘the only tangible result was the clearance out of the wood of a few isolated German snipers by the Rifle Brigade.’ The Brigade Commander considered that the action had, or would have, the effect of preventing the transfer of troops from the Western to the Russian front, but Colonel Sutton said that ‘from the Battalion point of view the only effects of the action were of a sentimental nature, firstly, pride at the gallant behaviour of the attacking companies who advanced without hesitation against an unshaken line of well armed defenders, and secondly, grief at the loss of go many well-loved comrades, who could ill be spared.’ The Somersets had only eleven officers left and two of these were the Quartermaster and the Medical Officer. Losses among the men were then unknown, but the units were fortunate that the Germans did not counter attack.

The events described in this sector actually led to troops participating in the Christmas Truce of 1914. The Diary makes wonderful reading.

25th December: 'There was much singing in the trenches last night by both sides. Germans opposite us brought up their Regimental Band and played theirs and our National Anthems followed by 'Home Sweet Home' A truce was mutually agreed by the men ... During the morning officers met the German officers halfways between the trenches and it was arranged that we should bring in our dead ... The bodies of Captain  Maud, Captain Orr and 2nd Lt. Henson were brought in, also those of 18 NCOs and men ... The Germans informed us they had captured a wounded officer and this was thought to be 2nd Lt K G G Dennys ... There was a sharp frost last night which continued during the day, and the weather was very seasonable - Not a shot was fired in our neighbourhood, and both sides walked about outside the trenches quite unconcernedly ...

26th December: The truce still continued ...

27th December: Truce still continued ...

28th December: The truce continued today but about 8 pm the Germans sent over to say they were going to continue firing at midnight. However no shots were fired in the vicinity...

29th December: Truce still continued ...

30th December: Truce still continues ... The Germans sent the following message to the left trench this morning:

''Dear Camerades, I beg to inform you that is forbidden for us to go over to you, but we will remain good camerades. If we shall be forced to fire, we will fire to high. Please tell me if you are English or Irishmen. Offering you some cigars, I remain your truly camerade''

No answer was given to this communication. ...

31st December: The Germans celebrated the New Year with great vigour. Trumpets were sounded and other instruments played, and there was much singing. They also had lanterns hung on their entanglements. At 11 pm they fired a feu de joie (a volley of celebration, literally a 'fire of joy') over our head. This was taken by our guns to mean an intended attack and they started shelling.

During this period the British strengthened their positions and made preparations, and they noted the strength and quality of German positions. They even fitted in a FGCM (Field General Court Martial) for Privates Pope and Carter on the 26th December.



Right: ORR, 12/19161 Rifleman David McAdorey, 'A' Coy., 13th Royal Irish Rifles, died at home on Thursday, 17th February 1916 in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast of tuberculosis contracted at the front. He was aged 18 and born at Ballee on the 6 June 1897, the son of William and Annie Orr, nee McAdorey, 24, Queen Street, Ballymena. Prior to enlistment he was an employee of the Midland Railway Company (NCC). He was buried in Ballymena New Cemetery (Cushendall Road) on the Saturday following, a large crowd attending his interment. Wreaths included one from Harryville Unionist Club.


OSBORNE, William, 2248, Lance Corporal, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 16th August 1917, day one of the Battle of Langemarck (3rd Ypres or Passchendale). 
The 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) Divisions had attacked from north of the Ypres–Roulers railway to slightly south of St Julien, and they were tasked to move one mile up the Anzac and Zonnebeke spurs, but they were repulsed. German machine guns had been trained on the gaps British artillery had cut in the wire and these created an insurmountable obstacle.
11th RIR were immediately ordered to join the 108th Brigade attackers on the ridge ahead of the front line. They did so, but like the remnants of the 12th & 13th RIR and the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers, they were eventually forced to return to their own front line. Fortunately the Germans made no attempt to counter-attack; the 11th RIR were withdrawn on the evening of the 16th/17th and replaced by the men of the 9th Royal Irish Rifles. They had suffered, as it says in their report of the action, '80 Other Ranks killed, 2 Officers and 81 Other Ranks wounded and 6 Other Ranks missing'. Many bodies were never found and the are named on Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.
Aged 30, he was born the son of Martha Osborne on the 12 March 1887 at Tannaghmore, Drummaul,  and later referred to as the son of the late Martha Osborne, Craigmore, Randalstown. He is named on the Congregational Roll of Honour for 2nd Randalstown Presbyterian Church.
OWENS, 10716 Private Robert James, 2nd Highland Light Infantry, was MIA/later KIA on the 30th July 1916.
The 2nd Highland Light Infantry were in the Montauban area on the 29th July and 'about 5 pm we went back to Bernafay Wood as a reserve for the attack ... on the morning of the 30th.' The War Diary entry for the 30th says that 'as a reserve, we were not required to move up. We got shelled ... and had a few casualties. About 10.11 am a shell hit the side of Headquarters.' The CO and Adjutant were injured. It is probable Owens was also another casualty of the day's shelling.
Robert James Owens enlisted in Glasgow, though he was the 26 year old son of William John and Jane Owens, nee McFetridge, and he had been born on the 8 June 1891 at Castlequarter, Ballymoney.  He was the husband of Elizabeth Owens, nee Lorimer; the couple had married in St Patrick's Parish Church (C of I) the 23 December 1911.
His widow lived at Broughshane Street, Ballymena.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme. 

PARK, 10204 Private David, 2nd Scots Guards, died on the 16th May 1915 in very severe fighting during the Battle of Festubert (15th - 25th May 1915).

Park's 2nd Scots Guards 'left Hinges  ... at 6 pm' on the 15th May and went into action on the 16th. The leading wave set off at 3.12 am and the other lines followed at fifty yard intervals. 'No line checked at the German parapet but the last one ... was ordered to consolidate it. What few Germans were there were bayonetted and the whole Battalion rushed on to the orchard ... here also they met with little resistance, but they came under a heavy crossfire from German machine guns, causing somewhat heavy casualties.' They pressed on nevertheless but encountered further difficulties because the Border Regiment had been unable to advance far enough, leaving the 2nd Scots Guards 'left ...exposed, and it was during this advance we were subject to a very severe enfilade fire'.

The attack continued until a point where the Germans 'opened a very heavy fire on them, at the same time delivering a counter attack from an orchard ... [and] communication trenches ... 'F' Company was completely cut off by this ... counter-attack ... and the German and Scots Guard dead lay mingled and from appearances they must have fought the battle out there to the finish.' This German counter-attack continued until they met the advancing 2nd and 3rd lines and 'met the full effect of their fire, and aided by the machine guns ... inflicted heavy casualties on them, easily beating them back.' At this stage in the assault 'small portions of different regiments ... were collected and ... a strong line was consolidated.'

The Germans then 'brought up strong reinforcements ... and it was found impossible to move from our line ... Such was the situation at 5 am and it remained the same at nightfall.' The unit was relieved and told 'to occupy the old German line in support.'

They assessed their situation at this juncture - 'The whole of 'F' Company were missing [37 men got back later], as was one Platoon of LF Company, and RF Company had only 30 men left.'

The battle continued next day, and 'day broke with a tremendous bombardment on the German trenches ... and before long white flags could be seen ... all along their front line in this neighbourhood, many rushing across unarmed and holding up their hands ... to surrender. On rushing across they were subjected to a heavy fire not only from our own artillery, but from their own side ... to stop them surrendering'.

Meanwhile, the attacked progressed and by nightfall on the 17th 'a new line further forward was formed'. The Battalion came out of action on the 18th May, initially bivouacked near Festubert, and then moved back to Hinges.

David Park born on the 4 August 1883 at Carnlea, Glarryford and was the son of Moore, a weaver and Agricultural labourer, and Lizzie Park, nee Rock, later of Dromore, Glarryford. The wedding took place in Killymurris Presbyterian Church on the 31 May 1878. He was from Carnlea, Glarryford, his bride from Dunminning, Cullybackey.

He is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais and in Killymurris Presbyterian Church.




Right: PARK, John James, 22890, Private, 11th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Machine Gun Section), was MIA/later KIA on the 1st July 1916.  He was aged 24, born 25 August 1891, and the son of John and Elizabeth Park, nee McMillan of Carnlea, Glarryford, Ballymena. He enlisted in Glasgow.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and in Killymurris Presbyterian Church, Glarryford.




Left: PATTON, Archibald, 18689, Rifleman, 1st Bn., 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade, was killed in action on the 12th October 1917. He was aged 33 and had embarked on the 26th July 1916 with the 9th Reinforcements to 2nd Battalion, F Company.  He was the son of John and Sarah Patton of Tyanee, Portglenone. He is buried Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Ypres. He is commemorated in 1st Portglenone Presbyterian Church. See Ballymena New Zealanders.

PATTON, 15/9243 Lance Corporal James, 15 Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on the 1 July 1916 and he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

James Patton was the son of Anne Patton and he was born in Ballymoney Workhouse on the 22 November 1878. He  and his mother were living at Artiloman, Vow, Rasharkin in 1911, as they had been in 1901.

Labourer James Patton married Margaret Campbell of the Vow, Rasharkin in Finvoy Presbyterian Church on the 20 February 1912.

PATTON, 8854 Lance Corporal Samuel, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 19th May 1917.  
The unit were in the Arras area when Brigade Order 16 sent 1st Bn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers to occupy Shrapnel Trench from Grape Trench to Canister Trench, and the section of the Canister Trench that ran up to the South-east Corner of Twin Copse. This position was just east of Monchy-Le -Preux. Subsequent orders saw them take part in an attack on the 19th May, the day Patton died.
The War Diary reads as follows: ‘Attack carried out … fails owing to severe casualties from machine gun fire. Centre party reach their objective but are outnumbered. Lt. Aitcheson effect (sic) a lodgement in Hook Trench with about 20 men but nothing more is heard of them.’ Aitcheson was recorded as 'wounded & missing', though he appears to have survived.
The men left the line the next day, but Samuel Patton was not with them. He had been born at Pharis, Loughguille on the 1st May 1890, the son of agricultural labourer James and his wife Sarah Holmes. The couple had married in 2nd Kilraughts Presbyteriam Church on the 12th May 1874. Both were from Ballyveeley, Loughguile. Samuel, one of eight children, allegedly lived at Ballyweaney, Cloughmills, enlisted in Ballymoney and is commemorated in Kilraughts Presbyterian Church and on the Arras Memorial.

PEDLOW, William (MC), Captain (CWGC says Lieutenant), 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 12th October 1918 in the area south and east of Cambrai. The Battalion War Diary says, '3pm:  moved to Honnechy. Captain Pedlow killed and Lt. Boulter and ... (illegible) wounded, the former died of wounds at Roisel.' No further explanation is given. (The other officer was 2nd Lt JEH Boulter, age 22, son of Edward E Boulter, 31 Maltese Avenue, Chelmsford, died of wounds 15th October 1918. He was granted an MC.)

Pedlow was aged 24, being born at Everley Villas, Belfast on the 5 October 1894.  He had been a student at Trinity College, Dublin,  and he entered the army from Sandhurst. He is buried in Honnechy British Cemetery, Nord, France.

His father William, born in Co Cork, was a senior inspector of National Schools. His mother was Mary Anne McCallum, Lower Crescent, Belfast.  The couple had married in St Anne's, Belfast on the 1 January 1880. Parents William and Marianne Pedlow lived at 59, Anglesea Road, Dublin at the time of their son's death.

The family had close links with Ballymena and may have lived at Broughshane Road at one time. William's name is recorded on the Ballymena Academy war memorial. 


Lieutenant/Acting Captain William Pedlow's Military Cross Citation
Supplement to the Edinburgh Gazette, Issue 13292, July 22nd, 1918, page 2547


Above: PENNY (Pennie), William, 460819, Private, 19th Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regt), was killed in action on the 8th September 1916. He was born on the 21 August 1888 at Kirkinriola.  He was a farm labourer and the son of James and Martha Pennie, Ballygarvey, Ballymena. He is buried Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension, France. He is commemorated on a headstone in Ballymena New Cemetery.

See Ballymena Canadians

PERRY/CWGC says PARRY, 127 Rifleman William, 15th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 31st October 1916. The unit War Diary records only that they were operating around Neuve Eglise and that on the 31st October 1916 the 'Germans shelled back of front line ... in the morning'. Some of the men had, however, been involved in a trench raid the previous evening, one where they had been ambushed by the Germans who had 'laid up for us'. One man was said to have been killed, but CWGC does not list any. Three men were said to have been wounded and one other was missing. Could Parry/Perry, having been wounded on the 30th October, have died of wounds on the 31st October?

William Perry is remembered on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate), Belgium. He had been born the son of Robert and Elizabeth (Eliza) Parry (birth registered as PERRY), nee Bell, on the 22 November 1887 at Ballylummin, Ahoghill, Ballymena.  He lived at Brussels Street, Belfast in 1901 and at Earl Street, Belfast in 1911. He also enlisted Belfast and his brother was John Parry, 105, Upper Canning Street, Belfast. His name appears on the roll of Sinclair Seaman's Church, as does that of his brother James.

PERRY, James, 2275, Private, 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers, died of wounds on the 29th March 1915. He is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
He was born at Lismurnaghan, Ahoghill on the 30th August 1875, the son of Robert and Elizabeth Perry, nee Bell. He enlisted in Cavan and lived at Earl Street, Belfast. CWGC list his brother as Robert, 106 Upper Canning Street, Belfast on their record.  He is remembered in Sinclair Seaman's Church, Belfast, as is brother William (above).
James Perry was a regular soldier as his MIC (Medal Index Card) shows that he was in France after the 19th December 1914. The 2nd Battalion had been in Quetta, India on the outbreak of war. They returned to England in October 1914 and joined the 82nd Brigade of the 27th Division. They were in France after the 19th December 1914.


Peterkin's Scots Guards advanced diagonally from Loos towards Puits 14,  right side of map.

Irish Guards were at Chalk Pit, top right.

PETERKIN, 11992 Guardsman John James, 1st Scots Guards, was killed in action on the 27th September 1915 and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial. The Battalion War Diary reads as follows:
27th September 1915: In early morning marched into Loos and took up line of trenches north of town. At 4.30 pm ordered to attack Puits 14 … Irish Guards having started to attack Chalk Pit … advanced over about 1500 yards. Heavily shelled … but few casualties until within 400 yards of Puit 14 when they came under machine gun fire. Still advanced but forced eventually to retire and dig in right of woods west of Puit 14.
He was aged 30. He was born at Warden Street, Ballymena on the 8 October 1884 and was the son of Alexander, a tailor of Ballymena and Janet, nee Brown. John James Peterkin was living at Cornhill Terrace, Leith, Scotland in 1901 and he enlisted in Edinburgh. His father lived in Leith at the time of his son's death.

PETERS, 7879 Rifleman Joseph, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 30th August 1916. The 2nd Royal Irish Rifles were in the Somme area north of Martinsart and west of Aveluy Wood. The War Diary says they were 'in trenches. Quiet day except for enemy shelling our lines. ... a patrol went out and reconnoitered enemy trenches ... other ranks: 5 killed'.
He was born on the 1 February 1891 and the son of John and Anne Peters, nee Patterson, Tullymore, Broughshane. He is buried in Pozieres British Cemetery, Somme, and he is commemorated in 2nd Broughshane Presbyterian Church.

Captain Thomas McCann Phillips 

Photo courtesy of David Power, Our Heroes



PHILLIPS, Thomas McCann,  Captain, RAMC, attached Major Hayes Ambulance,  died of wounds on the 4th November 1914 after being struck by a shell. He was aged 24 and had been Mentioned in Dispatches.  He was formerly of Ahoghill and the son of Reverend J.G. and Mrs. Anne Phillips. He is buried in Poperinge Communal Cemetery, Belgium.

See fuller account in Virtual Memorial 1914

PICKERING, John Cecil, SPTS/3223, Lance Corporal, 'B' Coy., 24th Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action on the Somme on the 13th November 1916. The 24th Royal Fusiliers (2nd Sportsman's Battalion), part of the 5th Brigade of the 2nd Division, were involved in a successful attack on trenches 'between Serre and Beaumont Hamel'. Platoons of Pickering's 'B' Company were in the first and second waves, and they reached their objective to find it abandoned by the Germans in favour of nearby shell holes. The War Diary says that, having occupied the position, they 'spent the remainder of the day ... consolidating position and beating off desultory bombing attacks from the north'.
He was born on the 1st August 1894 at Lansdown Terrace, Cork, and he was the only son of John, a tea merchant, and his second wife, Cecilia Barr Pickering, nee Lennie of Cork. The couple had married in Trinity Presbyterian Church, Cork on the 16th September 1893. John said his father was a grocer named Cowan Pickering. He lived at 1 Victoria Terrace, Cork, his new wife at 13 Audley Place, Cork. John C had previously lived in Ballymena, and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and in St. Patrick's Church of Ireland, Ballymena.
John Cecil Pickering had a sister, Elizabeth Storey Pickering, the daughter of John Pickering and his first wife, one Susan Nesbitt, the couple then of Drumcondra, Dublin. She was born on the 2nd June 1887, and her father was then a grocer.
The family grave is in Newcastle on Tyne (St Nicholas) Cemetery, England. John died aged 80 on the 6th April 1932, his wife aged 82 on the 14th April 1942. Elizabeth Story Pickering died on the 6th April 1954 and aged 66 years.  John C Pickering is also named.
PITT, 34239 (Headstone says 34239 & MIC says 36239) Private James, 5/6th Scottish Rifles (Cameronians),  died of wounds on the 23rd September 1918 and he is buried in Thilloy Road Cemetery, Beaulencourt.
He was born at Ballykeel, Ballymena on the 4 February 1881, the son of weaver John and Jane Pitt, nee Heggarty. The couple, both 21 and both from Ballykeel, had married in Ballymena's 2nd Presbyterian Church on the 20 March 1858.
James enlisted Hamilton and lived at Busby, East Renfrewshire. He was married on the 28 November 1913 in the United Free Church, Busby, his wife being Mary, nee McMillan, and the couple lived at Main Street, Thornliebank, East Renfrewshire, Scotland. James Pitt is named on the war memorial there.
Pitt probably sustained the wounds from which he died during fighting on the 21st/22nd September 1918.  His unit were around Peiziere when on the 21st September 1918 and ‘At 5.40 am an attack in conjunction with neighbouring units was started by the 19th Infantry Brigade on the right and the 98th Infantry Brigade on the left of the Divisional Front. The 5th Scottish Rifles were in Brigade Reserve and at ZERO minus 30 mins. moved two Companies to PLANE TRENCH and thence to sunken road in X 20 b & d. - (i.e. about 1000 yards further east)
The attacking Battalions of the Brigade failed to secure their objectives. … In the afternoon orders were received by the Battalion to be prepared to attack on the same front.
At 7.18 pm C and D Companies went forward to the assault of MEATH POST and trenches to N and S of it, after capture of which they were to push forward to GLOSTER ROAD (about 250 yards beyond).
At 7.45 pm the Companies were close up to the barrage and MEATH POST was captured. ... Patrols were established on east side of GLOSTER ROAD and defensive flanks formed as they were not in touch with our own troops. The objectives were taken with great dash and comparatively light casualties …
22nd September:
Advanced posts had to be withdrawn from GLOSTER ROAD owing to enemy fire from the flanks, Companies consolidated and held their new positions. On the night of 22nd/23rd the Battalion was relieved by 16th King's Royal Rifle Corps.'

POLLOCK, 11/16942 Rifleman Alexander, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on the 1st July 1916. He was born at Tamlaght on the 8 November 1891, the son of weaver William and his wife Mary Jane, nee McMullen. The family was at Andraid, Randalstown in 1901 and at Caddy, Randalstown in 1911. Alexander Pollock is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

PORTER, 28611 Private Archibald, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 27th January 1917. The unit War Diary says they were in the area around Carnoy and on the 26th January relieved the King's Own Scottish Borderers in the front line. It indicates that on the next day they 'attacked and captured two lines of enemy trenches, in conjunction with the 1st Border Regiment, on a frontage of about 300 yards. Employed on consolidating position.'

On the 27th January the 87th Brigade of the 29th Division, which included the 1st Inniskillings, had stormed northwards in a surprise attack along a narrow 750 yard front astride the Frégicourt–Le Transloy Road and towards an objective only 400 yards away. An effective creeping barrage had covered the advance. Other 8-inch howitzers had bombarded strong-points and road junctions, and heavy batteries had been able to neutralize German artillery. The troops took an unexpected 368 prisoners and incurred a loss of 382 men killed or wounded. Archibald Porter was one of the killed.

He was born at Ballykeel, Ballymena on the 5 December 1883 and was the son of Archibald and Margaret Porter, nee Craig, both of Ballykeel. The couple had married in the Ballymena Registrar's Office on the 8 July 1879. Margaret was a widow in 1901 and 1911 and living at Coggery, Ballyclare, and son Archibald was in 1911 employed in a spinning mill. He later enlisted in Kilsyth and lived in Glasgow. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme. 

Photo courtesy of Nigel Henderson

PORTER, James, S/2015, Private, 7th Seaforth Highlanders, was killed in action on the 25th September 1915, the opening day of the Battle of Loos and he is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.
The 7th were part of th 9th. Division's 26th Brigade. They and 5th Cameron Highlanders led the assault on the Hohenzollern Redoubt, the 8th Gordons and 8th Black Watch acting as their support. They left the trench at 6.30 am. behind a good screen of smoke and gas which regrettably did not reach all across No Man's Land and they were raked with fire when they became visible. The wire was well cut and they were soon in the enemy trench. They bombed their way through the redoubt and reached Fosse Trench. They then moved through the corons (rows of mining village houses) and Fosse 8 to take up position in Corons Trench where they halted as ordered. Their work that  first day was an astounding success, one of very few that day.
They 'dug in' and had consolidated the position by 10.30 am.

Public Domain Map - Extracted from "History of 1/8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters 1914-1919" by Captain W.C.C. Weetman, published by Thomas Forman & Sons, Nottingham, 1920.

James Porter was the son of Robert and Margaret Jane Kerr, Ballybeg/Craignageeragh, Ahoghill.  The couple married in 1st Ahoghill Presbyterian on the 24 December 1884.  James was born on the 23 May 1892 at 41, Lake Street, Belfast, for the family had long left the Ahoghill area and were living in the city; they were at 41, Lake Street in the 1880 Belfast Street Directory. The family are at Cromac in the 1901 census and at Essex Street in 1911.
The 1911 census says there nine children born of Robert and Margaret Jane's marriage and that seven of them were then alive.  Four of them served during the Great War. James's brothers were Hugh Porter (MM), RAMC, born on 6 October 1885 at Craignageeragh, Ahoghill, and Lance Corporal William Porter, born 11 February 1898 at 41 Lake Street, Belfast, Seaforth Highlanders, and John Porter, born 3 February 1890 at Lake Street, Belfast, of the 10th Royal Irish Rifles. John and William were both wounded.
All four brothers are commemorated in Crescent Presbyterian Church, Belfast.

Hugh and William, brothers of James Porter
Photograph courtesy of N Henderson
PORTER, William, 8552, Corporal, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 17th May 1915. The War Diary of the 2nd Battalion has a one line account of their day at Vierstraat (NE of Loker, Southern Belgium): In trenches. Fairly quiet day. One killed.' The one killed was William Porter, CWGC recording him as the only 2nd Royal Irish Rifles casualty that day.
He was born on the 5 October 1889 at Railway Street in Ballymena, the son of James and Mary Ann, nee Clarke, and was the husband of Mary Porter, nee Hamilton, Whitewell, Belfast. The couple had married on the 28 October 1913 in Carnmoney Parish Church.  He is buried in Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, Heuvelland, Belgium.

Left: POWER,  Joyce, 308879, Leading Stoker HMS Hawke. His ship was sunk by U-Boat on the 15th October 1914. He was aged 33, born 10 March 1881 at Ahoghill, and was the son of Mr. and Mrs. William and Maria Power, nee Allison, Ahoghill. He was the husband of Maggie Power, nee Marcus, Waring Street, Ballymena. The couple, then of Craigywarren and Eglish respectively, had married in Cloughwater Presbyterian Church on the 6 August 1912. He is commemorated on Chatham Naval Memorial and in 2nd Broughshane Presbyterian Church.  There is also a headstone in Ballymena New Cemetery, Cushendall Road.


See 'The Sinking of HMS Hawke'

QUAITE (Quate),  Robert,  16 Royal Irish Rifles, born 22nd November 1896 at Kintullagh Lodge, Ballymena, died at home of pulmonary tuberculosis (nephritis) on the 16th May 1918. He was the son of James and Martha Quaite, and he was later linked to Parkmore, Glenariff. Gardener James Quaite of Tullymore (Tullamore sic), Broughshane had married Martha Simpson of Galgorm in 2nd Ahoghill (Trinity) Presbyterian Church on the 30th March 1891.
Robert Montgomery Quaite, an iron ore miner, enlisted in Lurgan on the 5th June 1915 and went to France on the 1st October that year. He was considered of very good character, 'a very good man who has served his country well', and the same record says his TB 'originated June 10th 1916 in France' and that the 'disability [was] the result of active service'. He was discharged medically unfit on the 15th August 1916.
He is commemorated in Newtowncrommelin Presbyterian Church but is not on Commonwealth War Graves Commission record.
RAE (sometimes REA), James Hoy, 15973, Private, 12th Royal Scots (Lothian Regt), was killed in action on the 28th September 1915. He was aged 29 and the son of James and Sarah, 12 Waveney Avenue, Ballymena.  His wife Agnes Logan Rae lived at 148, Institution Street, Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial. 778267 Lance Corporal David Rea of No. 2 Canadian Railway Troops was his brother.                                                                                         See 'Royal Scots Brothers'

RAE (Sometimes REA), Richard, 15910, Private, 12th  Royal Scots (Lothian Regt), was killed in action on the 15th July 1916. He was the son of James and Sarah Rae, 12 Waveney Avenue, Ballymena. His wife resided in Newtownards. He is buried in Quarry Cemetery, Montauban, Somme.

778267 Lance Corporal David Rea of No. 2 Canadian Railway Troops was also his brother.      

                                                                                                                                                                  See 'Royal Scots Brothers.'

RAINEY, James, 622046, Private, 52nd Bn, Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment), was killed in action on the 17th September 1916 and he is remembered on the Vimy Memorial.  Born on the 6th August 1890, he was single, the 24 year old son of James Rainey, Leitrim, Randalstown.  He worked as a checker on the Canadian Pacific Railway.  His brother, labourer John Rainey, A20451, also served in the Canadian Army.                                                                                              See Ballymena Canadians
RAINEY, 290563 Private James Greer, 1/8th Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), died on the 29th July 1918.
James Rainey was the son of youngest son of John and Hannah Rainey. John, son of farmer Henry of Carmagrim, Portglenone, had married Hannah, daughter of labourer Robert Greer of Aughnahoy, in Portglenone Parish Church on the 7th August 1882. The were to have six children - Agnes Rainey (born 23rd June 1883), Henry Rainey (born 16th May 1885), Jane Rainey (born 4th April 1888), James Rainey (born 30th April 1891), Eliza Lizzie Anne Rainey (born 3rd June 1894), Rose Rainey (born 8th April 1897).
The 1901 and 1911 census returns show the family at Aughnahoy, apparently in a rented property belonging to John Maxwell, though at the latter date John was not recorded and may have already gone to Scotland to seek employment in coal mining. James was certainly there by 1914 and worked in the gasworks in Glasgow before the war. He was already a territorial soldier in the 8th Battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) when the war began, and he would have agreed to go on active service; such soldiers wore an Imperial Service Badge above their right tunic pocket.
James landed at Gallipoli on 14th June 1915, guarded the Suez Canal for a time, and afterwards served in the war in Palestine. In early 1918, however, the unit was transferred to the Western Front.
They fought in the 2nd Battle of the Marne, 20 July – 2 August 1918. On the 28th September his division was ordered to concentrate around the Bois de la Baillette to facilitate an attack on Beugneux and Grand Rozoy on the morning of the 29th. The 103rd Brigade, which included the 1/8th Cameronians, and 101st Brigades were to lead the attack.
At 4.10 am fog covered the ground, but the 1/8th Scottish Rifles were among the attacking battalions which pushed forward through a German barrage for over a mile, but towards 6 am a pause was ordered. The French had taken Grand Rozoy, but other of their men did not come up on the right, leaving some units exposed. The pause was a mistake and gave the Germans time to bring up reinforcements.
They counter-attacked. After a long vicious struggle, the British troops fell back about 2 pm to the position gained earlier.  Other troops were ordered to move forward at 2.30 pm against the original objective and outflank Beugneux from the west, whilst the 103rd Brigade attacked the village from the south. This move was anticipated by the Germans and a counterattack at 2.10 pm drove the French 25th Division out of Grand Rozoy and exposed the left of the 101st Brigade. A defensive flank was established and the counter-attack driven off, but, as the right was also ‘in the air’, the 103rd and 101st Brigades fell back half-way to the start line.
Private James was killed in action during this Battle of Beugneux on 29th July 1918.
RAMSAY (usually RAMSEY), 18672 Sergeant Robert, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 23rd August 1916. He was aged 21, born 7 August 1895 at Carncoggy, near Ballybogey and Dervock, and before the war he had worked as a telegraph messenger and later as a linen lapper in Clarke's Mill at Upperlands.  It is now clear he was not a Ballymena soldier but will be left recorded on this site.
He was shot in the head by a sniper when in a careless moment during action he stood up to reload his rifle.  He is buried in Ration Farm Annexe, Belgium. He was the second child and son of Daniel and Ellen Ramsay, nee McMullan, Culmore, Rasharkin (townland lies between Rasharkin and Kilrea).
The couple had married in Benvardin Presbyterian Church on the 24 April 1894 and Daniel Ramsey was a coachman in the service of Captain Armstrong of Culmore. He said he hailed from Carncoggy and Ellen was from Ballynaris, near Dromore, Co Down. They met while in domestic service. He gave her address in his will as Ellen Ramsey, Culmore, Kilrea, Co Londonderry.


Corporal James Rea, son of Matthew, Drumcrow, Broughshane.

Photograph courtesy of Nigel Henderson, Ulster History Hub

REA, James, 3/8834, Lance Corporal, 8th Royal Irish Rifles, was  killed in action on the 16th August 1917, the first day of the Battle of Langemarck, a phase of the Passchendaele battle.
He was aged 20 and the son of shoemaker Matthew and his wife Hannah Rea, nee Steele, Drumcrow, Carnalbanagh and he had been born at Carnalbanagh on the 3 June 1897.
He is buried in Tyne Cot Military Cemetery and commemorated in Carnalbanagh Presbyterian Church.

REA, James H., 7828, Rifleman, 1st Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 23rd October 1916 in fighting on the Transloy Ridge, Somme.

The Battle of Le Transloy was the last big attack by the British Fourth Army in the 1916 Battle of the Somme, and 1st Royal Irish Rifles were in the 25th Brigade of the 8th Division in the 3rd Corps of this Fourth Army.
The 1st Royal Irish Rifles moved into the area and bivouacked in Trones Wood on the night of the 19th October. They were one of the supporting battalions for an attack that was to begin on the 23th October, ultimately an attack on Zenith Trench. At 2.30pm on the 23rd they ‘advanced by Platoon … through a heavy barrage … put up between Rose Trench and Quarries’, fortunately ‘with very little loss.’ They needed to occupy Spider and Rainbow trenches once the 2nd Berkshire Regiment attacked, but ‘in crossing the sunken road’ they came under intense artillery fire, and ‘the casualties incurred were heavy’. Moreover, ‘owing to the narrow communication trenches and blocking  ... it was necessary to occupy the … trenches going over the open … however without further loss'. They were in position by 3.51 pm.
At 5.15 pm they were ordered to move forward but ‘all the trenches occupied were under continuous artillery fire and owing to the shallowness and exposure further losses were incurred’. It was at 8pm that night that they learned they were to be the one of the assaulting battalions at Zenith Trench the next day. However, Rea was already dead and did not see the failed attack and severe casualties of the 24th October.

James H Rea was aged 20 and the son of John and Susanna Rea, Carnalbanagh and he is commemorated in Carnalbanagh Presbyterian Church. He was born on the 26 December 1895 at Carnalbanagh. The family lived there in 1901 but were at Owencloghy, Glenarm in 1911.  James had enlisted in Paisley, Scotland, and he is buried in Longueval Road Cemetery, Somme.

REA, 3/11302 Rifleman James, 'B' Coy, 8th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 2nd September 1916. The War Diary record of the 1st September says, 'at 8.30 pm started to relieve the 15th Bn RIR in the line', and they were to stay there until the 9th September, then retiring to Kortepyp Camp. This was near Ploegsteert Wood and about a mile SW of Nieuwkerke (fr. Neuve Eglise). The record for the 2nd September merely states, 'In the trenches. A very quiet day'. There is no indication of what happened to the soldier.
He was born on the 14 September 1891 at Ballee, Connor, near Ballymena and was the son of James and Elizabeth Rea, nee Montgomery, 187, Beersbridge Road, Belfast. He was married to Mary (Minnie) Graham on the 4 December 1915 in Bloomfield Presbyterian Church.


REA (or RAE),  William,  4915, Private, 58th Australian Infantry, died of wounds received in action on the 14th August 1916. He was the son of William and Joyce Rae (Rea on headstone, Rae on his enlistment papers) of Tullygarley, though he had been living in Australia since his 18th birthday. He was aged 51 (Age given as 47 yrs on CWGC/Australian records. He gives his age as 43 years & 7 months at his enlistment. His record of birth says 24 January 1865.) and he was a baker, his address being Leura Villas, St Alban's Rd, East Geelong, Victoria.

He enlisted on the 28th July 1915 and sailed from Melbourne on HMAT Wiltshire on 7th March 1916. He joined the 58th Battalion at Etaples, France on 22 July 1916 and he was wounded on 14th August 1916.  These wounds were described as a compound fracture of the skull and a fracture of the knee, and the record shows he died of gunshot wounds at 1 Australian Casualty Clearing Station.  He is buried in Estaires Communal Cemetery, Nord, France, and commemorated in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church and in Ballyclug Old Cemetery.                                                                       See also Ballymena Australians


REID, Alexander Dunbar, M/344918, Private,  MT Depot, Royal Army Service Corps (MT means 'Motor Transport'), died on the 12th November 1918 of pulmonary tuberculosis, allegedly an illness contracted on active service. He was born on the 13 April 1900 at Carnearney, Ahoghill, the son of John and Maggie Reid, nee Dunbar, 27 Springwell Street, Ballymena. He is buried Ballymena New Cemetery, Cushendall Road.

REID,  42883 Private Robert, 14th Platoon, 'D' Company, 8th Yorkshire Regiment, formerly Royal Field Artillery, was killed in action on the 20th September 1917.
The War Diary relates the circumstances of his death:
20th/24th  - 69th. Brigade attacked INVERNESS COPSE at 5.45 a.m.
‘D’ Coy – was attached to 10th. Duke of Wellington’s for attack on final objective. Moved to Clapham Junction-Stirling Castle area on night of 19/20th. where Company lay out in the open behind ridge until Zero on the 20th. when they moved into JASPER LANE, where they remained till zero plus 3 hrs. They then advanced with the Australian Division on their left and the Duke of Wellington's on their right, and took the final objective at about 11 a.m. where the Company consolidated. Enemy attempted no counter attack and the Company was finally relieved by ‘D’ Coy, 9th. Yorks. on night 23/24th.
Robert Reid was born in Ballymena and enlisted in Glasgow. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial. His wife's address in his will is given as 9, Turner Street, Townhead, Glasgow.







REID, Thomas, 8360, Sergeant, 1st Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 16th August 1917, the first day of the Battle of Langemarck, one of the opening phases of the infamous Battle of Passchendaele.  He was aged 31 and was the son of labourer James Knox Reid and Grace Reid, nee Hamill, of Knockboy, Broughshane, and he was born at Craigywarren on the 12 June 1886. Having no known grave, he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial and in 2nd Broughshane Presbyterian Church.

REID, Thomas, 11741, Serjeant,  15th Bn, Royal Irish Rifles, was born on 31 May 1882 at Ballykennedy, Ahoghill, Ballymena, was killed in action aged 36 years on 20th October 1918 while in action around Rolleghem, Gheluvelt, Belgium.

The 15th Royal Irish Rifles had moved to Rolleghem and then to Lendelede before going into the assembly trenches on the 20th at 0130 for an attack on Gaverbeke. They attacked at 0600 and had reached their objective by 0900. They then withdrew to Brigade Reserve, 1st Royal Irish Rifles continuing the attack. Lt. Col. D Jones and 3 other officers had been killed; 12 men had also died, Thomas Reid being one of them. He is buried in Harlebeke New British Cemetery, Belgium.

He was the son of Joseph and Mary Reid, nee Craig, and the husband of Sarah Murray. The couple were married in Gracehill Moravian Church on the 25 October 1911. He was named on the Galgorm & District War Memorial, now lost.

RENNIE, 1619 Private David, 2nd Bn. Australian Imperial Force, was killed in action on the 9 April 1917.  He was the son of John Rennie, a farmer, and his wife Mary Jane, nee McClarty, of East Torr, Culfeightrin, a townland about half way between Cushendall and Ballycastle. He joined the AIF at Liverpool, NSW, Australia on the 19 November 1914, left Sydney aboard HMAT (A49) Seang Choon and was part of the ‘permanent beach party’ at the Dardanelles, Turkey. He served on ‘kit bag escort’ to Cairo and later went to Marseilles, France as part of the ‘baggage escort’. He was still with the 2nd Battalion when he served in France and it was while with them that he was killed. He is buried in Hermies British Cemetery, ‘8 miles east of Bapaume’, France. He had at least three brothers, Charles, Samuel, and John Rennie, the latter at East Torr, Ballyvoy, Ballycastle.
                                                                                                                                                                    See Ballymena Australians
RICE, 27692 Private William Blaney, 10th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on the Somme on the 1st July 1916. He was born on the 1 August 1893 at Tullygrawley, Cullybackey, the son of labourer James and his wife Jane, nee McAuley. He lived at Craigs, Cullybackey and he enlisted Ballymena.
His parents at the time of his death, according to the CWGC entry, lived at 29, Glu Street, Paisley, though his will leaves his effects to his mother Jane at 14, Glen Street, Paisley. 
He is buried in Connaught Cemetery, Somme.

Left: RICHARDSON, 8068 Rifleman Joseph, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action at Neuve Chapelle on the 24th October 1914 .

2nd Royal Irish Rifles arrived there on the 22nd October and waited in trenches to halt the German onslaught. They encountered 'a certain amount of rifle fire from advanced parties of the enemy' during the day and considerably heavier fire during that night, but 'the enemy was apparently not in any strength'. Next day, the 23rd, the firing became heavier and there were 'increasing casualties'. The Germans began 'a severe bombardment of Neuve Chapelle from the heavy guns at La Bassee and from a heavy gun to our left front ... soon after dark a determined attack was made ... in considerable strength but was repulsed with heavy casualties judging by the noise made by German wounded lying in front of the trenches ... our casualties were not many. Fighting continued throughout the 24th October and by the 25th the Germans had succeeded in 'establishing themselves in the houses near the left flank of the trenches'. They later rushed the British.  However, by then Richardson was already dead.

Richardson was born in Ahoghill on the 8th November 1885. He was the son of shoemaker James and Isabella Richardson, nee McDowell,  of 7, Alfred Street, Ballymena.

He is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial and in Harryville Presbyterian Church.

RITCHIE, David Lynn, 376, Sergeant,  9th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on the 1st July 1916.  Aged 39, he was born at Elgany, Broughshane on the 10 September 1876 and was the son of farmer Charles Ritchie and his wife Mary, nee Alexander, of Ballylig, Broughshane.
He was the husband of Jane Ritchie, nee Montford, Carncairn, Broughshane. The couple had married in West Church, Ballymena on the 16 April 1912. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and in 1st Broughshane Presbyterian Church.

RITCHIE, John Ross, 23/2078, Private, 2nd Bn. Wellington Infantry Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force, was killed in action on the 15th September 1916. Born at Carncoagh, Broughshane on the 17 September 1872, he was a labourer and the son of John and Hannah J. Ritchie, nee Ross, of Carncoagh, Rathkenny, Co. Antrim, Ireland. He listed his uncle Thomas Ritchie, Rathkenny as his next of kin when he embarked on the 4th March 1916 with the 4th Reinforcements, 1st Battalion, E Company.  He is commemorated on the Caterpillar Valley Memorial, Somme and in Clough Cemetery and Cloughwater Presbyterian Church.
                                                                         See Ballymena New Zealanders
ROBERTSON, 18196 Private Charles, 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 16 May 1915 during the action at Festubert, essentially the second phase of the attack on the Aubers Ridge.
The 2nd Inniskillings, part of the 5th Brigade of the 2nd Division, were one of the two units to lead the 5th Brigade assault on the right; 6th Brigade were on their left. They left their trenches at 11.30 am. 6th Brigade gained their objective easily, occupying the German front and support trenches and sustaining few casualties. 5th Brigade ran into a murderous hail of machine gun fire and suffered badly, though the Inniskillings did get into the German trenches. They held on to them 'till the evening of the 16th, when ordered to withdraw to Reserve breastworks'. Next day they were relieved and marched to billets in Le Touret.
They had had heavy casualties. The War diary's initial assessment was 3 officers killed, 1 dead of wounds, and 1 wounded. 2 more were wounded and missing, and a further 5 were missing and believed killed. 39 men were known to be killed, 371 were wounded and 239 were missing. Robertson was one of the 39 killed.
He is named on the Le Touret Memorial, France.  He came from Cushendun and enlisted in Ballymoney.  He is incorrectly named as Charles Robinson on the Cushendall entry in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Roll of Honour 1914-1919.
ROBINSON, Daniel, 8262, Rifleman, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 25th October 1914. Soldiers Died in the Great War says he was born in Ballymena, though a record of his birth has not been found.
However, the 1901 Irish census records a Daniel Robinson, an Anglican and aged 42 years, and his wife Catherine, formerly Nicholl (aged 32), living at Benthan Street, Belfast. Some of the family, notably Daniel (12), were born in Scotland, hence the lack of a local record of birth. Others of the family were born in Co. Antrim and Daniel's brothers Robert and James, and his sister Elizabeth (Lizzie), for whom records have been found, were all born at Ballylummin, Ahoghill, this near Ballymena.  They were indeed a Ballymena family.
Daniel enlisted in Belfast. He lived at 105, Matilda Street, Belfast and had married Catherine McConkey, 90, Matilda Street, Belfast in St Anne's Parish Church on the 16 November 1908, his father then being recorded as Daniel, a carter. His will leaves 'everything' to his wife Catherine.
He in commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
ROBINSON,  40140 Private David, 'D' Coy, 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers,  formerly 24784 of the Hussars, was killed in action at Fampoux, a village east of Arras, on the 11th April 1917.
1st Royal Irish Fusiliers had for this attack the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders on their left, the 2nd West Riding Regiment on their right. 'C' & 'D' Companies led the assault for the Fusiliers, 'A' Coy. was in support, and 'B' Coy. was held in reserve. The troops came under machine gun fire as they moved into the trenches from which they were to attack, and the 'position was shelled from 11.30 am.' Their own artillery opened fire at 12 noon as the attack began. 'From  this moment the assaulting troops came under intense machine gun fire from the north and south and houses of objective.' They and the Seaforths nevertheless reached their objective, this despite 'the officers of the assaulting Companies (C & D) having become casualties.' The captured trenches were then consolidated and held until the men were withdrawn on relief by their 'B' Company. David Robinson was not amongst them.
He was born at Ballynacaird, Broughshane on the 22 July 1896, elder twin brother of Robert, and lived there with his father Robert and his wife Sarah, nee McNeill. The couple, from Ballynacaird and Loughconnolly, Broughshane respectively, had married in Glenarm Presbyterian Church on the 20th December 1888. They went on to have ten children, nine of whom were alive in 1911.
David enlisted in Ballymena. He is buried in Brown's Copse Cemetery, Roeux, Pas de Calais. He is commemorated in Buckna Presbyterian Church.
ROBINSON, 11/3745 Rifleman Edward, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on the 1st July 1916.
He was born on the 4 March 1887 at the Grange Park, Ballyscullion and lived at Taylorstown. He was the son of John and Mary Robinson, nee Houston, of Kilvillis, Toomebridge. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and in Grange Presbyterian Church.
ROBINSON MM, 874446 Private James, 27th Battalion Canadian Infantry, was killed in action aged 21 years on the 1 October 1918 and is buried in Haynecourt British Cemetery, France. He was born on the 9 August 1897 at Glenhead, Glenwherry and lived at 229, Gordon Avenue, Elmwood, Winnipeg.  He was the son of Arthur and Jennie Robinson, nee Porter, and he is remembered on Broughshane War Memorial - See Ballymena Canadians.

Right: ROBINSON, James  A, 18/719 or 719, Rifleman, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, was  killed in action on the 1st September 1916. He was born the son of Martha Robinson at Straid, Ahoghill on the 25 July 1891, though Martha and husband Robert later lived at James Street, Harryville, Ballymena.

James was the father of two young children, and husband of Jane Robinson, nee Thompson, who lived at 2 James Street, Ballymena.  The couple had married in Ballyclug Parish Church on the 3rd October 1910, and both then gave their address as James Street, Ballymena.

James had worked for Mr J Taylor, Harryville but enlisted in November 1915, and he had gone to the front in February 1916.

The 11th Battalion War Diary suggests he may have died in a terrible debacle involving gas. It says as follows:

1st September 1916 - 1.30am: 'Gas was released from trench 140 ... it commenced to blow back. A great many men of 'A' Company were gassed ...

2.15am: 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.

10.15am: ... 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. One of the Battalion officers told his wife that "He was one of those we could ill afford to lose and his loss to me is a personal one. He was always so cheerful and ready to do his duty - in fact it was at his post that he met his death most gallantly."

CWGC lists twenty men of the 11th Royal Irish Rifles who died on 1st September 1916.

James Robinson is buried in Ration Farm (La Plus Douve) Annexe, Ploegsteert, Belgium.

ROBINSON, Robert, 13551, Private, 10th Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), died of wounds on the 17th October 1915, wounds sustained during the Battle of Loos, 25th  September-13th October. Their last engagements seem to have been around Hill 70. His unit had been relieved but were still in the area at Noeux-les-Mines from the 13th-20th October and thereafter went to the trenches at Vermelles.
Aged 20, he was born at Railway Street, Ballymena on the 16 July 1895, and he lived at Stanley Grove, Manchester. He was the son of Robert and Mary Jane Robinson, nee Boyd, 196, Northumberland Road, Southampton. He is buried in Ste. Marie Cemetery, Le Havre, France.
ROBINSON (DCM), William John, 40839, Lance Corporal, 1st Royal Irish Rifles, was  killed in action on the 16th August 1917.  He was born on the 19 February 1897 at Rathkeel, the son of Joseph and Agnes Robinson, nee Gordon, of Rathkeel, Broughshane. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial and in 1st Broughshane Presbyterian Church.
He enlisted in the North Irish Horse, as evident by the cap badge here, at Ballymena in late 1915,  later volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles, embarking for France with them on 7 December 1916. William John Robinson subsequently became one of the killed on the opening day of the Battle of Langemarck. He was postumously awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal for his gallantry that day. His entry in the London Gazette reads: "When all his company runners had become casualties, he acted as a runner all day, taking messages under severe conditions to advanced posts in shell-holes. His successful efforts in performing this extremely dangerous and most important work contributed very greatly to the repulse of two subsequent counter-attacks."
© UK Photo And Social History Archive
Robinson W J LCpl DCM 40839 1st Royal Irish Rifles De Ruvignys Roll Of Honour Vol 5
See Bits & Pieces - Lieutenant James Robinson was his brother.

Rev. Francis Cavendish Roche                                      photograph courtesy of David Power, Our Heroes

ROCHE, Reverend Francis Cavendish, Padre,  served with the 10th (Irish ) Division and died aged about 33 years of enteric fever contracted in Gallipoli at 19th General Hospital, Alexandria, Egypt on the 14th November 1915. He was a former curate at St. Patrick's Church of Ireland, Ballymena from 1908, and after 1910, at Mortlake, London. He is buried in Alexandria (Chatby) Military Cemetery, Egypt.

He was the son of George Major and Jane Roche and is associated with 12, Montpelier Hill, Dublin and 2, Stonedale Villas, Upper Richmond Road, Eastsheen, Surrey.  He was born in Dublin and had served as a trooper in the Irish Horse during the South African War. His will gave his monies to his widow Jane.

ROCK, Hugh Morrison, 18/1289, Rifleman, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action near Wulverghem, Belgium on 8th June 1917. He had been asked to deliver dispatches around the trenches during the Battle of Messines Ridge and it was while engaged in this work that he was shot by a sniper.
The 11th Royal Irish Rifles were acting as a support for units that led the assault at 3.10 am on the 7th June, 'B' Company being 'detailed to follow the the first waves of the 14th Royal Irish Rifles and mop up the enemy front, support and reserve lines'. 'D' Company were to do the same for the 11th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 'C' Company was held in reserve, 'A' Company initially remained in the trenches at Fort Regina, later carried supplies to the forward area, and were at 8.30 am sent forward 'towards the Mauve Line, meeting with some machine gun fire from their left flank, which was exposed'. 'D' Company had also come under machine gun fire as they mopped up.
At 12.50 am on the 8th, the day of Rock's death, the men were ordered 'to take over the whole of the Mauve Line and consolidate a line ... 'B' Company relieved the 12th Royal Irish Rifles'. The War Diary then says, 'Consolidation and linking up shell holes was carried on throughout the day in spite of enemy artillery ... we were under observation'. The latter phrase probably explains how Rock was targeted by a sniper.
He was born on the 16 June 1895 and was the postman son, part of a family of ten, of George and Agnes Rock, nee Morrison, of Ballylig, Killagan. He was a native of Frocess, Carabeg/Carnbeg, Cloughmills and enlisted in Ballymoney. In 1901 and 1911 he is living at Mount Hamilton, Killagan, Glarryford.
Hugh Morrison Rock is buried in Spanbroekmolen Cemetery, Belgium.
ROSBOROUGH/ROSSBOROUGH, Fireman John, Mercantile Marine, died on Monday, December 18, 1916 and aged 24 in the sinking of the SS Opal (Glasgow); he had served as John GIBBONS.  The coaster struck a mine laid by submarine U-80 and sank off the coast of the Isle of Man; twelve crew were lost in the incident, including the ship’s master. The vessel was travelling from Llandulas, North Wales on a voyage to Belfast-Glasgow with a cargo of limestone. He is remembered on the Tower Hill Memorial, London.
He was the son of Letitia Rossborough, of Waterfall Rd., Carnlough, Co. Antrim and he had been born at Carnlough. No record of his birth can be found but the 1901 census records Catherine Rosborough (sic), a 60-year-old widow living at Locke’s Court, Larne with her daughter Letitia, a 24-year-old single girl. Eight-year-old grandson ‘Johnny’ Rosborough lived with them.  In 1911 the family were at Waterfall Road, Carnlough. Catherine Rosborough was 74 years old and lived with Letitia, 34 and single, and two grandchildren. John Gibbons, obviously the former Johnny Rosborough, was a 19-year-old labourer and Jeannie McAuley was aged eight.

ROSS, George McCart, 17896, Lance Corporal, 62nd Btn. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), formerly 6460 Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds on the 21st July 1918. He was aged 26 years, the son of George and Margaret Ross, nee McCart, variously of George Street and Coach Entry/Castle Street, Ballymena. He is commemorated in St Patrick's Parish Church, Castle Street, Ballymena.
His brother is John McCart (Ross) who died on the 1st July 1916. George is buried in St. Imoges Churchyard, France. This is NE of Paris.
ROSS, 446990 George Raphael, 10th Battalion Canadian Infantry, was killed in action aged 44 years on the 14 June 1916 and is remembered on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate). He was born on the 26 June 1871, the son of John Raphael and Agnes (Nancy) Ross, nee Brown. His parents later lived at Circular Road, Belfast. - See Ballymena Canadians entry.

Lt Thomas George Rutherford

RUTHERFORD, Thomas George, Lieutenant, 10th Canadian Infantry, died of wounds on the 12th October 1916. Born on the 20th April 1880 in Newcastle, Co. Down and aged 36 at the time of his death,  he was the the son of the Rev. Thomas and Margaret Rutherford of Hollywood, Co. Down. He lived at 283, Pacific Avenue, Winnipeg and his wife was E Margaret Rutherford, Hilliers, Vancouver Island, Canada. He was a pharmacist (Druggist). He is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery and commemorated in Ballymena New Cemetery.      See Ballymena Canadians
SCOTT, 71780 Private John, 19th (Queen Alexandra’s Own) Royal Hussars was killed in action on the 8th October 1918. He born on 25th March 1897, and was the 21 year old son of John, an iron ore miner, and Mary Ann Scott, nee Steed, Parkmore Row, Co. Antrim. The couple, both from Skerry East, had married in Newtowncrommelin Presbyterian Church on the 25 January 1883. They had had 9 children, all of them still alive, at the time of the 1911 Irish census. ‘Johnnie’ (14) and his brother Thomas are also recorded as iron ore miners.
John Scott initially enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Ballymena in February 1917, his service number being 2372, but he was transferred to the 19th (Queen Alexandra's Own Royal) Hussars after his deployment to France and Flanders. Historian Phillip Tardif in his book ‘The North Irish Horse in the Great War’, published by Pen & Sword Military, says Scott was killed during severe fighting in the vicinity of Serain, Premont and Brancourt as the unit advanced towards le Cateau. He was buried near the town of Brancourt-le-Grand but his body was reinterred in Busigny Communal Cemetery.
He is commemorated in Layde Parish Church, Cushendall and in Newtowncrommelin Presbyterian Church.
Photograpth from the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph, November 1918 & courtesy of Nigel Henderson
SCOTT, Robert Henry, 74281, Private,  28th Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan Regt), was struck in the stomach by a bullet while in action and he died at a dressing station on the 15th September 1916. He was aged 42 according to the CWGC but had given his date of birth at enlistment as 19 April 1887; other sources say 19 July 1887.  He may have been born in Ballymena, though other sources suggest Belfast, and his mother lived in Kyle Street, Dungannon at the time of his death.  His father was the late William,  and his brother, J.B. Scott, was headmaster of Model School, Ballymena. He is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial.
                                                                                                                                                                      See Ballymena Canadians

Extracted from Belfast Newsletter, 9th October 1916

SCULLION, Hugh, 3918, 8th  Bn. Australian Imperial Force, died of broncho-pneumonia on the 29th May 1920, aged 40,  and is buried in Brighton General Cemetery, Victoria.  He was born on the 28 March 1882 at Duke Street, Ballymena, Co Antrim, the son of Hugh and Maria/Mary (nee Kennedy) Scullion.  He enlisted on the 9th July 1915 in Melbourne, Victoria, aged 32 years & 4 months, and described himself a labourer.  He gave his next of kin as Mr Lewis Scullion, Butler Street, Belfast.  He was a widower and had no other family in Australia.  His service record gives his mother as Mrs Scullion, 30, Brookfield Street, Belfast. Agnes, Lewis, Bernard and Elizabeth appear to be the other Scullion children. 

Hugh is listed in CWGC records and his death is war related.  He had travelled via Alexandria and Marseilles to join his unit in France on the 29th July 1916, and he was almost immediately wounded in action on the 18th August 1916.  He was transferred to England and seems to have spent the remainder of his war there before being medically discharged. See Ballymena Australians

SEMPEY, James, 19751, Corporal, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 10th February 1916. He was aged 29 years.  He was born on the 19 June 1887 at Cross, Ballyclug, Ballymena and was the son of Hugh and Isabella Sempey, nee Houston. He lived near Donegore in 1901 and at Ballygallagh, Ballyclare in 1911. He lived at Ballyclare and his wife, Sarah Jane Sempey, nee Simm. He had married her at Ballylinney Presbyterian Church on the 12 April 1908. She remarried after his death and became Mrs McNeill, Main Street, Ballyclare. He is buried in Mesnil Ridge Cemetery, Somme.
The War Diary of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles shows that the unit had gone into billets at Mesnil at 3.00pm on the 8th February and were enjoying a quiet rest there when on the 10th February a 'German aeroplane with British marks dropped 4 bombs on Mesnil killing one man and wounding 3 others'. It would seem 19751 James Sempey was the unfortunate soldier to die.
SEYMOUR, John, 23735, Private, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died of wounds on the 28th March 1918. 
His battalion were falling back before the wave of German troops released by the Spring Offensive of 1918. 'At 12 noon on the 27th March the enemy again attacked but was held in  check'. The Germans had, however, made a deep penetration of the line further left of the 9th Inniskillings and this necessitated the latter retiring south of the River Avre. 'Fighting  a rearguard we fell back and ultimately marched to Bouillancourt ... on the morning of the 28th the Battalion marched to Chirmont and after ... proceeded about 5.00 pm to Coullemelle, there taking up an outpost position but not coming into contact with the enemy.'  Seymour's cause of death is not discernible, though the location and circumstances of it are clear.
He was born on the 11 January 1895 at Ballytresna, Randalstown, the son of carpenter Robert and Elizabeth Seymour, nee Andrews, Randalstown. He is buried in St. Sever Cemetery Rouen, France.

SHANNON, Robert, 2842, Private, 4th Australian Infantry Battalion, was killed in action on the 6th May 1917 in France and is remembered on the Villers-Bretonneau Memorial.  Aged 36, he was the son on Samuel and Agnes Shannon (nee Henry), Montalto, Newtowncrommelin and he was the second of seven children.  He was five feet six inches tall, with a dark complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair.  He was educated at Tullybane School, Cloughmills, worked in Turner's shop in Cloughmills, emigrating to Australia when about 25 years old; two of the Turners also emigrated to Australia and Robert died in WW1 - see list.  His eldest sister, Sarah, lived in Narrabri, New South Wales and worked as a draper in a clothes shop.

According to Thompson (Ballymoney Heroes, 1914-18), he enlisted in 1915 but his arrival in the fighting zone was delayed because he contracted mumps and required prolonged medical attention.  He finally arrived at Marseilles on the 30th March 1916. On 24th July 1916, he sustained bullet wounds to the head and left foot and he was taken to 44th Casualty Clearing Station and immediately transferred to No 19 Ambulance Train. In July he arrived in hospital at Rouen. After three days here he was moved to Le Havre and taken on board the H.S.Marami and to hospital in Newport, Monmouthshire. He arrived there on the 30th July and was there until the 17th October, when he was moved to Wandsworth where he spent another week before being granted two weeks leave. On 13th December he embarked on S.S.Arundel at Folkestone and landed next day at Etaples and on 20th December rejoined the 4th battalion. He was killed in action on 6th May 1917 and a report states that he was buried in the vicinity of Bullecourt.

He is commemorated in Killagan Parish Church, Cloughmills.  He gave only his mother's name as next of kin when he enlisted. His sister Sarah wrote to the AIF as follows: 'his mother is still alive. But considering her state of health and what the news of his death caused her. I think it advisable that she receives no medal as it could only revive the past and give her more pain and suffering than pleasure.' (Sic) Sarah took the medals.  Her words remind us of the  pain WW1 caused, that these were real people.

SHAW, James Dunbar, Rifleman, 11/13th Royal Irish Rifles & 22nd Entrenching Battalion (11/13th Royal Irish Rifles were disbanded and incorporated into the 22nd Entrenching Battalion on the 18th February 1918), was killed in action on 28th March 1918 as the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael, enveloped troops near the front. Few records for the unit exit but we do have a record of what befell Shaw and others. It reads: On the night of 23rd March the enemy shelled Misery, and we received orders early next morning (I think from Corps) to proceed to Gillancourt and later to dig in on a line from Rainecourt to Rosieres. The enemy attacked on our left flank during the afternoon which was unprotected and took Rainecourt and Framerville; in the evening a Staff Colonel brought up 2nd Battalion of Durham Light Infantry and counter-attacked and re-took Framerville with heavy losses to themselves and our left company which joined in the attack - Moore one of my subalterns was killed in this attack. After this no heavy fighting took place till the 28th when we were attacked by the enemy when holding a line along the railway north of Rosieres. The battalion fought a rearguard action to Caix where we counter-attacked at midday and re-took the ridge. Colonel Blair Oliphant was killed in this attack whilst leading the platoon into action'.

James Shaw was born on the 6th December 1897 at Killygore, Broughshane, son of Robert & Esther Shaw, nee Dunbar, Killygore, Martinstown, Co. Antrim.  The couple, Robert Shaw from Killygore and Esther Dunbar from Galgorm Parks, had married in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena on the 21st January 1897.

He is listed in Presbyterian Church in Ireland Roll of Honour, 1914 - 1919 under Cloughwater Church and he is named on the Pozieres Memorial and the Broughshane War Memorial.

SHAW, 724 Rifleman Thomas, 1st Royal Irish Rifles, died aged 31 of wounds on the 29th November 1916 and is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.
Boulogne was one of three base ports used by the British and it was the site of hospitals that treated wounded men brought down from the front. Shaw's burial in the town cemetery tells us he was wounded some considerable time prior to his death on the 29th November and had been transported to this location by motor ambulance or ambulance train.
The 1st Bn War Diary tells us that the unit were operating in a Brigade Support role east of Lesboeufs and north of Carnoy in early November 1916. They had gone into the trenches on the 11th November to relieve the 2nd Berkshire Regiment, like the 1st RIR also part of the 8th Division's 25th Brigade, and remained there to the night of 13th/14th November. Thereafter they withdrew from the area and went into billets. The records suggests that the front was subjected to a barrage of gas shells on the 11th November, and this may have been when Shaw was wounded. He could, however, have been wounded much earlier.
Thomas Shaw was born on the 31 October 1885 at Dunaghy, Clough, and he was working in Wellington Street, Ballymena in 1911. He was the son of carpenter John and Mary Shaw, nee Rock, Clough. The couple had married in the Baptist Chapel, Ballymena on the 4 December 1884.  He was from Dunaghy, Clough, she from Dungall, Kirkinriola.
SHAW, Sailor Thomas Molyneux, Mercantile Marine, was killed on the 16 November 1917 when he was aged 18 in the sinking 40 miles east-northeast of Bayonne, France of the SS Garron Head. He was the son of John James Shaw, a scutcher of Ballynacaird, Broughshane and Margaret Shaw, nee McFetridge, also Ballynacaird, and he had been born at Ballynacaird on the 7 December 1898. The family were living at Ballynacaird at the time of the 1901 census, at Bay, Waterfoot, Carnlough in 1911, and at Aughareamlagh, Carnlough, Co. Antrim at the time of his death.
The SS Garron Head, a 1,933-ton steamer built in 1913 by Irvine’s SB & DD. Co., Ltd., West Hartlepool and operated by the Ulster Steamship Co., Ltd. (G. Heyn & Sons), Belfast, was originally thought to have struck a mine while on voyage from Bilbao to Barrow with a cargo of iron ore, but it now confirmed that she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-103 (Commander Claus Rucker). Twenty-eight crew were killed, Master E. Suffern amongst them. U-103 had completed five tours of duty under Captain Claus Rucker and had sunk eight ships, but on the 12 May 1918 as she prepared to sink the RMS Olympic, then a troopship, she was rammed and sunk by her intended target.

Left: SIMPSON, 79354 Gunner Alexander, 9th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, was killed in action near Dikkebus, Belgium on the 21 July 1917.  He was the son of farmers James and Agnes Simpson, Firview Farm, Ballymaconnelly, Rasharkin.  She was the daughter of James Black, and the couple, both from the Rasharkin area, had married in 2nd Ahoghill Presbyterian Church (Trinity) on the 5th December 1882. Son Alexander was born at Fernagh, Rasharkin on the 10th November 1883 (some records state incorrectly 1886), the eldest of a family of eight children; a ninth child, Henry Elliott Simpson, was born on the 24th July 1892 but had died on 8th August 1894.
He was educated at Maboy School, near Portglenone and later attended the Page-Davis School in London. He had studied Art in London and was a graduate, a noted athlete and footballer. Prior to his enlistment on the 1st March 1916 he had been living in Kilbride, Scotland. He is incorrectly listed as James Simpson in the Ballymena Observer, 14 September 1917.
He was killed near Ypres, his Commanding Officer telling the family that, ‘the Battery was under shell fire when your son was on his way from the dugout. He was struck by a piece of shell and died immediately. He always did his duty cheerfully and uncomplainingly; he died nobly and bravely doing his duty; he was a splendid fellow, and the battery will miss him very much, and we all mourn his loss. Please accept my sympathy in your great sorrow.’
He is buried in Dickebusch New Military Cemetery Extension, Belgium.

SIMPSON, Christopher Redmond, 'Christy', 20/86 Rifleman, 15th Royal Irish Rifles, was a POW and died of influenza on the 24th October 1918.  He had been captured on the 21st March 1918 at St Quentin, one German record marked 'unverwundet', unwounded, and another saying he died at Merseburg on the 30 May 1918. This looks an error and another record agrees with the CWGC date and says, 'verstoppen am 24.10.1918 an lungenentzundung', died on the 24th October 1918 of pneumonia. Simpson's records names three POW camps, specifically Langensalza, Merseburg and Zerbst.
He is buried in Berlin South Western Cemetery, Germany.  He was born at 12, Jaffa Street, Belfast on the 10 November 1898 and was the son of George and Hannah Simpson, nee Redmond. His grandmother lived at Aughafattan Post Office, Broughshane and he mostly resided in the Ballymena area, though in 1911 he lived with a relative at Whiterock Road, Belfast. He left his effects to his aunt, Miss Jane Redmond, Aughafatten, the daughter of his grandmother, widow Hannah Redmond, postmistress and shopkeeper.
On two German records he gives his next of kin as J. Gaston, Waveney Cottage, Ballymena and '(Aunt) Mrs R. Gaston, Waverley Cottage, Braagshane Rd, Ballymena',  actually Mrs R Gaston, Waveney Cottage, Broughshane Rd, Ballymena.
SIMPSON, 10072 Private James, 1st Battalion Auckland, was killed in action on the 30 September 1916 and he is remembered on the Caterpillar Valley (NZ) Memorial, in Larne's Gardenmore Presbyterian Church, and on the war memorial in Larne.  He was born on the 5 June 1881 at Ballylummin, Ahoghill and was later associated with Larne. His parents Robert and Ann (Annie) Simpson, nee Luke, had married in 3rd Ahoghill Presbyterian Church on the 12 September 1874. He lived in Grey Lynn, NZ and at the time of his death his parents lived at Greenland Terrace, Old Glenarm Road, Larne. See Ballymena New Zealanders
SIMPSON, Second Engineer Thomas, died on the 25th December 1914 when S.S. Gem struck a mine at 6.15 p.m. on the 25th December 1914, broke in two, and sank in the North Sea 3.5 nautical miles (6.5 km) south east by east of Scarborough. He was then 24 years old. He was born on the 23 January 1890 and was the son of Joseph Simpson, miner, Magheramullagh (now usually Magheramully), Broughshane, Co. Antrim, and he was the husband of Sarah Lizzy (Eliza) Bell. At the time of his son’s death Joseph Simpson was a widower and lived at The Wood, Perisha, Glenarm, Co. Antrim.

SINCLAIR, William Bramwell,  41416, Private, 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 30th July 1918.

Sinclair's 2nd RSF had gone into the trenches on the 27th July to relieve the 9th Scottish Rifles (Cameronians) and thereafter were subject to shelling during their tour. They recorded in their diary on the 28th July a 'light barrage at 12.15 am' and on the 29th July the 'usual shelling by 77mm guns situated close to the enemy front'. Their tour ended on the 30th July and the War Diary says as follows: 'Quiet day. Relieved by the 7th Seaforths. Heavy shelling of roads and tracks during relief... completed 3.15 am. Battalion moves to camp in Hondeghem ...'. Hondeghem is just north of Hazebrouck, France.  No casualties are mentioned but it is likely Sinclair was killed by shelling during the relief; CWGC records four 2nd RSF soldiers who died that day and all are buried in the same cemetery, 3 of the burials, including Sinclair's, having been concentrated there.

He was born at Park Street, Ballymena on the 22 June 1899, but he had been living in Bellshill, Scotland. He is buried in Meteren Cemetery, Nord, France. His father was James, an officer in the Salvation Army and his mother was Janette Brown.

SLOAN, Albert Edwin, 21191, CQMS, 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers (formerly 2340 Connaught Rangers), was killed in action near Leuze Wood, east of Guillemont, Somme on the 5th September 1916.
The Battle of Guillemont unfolded between the 3rd - 6th of September 1916. British troops initially succeeded in reaching the Ginchy-Wedge Wood Road east of Guillemont, and they then began a further push to reach a new objective, the area around Leuze Wood, a target they had largely achieved by the 6th September. It was in this active zone that Sloan found himself on the 5th September.
The War Diary for the 5th September says that the 8th Irish Fusiliers went forward to relieve the 1st Devons and on arrival discovered that the latter had just received and order 'to establish a line in front of the wood'. Since the order arrived 'at the time the relief was taking place the 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers undertook to carry out this order. This line was established during the night ... the enemy's line was about 100 yards north and parallel to our front line.' There is no mention of casualties, though Sloan probably lost his life in the relief or during the trench construction.
He was born in Carclinty, Craigs, Co. Antrim on the 22 March 1883, the son of Robert and Jane Sloan, nee Cochrane, and he enlisted in Belfast where the family lived. He was the husband of Catherine Sloan, nee Quinn; the couple had married in St Paul's RC Church, Belfast on 30 December 1906. Widow Catherine 'Cassie' Sloan lived at Leeson Street, Falls Road, Belfast.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
SLOAN, 18/18781 Corporal Samuel Fisher, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died of influenza/pneumonia and aged 23 years on the 25th October 1918. He was in France and Flanders after the 6th October 1915 and he had been discharged wounded on the 28 January 1918. He died in locally and is buried in Larne (McGarel) Cemetery. 
His military headstone says his mother Sarah died on the 18th July 1898, though local records show she died on the 15th July 1898 at Hope Street, Larne. Her husband is said to be a 'moulder in foundry'; it seems likely employment took the family to Larne. The stone also says his father, Samuel C Sloan, died on the 6th May 1929. Samuel Fisher Sloan's will says he left his 'property and effects to his mother, Mrs Sloan, 11, Meadow Street, Larne, the will being dated 11 April 1917. His father had remarried shortly after the death of his first wife and Annie Sloan is the mother referred to in the will. Samuel's father had emigrated for a time with his first wife, the 1911 census recording daughters Sarah, Virginia and Jesse as having been born in 'America.' Samuel Fisher Sloan is recorded as 'Fisher'.
He was born on the 19 January 1895 at Ballee, Connor, Ballymena, the son of Samuel C and Sarah Sloan, nee McDowell.  The family had moved to Larne and Samuel Fisher Sloan's widow lived at 11 Meadow Street, Larne.






Left: SMALL, Robert, 3082253, Private, 14th Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regt.), died in accident at Ballymena Railway Station on the 23rd December 1918.  He was aged 24. He was born on 27 July 1891 at Ballykeel, Ballyclug, Ballymena, the son of Samuel and Jane Small, nee Cameron, of Ballyminstra, Straid, Ahoghill. He had emigrated and lived in Rhode Island, USA before joining Canadian forces in Montreal. He is buried in 2nd Ahoghill Presbyterian Churchyard.

                                                                                                                  See Ballymena Canadians

SMITH, Roberta S,  US Army Nursing Corps, formerly of Broughshane, is remembered in 2nd Broughshane Presbyterian Church.  She was born on the 15 May 1885 and was the daughter of Samuel Smith, a timber merchant, and his wife Margaret, nee

Stevenson.  The family are recorded on the 1901 Irish census living at Tullymore, Broughshane. Samuel was 51 and a widower and he lived with his mother Mary, 79 and a widow, and daughters Susan (21), Mary E (19), Roberta (15), and son Robert L (10). Their servant was Catherine Erwine. Roberta was the sister of Australian soldier Samuel Lyle Smith above. Her full name was Roberta Kathleen Martha Stevenson Smith.

SMITH, Samuel Lyle, 28326, Gunner, 39th Battery, 10th Field Artillery Brigade, AIF, died of wounds on the 23rd May 1918. Smith was said to be aged almost 26 (actually born 26 June 1890 at Tollymore, Broughshane) and was just over 6 feet in height, and he joined the army on 29th May 1915.  He travelled from Melbourne to Plymouth on 'Ulysses', arriving in England on 28th December 1916. He was almost immediately admitted to hospital with influenza and was not released for duty until 14th February 1917.  He then travelled to France via Folkestone and was finally 'taken on strength' on the 20th June 1917.  He was wounded in the right leg and left hip on the 21st April, was moved by 27th MAC and then transported by AT10 (Ambulance Train) to 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospital (22nd April) and was later moved to No.5 General Hospital, Rouen. He died there on the 23rd May 1918.

He was formerly of Tullymore Cottage, Broughshane. He appears to have had sisters, Mary Elizabeth Lyle Smith and Susan are mentioned in connection with 19, Wolsey Street, Belfast. He is buried in St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France and commemorated in 2nd Broughshane Presbyterian Church.

SMITH, Samuel, 14926, Sergeant, 11th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 16th August 1917, the first day of the Battle of Langemarck, an early phase of the Battle of 3rd Ypres (Passchendaele).
The 11th Inniskillings had moved 'to trenches east of Wieltje' in preparation for the upcoming attack and all seemed ready on the 16th, but things went badly 'from the off'. 'The Commanding Officer was wounded by a shell ... he died about 15 minutes afterwards.' Moreover, 'heavy shelling was experienced from 1 am to 2.30 am ... all the Battlion Signaller's Apparatus, less the Lucas lamp, was destroyed by shellfire before Zero.'
The men of the Battalion were in a support role that day, allocated to 'mopping up' and 'consolidating'. They advanced after the barrage, commenced at 4.45 am, lifted but 'were interfered with by the state of the ground ... the right front Company was met by machine gun fire from ... Caserne and was considerably reduced'. An officer and eight men made some progress 'but were finally held up by machine gun fire ... a messenger sent back  ... was killed ... and unable to move, they retired at night.'
The right supporting Company 'encountered the same obstacles ... [and were ] under fire from ... Pond Farm and Caserne, Jew Hill and Winnipeg.'. They were finally held up but 'assisted in the consolidation of Fort Hill'; Fort Hill (Casserne) was taken by storm by the left front Company.
The covering barrage had not slowed as the infantry wavered and it was noted that 'the barrage was 1500 yards away from our troops.'  The left support troops pushed on but were also stalled, held up by machine gun fire from Pond Farm, and eventually only 'a few survivors crawled back'.
That was the end of their day, and next day, the 17th August, the 11th Royal Inniskillings were withdrawn, moving eventually to the Vlamertinghe area and then onward to Winnizeele to rest and refit.
Sgt Samuel Smith was born at Toome and enlisted in Belfast. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial and in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church.
SMITH (Smyth), Thomas McIntyre, S/1943, Private, 7th Seaforth Highlanders, was killed in action on the 16th August 1915.
The 7th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders War Diary is unusual in that it often records the names of ordinary soldiers; usually only officers are noted by name. The entry for the 17th August 1915 reads as follows: 'In the early morningwhile the relief was proceeding we lost three men killed, 4502 Pte. D Kerr (actually J Kerr), 1943 Pte T Smith (sic), & 1925 A Goldie, all 'B' Company'. No cause of death is given. The narrative then records that the unit 'marched into billets near Locon' and thereafter 'at 2.30 pm, the Brigade marched out of Locon to go into Corps Reserve at Robecq, arriving in billets at 6 pm'. Both areas are in the vicinity of Bethune.
Private Thomas M Smyth was born in Dungall, Clough, near Ballymena, and the CWGC says he and his colleagues were killed on the 16th August 1915. He had enlisted in Johnstone, Scotland, presumably having lived there for many years. He is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.


Robert Smylie 

Smylie's Jacket and Personal Effects (Note torn shoulder)

 

SMYLIE, Robert Stewart, Lieutenant, 7th Royal Scots Fusiliers, attached 1st Btn., was killed in action on the 14th July 1916. He was raised at Linenhall Street, Ballymena by mother and sister and is linked with Bridgend, Galgorm. He was headmaster of County Grammar School, Sudbury. He is buried in Flatiron Copse, Mametz, Somme. - See 'Ballymena's War Poet'

SMYTH, 49714 Private Alfred John, 14th Durham Light Infantry, was  killed in action on the 6th March 1917. 
Smyth's unit were at  Mazingarbe, NW of Lens, on the 2nd March and on the 4th March 1917 they 'relieved the 10th Royal Fusiliers in front line trenches of 14 Bis Sector from Boyau 63 to Boyau 69 inclusive.' Smyth's 'A' Company were in the left sector. The enemy were somewhat active, shelling some areas, notably Posen Alley Trench, on the 5th March, and they were also utilising aerial darts. On the 6th March 1917 'the Battalion extended its front to the right to Boyau 59 and Forest Trench. Machine Guns active during night. Minenwerfer and aerial darts on front and support lines during night.  A few 77s on Posen Alley & Support Line. Casualties: 1 killed, 5 wounded.' CWGC lists only one 14th DLI soldier killed that day, one Alfred John Smyth.
He was born in Drumack, Rasharkin on the 3 April 1880 and lived in Streatham, London. He was the son of Thomas and Margretta Smyth, nee McCaughey, Rasharkin, Co. Antrim. His wife Edith Charlotte Negus, formerly Smyth and nee Linfoot, lived at Sea Bank South, Bognor, Sussex. Smyth and Linfoot had married in St Alban's Parish Church, Lambeth, London on the 30 March 1907.
49714 Alfred John Smyth is buried in Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe, France and commemorated in Finvoy Presbyterian Church.


Smyth Brothers Archibald and Hugh


SMYTH (Smythe), Archie, 340, Sergeant, 10th Australian Light Horse, B Squadron, died of disease on the 27th December 1918, according to CWGC.

Smyth was 5 feet 8 inches tall and aged 23 years and 6 months when he enlisted on 20th October 1914, and he gave his next of kin as Robert Smythe, Ballymena; this was later overwritten to read c/o Mr A Watt, Bridge Street, Ballymena.  He was sent to Gallipoli in October 1916 and left Australia on HMAT Mashobra.  He sustained gunshot wounds to his right leg on the 20th April 1917 and was in No. 14 Australian General Hospital until June 2nd.  He recovered to a degree but was often sick and he ended up in No.88 General Hospital in Cairo, Egypt in 1918. He died of pneumonia on 2nd January 1919 - according to his medical records.

He was aged 27 and unmarried, though apparently engaged to Miss N Bowden, 405 Bulwer Street, Perth, W.A.  He was the labourer son of Robert and Catherine Smyth, Crumkill, Ballymena; this spelling and address was given by his father when he certified receipt of his son's effects.

His brothers were Robert Smyth (MM & DCM) and Hugh Smyth, wounded. He is buried in Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. 


Frederick Robert SMYTH (Smith)


SMYTH (Smith), Frederick Robert, 74122, Private, 28th Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan Regt) was KIA on the 28th September 1916. He was aged 30 and lived in Winnipeg, Canada; he worked in the Post Office.  He was born in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh but had lived at 8, Atlantic Avenue in Portrush before emigrating.  He was the son of Robert Smith, Portrush.  His father is buried in Kirkinriola Cemetery, Ballymena and the deceased is named on stone (now fallen & broken). His brother was Edward Smith, 688, Strathcona Street, Winnipeg; he worked for R J Whitlock & Co, Winnipeg. F R Smyth was hit by shrapnel from trench mortars and never regained consciousness.  He is buried in Locre Cemetery, Belgium.
SMYTH, 501 Lance Corporal James, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on the 1st July 1916.
He was aged 19 years. He was born on the 27 May 1897 at the Caddy and was the son of Thomas and Margaret Smyth, nee Risk, Caddy, near Randalstown.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

SMYTH, 19211 Corporal James, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on the 1st July 1916.

He was born at Craigs, Dunminning on the 28 July 1887 and was the son of labourer John and Nancy Smyth, nee McCloy, Craigs, Cullybackey. He continued to live in the area. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Left: SMYTH, John, 41205, Private,  9th Royal Irish Fusiliers, formerly 1435 North Irish Horse, died on the 1st December 1917 of wounds received on the 26 November 1917 at Moeuvres, near Cambrai.

John Smyth was the son of John and Annie Adams, and he had been born on the 17th December 1894 on the family farm at Ballymacoombs, Portglenone. He was later living in Portadown.

John Smyth enlisted in Antrim, joining the North Irish Horse on 1st February 1915 (No 1435). Private John Smyth was in France & Flanders with his unit after the 17th November 1915, and was serving with the 9th Bn. Royal Irish Fusiliers when he was wounded by gunfire. Private John Smyth died of his wounds in No.6 Hospital, Rouen on Saturday, 1st December 1917. He was 22 years old.

His obituary in the Ballymena Observer, dated 14th December 1917, reads: Mr and Mrs John Smyth, Spruce Bank, Portglenone, have received information that their third son, John Smyth, of the  North Irish Horse and lately of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, has died from gunshot wounds received in action on November 26th. He was 22 years of age and has served three years. Mr and Mrs Smyth's eldest son is serving with the New Zealanders. (59551 Lance Corporal Thomas Johnston Smyth, M.M., 14th Company, 2nd Battalion of the Otago Regiment. He survived the war.)

He is buried in St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France.

Right: SMYTH, 2nd Lieutenant John,  9th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action while fighting east of the Canal Du Nord on the 22/23rd November 1917 (the 9th RIR & 8th RIR, both badly mauled and under strength,  had become 8/9th RIR on the 29th August 1917).

His unit arrived at Havrincourt on the 21st November and were then 'moved to Hindenburg Support, arriving at 7.15 pm.' At 9.15 am next day they received orders 'to man Kangaroo Alley immediately as the enemy was counter attacking. This was done ... remainder of the day passed peacefully'.

Next day, the 23rd,they got 'orders ...  to attack Lock 5 ...,[and]  Round Trench in co-operation with 10th & 15th Bns Royal Irish Rifles on right (with support by tanks), attacking Hindenburg Support Line as far as canal'. Some of the Battalion were left at the Cambrai-Bapaume Road and at 1.00 pm they had 'to move up ... attack and consolidate Quarry Wood in co-operation with the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers attacking on the left'. The 9th took their two allocated objectives, Lock 5 and Round Trench, but the 10th and 15th Battalions failed and the 8/9th Bn 'came under concentrated machine gun fire and were unable to get further forward ... and they had to lie down in the open'. At 4.25 pm they were ordered 'to withdraw to trench north of Cambrai-Bapaume Road; Lock 5 and Round Trench to be held. This was ... done'. The 1st Royal Irish Fusilier attack on Hindenburg Support also failed.

8th/9th remained in the trench north of the Cambrai-Bapaume Road on the 25th November, consolidated it, and were relieved on the 26th November. They retired to Hermies and then went onward in the afternoon to the hutted camp at Barastre. They took stock: 2nd Lieutenants C V Boyd and J Smith (sic) were dead, Lt J W Milligan and 2nd Lieutenants H B Mitchell and Somerset were wounded; also dead were 16 other ranks. Another 151 men were wounded and 10 were missing.

Lt Smyth is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, France and in Cloughwater and 1st Ahoghill Presbyterian Churches. Local press reported: Lieutenant J Smith, Royal Irish Rifles, killed in action on the 22nd November, was the son of Mr William Smith, The Curragh, Ballymena, Principal of Monaghan National School, Ballymena. Prior to the war, Lieutenant Smith was Principal of Craigywarren National School. He was promoted to commissioned rank six months ago.- from The Weekly Irish Times, February 9, 1918.

John Smyth was born on the 11th May 1891 at Monaghan, Ballymena, the son of teacher William Smyth and his wife Margretta, nee McKelvey, Curragh, Monaghan, Clinty, Ballymena. His parents later lived at Vow, Ballymoney.

SMYTH,  55633 Rifleman John Robinson,1st Battalion, 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade, was killed in action near Ypres (Ieper), Belgium on the 7th December 1917.  He had lived at lived Methven, Canterbury, NZ for about six years, but he was the son of John and Elizabeth Smyth, Aughafatten, Broughshane and said he was born on the 29 November 1892. He had only been with his unit in the field for just over a month before he was killed.  He is buried in Polygon Wood Cemetery, Belgium.
SMYTH, Thomas, Private 1st Class, 361 Infantry Regiment, 91st Division, US Forces, was killed in action on the 9th October 1918.  He was born on the 15th August 1892 and came from the Caddy, Randalstown.  He is listed in the Congregational Roll of Honour for 2nd Randalstown Presbyterian Church.  He enlisted in Washington and he is buried in Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, France.  The church listing suggested  that he had two brothers, R J and WJ, who also served in the US Army. 501 James Smyth (above) was also his brother.
The two US soldier brothers, now confirmed, were 2280136 Private William J Smith (sic) and 3136363 Private Robert G Smith (sic), both of Skamokawa, Washington. Only the former served in Europe and was there from 22 August 1918 to 5 September 1919.
SMYTH, 12/3375 Rifleman William,  12th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles, died aged 24 years at Carncoagh, Ballymena on the 22nd April 1918.
He was born William John Smyth (Smith sic) at Killygore, Ballymena on the 28th October 1894, the son of miner William Smith, Skerry, Newtowncrommelin and his wife Margaret McKelvey of Craigywarren, the daughter of Robert. The couple had married in Skerry & Rathcavan Parish Church on the 19th August 1889.
The family appear in the census returns of 1901 and were at Carncoagh. William, 32 and still an iron miner,  and Margaret (30) listed five children – James (10), Elizabeth (9), William (6), Robert (4) and Martha (2).
William Smith (sic) died at Carncoagh from ‘pernicious anaemia’ on the 5th April 1904 and aged 36 years; Maggie was present at his death. Son William Smith, now Smyth, joined the Royal Irish Rifles and served with the 12th Battalion. He was serving in France after the 5th October 1915 but was later discharged medically unfit and subsequently died at home. The record says William John Smith, discharged soldier, late 12th Batt. R.I.R, number 3375’ died of phthisis 1½ years’ (i.e. Tuberculosis) on the 22nd April 1918 at Carncoagh, Kirkinriola.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commision record for 12/3375 William Smyth says he was the son of Margaret Hamilton of Rathkenny, Co. Antrim. Widow Maggie Smyth had married Samuel Hamilton, an iron miner, on the 30th March 1906 in Cloughwater Presbyterian Church. Both gave their address as Lisnacrogher townland, Rathkenny. The 1911 census record shows Samuel Hamilton (26) and his wife Maggie (38) living at Carncoagh with James, Robert, Martha and Frank Smyth, and with the two surviving children that had been born of the second marriage, John Hamilton (4) and Maggie (2) Hamilton.
 Royal Defence Corps.

Reverend Alexander Spence MC, Chaplain 4th Class, attached 10th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Photograph courtesy of N Henderson

SPENCE MC, Reverend Alexander,  Captain/Chaplain 4th Class, Army Chaplains' Department, attached to the 10th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died of wounds, specifically a bullet wound to the chest (Ballymena Observer, 2 May 1919) and as POW on the 31st March 1918. He was at the time attached to the 36th Division Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery, and he was aiding the Royal Army Medical Corps.

His parents were Alexander and Elizabeth Spence, nee Hall, later of Brookfield, Portglenone. He was born on the 9 October 1888 at Old Park Road, Belfast and was minister of Christ Church, Londonderry.

He gained the Military Cross for twenty hours labour attending the wounded in an aid post during an attack, and then next day going out of the trenches in daylight and under fire to bring in several wounded men. He received the decoration at Buckingham Palace, on Saturday, February 16, 1918. One month later he was missing and the International Red Cross was asked to help locate him, as recorded in the attached document.


Military Cross Award Citation
Edinburgh Gazette, Issue 13220, 11th March 1918, page 948



Reads as follows:

Spence, Alexander

Reverend, Royal Army Medical Corps, Chaplain, attached Divisional Ammunition Column, late Inniskilling Fusiliers. Missing March 23rd 1918.



The Reverend Alexander Spence is now buried Roye New British Cemetery, Somme (His body was buried by the Germans in Ham Cemetery but it was later removed from 'German Peg No 44' to its current resting place), and he is commemorated in Ahoghill Church of Ireland. The family headstone in St Colmanell's Parish Church, Ahoghill reads:

Erected by Elizabeth Spence in memory of her husband Alexander Spence, died 11th Oct 1924
Also their son Captain the Rev Alexander 1915, died while a prisoner of war from wounds received in action and was interred in the British Cemetery at Ham Cemetery.
Also the above Elizabeth Spence died 24th January 1943 aged 82 years

SPENCE,  Thomas, 9385, Rifleman, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 7th May 1915. He was aged 23 and had been born in Ballymena at Alexander Street on the 7 February 1892, the son of Charles and Sarah Spence, nee Whinnery. The family was at nearby Fair Hill Lane in 1901, and Charles, Sarah and son James were at Crampton Court, Carrickfergus in 1911. The family lived in Lancastrian Street, Carrickfergus.
Spence was killed in the area around Hill 60. This was a low rise on the southern flank of the Ypres Salient, a piece of higher ground that was essentially man-made.  It had been created, as had an adjacent mound known during the Great War as the ‘Caterpillar’, from earth excavated during the digging the cuttings for the railway which ran between them. The hill had been captured by the Germans on December 10, 1914 from French forces and it gave them oversight of events around Ypres.
The British tunnelled beneath the hill and twenty one mines were created. At 7 p.m. on April 17, 1915 they were detonated, demolishing a large part of the hilltop and the attacking British battalions easily captured the position. However, a German counter-attack succeeded in recapturing the hill, though the British regained possession on April 18.
The Germans wanted the strategic vantage point, and a letter by a soldier and participant, 7450 Private G H Bland, 1st Bedfordshire Regiment, gives insight into the situation that developed in May 1915 and the circumstances in which Spence died. He said as follows (abridged):
5 May 1915 - At a little after 8 a.m. enemy attacked with asphyxiating gas laid on from two points opposite our trenches. … Troops on right ... were driven out of trenches and enemy captured Hill 60 and trenches on our immediate right. Our left trenches were then attacked but drove back enemy: our right trenches were attacked all day with bombs, rifles and machine guns. Desperate fight all day. Enemy and selves in same trench, both sides using hand grenades fiercely. Enemy eventually worked round our right flank and enfiladed our right, but men gallantly maintained their position. A Battery of our own artillery spent the whole day firing into our own right trenches, causing many casualties but in spite of everything right trenches held out ... Our casualties in right trenches were heavy … Attack made by 13th Infantry Brigade to recapture Hill 60 and re-establish line not successful.
6 May 1915 - Situation practically unchanged. Right trenches held out all day, and drove back enemy with hand grenades and rifle fire whenever they attempted to approach. Right trench was cut off from rest of line by enemy's machine guns, so that no relief of men, or water or rations could be brought up and same exhausted garrison had to carry on …
7 May 1915 - [In] hutments near Ouderdom. Battalion relieved by Royal Irish Rifles about 2 a.m. and marched back ... Casualties during two previous days about 3 officers and 290 men.
On the 6th May 1915 and amid the fighting the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles had been ordered to relieve the Bedfords, as the above letter says. The relief did not go well. Guides took the unit past the edge of the Zillebeke Lake. Shells were falling nearby and they got lost more than once, not reaching their destination until about 1.30 a.m. (the Bedford soldier thought 2 a.m.) on the 7th May.  A bombing (grenade) attack to clear a communication trench had been planned for 2.30 a.m. and, with a weak assemblage of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and 1st Cheshire Regiment men,  the exhausted 2nd Royal Irish soldiers were told it was to go ahead as envisaged and with their assistance. The action failed and casualties were heavy. All the KOYLI men were killed or captured. Nine 2nd Bn Royal Irish Rifles soldiers were killed, Rifleman Thomas Spence being one of them.
His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate).

Hill 60, circa April 1915.

The reality was that German possession of Caterpillar (Top Centre) and Zwarteleen (Bottom Left) meant that Hill 60 (Centre), even if it could be captured, could not be held unless a wide swathe of enemy front was captured with it; German enfilade fire from these retained positions made it a trap for British soldiers.  After the 7th May 1915 both sides, worn out and exhausted,  accepted the status quo and the Allies did not get possession of the area until the Battle of Messines in 1917.
Map: Public Domain

SPENCE, William John, 22351, Rifleman, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died on the 1st/2nd April 1919 from pneumonia caused by Spanish flu while on active service (Occupation Duties)  in Berlin. 
He was born at Dunminning, Craigs, Cullybackey and lived in 1901 and at Alfred Street, Ballymena in 1911. Widower John Spence and his second wife, nee Lizzie Orr Neill, Garvaghy, Cullybackey, later lived at 38, James Street, Harryville.
William John Spence is buried in Cologne Southern Cemetery, Germany and commemorated in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church.
STEELE, 3/8832 Rifleman George, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died in Germany on the 3rd December 1918.
He was born on the 18th January 1894 at Carriff (also Carrive), Carnalbanagh, the son of farmer Andrew and Mary Steele, nee Kane. The couple had married in Carnalbanagh Presbyterian Church on the 30th October 1885. The family appear in the census records in  1901 and 1911, and at the latter date the couple said they had been married for 26 years and that they had had 13 children, all alive in 1911.
The POW records  are sometimes contradictory, but they do give a picture of what happened him. He was captured at the start of the Spring Offensive of 21st March 1918 and may have been wounded, a document of 25th May 1918 recording his arrival in Saarbruchen from 'feldlaz. Beaufort (feldlazaretten - Field Hospital). This gives his birthday as 10th January 1894 and says his father was 'Andrew Steele, Glasgow'.
There are also records from Giessen and Stendal. One of 15th August 1918 says he was born on the 10th January 1894, but at Glenarm. This lists his mother as Mrs A Steele, 74 Paisley Road, Renfrew, Scotland.
The record for Stendal, dated 13th September 1918, broadly agrees with the above. The Tottenliste (Roll of Deaths) says 'geb. zu Glanareen (born at Glenarm) and 'Bez. Co Antrim, Ireland' (Bezirk -District). It also says 'verst 3.12.1918 im Eisenbahnabteil auf d. transport nach Gustrow infolge lungen - n Darmtuberkuloss' - roughly translates as 'Died 3.12.1918 in the railway compartment on transport to Gustrow due to pulmonary tuberculosis'.
He had lived in Glasgow before the Great War and enlisted in Paisley, Scotland. He is buried in Hamburg Cemetery, Germany. He is commemorated in Carnalbanagh Presbyterian Church.
STERLING (Stirling on Scottish National War Memorial & Soldiers Died in Great War),  James, 22025, Rifleman, 4th Royal Irish Rifles,  died of wounds as the result of an accidental explosion on the 28th October 1918. His friend John Frater - see listings - died in the same incident.  He was born in Glasgow, enlisted in Ballymena and lived in Cullybackey.  He is buried in Durrington Cemetery, Wiltshire.
From South Wiltshire Coroner’s Inquests into death of Riflemen James Sterling & John Frater – courtesy of Salisbury Inquests

The County Coroner (Mr F H Trethowan) held an inquest on Wednesday evening concerning the deaths of two young riflemen, John Frater, aged 17, and James Stirling, aged 18, of the 4th Royal Irish Rifles, who were killed as a result of an accidental explosion of a bomb on Normanton Downs, near Stonehenge, on Monday.
They were walking over the downs, as it was officially stated they were entitled to do, whilst bombing practice was proceeding, as no red flag was shown at the time. A witness said he saw one of the men kick at “something,” which turned out to be a 16lb unexploded bomb, which upon impact exploded and killed both Frater and Stirling.
It was stated by a military officer that the ground is periodically searched for unexploded bombs but no record was kept from which it could be stated definitely that all unexploded bombs had been found.
A verdict was recorded that the two men died from injuries caused by the accidental explosion of a bomb, and the military authorities intimated that an enquiry would be held with a view to effecting precautions against the recurrence of similar accidents.
A death for James Stirling, aged 18, was registered in the December quarter, 1918 in the district of Amesbury, Wiltshire, England.
STEVELEY, Ernest,  43963, Private,  15th Bn. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry),  was killed in action on the 30th October 1918. The unit War Diary gives few clues to where he was and what he was doing. It states only as follows: 'The day was normal. MG 699 issued    Going location of guns   NB', and then in margin,' MG 699 (illegible, possible map reference)'. This may have been Steveley's gun and he may have died at its point of use.  The gun was not destroyed, MG 699 being allocated to duties on the 31st October.
Ernest Staveley was born at Ballywatermoy, Craigs on the 11 September 1898,  the son of Hugh and Jane Steveley (recorded as Stavely), nee Burns, later of Station House, Cullybackey. He is buried in Guignies Communal Cemetery, Brunehaut, Belgium.
STEVELY, 1757 Rifleman Samuel, 1st Royal Irish Rifles,  was killed in action on the 21st August 1918 when his unit were NW of St Jans Cappel, north of Meteren.
The 1st Royal Irish Rifles were then in 'Support', their men having been relieved in the trenches by the 15th Bn Royal  Irish Rifles on the 16th August. The War Diary for the 21st reads: '2 OR killed,  7 OR wounded (3 gassed), 10 OR taken on strength (from prison), 2 OR to base (underage), 20 OR joined (from) Reception Camp'. No details of who died, or how they died, are given but it seems likely that Stevely was one of them.
He was aged 18 and the foster son of Mrs. Rachel Boyd of Gloonan, Ahoghill. He is buried in Bertenacre Military Cemetery, Fletre, Nord, France. He is commemorated in 1st Ahoghill Presbyterian Church.

Left: STEVENSON, William, 19204, Rifleman 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was wounded on the 1st July 1916 on the Somme and died while a POW on the 20th November 1918. His record of death refers to 'kriegsgef. lag. Cassel' (Kriegs Gefangen  Lager) -  War Prison Camp Cassel and is marked 'infolge grippe' or 'as a result of influenza'

He was born the son of Alexander Stevenson in Crumkill, Kells, married Margaret Mitchell of Railway Street, Ballymena in St Patrick's Parish Church on the 8 January 1912, and he lived at 18, Railway Street, Ballymena. He is buried Niederzwehren Cemetery, Germany.

STEWART,  Andrew, S/11266, Lance Corporal, 6th/7th Gordon Highlanders, was killed in action on the 14th October 1918.
The 6/7th Gordons had been in action at Avesnes-le Sec, NE of Cambrai, on the 13th October, but the attack failed. Next day they sent out a patrol 'of 1 officer and 20 men to reconnoitre ... with the object ... of reporting on enemy strength ... at 11.30 word was brought ... to effect that our patrol had found the enemy in great strength in machine guns ... they retired through the wood ... [but encountered] severe machine gun fire and snipers'. The patrol did extricate themselves later and returned; they had had two men killed and three wounded.
They 6/7th were attacked later, the War Diary noting that 'during the early part of the evening, the enemy put over a good deal of ... gas'. At 7pm the men, relieved, went back to the sunken road behind the lines, but they were again shelled with gas.
Andrew Stewart perished somewhere amid the events described.  He was born on the 19 September 1890, the son of Robert and Elizabeth Jane Stewart, nee McHenry, of Killyless, Craigs, Cullybackey, and  lived in Airdrie, Scotland, where his name appears on Ardrie War Memorial. He is buried in Iwuy Cemetery, Nord,  France.

Stewart's Headstone in Layde Parish Churchyard

STEWART, 2828 Private Daniel, Depot, Royal Irish Regiment, was born at Cushendall on the 29 October 1884. He was the son of baker John Stuart (sic) and Mary Patten (sic), the couple, both of Cushendall, had married in Layde Parish Church on the 14th September 1867.
The local record says 35 year old soldier Daniel Stewart died at The Abbey, Whiteabbey (Abbey Sanitorium) on the 14th February 1916. His brother James, 4, Reilly's Place, Belfast, was by his side.
Daniel was a widower. He, a carpenter, had married Susan Elizabeth Hawthorne, the servant daughter of farmer William Hawthorne of Cushendall, in Layde Parish Church on the 11th July 1907.
His father was later a shoemaker, and John Stewart and Mary Stewart, nee Patton, The Tower, Cushendall, are listed in the 1901 and 1911 census returns. They were living at Mill Street Cushendall. In 1911 they said they had had seven children together and that five were alive at that date.
Daniel is commemorated in Layde Parish Church and buried in the churchyard.
STEWART, 1488 Rifleman James, 8th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 7th June 1917. He was involved in a very successful attack south and east of Spanbroekmolen on the Gheluvelt Plateau south of Wytschaete.
Mines were exploded and the men left the trenches at 3.10 am. An enemy barrage fell on the front line after the men had left, and they reached the Red Line at 3.45 'without encountering any serious opposition'. The situation was by then confused but 'A' and 'D' Companies moved on.  They knocked out a MG but were 'held up by unbroken wire at Steenbeek' for a time, but this was cut by a gallant Lance Corporal. They took three machine guns at L'Enfer Wood, another at Earl Farm. 'A' Company had a tougher time south of L'Enfer Wood but 2nd Lt D A Moyles organised and attack that overcame the bunker and the men of 'A' and 'D' reached the Blue Line, their objective, at 4.50 am. They consolidated the position as instructed and at 7.30am 15 Royal Irish Rifles came forward to attack the Green Line, and 12th Royal Irish Rifles also went forward and 'attacked Oostaverne Line. As far as we saw the attack was successful'.
The men of 8th Royal Irish Rifles were relieved at 9.00 am and went to Fort Victoria. 1488 James Stewart was not amongst them. He is buried Wulverghem Lindenhoek Military Cemetery.  He was aged 22, born 4 June 1895 at Lisnahunshin, Cullybackey, the son of James and Agnes (Nancy) Stewart, nee Smyth.  The family were at Lisnahunshin, Lisnagarran in 1901 and 1911 and James's will said they lived in Killyless, Cullybackey.
STEWART, James, 7275, Rifleman, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 8th August 1917.  The unit moved into the trenches on the 7th August to relieve the 9th Royal Irish Rifles. It had been a difficult relief and on the 8th 'an aircraft fired on the garrison' and there was a period of 'intense bombardment of our lines'.  Stewart was one of eleven men of the 11th Royal Irish Rifles killed that day.
He was aged 18. He had been born on the 28 February 1898 at Mucklerammer, Drummaul, Randalstown, and he was the son of labourer Robert and Jane Stewart, nee Givens, later of Main Street, Randalstown. He is buried in New Irish Farm Cemetery, Ypres and is commemorated in Randalstown Old Congregation Presbyterian Church.
STEWART, 19861 Rifleman James Andrew, 14th Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds at No. 8 Casualty Clearing Station on the 15th February 1917.  He, a joiner in civilian life, had been attached to Brigade Pioneer Shop for a time but rejoined his unit on the 9th July 1916. His unit was in the area roughly south-east of Wulverghem and had spent time at La Plus Douve Farm around the time of his death. They left the forward area on the 14th, a difficult relief and one unknown company of the battalion was shelled. Some of the troops went to Red Lodge, a camp on the west end of Ploegsteert Wood. The entry for the 15th February is labelled 'Stafford Lodge' and it refers to 'much artillery activity on both sides during night reaching a great intensity about 4.30 am'. It is not known if any of this involved Stewart. However, James Stewart died of wounds the next day.
He was aged 24 and born at Larne Street, Ballymena on the 8 November 1892, the son of James, a baker, and Jane Stewart, nee Aiken. The couple had married in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church on the 22 December 1880. The parents later lived at 3, Virginia Street, Belfast.
He is buried in Bailleul Military Cemetery Extension, France.
STEWART, John, S/6971, Private, 2nd Gordon Highlanders, was killed in action at Neuve Chapelle on the 11th March 1915. His unit had originally moved up on the 10th March in support of the Wiltshire Regiment, but it was decided that the 20th Brigade, his Brigade, would attack on the 11th 'with the Grenadier Guards on the right and the 2nd Gordon Highlanders on the left of front line'. The attack started 'at about 7.00 am when we immediately came under shell fire.' The 2nd Gordons kept going and 'advanced towards a small house with orchard' but  soon 'came under rifle fire from our left front suffering many casualties'. The Battalion 'remained in some trenches close by for the rest of the day' and 'at dark the Battalion dug themselves in near the position they held all day'. However, at 4 am their men were ordered 'to move back to the shelters at Pont du Hem before daylight'.
He was probably born in Ballymena on the 1 August 1884, the son of Joseph and Jane Stewart, nee Morrow, and he enlisted in Dumfries, Scotland. If correct, his parents were living at Queen Street, Ballymena in 1901. He is commemorated on Le Touret Memorial, France.

STEWART, Samuel, 12440, Rifleman, 15th Royal Irish Rifles, was  killed in action on the 10 January 1917. The 15th RIR were in the area around Neuve Eglise and had been using the camp at Kortepyp south of Neuve Eglise during their periods out of the line. Neuve Eglise is located only 12 miles from Ypres and therefore experienced the full impact of the fighting that occurred throughout World War I in the area known as West Flanders. The dividing line between the German and Allied troops ran straight through this area during 1917 and 1918.

The diary for the 10th January states only 'Some shelling. One killed, one wounded'. Stewart was probably the man killed.

He was aged 34, born on the 14 September 1882 at Racavan, Broughshane,  and he was the son of Matthew and Catherine Stewart, nee Young. His parents were at Douglas Street, Ballymena in 1901, and he was living with his own family at Wolfhill Lane, Belfast in 1911. He was the husband of Annie Stewart, nee Nixon, and the couple had married in Albert Street presbyterian Church, Belfast on the 9 December 1907.  His widow and her children William (3), Elizabeth (2) and Samuel George (infant) lived at Lower Urney Street, Belfast. He is buried in Quentin Military Cemetery and remembered in Ballysillan Presbyterian Church.

STEWART, William, 7240, Company Sergeant Major, 12th Highland Light Infantry, died of wounds on the 27th March 1918. His unit were on the Somme and were engaged in heavy fighting around Mericourt, Lavieville and Buire in the period leading up to his death, the Battalion's Lt. Col. Anderson been killed on the 25th March. The material in the 12th HLI War Diary, used for an addition to his Anderson's CWGC record, states: ' the enemy attacked on the right of the battalion frontage and succeeded in penetrating the wood held by our men ... there was the greatest danger that the flank of the whole position would be turned ... Colonel Anderson made his way across the open in full view of the enemy now holding the wood on the right, and ... gathering the remainder of the two right companies ... personally led the counter-attack and drove the enemy from the wood ... restoring the original line ... Later on the same day, in another position, the enemy had penetrated to within three hundred yards of the village and were holding a timber yard in force. Colonel Anderson reorganised his men after they had been driven in and brought them forward to a position of readiness for a counterattack. He led the attack in person and throughout showed the utmost disregard for his own safety. The counter-attack drove the enemy from his position, but resulted in this very gallant officer losing his life. He died fighting within the enemy's lines ..."  The piece brings out the intensity of the fighting in the sector where Anderson, later William Stewart, died.

The 26th March, as the War Diary makes plain, was a day of withdrawals and the 12th HLI were fully involved, covering the withdrawal of the Brigade, and later the Division,  around Morlancourt. They ended the day by setting up a 'position NE of Marett Wood covering approaches to Treux & Ville-sur-Ancre' which 'covered the withdrawal of all troops over the Ancre'. The task completed at 7.30pm, they went to the sunken road being held by their colleagues, but at 10 pm were relieved and told to proceed to Lavieville.

Mistaken information saw them sent back on the 27th March to the front line to drive the Germans from Buire. The enemy were not there but on the way to the spot 'a few casualties were suffered in crossing the Albert-Amiens Road.' The unit eventually pulled back and took up a position 'around Buire-sur-Ancre--Ville-sur-Ancre Road', the record then stating, 'The day passed quietly. Patrols were sent out along the river banks at dusk, remaining out all night, and forward posts were established'.

William Stewart was born in Ballymena and lived in Glasgow.  His Medal Index Card is annotated, in parts illegibly, but appears to say 'Buried in field ... Died intestate, no next of kin'. His 'burial in the field' suggests he probably died on the 27th of wounds received at that time or late on the 26th March. His card also shows entitlement to two medals, but not a 1915 Star, this indicating he was not in France and Flanders until 1916.

7240 CSM William Stewart is buried in Warloy Baillon Cemetery, Somme.

Left: STUART (MC),  William Bruce George,  Captain,  12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action at Moeuvres on 22nd November 1917. Aged 24, he was the son of William & Barbara Frances Stuart of  Mount Earl, Ballymena. He is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial and in Derrykeighan Churchyard.
The events surrounding his death are well documented in the War Diary of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles. It states the unit was in the old front line north of Hermies, Hindenburg Line and was ordered into action on the 22nd November:
Battalion marched from the Hindenburg Line north of Hermies to relieve the 109th Infantry Brigade south of Moeuvres in order to attack and take the village ... 9th (NIH Bn) Royal Irish Fusiliers in support ...
10.30am: Under cover of artillery barrage the Battalion attacked ... All Companies reached the northern edge successfully. ‘A’ Company suffered the heaviest casualties, as the 107th Brigade were unable to reach their objective on the eastern side of the Canal du Nord and therefore the enemy brought heavy MG and rifle fire to bear ...
3.30 pm: Enemy were seen massing thickly for a counter-attack north of Moeuvres.
4.30pm: ... counter-attack commenced but was met with such stubborn resistance from ‘A’, ‘D’ & ‘C’ Coys ...  that the enemy only succeeded in driving us back over part of the ground which we had already taken ... Officers & men fought ... for every inch of ground they were forced to yield. Two Company Commanders were killed during this counter-attack ... Capt. W B Stuart with his men refused to retire. He was shot in the throat but carried on giving out orders ... until he was shot in the head ...Capt. D McCausland in a similar manner got out in front of his men ... he was unfortunately killed. ...
Lt Col W P Goodwin commanding the Battalion was ordered to take command of the Brigade in the forward area, who successfully had our Battalion reinforced and our position made secure ... remainder of the night remained quiet with the exception of heavy MG and rifle fire.
The units attacked again on the 23rd November but again had to withdraw to their previous positions. The 12th Royal Irish Rifles were relieved by the 11th Royal Irish Fusiliers.
Other members of the family served in the forces. One brother, Lieutenant Leslie Jon Stuart, was in the army, another, Lt. Charles Gage Stuart, in the Royal Navy, perhaps because he was  a nephew of Rear Admiral Leslie Stuart, CMG.

Lieutenant Leslie Jon Stuart was born in 1888 in Toronto, Canada, and was educated at Monkton Combe School, Bath, between 1901-06. When the war began Stuart was farming sheep in Australia. He returned home to Ballymena and in November 1915 applied for a commission in the North Irish Horse. Appointed a 2nd Lieutenant, he embarked for France on 26 August 1916, and there joined the 1st Regiment North Irish Horse. He was promoted to Lieutenant in July 1917 and in March 1918 transferred to the Machine Gun Base Depot at Camiers. He was subsequently posted to the 19th Hussars and, after about one month, to the 8th Hussars in 1918. He contracted 'colitis' at Arras in August  and was  in the UK until October 1918. He returned to Australia after the war, where he managed his uncle George's 50,000 acre sheep station, Goolgumbla, in the Riverina country of NSW.

Lt. Charles Gage Stuart had served on the China Station during the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-05, and when the WW1 broke out he was on the cruiser HMS Glasgow, patrolling the south-east coast of South America. He was in the action with Von Spee's squadron on 1st November  1914.  Von Spee outclassed Cradock's squadron and sank the British cruisers HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth off the coast of Chile at Coronel (Battle of the Coronel). HMS Glasgow got away damaged.  It joined Sturdee's fleet in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, and with battlecruisers, HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible, and with cruisers HMS Carnarvon, HMS Cornwall, HMS Kent, and HMS Bristol, went on to inflict a serious defeat of the Germans.  Six German ships including Spee's own flagship, SMS Scharnhorst, were sunk, with some 2,200 sailors drowned, amongst them von Spee and his two sons. The Dresden escaped but was sunk a little later and Lt. Stuart had the satisfaction of being on board his ship in the engagement. It was for his role in this latter action that he 'was presented on Wednesday, by the King, at Buckingham Palace, with the Distinguished Service Cross for 'meritorious service in connection with the sinking of the German Cruiser 'Dresden' on March 14th, 1915.'


The London Gazette of 17th September 1917 
SURGENOR, James, S/10912, Private, 6th Cameron Highlanders, was presumed at a later date to have been killed in action on the 26th September 1915 during the Battle of Loos.
His unit, part of the 45th Brigade of the 15th Division, had been at Drouvin  and on the 24th  September 'marched to Mazingarbe ... leading to firing line at Philosophe'. At 6.30 am on the 25th September, 'the attack started and the Battalion occupied the fire trenches. Parties began to dig communication trenches to the German first line. About 9.30 am the Battalion moved forward, 'A' & 'B' Coys  reached the vicinity of Puits 14 Bis at 10.30 am, 'C' & 'D' Coys arriving about 1pm. The Battalion remained there in action all night. Casualties considerable in our men.'
The 26th September was worse. 'Battalion forced to retire owing to flank being exposed about 10 am and retired to German second line ... from which it advanced 1000 yards. This retiral and advance took place two more times. Battalion very scattered and spread out, losses very great. Remained the night in German second line. About 130 men relieved and sent back to Grenay Vermelles line  ... near Philosophe where they remained all night'.
James Surgenor had been in France and Flanders since 9th July 1915. He was born in Bridge End, Lisnafillon, Ahoghill on the 22 October 1883, the son of James and Margaret Surgenor, nee McNally. He married Margaret Reilly in West Church, Ballymena on the 5 September 1910 and lived at 52, Main Street, Thornliebank, Glasgow with his wife and three children. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial (no known grave), on Thornliebank War Memorial and in Ahoghill Church of Ireland.


Wounded in Action: George, James and Alexander Surgenor, Bridge End, Galgorm

SURGENOR, James, 2539, Company Sergeant Major,  11th Royal Irish Rifles, was gassed on the 1st September and died of wounds on the 3rd September 1916, and the 11th Battalion War Diary suggests he died in a terrible accident. It reads as follows:
1st September 1916 - 1.30am: 'Gas was released from trench 140 ... it commenced to blow back. A great many men of 'A' Company were gassed ...
2.15am: 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 2.00 am he was very quiet'. Six named officers 'and about 120 Other Ranks gassed.
10.15am: ... 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.
He was born at Kilcurry, near Ahoghill and Portglenone and lived in the Grange/Taylorstown area, Ballyscullion, Toome. He married Margaret Carson of Aughtercloney, Ahoghill in 1st Ahoghill Presbyterian Church on the 19 November 1877; he was then living at Ballylummin, Ahoghill. He is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension and commemorated in Grange Presbyterian Church.
SURGENOR also Surgeoner, Ernest Glover, 177850, Private, 81st Machine Gun Company, died of malaria at Salonika on the 4th November 1918. He had enlisted in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders in December 1915, service number 10189, but later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. He was born in Ballymena, the son of John and Catherine Surgenor, nee Fenton.
John Surgenor, a shoemaker of Mill Row, Ballymena and son of farmer Glover Surgeoner,  had married Catherine Fenton, daughter of farmer David Fenton of Kilrea, Co Londonderry, on the 14 November 1874 in St Patrick's Church, Ballymena.  
John and Catherine Fenton had seven children, six of whom were still alive in 1911; the first three were born in Ireland, Ernest in 1886. They had moved to Scotland are associated with 21 Braid Street, Glasgow. CWGC have them living at the time of Ernest's death at 28, Abercorn Street, Glasgow. He is buried in Kirechkoi Hortakoi Cemetery, Greece.
SWANN, 17697 Private Samuel Finlay, 152nd Machine Gun Company, MG Corps (Inf), formerly 19785 Royal Irish Rifles, died on the 13th May 1917 - German record says 11.5.17 - in the hospital at Langensalza POW Camp following the amputation of his left lower leg - infolge amput. des lk. unterschenkels (ritorvergiftung). The word in brackets refers to some kind of poisoning (vergiftung). Another record says he was captured at Arras on the 23rd April 1917 and is annotated 'verw. an b. beinen' or 'wounded in both legs'. It is also clear that he had had his left arm amputated, possibly earlier and closer to the date of his capture. His ICRC (Red Cross) card says 'Left leg and arm amputated. Died 11.5.17 in Laz. Langensalza' and the amputation of the left arm is recorded in the German record.
Samuel Swann was wounded during the Second Battle of Arras. This was a British offensive unfolding from the 9 April to 16 May 1917. Troops attacked near Arras and initially achieved the greatest territorial gain since the start of the war. The British advance slowed subsequently and became a costly stalemate for both sides, and it would seem Swann was wounded during the phase known as the Second Battle of the Scarpe (23–24 April 1917).
He was the son of Joseph and Agnes Swann, nee Finlay, Lisnevenagh, Randalstown and he had been born on the 1 November 1892. He is now buried in Niederzwehren Cemetery, Germany, and he is commemorated in Kells Presbyterian Church.
TAGGART, 789 (19/789) Private Andrew, 10th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 13 August 1917. The 10th RIR left Vlamertinghe on the 12th August 1917 and 'relieved the 12th Royal Irish Rifles in Plum Farm'.  They were themselves relieved on the 14th August and so we must conclude that Andrew Taggart was killed during his short stay in this area north-east of Ypres and east of Wieltje.
He was born on 30 November 1894 at Deer Park (or Deerpark), Glenarm and the son of William, a farmer and widower of Deer Parks, Glenarm.  William, of Tamybuck, Broughshane, had married Rachel McNeill, Loughconnelly, Broughshane in 2nd Broughshane Presbyterian Church on the 6 October 1892. Robert, Lizzie, Esther, William and David were his brothers and sisters.  Their mother, aged 45, had committed suicide in 1910.
TAGGART,  21392 Private Robert, 7th Royal Irish Fusiliers, died of gas and wounds on the 2nd May 1916.  The unit were in the Hulluch area of the old Loos battlefield and the War Diary entry for the 2nd May 1916 reads as follows: Hulloch Section (sic) - The 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers relieved this battalion and left sub-sector and we moved into Brigade Reserve in billets at Philosophe west'. It might seem he died during this relief but, more likely, he died of wounds received before that date, especially since the local newspaper at the time reported that he died in the West Riding Casualty Clearing Station.
The War Diary notes the 7th RIF went into the trenches on the 28th April 1916 and next day the 'enemy discharged gas ... Our casualties from gas were heavy'. Thereafter, apart from an attempt by the Germans to occupy Smith's Crater, all was quiet up to the 2nd May. It looks as if Taggart died of gas and wounds received on the 29th April.
He was the son of Robert and Elizabeth Taggart, nee Miller, Water Street, Ballymena. His parents later lived at 42, James Street, Ballymena. 
Fusilier Robert Taggart is buried Lillers Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
TAGGART, 1636 Rifleman Thomas Simpson, 14th Royal Irish Rifles, died on the 3rd August 1917. The War Diary says the 14th Royal Irish Rifles 'left camp ... entrained at Vlamertinghe at 6.00 am ... detrained 30 minutes later and marched towards Ypres.' The report then goes on to give invaluable insight into the conditions around Ypres: 'The whole place is just a picture of desolation and the roads are in a terrible state with mud ...' They found themselves 'in an old front line with our Headquarters in a deep mineshaft which is a seething mass of men of every description. The arrangements about relief and information of this locality are at present NIL and Companies must first ferret around and find water, shelter and everything else they require - one cannot help comparing the handing over of the 36th Division after the capture of the Messines Ridge with this handing over. Weather is against us but a little system could save the the troops much hardship.' On the 4th August: 'Cleaning up parties started to make some shape of this mine - it has not been cleaned out for weeks and the smell is terrible'.
There is no reference to casualties in the 3rd August 1916 entry. However, the 4th August entry says that '... the bosche is putting over some heavy stuff round the mine. One Platoon was caught coming in (i.e. on the 3rd August) and 5 men were killed  and 4 wounded of 'B' Company'. The CWGC lists six men of the 14th RIR who died on the 3rd of August, and so we can reasonably assume this was the incident in which Taggart died.
He was the 37 year old son of William John and Hanna Taggart, nee Simpson, and was born on the 20 March 1880 at Alexander Street, Ballymena. The family later lived around Harryville, Ballymena, and Thomas was the husband of Martha Taggart, nee Ewart, of Knockboy, Broughshane. They lived at King Street, Harryville in 1911 and she lived at 31, Alfred Street, Ballymena around the time of his death.
Rifleman Thomas Simpson Taggart is named on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate), Belgium.

TAGGART,  A/201981 Private William James, 'C' Coy, 2nd Bn. King's Royal Rifle Corps, was killed in action on the 2nd September 1918. 

At the end of August the Allies were advancing east from Arras, encountering heavy resistance and the Drocourt-Quéant Line as they did so. At dawn on Monday, 2 September, they attacked it. The fighting was fierce but by nightfall on Tuesday, 3 September, the Drocourt-Quéant Line had been completely broken and all German troops withdrawn across the next obstacle, the Canal du Nord.

His unit was involved and had on the 31st August 'received sudden order to move south ... reached Arras at 6 am the next morning', and they 'proceeded into line in the evening into reserve for the attack carried out by the Canadian Division. At 12 midnight they moved off to Goueappe ...'. Next day, 2nd September 1918, the attack by the Canadians began at dawn and 'the Battalion followed up the advance about four miles behind. Towards evening halted about 1000 yards in front of Vis-en-Artois south of the main Arras-Cambrai Road. The Battalion bivouacked in shell holes ... Harassing fire round Battalion and one Lewis gun team was knocked out completely'. This activity brought about Taggart's death.

He was allegedly born at Tardree, something which cannot be confirmed, but in his will he leaves his effects to his mother, Mrs Annie Taggart, Craigywarren, Ballymena. He is buried in Dury Crucifix Cemetery, France (bodies from the area were concentrated here post war) and commemorated in Cloughwater Presbyterian Church.


Right: TAYLOR, 520 or 12/520 David, Rifleman, 12th Royal Irish Rifles,  died as prisoner of war on the 19th June 1918; no reason is given in the German record.  He had been captured on the 21st March 1918 at St Quentin, Somme at the start of the German Spring Offensive (Operation Michael).

He was born on the 20th December 1894 (His German record, marked Stendal, says incorrectly 30.12.94) and was the son of James Taylor, Galgorm Parks, Ballymena, and his wife Annie McCartney. The couple had married in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church on the 3rd January 1889.

5200 David Taylor is buried in Plaine National Cemetery, Bas Rhin, France. He is commemorated in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church.

TAYLOR,  Robert Gordon, 532376, Private, 46th Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan Regiment),  died of wounds on the 10th July 1918. He was 38, originally from 35, Queen Street, Harryville, Ballymena.  That was still the address of his father/next of kin at the time of his enlistment.   He lived at 570, Ross Avenue, Winnipeg and was an iron worker by trade.  He had previously served for 4 years in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  He is buried in Aubigny Communal Cemetery,  France.

See Ballymena Canadians

TAYLOR, 5313 Private William Johnston, 7th Bn. Royal Munster Fusiliers, died on the 16 August 1915 when allegedly aged 17 years.  He was actually born at Glenarm on the 28th October 1896 and was the son of William and Jane Taylor, of Spring Hill, Glenarm, Co. Antrim.
Jane Galbraith, a widow from Glenarm, had married Glenarm labourer William B Taylor in Glenarm Church of Ireland (Tickmacrevan) on the 6th December 1895. She had previously been Jane McCalmont, a servant of Mark Street, Glenarm and had married servant Ben Galbraith of Main Street, Glenarm in 1st Presbyterian Meeting House, Glenarm on the 21st April 1889.
The 7th Royal Munster Fusiliers were formed in August 1914 and they were to become part of 30th Brigade, 10th (Irish) Division. They landed at Gallipoli on the morning of the 7th August 1915 and they took part in the fighting around Suvla Bay, in particular the advance along the thin ridge of Kiretch Tepe Sirt. The fighting was murderous, and they lost many men in several attempts to secure the objective, but they were once more called upon to be part of the final assault launched by the 10th Division to take the north slope of the ridge on the 15th August 1915. It was to cost the 7th Munsters 23 killed; Taylor was presumably a participant and one of those killed around that date.
Altogether over 400 of the original 800 strong unit had been either killed, wounded or evacuated sick within a month of their landing at Suvla. Some reports suggest nine in every ten of the force have no known grave. William Johnston Taylor has none and is remembered on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey.



TELFORD, William, 4262, Private, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on the Somme on the on the 1st July 1916.   

He was the son of Mrs. John Telford, a saddler, formerly of Springwell Street, Ballymena and his wife Agnes (Nancy), nee Carson, and he was born on the 28 March 1892. The couple had married on the 21 April 1883 in High Kirk Presbyterian Church,  Ballymena. They later lived at Alexander Street, Ballymena. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

He had been involved in heavy fighting in the Dardanelles area before transferring to France. His brother James, of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles, born in 1890, was also wounded in the Somme fighting.

TEMPLETON, James, 7613, Private, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 26th August 1914.  The unit were reeling before the initial German onslaught at the start of the Great War and were at this time engaged in the fighting known as the Battle of Le Cateau, a stopping blow aimed at allowing a continued orderly withdrawal from Mons. The War Diary says that on the 26th August they were at Esnes when 'HQrs and two Companies engaged with the enemy 8.2 am till 10.45 am and from 2.15 pm to 4.30 pm'. Later that day elements of the Battalion were at Ronssoy and Le Catelet, the diary stating, 'HQrs and two Companies - in retreat'. Next day they were still retreating through Hancourt. It is probable Templeton fell in the fighting alluded to in the diary.
He was born on the 5 September 1883 at Rowan Street, Belfast and was the son of Ballymena couple George and Agnes Templeton, later of Moat Road, Ballymena. He was living at Springmount Street, Belfast in 1901 and at Cupar Street, Belfast in 1911. He was living at Lorton Street, Belfast when he married Susan Cunningham in Albert Street Presbyterian Church on the 20 December 1906.  His widow lived at 327, Cupar Street, Belfast. He is commemorated on the La Ferte Sous Jouarre Memorial,  France.
TEMPLETON, Robert Miller, 5555, Rifleman, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, died on the 18th July 1916. His unit were in the area behind the trenches on the Somme from the 17th to the 24th July, billets, etc being mentioned in Bouzincourt, Forceville, Beauval and Bus en Artois, but they had been in the front line at Usna Hill trench, NE of Albert, on the 15th and 16th July. On the latter date they had been in action and the War Diary records that they had casualties: Officers - 1 killed, 3 wounded and 1 missing; Other Ranks - 4 killed, 42 wounded, 6 missing. If Templeton died of recent wounds, which we cannot tell, he would have been one of the nameless 42 wounded recorded.
He was the 34 year old son of George Templeton, originally of Galgorm Parks, Ballymena, and Agnes Miller Templeton, nee Millar and originally of Tullygarley, Ballymena. The couple had married in West Church, Ballymena on the 7 January 1876. They later lived at Moat Road, Ballymena.
Robert Millar Templeton was born on the 20 February 1881 when the family lived at Collyer Street, Belfast and he was still living in Belfast in 1901 and 1911, at Springmount Street and Bradford Street respectively. He was living at Lorton Street  when he married Maria Ward in Trinity Church on the 16 April 1906.
Robert was the brother of James (above).   He is buried in Puchevillers British Cemetery.

TENNANT, Lieutenant Thomas,  5th Coy. Australian Machine Gun Corps, was killed by a shell while leading an attack.   He was 26 years and 7 months old when he enlisted on 12th March 1915 in Port Kembla, New South Wales, and he sailed from Australia on HMAT Ceramic on the 25th June 1915.  He was rapidly promoted from Private (12/3/15 - 16/5/15) to Sergeant (17/5/15 - 10/3/16) and then to 2nd Lieutenant (10/3/16 - 4/9/16) and Lieutenant (4/9/16 - KIA); this may have been helped by the fact that he had previously served for 4 years in the Royal Marines Artillery.  He was killed in action on the 14th November 1916 while serving with the 19th Bn, 5th Machine Gun Coy; he was initially posted MIA but his body was found and it was identified by Captain Hamilton on the 27th February 1917.  Tennant had seen service in German New Guinea, Gallipoli and the Western Front.

He was the son of Robert and Elizabeth Tennant, 3 Francis Street, Ballymena, and  husband of M. Tennant, of 4, Lothair Avenue, Belfast, Ireland. In Australia prior to enlistment his address was C/O Mrs James, Port Kembla, NSW.   He was buried 1 mile east of Le Sars, 3 miles SW of Bapaume but was later reinterred in Warlencourt Military Cemetery, France.

THOMPSON, Charles Magee, M/16998, Carpenter's Crew, H.M.S.Vanguard, was killed on the 9th July 1917.  He was born on the 13th February 1894 near Ballymena, County Antrim, son of James and Mary Jane Thompson and husband of Annie Thompson, Gracehill, Co. Antrim. He was a Moravian.

He lived at Lisnafillan, Gracehill and had worked for the Lisnafillan Bleaching and Finishing Company, but he joined the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1913. He served in Castledawson and Coleraine before enlisting in the Royal Navy on the 12th November 1915. He married Annie Gillen about Oct-Dec 1916; she still lived at Gracehill at the time of his death. He is commemorated on Chatham Naval Memorial and in Gracehill Moravian Churchyard.

HMS Vanguard was a St Vincent class battleship, an enhancement of the "Dreadnought" design built by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness, and she spent her life in the British Home Fleet. At the outbreak of World War I, Vanguard joined the First Battle Squadron at Scapa Flow, and fought in the Battle of Jutland as part of the Fourth Battle Squadron. She was a part of the action from beginning to end, but did not suffer any damage or casualties.

However, just before midnight on Monday, July 9, 1917, Vanguard suffered an explosion, probably caused by an unnoticed stokehold fire heating cordite stored against an adjacent bulkhead in one of the two magazines which served the amidships turrets P and Q. She sank almost instantly, killing an estimated 843 men; there were only two survivors. In terms of loss of life, the destruction of the Vanguard remains the most catastrophic accidental explosion in the history of the UK, and one of the worst accidental losses of the Royal Navy.

THOMPSON, Captain Harold Francis, 9th Bn, attached 12th Bn, Rifle Brigade, was killed in action on the 12th July 1916. His unit had completed their tour and withdrawn to Poperinghe, but the area was not safe. The War Diary for the 12th July says that the Germans had shelled the town from 10.15 am until 1 pm with a 5.2 inch gun, and that they again shelled it from 4pm - 6pm, notably around the Elverdinghe Road. The entry continues, stating that 'At 7.30 the shelling recommenced against Rue de Boesschepe and the square. Captain Thompson and Captain Keele were both killed by the shell which fell in the square.' Thereafter, too late for Thompson, the Brigadier ordered the troops out of Poperinghe and told them to go to B Camp at Brandhoek.
Captain Thompson was born on the 16 July 1877 and died aged 38.  He had been born in Cushendall and was the son of Rev. William Thompson, M.A., Rector of Layde Church, Cushendall and Sarah Margaret Thompson, nee Sprott or Spratt (almost illegible). He had been educated in Dundalk, graduated from Trinty College Dublin (The 1901 Irish census records him there), and had taught at Edinburgh Academy (1904) and at Charterhouse (1910). His headstone text was approved by  Miss C L Thompson, 95, Eglantine Avenue, Belfast. He is interred in Poperinghe Military Cemetery, Plot 2, Row E, Grave 4.
THOMPSON, 9551 Private James Thompson, 1st Bn. Irish Guards, was born on the 18 September 1889, though his birth was registered by a statutory declaration of the 9th September 1890. He was killed in action on the 23rd February 1917.
The War Diary of the unit gives no hint of what befell him. It says as follows:
19th February - Relieved by the 2nd Bn Grenadier Guards ... The Bn marched back via Combles and Maurepas ....
23rd February - Left camp at 4.30pm and marching via Combles ... Relieved the 2nd Bn Grenadier Guards in the line. All relief completed successfully by 8pm.
He was the 26-year-old son of Archibald, a car driver, and Jane Thompson, nee Reid, both of Cushendall. They were living at the time of his death at Bridge Street, Cushendall. He is buried in Combles Communal Cemetery Extension, France.
THOMPSON, 19231 Rifleman James, 'A' Coy, 13th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on the 1st July 1916.  He was aged 20, the son of William and Margaret,  and he is in some locations said to be a native of Ballymena, though he lived at Kircubbin, Co. Down.  The Ballymena birth now seems increasingly unlikely.
The family are recorded in the 1901 and 1911 census returns and on both occasions they are living at Kirkiston, Co Down; they also stated they were all born in Co. Down. Widower William Thompson, agricultural labourer and fisherman of Kirkiston, and Margaret Adair of Portavogie had married in Glastry Presbyterian Church on the 12th August 1886. They went on to have at least seven children and son James was born at Kirkiston, Kircubbin on the 1st December 1895.
He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France, and CWGC record his parents as William & Margaret Thompson, Kirkiston, Kircubbin, Co Down.

THOMPSON, James, 19226, Corporal, 'A' Coy. 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 8th March 1917.  He was born at Rathkeel, Broughshane and was the son of James and Mrs. Jane Barr Thompson, nee Carson, later of Ballee, Ballymena.  His parents, both of Broughshane rural area, had married on the 6 April 1888 in 2nd Broughshane Presbyterian Church.

Thompson's unit were in the area south of Ypres on the 8th June when at 3.25 pm the 'enemy opened and intense bombardment ... which lasted over and hour. Heavy retaliation was given by our  ... Batteries. Several hits were secured on our trenches which were blocked in many places, we suffered 9 OR casualties', one of the presumably Corporal James Thompson.

He is buried in St. Quentin Cabaret Military Cemetery and commemorated in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church.

THOMPSON, John, 4601, Rifleman, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles,  was killed in action on the 16th June 1915. 21 Officers and 630 men of the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles had on the 15th June marched 'to assembly trenches between Wittepoort Farm and Railway to support 9th Infantry Brigade in an attack on Bellewarde Spur'. The bombardment began at 2.50 am on the 16th and lasted until 4.15 am, and then 9th Brigade's attack began. The leading waves took three German lines and the 2nd RIR, in support, then moved forward to hold the captured German first line. However, 'carried away by keenness', they pushed on to the 3rd line and had to be recalled to fulfil their assigned role.
'B' Company, assigned to follow 'A' Company in the 1st line, however, could not, owing to artillery fire, get forward. They reformed on Cambridge Road for a second attempt but 'were unfortunately shelled ... causing 30 to 40 casualties.' They were withdrawn. This shelling grew in intensity during the day, but at 3.30 pm ''C' and 'D' Companies were called on to attack' and they did so with 'just as much spirit and dash as their early morning attack'. The Battalion was relieved at 1.29 pm on the morning of the 16th/17th June, but Rifleman John Thompson was not among them.
He was the 27 year old son of Isabella Thompson, Cromkill, Ballymena and was born on the 1 June 1889. He is commemorated on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate) and in Kells Presbyterian Church.

Right: THOMPSON,  John (Jack), 12/19228, Rifleman, 'C' Company, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, a POW since the 21st March 1918, died of pneumonia at Freiburg, Germany on the 13th May 1918 - 'verst 13.5.18 zu Freiburg im Res. Laz. 'Karlschule' or 'died 13th May 1918 at Freiburg in Reserve-Lazarett 'Karlschule'.

He had joined the Ulster Division at the time of its formation and had previously been wounded on the Somme on the 1st July 1916.  He was the 19 year old son of Thomas, a tailor, and Rachel Thompson, nee Allen, Kintullagh Terrace, Ballymena (also associated with 19, Clarence Street). John had been born at Greenvale Street on the 5 November 1898. Prior to the war he had worked for Messrs Smith & Co, Ballymena. 

Rifleman John Thompson is buried in Niederzwehren Cemetery, Germany.

His brother Robert served in the Royal Irish Fusiliers.


THOMPSON,  4935 Rifleman Scott, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 16th August 1917, the first day of the Battle of Langemarck, part of the Battle of Passchendaele, 3rd Ypres.
He was born on the 6 October 1881 and was the son of James and Mary Jane Thompson, Gracehill/Lisnafillan, Ballymena and brother of Charles Thompson (above). He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial and in Gracehill Moravian Cemetery, Ballymena.
See below - Watson, William John, also killed that day while serving with the 12th RIR, for an account of the action.
TILNEY, 7201 Rifleman John, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action while serving in the Vierstraat area to the south-west of Ypres on the 2nd June 1915.  He appears to have died in the day to day firing that went on around the trenches at all times, the Battalion's War Diary merely reporting as follows: 'Enemy quiet along our front. Casualties: 1 killed.'
He was born in Ballymena and lived in Belfast. No registration of his birth or marriage can be found, though John, a labourer, and Nellie (Annie), nee Greer, were living at 23, Huss Street, Belfast when they registered the birth of their daughter Annie, born 28 February 1912. He is buried in Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, Voormezeele, Belgium.
Above: Todd Grave Marker, Old Presbyterian Cemetery, Church Street, Ballymena

Right: Todd Family Grave Marker, Carnmoney Cemetery, Belfast


Left: TODD,  Hugh,  Engineering Commander, No 3 Special Service Squadron (Decpy battleship and battlecruisers), Royal Navy Reserve,  died of wounds in Inverness Hospital on the 3rd July 1915.  He was born at Duncrue, Carrickfergus on the 23 February 1864, the son of Hugh and Matilda Todd, nee Smyth. He was married to Agnes Johnston on the 14 December 1887 and he lived at one time in Harryville, Ballymena. He is also linked to Bougham Street, Belfast and is buried in Carmoney Cemetery, Co. Antrim. He is commemorated in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church. He is also remembered on a family headstone in Ballymena Old Cemetery, Church Street, Ballymena.

Todd's Cortege

Photographs from Ballymena Weekly Telegraph. 10th July 1915
The Graveside Party at Todd's Funeral
TORBITT, William, 12684, Private, 6th Royal Irish Fusiliers, was  killed in action in Turkey on the 15th August 1915.  He was born at Ballybeg Ahoghill on the 28 February 1886, the son of Arthur and Agnes/Nancy Torbitt, nee Mooney.  He lived in Belfast; his parents had addresses at Bann street (1901) and 46, Summer Street (1911 & CWGC). He is buried in Helles Cemetery, Gallipoli, Turkey.

TORBITT, William Robert, 18840, Lance Corporal, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was KIA on the 1st July 1916.  He was born at Limnaharry, Ahoghill on the 4 June 1880, the son of Alexander and Mary, Torbitt, nee McLean. He lived in Larne - the family appear in the 1901 & 1911 census returns - with his father, mother, brother and sister at 153 Greenland Terrace, Old Glenarm Road.  He was the Bandmaster of Sir John Smiley's Flute Band and a member of Gardenmore Presbyterian Church, Larne.

His family was described on 12 December 1914 in the Larne Times and Weekly Telegraph as follows:

'The family of Mr and Mrs Torbitt, Old Glenarm Road, Larne,  have shown their patriotism in an unmistakable manner. The sons, Robert, William and Thomas, have enlisted in the 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (Central Antrim Volunteers) and the daughter Miss Mary Torbitt is a member of the Factory District Nursing Corps, Larne. All were employed by the Larne Weaving Company'.

He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

TRAINOR (sometimes Traynor) MM & Bar, 1121 Lance Corporal Thomas, 99th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, died on the 26th July 1917.  The unit War Diary for the 26th July places them at Oissy, Somme and has a one line entry, 'L/Cpl Trainor died suddenly this afternoon.' The scheduled sports event for the 27th July was cancelled.
He was born at Springwell Street, Ballymena on the 16 September 1880, the son of carpenter James and his wife Mary, nee Donaghy. He married Mary Ann Browne in Trinity Church of Ireland, Belfast on the 3 April 1906 and lived in Belfast. 
Thomas Trainor is buried Oissy Churchyard, Somme, the only military grave there, and he is remembered in Agnes Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast. He had been in France and Flanders since 13th September 1914.
TURNER, Robert,  1842, Private,  54 Bn. Australian Infantry, was  killed in action near Ypres on the 25th September 1917.  He had initially left Australia on HMAT Argyllshire on 25th June 1915. The 5 foot 8 inch draper had suffered much illness prior to his death: he was returned to Australia because the healing after an operation for appendicitis went badly, on his return to duty he contracted a skin disease that kept him in hospital for 37 days, and he then had his foot badly injured by a ration wagon.  Aged 26, he a draper and gave his address as C/o Mr Cunningham, N Gardiner & Co, York Street, Sydney, NSW. He was the son of Alexander and Rose of Cloughmills. He is buried in the Menin Road South Military Cemetery,  Belgium, about five miles away from his brother.
TURNER,  Thomas, 7188, Rifleman, 8th Royal Irish Rifles,  died on the 20th June 1917 of wounds sustained in the fighting around the Messines Ridge. The 8th Battalion War Diary indicates the unit were at Fort Victoria and on the evening of the 19th June 'the Battalion moved up to the trenches .... Next day, the 20th June, the 'Battalion sector heavily shelled throughout the day ... Casualties 1 died of wound. 6 wounded (all other ranks).' This shelling probably caused the death of Rifleman Turner.
CWGC shows four members of 8th Royal Irish Rifles died on the 20th June. One is named on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, one is buried in Pond Farm Cemetery, and two, Thomas Turner and James Foster Morrow, are buried in Cabin Hill Cemetery. It is SW of Wytschaete and north of Messines. Turner's burial there near the trench line suggests he died shortly after being wounded - he wasn't taken to some distant hospital - and means the shelling described above in the War Diary was likely to have killed him.
He had enlisted in Belfast and he was aged 21 when he died.  He was the son of Alexander and Rose Turner of Cloughmills, the parents of five children, three boys and two girls. They owned a shop in Cloughmills and Robert Shannon, a local boy, had worked in it for five years before going to Australia.  He - 2842, 4th Bn. Australian Infantry, son of Samuel & Agnes, Montalto, Newtowncrommelin - had been killed on the 6th May 1917.  Thomas is buried in Cabin Hill Cemetery, Wytschaete, Belgium and commemorated in Ballyweaney Presbyterian Church. Another son was Robert Turner of the Australian Infantry.
TURNLY, 2nd Lieut. John Francis, 9th Bn Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), was killed in action on the 16th April 1918. He was aged 19 and was the son of Francis John Seymour Turnly, a land agent of Lisloughry, Co Mayo at the time of his son’s birth on the 1 October 1898. Hessie Metcalfe McNeill Turnly, nee Higginson, was his mother. The birth was registered in District 4, South Dublin. At the time of their son’s death the couple lived at Drumnasole, Carnlough. John Francis Turnly, who appears to have joined the army while a student and by way of Trinity College, Dublin’s Officer Cadet Corps (O.T.C.), has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
An excellent account of what befell 2nd Lieut. John Francis Turnly is given in the website 'Donald Adamson: Dreaming in black and white. (https://www.donald-adamson.co.uk/family-history/the-great-war/) The author says, 'For my grandfather, there was one incident, one tragedy, which stayed with him for the rest of his life.
This was the death of Second Lieutenant John Turnly of Drumnasole in the Antrim Glens. In the desperate fighting south of Ypres in April 1918, the battered remnants of 26 Highland Brigade of 9 Scottish Division fought with great courage to prevent the last great German assault of the War from breaking through. April 16 saw 5 Camerons strung out along a section of road between Wytschaete and Ypres. Just above the road, which was the Dammstrasse, south of St Eloi, two Vickers guns of 26 Company Machine Gun Corps supported them from dug-in machine gun nests.
Turnly scrambled up the bank to better direct fire on the advancing Germans. They had occupied ‘Pheasant Wood’, to the south-east of the Dammstrasse. As he got to the sky-line, the gun commander of one of the Vickers guns shouted to him to keep down. It was too late, the young (19) and brave former student of Trinity, Dublin was hit in the head by a German bullet. He was dead as he fell. The man who shouted was Acting Sergeant (unpaid) Douglas Thomson MM, my grandfather. They buried him in the bank for later retrieval. Unfortunately the grave was lost in subsequent fighting. Today John Turnly is commemorated on the wall at Tyne Cot Cemetery.
I identified the officer as John Turnly because he was the only Irish officer in a small Scottish unit, the dates matched, and so did the account given to Turnly’s father by the C.O when he wrote to him in Ireland in respect of his son’s death. The file is in the National Archives at Kew. The C.O noted that he could not give further details as the men who were with him were no longer with 26 MGC Company. That is true. On 19 April, Douglas Thomson’s machine gun was taken out by an almost direct hit by a shell. Six men were wounded according to the War Diary of 9 MGC Battalion. Douglas survived with shell fragments down his right arm, and loss of hearing in his right ear. A degree of shell shock faded over the years. However his memory of John Turnly never left him. Rest in peace, John Francis Turnly.
TURTLE,  19572 Corporal John Patterson,  62 Bn. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), formerly 12161 Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 20th July 1918. He had previously been wounded as this press entry indicates: 'The parents of Pte. John Turtle, 6th Batt. Royal Irish Rifles, residing at Springwell Street, Ballymena, have just received information to the effect that their son has been wounded at the Dardanelles, and is at present in hospital in Glasgow, suffering from a bullet wound in the hand. Pte. Turtle, who was an employee of the Ballymena Braidwater Spinning Company, joined the army about eight months ago, and Pte. John Turtle was at the front about six weeks when he was wounded. Pte. Turtle was an enthusiastic football player, being a popular member of Springfield Football Club, Ballymena.
His parents were James and Mary Jane Turtle. Millworker James, son of Samuel of James Street, Harryville, Ballymena, married Mary Jane Patterson, daughter of flesher John of Galgorm Street, Ballymena, in St Patrick's Church on the 11th July 1891.
The 1901 census shows the family at Bridge Street, Ballymena. James and Mary Jane, both 32, listed four children: Minnie (9), John (5), Samuel (2), and infant Alexander.
In 1911 they were living in Mountcollyer Street, Belfast. The couple said they had been married for twenty years and that six of the seven children born of their marriage were still alive at that time. They listed Mary Ann (18), John P (16), Samuel (14), Alexander (12), Jane (8) and Stewart (6).
John Patterson Turtle was born on the 16 January 1896 at Galgorm Street, Ballymena, and prior to the war he was employed as an apprentice shipwright by Workman, Clark & Co.  He is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial, France and in Sinclair Seamen's Presbyterian Church, Belfast.
VALLEDY Fireman JAMES, Mercantile Marine, died in the sinking of the SS Copeland (Glasgow) on the 2nd December 1917 and when aged 27 years. The ship, while sailing from Glasgow to Cork, was torpedoed and sank off Tuskar Rock with the loss of 12 crew.
James Valledy was the son of James Valledy, of Castle St., Glenarm, Co. Antrim, and the late Mrs. Valledy - (Elizabeth Vallidy (sic), wife of a sailor, died aged 51 years at Glenarm on the 26 July 1915) .
He was born the son of sailor James Vallelly (sic) and his wife Lizzie Gallagher on the 5th September 1890 at Maddoxland, Carlingford, near Dundalk, Co Louth. The 1901 Irish census records Lizzie Valledy (35), daughter Mary A (12) and son Hugh (8) living at Castle Street, Glenarm; all were born in Co Louth. In 1911 Lizzie (44) and Hugh (17) were still at Castle Street.  
Lizzie said she had been married for 23 years records show that James Valledy had married Elizabeth Gallagher at Dundalk on the 15 January 1887.
All three of her children were alive in 1911. Mary Ann Valledy, 26 and a housemaid, married 25 year old plater James Edgar in Glenarm Roman Catholic Church on the 27 July 1914.
WADDELL, William, 22446, Private, 8th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was killed in action during an attack on Guinchy on the 9th September 1916. 
His unit 'moved out of Dummy Trench ... and went into position opposite Guinchy ready for attack.' On this occasion they were the supporting battalion for the 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers in the first wave. 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers and the 7th Royal Irish Rifles, the latter also in the 1st wave, 'took their first objective quickly.' The final objective was taken by '8th Royal Dublin Fusiliers reinforced by Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers attached on account of taking of Guinchy.'
He was born in Edinburgh and lived at Cullybackey. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.
WALKER, 371 Rifleman Robert Murray, 13th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action when on a night patrol on the 17th August 1916.  The 21 year old was hit in the spine by a machine gun bullet.
Walker's unit were in the Messines area, their HQ at Stinking Farm, a location a little east and south of Wulverghem. They had sent out a number of patrols on the 17th August but the War Diary makes clear what happened to Walker's group. It says that '1 NCO & 16 men was out from 10 pm to near 12 midnight when a man was seized with a fit of coughing. This brought German machine gun fire. One man was killed.' His body was brought in by 2nd Lt Ellison and three colleagues.
Rifleman Walker was born on the 1 March 1895 at Teeshan, Cullybackey and was the son of Robert and Margaret Walker, nee Murray, later of Parkhead, Ballymena.  He is buried in Ration Farm Annexe, La Plus Douve Cemetery and remembered in High Kirk Presbyterian Church.

WALLACE, Alexander, 19242, Rifleman, 12th Royal Irish Rifles was killed in action on the Somme on the 1st July 1916. 
He was born on the 25 October 1890 at Galgorm Street, Ballymena, was at 2 Patrick Place in 1901 and 1911. He was the 26 year old husband of Amelia/Amy, Wallace, nee O'Donnell and formerly of Mount Street, Ballymena. The couple lived at 5, Gilmore Street, Ballymena and he was a father of two children.  He was a good footballer and had played for two local teams, Foundry Thistle and Summerfield Strollers.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.
WALLACE, 1575 Lance Corporal James Fitzgerald, No 8 Company, 1st Irish Guards, was killed in action on the 25th October 1914. 
He was aged 34, the son of John and Isabella Wallace, nee Brownlee, Railway Cottages, Ballymena, and he was born on the 25 March 1880. His wife Clara (CWGC says Mary), nee Chastey and who he had married in St John's Parish Church, Paddington on the 26 October 1910, lived at Herbert Street, Plaistow, London.  He is commemorated on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate) and in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church.
1st Battalion Irish Guards was deployed to France on the war’s outbreak, and they remained in France and Flanders for the duration of the war. The Battalion took part in the Battle of Mons and were a key element of the Allied rearguard known as the Retreat from Mons. They subsequently participated in the First Battle of Ypres, being at Langemarck, Gheluvelt and Nonne Bosschen. 1st Ypres had began on 19 October and was to inflict major casualties among the old Regular Army. This is the context in which we need to see the death of 1575 James Fitzgerald Wallace.
On the 23rd October the French made an attack through Zonnebeke and took the town. They also relieved the 1st Battalion Irish Guards which had been involved in the fighting there and the Irish Guards moved to new positions south-west of Zillebeke. They arrived there at 2.00 am on the morning of the 24th and set up their camp, as stated in ‘The Irish Guards in the Great War, Volume 1’ by Rudyard Kipling, “chiefly in a brick-yard”, and they made ready for renewed deployment.
It was a short rest. The 1st Battalion War Diary says that on the 25th October the ‘2nd Grenadiers (Grenadier Guards) and Irish Guards were ordered to make an attack on Reutel, and at 2.45 pm … (the 1st Irish Guards) advanced through woods on right and trenches of Worcestershire Regiment towards Reutel.’ They were ‘within 200 yards of the north of the village by 5.00 pm and were then brought under heavy rifle fire from concealed trenches on ridge.’ They had become separated from their Grenadier Guard colleagues, now actually being on opposite sides of a previously unknown trench. It was also evening and it was felt unwise to send forward reinforcements into the woods in the dark; the troops slept in situ as they had orders 'to hold the ground gained at all costs.' . Their peril was such that they set up 'dispositions ... to repel an attack from all sides.' They recorded that 'snipers were busy all night on every side, but no actual attack took place ... casualties for this day - 4 killed and 23 wounded.' They knew the Germans were massing to attack.
They found out on the 26th October that ‘the 3rd Coldstream (Coldstream Guards) were coming up to our assistance. …
These troops ‘arrived at 5.30 am and with the Battalion advanced again … but could not make headway against the severe MG fire. The position was the apex of a salient … No 2 Company took two farmhouses but were forced to retire from one of them … An attack by 6th Brigade (a bit further north) somewhat relieved the pressure in the afternoon. Casualties for the day were 1 Officer and 9 men killed, 42 men wounded.’
There was a further short action of less than an hour during the night and at 7.00 pm the Battalion was relieved by ‘3rd Battalion Coldstreams’. The Irish bivouaced ‘just west of Race Course Wood’ (also known as Polygon Wood) but ‘shrapnel burst over the bivouacs’ and ‘this gunfire continued at intervals throughout the night’. And so it continued …
Wallace was killed on the 25th October as this section of the Irish Guards' nightmare continued to unfold. 3116 Hugh Hunter, 4298 Edward Daly, 2416 L/Cpl Charles Ferris and 3777 Michael Ralph died on the same day. Ten more colleagues died on the 26th October, and two more on the 27th October.

WALLACE, Robert Hugh, 5619, Company Sergeant Major, 'C' Coy, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was wounded on the 16th August and died on the 18th August 1918. He was born on the 10 October 1876 at Church Street, Ballymena, the son of Henry Gordon Wallace, and his later addresses reflect his career in the military. He is remembered in Joymount Presbyterian Church and St Nicholas' Parish Church, both Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.

Additional information: 5619 CSM Robert H Wallace, 'C' Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, a veteran of the South African Campaign, was the son of Henry Gordon Wallace and Eliza O'Brien, Mount Street, Ballymena. The couple, then of Church Street, Ballymena, had married on the 30 June 1875 in St Patrick's Church of Ireland; Henry, son of Gordon, was a widower and shoemaker.  Robert Hugh Wallace married Lizzie Smyth, 5, South King Street, Dublin on 30 March 1905 while he was stationed at Portobello Barracks, Dublin with the 2 Royal Irish Rifles; Henry is recorded as his father.

The 1911 Irish census records him as a 34 year old Sergeant in the 4th Royal Irish Rifles.  His wife Elizabeth, a RC, was 30 and the couple had had three children, two of whom survived and are listed as Elanor Elizabeth (3 years and born India) and Charles Henry (1 year old).

His first wife died and he married Isabella Shields on the 17 December 1916 at St Nicholas' Parish Church, Carrickfergus.

Robert was wounded on the 16 August 1917 and died two days later on the 18 August at Calais.

Calais was where No 6 Base Supply Depot was established in April 1915 - Calais was closer to the fighting zone than either Le Havre or Rouen and it served to take the pressure off Boulogne. It became the home of a number of hospitals, notably the 30th 35th, 38th General Hospitals, No 9 British Red Cross Hospital and No 10 Canadian Stationary Hospital.  Burials from these were made in Calais Southern Cemetery from 1915 to 1918, and it is there that CSM Wallace is buried.

WALLACE,  Samuel, 2684, Private, 34th Infantry, Australian Imperial Force, was MIA/KIA on the 12th October 1917. He was a 27 years and 9 months old labourer when he enlisted on 21st September 1916, though at some point he said he had served 2 years of an apprenticeship as a tailor. The 5 feet 3 inch tall soldier had travelled to war on the SS Napier from Sydney, arriving in Devonport in November 1916. He left Folkestone for France and arrived at Etaples on 4th May 1917.  He was wounded in action on the 7th June by gas but returned to duty on the 12 June 1917.  He was KIA on the 12th October 1917 and buried about half a mile east of Hooge. He is now buried in Hooge Crater Cemetery,  Belgium and commemorated in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena.  He was the son of Samuel Wallace, Crumkill, kells, Ballymena.  His brother David of the Irish Guards was severely wounded during WW1 and discharged.
WALSH (or Walshe), Patrick, 9424, Private, 1st Cheshire Regiment, was killed in action on the 29th April, 1915. He had been in France and Flanders after the 16th January 1915.
The 1st Cheshire Regiment were in Brigade Reserve and occupying the dugouts at Zillebeke Lake near Ypres and at '5.30 pm the dugouts were shelled by a heavy gun from a south west direction, causing 26 casualties (11 killed, 15 wounded)'. Walsh was killed in the incident.
He was born in Ballymena, enlisted in Belfast, and he is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
The man cannot be positively identified but is probably Patrick Joseph Walsh, born 6 March 1883 at Deerfin, Ballyclug, Ballymena, the son of Michael and Susan Walsh, nee Burges.
WARDEN, John, 56883, Private, New Zealand Reinforcements, died on the 24th September 1917 and is buried in Plymouth (Efford) Cemetery, England.  He was the 33 year old son of Samuel & Sarah Warden, nee McAuley, of Artlone, Duneane, Randalstown, Co. Antrim.
See Ballymena New Zealanders.

WATERMAN,  Ronald, 210, Lance Corporal, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds on the Somme on the 1st July 1916.  He was aged 19 years and was born on the 22 May 1897 at Ballee, Ballymena, the son of Samuel and Elspie Waterman, nee Wiseman. The family wereat Railway Place, Ballymena in 1901 and at 26 Glencollyer Street, Belfast in 1911.  They hailed from Ballywatermoy, Craigs, Cullybackey, Ballymena (Irish Memorial Record has him listed incorrectly as being from Ballywater, Moy, Co. Tyrone).

He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and in Craigs Parish Church, Cullybackey.


Waterman Family Grave, Craigs Parish Church, Cullybackey.


WATSON, 19297 Corporal James, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on the 1st July 1916. He was the son of the late Andrew Watson, tinsmith, and his wife Martha Wilson, of Alexander Street and later Broughshane Street, Ballymena. 
William John and Charles Watson, his cousins, were also also wounded on same day.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.
The consecutive service numbers of James and William John suggest they enlisted together.
WATSON,  19298 Rifleman William John, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 16th August 1917, the first day of the Battle of Langemarck (3rd Ypres - Passchendaele). 
The 12th RIR, in support, had moved forward for the coming battle and noted in their diary that the Black Line and the Steenbeek Valley were being shelled at Zero Hour, 4.45 am, as the assaulting waves left the trenches. The men of the 12th RIR nevertheless advanced through the German barrrage and miraculously sustained few casualties. However, nothing more was known about them until 6.30 am.
It was then clear troops were held up and 'had retired to a trench behind Somme Farm'. The Germans counter-attacked the left of the 16th Division and then the front of the 108th Brigade, and the men of the 12th could see British troops from the assaulting wave 'were seen to be retiring from Hill 35 to the Black Line', though they later learned a few troops were further forward of this position. They also noted around 3.25 am that a German attack being assembled around Zonnebeke Church, called down an artillery barrage on it, and saw it break up.
The War Diary recorded 'Heavy fire ... opened on our front' around 9.00 pm, and that the Black line was shelled, but also that 'no counter attack developed on our front'. Indeed, thereafter things became increasing quiet and at 9.30 pm the Battalion noted 'all quiet on front'. They were relieved around that time.
William John Watson was the only son of Robert and Mary Watson, nee Cathcart, 7, Alexander Street, Ballymena, born 12 May 1890 at Alexander Street, and he was the brother of Mrs. Sarah Russell of 6, Henry Street, Harryville, Ballymena. He was the cousin of James (above). 
Rifleman Watson is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.

WATT, Robert John, 19818, Rifleman,  11th Royal Irish Rifles,  died in the Mesnil area of the Somme on the 29th February 1916.   He was believed locally killed almost instantaneously by shrapnel while out gathering wood for a fire and while in billets behind the lines. The War Diary agrees that the unit were at Mesnil from the 27th February and the entry for the 29th February reads as follows: 'Shelling again 2-4 pm. 11/19818 Rifleman Watt, 'C' Company, killed by shrapnel while standing outside billets.'

He was aged 30 and born on the 17 June 1886 at Aughnahoy, Portglenone. He was the son of Agnes Watt, Garvaghy, Portglenone; no father's name appears on the birth registration but the father John Watt is named on Robert's marriage certificate. 

He was the husband of Elizabeth Ann Watt, nee Erwin, Portglenone, Co. Antrim, married in Trinity Presbyterian Church, Portglenone on the 18 June 1915,  and a cousin of Mrs Johnston McGall, Fair Hill Lane, Ballymena. He was buried in Mesnil Ridge Cemetery, Somme, the funeral service conducted by the the battalion chaplain, the Rev. Mr Manning. Col. Pakenham and Lt. G O Young, the latter soon to be killed himself, were at the funeral.



WATT,  25010 Private William, 13th Bn. Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regt.),  died as a POW on the 12th May 1915.  He was aged 20, an engineer, and was the son of James and Maggie Watt, nee Orr, Frosses, Cloughmills, Ballymena. He was born on the 2 October 1893. He is buried in Niederzwehren Cemetery,  Germany.  He is commemorated in Clough Presbyterian Church.
See Ballymena Canadians

WEBB,  Oswald Brooke,  Captain,  11th Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds on the 3rd (CWGC says 4th) July 1916 from wounds received in 1st July - the record says he was hit 'the very moment our men slipped over parapet.'  He was taken to the Casualty Clearing Station and an officer there who knew him wrote to his brother and said,  'I saw him when he was brought into hospital, and thought he looked pretty bad, but he was quite conscious, and not suffering any pain. I was talking to him for a few minutes and he told me he got hit before he got past our wire. He was very pleased with the way his men went forward, and seemed quite cheerful'.
He was born on the 23 June 1880 and the son of late Charles James Webb, Old Bleach Linen Company, Randalstown and his wife Charlotte Ellen Brooke.  The couple had married in 1869.
Oswald Webb was married and he and his wife Kathleen had a 12 year old son. Captain Webb had written to him at boarding school from Martinsart on 30th June. He said, ‘My Dear Patrick, Just a line to let you know I am all right … I hope you are getting on well at school ... Write good long letters to your mother, your ever loving father.’
He is buried in Warloy Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme.

The Webb family had been active in the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) prior to the Great War.
Card courtesy of M. Stewart
The postcard relates to events of March 1913. The Randalstown Companies of the U.V.F. met at the Market Yard in the town and all thirteen sections of the three local Companies were reviewed before taking part, as indicated on the card, in a drill competition. One man from each section was adjudged the best and each such man was awarded a medal. At the close of the Saturday activity William Hubert Webb and Oswald Brooke Webb, of 'Old Bleach' (linen manufacturers of Randalstown) entertained the estimated 420 men to tea in the factory building.
William Hubert Webb, always referred to as 'WH', died in 1952 and the W.H.Webb Memorial Clock Tower, better known as the Neillsbrook Clock Tower, was erected in his memory in Randalstown. His father, Charles James Webb, was founder of the Old Bleach Linen Company. WH joined the company at 17 years old and was later a founder of the Irish Linen Guild and Chairman of the Linen Research Council.

WEIR (DCM), David,  703A, Private, 7th Bn. Australian Infantry, was killed in action on the 4th October 1917. He had been in Australia for about six years when he enlisted on 24th February 1916 and had left Australia on HMAT Runic on the 20th June 1916. He was a labourer, aged 27, and was the son of Hugh and Mary Ellen Weir, Straid, Gracehill, born 9 June 1890. He was the husband of Sarah Weir, Lisnafillan, Gracehill, Ballymena, formerly C/O Swan Hill P O, Victoria. He enlisted in Swan Hill, Victoria. He was the brother of Hugh Weir (below). He is commemorated on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate) and in Ahoghill Church of Ireland. See Ballymena Australians


Samuel, Henry & Alex, Brothers of David (above) & Hugh (below)

WEIR,  Hugh, S/40159, Private, 1/8 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was killed in action on the 21st March 1918. 

Weir’s unit was at Marteville on the 21st March and at 3 am, according to the 1/8th Battalion’s War Diary, a ‘heavy bombardment of the forward area and the battle zones commenced’. At 4.45 am the troops received an ‘order to ‘man battle stations’ and the battalion then ‘occupied positions in the battle zone east of Marteville. During the course of the forenoon the outpost lines near Fresnoy and Pontruet were penetrated, and the battalion was heavily attacked. Positions in the battle zone were held throughout the day’. The cost of the action was 7 Officers killed, 4 wounded and 2 missing, also 41 Other Ranks killed, 102 wounded and 142 missing, one of the dead being Hugh Weir.

He was aged 25 and was born on the 1 June 1892 at Straid, the second son of Hugh and Mary Ellen Weir, nee Nicholl, Straid, Gracehill. He was the brother of David (703A).  He is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial, Somme.

WEIR, 12/19310 Rifleman Matthew, 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds aged 27 years at home on the 12 January 1919 and he is buried in Larne New Cemetery.
He was born on the 16 June 1892 at Drummaul, Ballymena/Randalstown and was the son of William, a labourer, and Charlotte Weir. The couple had moved to Larne before 1911. Mrs Charlotte Weir lived at 9, Coronation Terrace, Glynn Rd., Larne.
Matthew was the brother of William James Weir and the consecutive numbers mean they enlisted together.
WEIR, 19311 Private William James, 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, born Drummaul, Ballymena/Randalstown on the 30 June 1890, died of wounds on the 10 August 1917 and aged 27 years.
Weir died of wounds and we do not know when he was wounded, but we do know where his unit were around the time of his death. The Battalion War Diary indicates that they had gone to 'the Support Trenches east of Wieltje' on the evening of the 7th-8th August, and that on the 8th August 'the enemy shelled intermittently ... Support Trenches causing some casualties.' On the 9th August 'the enemy continued to shell ... Support Trenches throughout the day', and then, significantly, the 'Battalion relieved the 11th Royal Irish Rifles in the Front Line'. On the 10th August, the day of Weir's death the 'enemy shelled the front line heavily throughout the day, causing a number of casualties'. It would seem Weir died as a consequence of the shelling, probably in the Front Line on the 10th August.
He was the son of William and Charlotte Weir, nee Morgan, of Drummaul and husband of Nora Weir, nee Barr, of 20, Mill Brae, Larne, Co. Antrim. The couple had married on the 30 May 1915 in the Methodist Church, Larne. His brother Matthew also died. He is buried in Brandhoek New Military Cemetery.


WHITE, 19819 Rifleman Joseph Campbell, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on the 1st July 1916.
He was born at Patrick Place, Harryville, Ballymena on the 4 May 1898, the son of John and Agnes White, nee Campbell. The family were still at Patrick Place in 1901 but they had moved to Galgorm Road, Ballymena by 1911. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.
WHITE, Robert, 7896, Rifleman, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 10th August 1917.  The 2nd Battalion moved to the area of the Westhoek Ridge and on the 10th August 1917 took part in an operation to advance their line by 500 yards; this Battle of Westhoek was part of the Passchendaele campaign. They rushed the enemy, the War Diary for the 10th August stating: ‘Two strong-points (concrete dugouts at Westhoek) were rushed … and the enemy … taken completely unawares offered no resistance … pushed on to Jabber Support. Most of the enemy … made no attempt to fight and fled … they were caught by our barrage and annihilated.’ Thereafter 'the advance continued ... and ... consisted of mopping up enemy concrete dugouts of which there were many, but in no case did the enemy show any real fight'. There were ineffective counter-attacks, but having reached their objective, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles consolidated the position. They were relieved on the night of the 11th-12th August.
He was born at Elgany, Broughshane on the 16 June 1890, the son of Samuel and Jane White, nee Simpson, and later of Knockboy, Broughshane.  The family lived at Waring Street, Ballymena in 1901. He is commemorated on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate) and on Broughshane War Memorial.

Left: WHITE, William, 8192, Private, 1st Irish Guards, was killed in action on the 15th September 1916, the opening day of an action around Ginchy, Somme. He was born on the 18 March 1893 at Elgany, Broughshane and was the son of Samuel White, later of Knockboy, Broughshane and his wife Jane Simpson, and he was the brother of 7896 Rifleman Robert White. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France and Broughshane War Memorial. The family lived at Waring Street, Ballymena in 1901.

The 1st Battalion War Diary gives a detailes and vivid ccount of the action in which he died.  It says:

At 6.20am the Battalion moved off as ordered. The two leading Platoons of the 3rd Company and probably some of the 4th Company rushed the German 1first line (called Vat Alley on some maps) ... Our men got their blood up and it was here that our first wave went forward in an irresistable rush with the Colstreams. ... Battalion H Q reached the wire in front of the first German line towards 7.50 am. By this time the whole Battalion was either in front of the wire or in the GREEN LINE ... The remainder were at the western end of the objective ....

WHITESIDE,  John, 17724, Gunner, Y6th Trench Mortar Battery, Royal Field Artillery, was killed in action on the 20th July 1917.  He was 45. 
The unit was part of 6th Division, part of its Divisional Artillery. Whiteside was in the Medium Trench Mortar Battery section, 'Y' Battery thereof - there would have been a number of these, usually X, Y and Z, though in this case there was apparently a 'W' as well. The War Diary for the 20th July 1917 states as follows: 'W Bty fired 15 Rds, X Battery fired 31 Rds, Y Bty fired 68 Rds. No. 17724 Gnr J Whiteside, RFA, Y Bty killed in action, No. 62324 Dvr. A Adams, Y Bty slightly wounded.' There is no indication of what happened him, though a shell explosion seems likely; Adams appears to have survived the war.
Gunner John Whiteside had been born on the 5 January 1872 at Taylorstown, Toomebridge, near  Ballymena and enlisted he in Glasgow. He was the son of John and Esther Whiteside, nee Thompson, and he was the husband of Margaret Black of Elgany, Broughshane, the couple having wed in West Church, Ballymena on the 20 May 1892.  He lived at Rathkenny at the time of his wedding, at Craigywarren in 1901, and at Carrowcowan, Newtowncrommelin in 1911. He is buried Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe.
Gunner John Whiteside is commemorated in Grange Church of Ireland, Toomebridge. He was the father of Rifleman William Whiteside (see below)
WHITESIDE, Samuel, 17701, 59th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) and formerly of the 11th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on 30th November 1917 at Cambrai.
The 59th Infantry Brigade, of which 59th MGC was part, moved position on 23th November to Etricourt to make preparation for taking over the line at Gouzeaucourt, but orders were received for the Division to switch to the northern flank of this operation, to relieve the Guards Division at Bourlon Wood. It was taken on the 28th November, and this 59th Brigade relief took place on 29th November.
The 59th MGC were, as gleaned from Operation Orders and the 59th Brigade War Diary, ordered into the line, and as stated in these, ‘units of the 59th Infantry Brigade relieved units of the 60th Brigade in the right sub-sector’. The War Diary says, ‘3 sections were distributed along the line … one section in the ravine’.
On 1 December, however, many casualties were sustained from German shellfire which preceded a counter attack. This was beaten off by in situ units and soon afterwards the 59th Division was ordered to withdraw from Bourlon, which it did successfully, taking up a position at Flesquières.
Whiteside was killed on the 30th while engaged in these Cambrai Operations. He was the 24 year old son of James (Dec'd) and Emma Whiteside, nee Beckett, Ballytresna, Randalstown and had been born on the 23 December 1893. He is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial and in Randalstown Old Congregation Presbyterian Church.

WHITESIDE, William, 18/1638, Rifleman, 14th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 3rd August 1917. The 14th Battalion received orders to go into the line around Ypres on the 2nd August and on the 3rd they 'left camp at 4 pm and entrained at Vlamertinghe at 6 pm, detrained 30 minutes later and marched towards Ypres'. They arrived in a trench line they found unkemp and filthy, but recorded no activity that would explain Whiteside's death. However, in the War Diary entry of the 4th August the story of what befell him and others is told. It states 'one Platoon was caught coming in (3rd August) and five men were killed and four wounded of 'B' Company'.

He was the son of 17724 Gunner John Whiteside, Eglish, Clough, Ballymena, born 21 May 1896 at Rathkenny, Broughshane.  He lived at Craigywarren in 1901 and at Carrowcowan, Newtowncrommelin in 1911.  His mother was Margaret Black, though his father was by then married to Sarah, nee O'Loan, Carrowcowan. He lived at Glenleslie, Clough.  He is buried  in Vlamertinghe Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium and he is commemorated in Cloughwater Presbyterian Church.

WILSON, Andrew, 571, Rifleman, 'A' Company,12th Royal Irish Rifles, was  killed on the 18th March 1916.  A letter to his parents said, 'He was working in the trench this morning when a large shell came right into it, and he was killed instantly. The Battalion War Diary says, 'Enemy put 5 heavy HE (high explosive) shells into the front line (Left Company) and killed 3 men and wounded one. Otherwise day quiet.' The other men killed were 7510 Corporal R. Ramsey and 6298 Rifleman H Montgomery.
Andrew Wilson was aged 32, born at Kirkinriola on the 3 February 1884, and he was the son of Jane, nee Moore, and the late Andrew, Prospect Place, Ballymena.  Prior to the war he had been employed by Messers. R Allan & Son, Wellington Street, Ballymena.
His officers indicated that he would be buried 'close to here tonight' but all three are now buried in Auchonvillers Military Cemetery, Somme and Wilson is commemorated in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church.

WILSON, 722 Private Andrew, 'D' Company, 28th Bn. Australian Infantry, A.I.F, died of wounds aboard HS Formosa on the 12 October 1915 and aged 27 years. He had been living at Greenbushes, Western Australia prior to enlistment.

He was born on the 19th March 1887 and was the son of Robert and Elizabeth Wilson, nee Wright, of Munie, Glenarm, Co. Antrim. Twenty-year-old Elizabeth Wright, Ballyvaddy, had married Robert Wilson, Munie, in Glenarm Presbyterian Church on the 22 December 1882.

See Ballymena Australians.

Left: WILSON, S/18523 Private George, 1/8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was killed in action on the 1st August 1917.  He was born on the 16 February 1881,  the son of John Wilson, a sawyer, of Laymore, Ballymena and his wife, nee Jane Lamont. He is buried Artillery Wood Cemetery, Ypres.

His commanding officer said:

I have the painful duty to inform you that your son 18523 Private George Wilson, No.9 Platoon, C Coy. 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was killed in action on the night of 1st August.

He was leaving the front line at the time and coming back for a rest after having fought in the advance, when he was hit by a shell and killed outright. Private Wilson was one of my best men, always very quiet and steady under the heaviest of fire. A man esteemed by officers and men alike. We all mourn with you in his loss and send our sincere sympathy to you in your sad bereavement.

WILSON,  John Hugh, 162865, Gunner,  Royal Field Artillery (and 373550 Irish Command Labour Centre), died at home on the 12th February 1919.  He is buried in Dunluce Presbyterian Churchyard and commemorated in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church.  He was the brother of William Oliver Wilson who is named in the same church and headstone and who died on the 20th February 1917. 

William Oliver Wilson cannot be traced on CWGC records, though, according to his mother, the two brothers 'both fought in the Great War, 1914-19, and died for justice, home and liberty'.   His name appears on Queen's University war memorial and he is 'Captain, Medical Officer, Natal Carabiners', and his date of death is given as 20th February 1917.  Their father was manager of a Northern Bank branch in Ballymena.

Queen's site says he was born on the 21st July 1885 at Cavanaleck, Co Fermanagh, that he lived as a child in Ballymena, attended Ballymena Academy, and resided at the Northern Bank, George Street, Ballymena; the Irish census confirms he was the son of John Wilson, bank manager and J.P. and Mrs Margaret Malcolm Orr Wilson. His sister, not named on the headstone, was Margaret Isabel Dalzell Wilson. He got his BA from QUB in 1907, his MB, B. Ch. and BAO in 1912; in short, he was a doctor, as was another brother Malcom. He had joined the Queen's University Officer Training Corps on the 21st November 1908. During his time at Queen's University Belfast he lived at 44, University Avenue, Belfast.


This entry from the Ballymena Observer, 7th May 1915, confirms that he and his brother Malcolm served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and another of the 10th December 1915 indicates that William was serving in the campaign to capture German colonies in South West Africa.  An article of the 9 March 1917 in  the Northern Whig newspaper says he was in the South African Medical Corps and that he had been attached to the Natal Carabiners.
He came home to Ireland and married Miss Dora Burnett in St Andrew's Church, Blackrock, Dublin on the 22 December 1915, but he died suddenly in 1917.  The reports of his death in Johannesburg do not suggest he was killed in action and it appears that he simply died, hence the absence of his name from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission record. His family view that he 'died for justice, home and liberty' might suggest his death was linked to some disease originally contracted during service.

Thanks to Nigel Henderson for his invaluable help and additional material.


Old Northern Bank, George Street, Ballymena

WILSON,  John H., 19327, Rifleman, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 1st July 1916, having been last seen 'half way across German lines'.  He was the son of Mary Wilson, Magherafelt, Co. Londonderry, and he lived on Church Street, Ahoghill. He was a marathon runner of note and played for Ahoghill Football Club.  He is commemorated in Ahoghill Church of Ireland.

His mother Mary received a letter from the Rev. Andrew Gibson, Presbyterian Chaplain, at the time her son had been reported officially as missing in action. He said, ‘I wrote to offer you our deepest sympathy in your suspense and anxiety and to express the hope that you may have heard of him from some reliable quarter. It is to be feared that many of the missing have laid down their lives on the field of battle. Today there are many homes in Ulster where sorrow is, and many hearts prostrate with grief. Ulster’s sons fought a great fight and covered her name with glory. We are confident that you at home will meet these losses bravely and will walk the hard path with unwavering faith as those who have fallen would wish us to do.’

WILSON,  Matthew, 49873, Private, 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, formerly 1003 Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 21st October 1918.
The 1st Battalion had received instructions on the 1st October 1918 to 'advance on a line running north of Courtrai', and the unit War Diary says that on this occasion on the 20th October the ‘Battalion marched to Dreisch’, and on the 21st they ‘attacked from Spriete’. Some details of the action are given in an attached document, part of the diary. It says the men set off at 10.00 hours and that they were until 12.00 hours ‘without trouble except on the left flank’, their problem being ‘the French had not advanced’. They halted their advance, formed a defensive flank, and remained in the position reached. They were subject to ‘heavy shelling from 14.00’, this augmented by ‘gas shelling during the night’. Matthew Wilson was one of six men killed on the first day of the action.
He was the son of Daniel and Mary Ann Wilson, nee Simpson, and he was born on the 22 July 1886 at Rathkenny, near Ballymena. He was at Queen Street, Ballymena in 1901, and he enlisted in Belfast. He is buried in Harlebeke New British Cemetery, Belgium.

WILSON, Robert, 10/3127, Private, 1st Wellington Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force, died of wounds on the 25th September 1916.  He was aged 34 and was born on the 11 June 1882 at Clonavon Road, Ballymena, the son of James Wilson, a rougher in a textile factory, and Sarah Anne Jenkin (sometimes Junkin) of Ballymacombs. The couple had married in Castledawson Presbyterian Church on the 15 April 1881. Robert is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery, France.
See Ballymena New Zealanders


Private Robert Wilson, 58104, 20th Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment)


WILSON, Robert, 58104, Private,  20th Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment),  died of wounds on the 5th April 1916. He was aged 35, born the son of Samuel and Eliza Wilson, nee Kennedy, on the 1 March 1881. The parents lived at Main Street, Cullybackey. He had lived at 537, Logan Avenue, Toronto, Canada.  He is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery,  Belgium and commemorated in the Cuningham Memorial Presbyterian Church, Cullybackey.  See Ballymena Canadians.


Family Headstone of Second Lieutenant Thomas Wilson, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Glenarm (New) Cemetery.

WILSON, Second Lieutenant Thomas, 3rd Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, attached 2/4th Battalion, was the 21-year-old son of Andrew and Agnes Annie Wilson, and he was killed in action on the 29th August 1918.  He had enlisted in the 18th Battalion, Manchester Regiment in September 1914. He is buried in H.A.C. Cemetery, Ecoust-St. Mein, France.
Second Lieutenant Thomas Wilson was the son of Mrs. Wilson, living in 1914 at Langworthy Road, Seedley, Salford, Manchester, and he had initially enlisted as a private in the 18th Bn. Manchester Regiment, and his obituary appears in a 1918 edition of the Manchester Grammar School Magazine. He was apparently born on the 3 March 1897 and attended Manchester Grammar School between 1910 and 1913. He had been wounded at Montauban (Somme) in July 1916 and, owing to experience and ability, he was commissioned into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in February 1918. His colonel said that he thereafter 'endeared himself to both officers and men". The colonel also reportedly said the young officer 'died a noble death in hand-to-hand combat.' On the date of his death, 29th August 1918,  the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment were engaged in the Battle of the Scarpe, the  2/4th LNL assaulting the Drocourt-Queant Line, the northern extension of the Hindenburg Line.
WILSON, Thomas, 604, Rifleman,  11th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 1st July 1916 on the Somme.  He was aged 21. He was born at Duneaney, Glarryford on the 19 June 1895 and he enlisted in Ballymena. He was the son of John and Lena, nee Fenton, Duneaney, Glarryford. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and in Killymurris Presbyterian Church, Glarryford.

Darmstadt Prisoner of War Camp
WILSON,  Thomas, 19826, Rifleman,12th Royal Irish Rifles, died a POW in Germany on the 3rd October 1918.  He was aged 20, was born near Ballymena and enlisted in Belfast.
German records say he was born at Ballyclare and that he was a farmer, and this document gives his date of birth as 7th August 1892. He might have been born on the 4th August 1891 at Doagh Grange, Ballyclare and if so was the son of William Wilson, Ballyclare and his wife Jenny Baxter, also of Ballyclare. The couple had married in Ballyeaston Presbyterian Church on the 24th March 1891. However, he was said to be 25 years old in another document and so would have been born in 1893. More information is required. The Ballymena church record makes me think he was the son of James and Mary Agnes Wilson, Killyfleugh, Ballymena, and this is the parent couple identified in Soldiers Died in the Great War.
He died on the 3rd October 1918 'im Kreigsgef. Laz. zu Darmstadt infolge darmkatarrh' - 'war prison camp hospital at Darmstadt as a result of enteritis', elsewhere 'verst 3rd October 1918 im laz. d. gf. lag. zu Griesheim', 'died on the 3rd October 1918 in the hospital of (Gefangenen lager) prison camp at Griesheim'. Darmstadt and Griesheim are near each other and one may be an outlying part of the other.
He is now buried in Niederzwehren Cemetery, Germany and commemorated in High Kirk (2nd Ballymena) Presbyterian Church.




Right: WILSON,  William,  6444, Company Sergeant Major,  7/8 Royal  Inniskilling Fusiliers, died of wounds on 16th September 1918. Aged 37, he was born in Ballymena. He was the son of John and Margaret Wilson, Drumcon, Rasharkin and he enlisted in Glasgow.  His wife Jeannie lived at Henry Street, Enniskillen. He is buried La Kreule Military Cemetery, Hazebrouck Nord, France, and he is commemorated in  Rasharkin Presbyterian Church.


WILSON, 523772 Private W (William), 9th Field Ambulance Canadian Army Medical Corps, died on the 29 August 1918 and was said to be 22 years old.  He had been born on the 22nd August 1896 at Deer Park, Glenarm and William was the son of Robert Wilson, of Deerpark (sic), Glenarm and his wife Jane Thompson, born at Magheramorne. The couple, both of farming stock, had married in Magheramorne Presbyterian Church on the 18 February 1887- See Ballymena Canadians.

Right: WISNER (or Wisener),  John, 42380, Private, 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, was missing, later deemed killed in action, on 23rd October 1918.

On the 1st October 1918 the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, like others in the Second Army, were ordered to exploit German exhaustion after the failure of Operation Georgette, in the case of their unit to ‘attack Hill 41 … from the west and if successful to exploit the advance on a line running north of Courtrai’. This order led to a whole series of Second Army actions, generally known as the Fifth Battle of Ypres, and ultimately to the Final Advance in Flanders (28 September-11 November 1918).
Wisener’s unit War Diary says that on this occasion on the 20th October the ‘Battalion marched to Dreisch’, and on the 21st they ‘attacked from Spriete’. Some details of the action are given in an attached document, part of the diary. It says the men set off at 10.00 hours and that they were until 12.00 hours ‘without trouble except on the left flank’, their problem being ‘the French had not advanced’. They halted their advance, formed a defensive flank, and remained in the position reached.
They were subject to ‘heavy shelling from 14.00’, this augmented by ‘gas shelling during the night’. The 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers nevertheless stayed in situ until relieved by the 12th Royal Irish Rifles at dusk on the 24th October. Their diary records that 2nd Lt J M Deeney was killed, 2nd Lt T Coghlan was missing (actually died 24th October), and one 'other rank' was killed on the 23rd October; CWGC records four men of the unit died that day.

Aged 36 and the the son of Daniel, a shoemaker, and Jane, nee Craig, he had been born in Garvagh, County Londonderry on the 15 July 1884. He was the husband of Annie Wisener, nee Shaw, Ballycregagh, Cloughmills, the couple having married in Killagan Parish Church on the 25 December 1908.

Dan Wisner had four sons and three, Robert, John and Hugh, all served during the Great War, as did their father; Francis, the remaining son, was only 12 years old.

John Wisener, father of four young children, is buried in Harlebeke New British Cemetery and commemorated in Killymurris Presbyterian Church & in Killagan Parish Church. His wife Annie was seeking information about his fate as late as May 1919 but the article in the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph mistakenly refers to him as John Wiseman.


WORKMAN,  John,  46955, Gunner,  115th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, was killed in action on the 1st November 1917.   He had enlisted early in the war and was in France and Flanders after the 6th April 1915. Another colleague died of wounds that day in the same incident that took Workman's life. He was 17133 Gunner James Whitmarsh, husband of Emily Ellen Whitmarsh, West Dean, Chchester, Sussex.
Workman was born at Craigs, Cullybackey on the 19 January 1900, the son of William John and Eliza (Lizzie) Workman, nee McLean. He was at Craigs in 1901 and 1911 but he had enlisted Belfast.
He is buried in Minty Farm Cemetery, Langemarck, Belgium. CWGC says his parents were living at 88, Disraeli Street, Belfast, as does this press photograph (courtesy of N Henderson).
WORKMAN, S/6099 Private Robert, 11th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was killed in action on the 27th September 1915 during the Battle of Loos (25th Sept-8th Oct 1915).  His unit had been in action since the 25th and were one of the supporting battalions. They advanced all the way to Hill 70, the effective limit of the action in their sector, and were fully engaged until the order arrived about 12 noon on the 26th that if they couldn't hold Hill 70 they were, with other leading battalions, to 'retire to Loos and hold the original German line from Loos Road Keep to Lens Road Keep'.
11th Bn. Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders were relieved at 2 am on the 27th September and 'retired to Loos occupying cellars'; at 8 am they 'withdrew along the Lens Road to Mazingarbe where the battalion was collected'. Roll call revealed that at that time it was believed that 36 men were dead, 211 wounded, 5 wounded and missing, and 59 missing. 20 Officers and 992 Other Ranks had gone into action. Workman was one of the dead.
He was born on the 5 October 1895 at Craigs, Cullybackey, the son of Samuel and Jane (Jannie) Workman, nee McWhirter and he enlisted in Greenock, Scotland. The CWGC says Samuel and his wife Jane lived at 5, Mile Street, Greenock. Robert is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
WRAY, 152809 Private Joseph, enlisted in the 79th Battalion (Manitoba), Canadian Infantry on the 24 February 1916 at Brandon and was later taken ill in the latter stages of the Great War while serving with the 5th Battalion Canadian Infantry. Joseph Wray, ill with TB, was discharged in Canada. He died on Sunday, June 13, 1920, and is buried in Carberry Cemetery, Manitoba.
CWGC says he was the son of James and Mary Mills Wray, of Cullinane, Carnlough, Co. Antrim, Ireland. He had said, without giving further details, that he was born in 1893, though local records show he was actually born on the 26 October 1891.  His father was indeed Mr James Wray, Carnlough. James Wray, recorded as James Rea, a farmer of Racavan, Broughshane married Mary Mills, Racavan in the Registrar’s Office, Ballymena on the 5 December 1885, and their family appears in the 1901 and 1911 Irish census record. See Ballymena Canadians.




WRIGHT, David, 1403, Rifleman, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds on the 22nd November 1917 (note date discrepancy).  He was aged 19 (actually 24, according to birth registration above) and was the son of John and Agnes (also known as Nancy, as on CWGC) Wright, Laymore, Ballymena. He is named Cambrai Memorial and at Kirkinriola Cemetery, Bally Road, Ballymena.

Right: WYLIE (occasionally Wiley), Alexander (Alec), 41583, Private, 2nd Manchester Regiment, born 6 July 1886 at Dunminning, Craigs, Cullybackey, had died on the Somme during an engagement near Mailly Maillet on the 18th November 1916. He had then been in the army about 12 months.

The unit had moved into the trenches, specifically Serre Trench, on the 15th November, their relief of the 1st Berkshire Regiment taking about eight hours and ending at 7 am on the 16th November. They were subjected to a 'bombing attack by the enemy' on the 17th  November; the War Diary also says there was a heavy bombardment of British lines by German artillery 'in reply to our barrage while an attack took place'. The entry for the 18th November is brief but gives the context of Wylie's death: 'Battalion in trenches. Lager Alley attacked & taken.'  Wylie was presumably killed in the assault.

He was  the 27 year old son of Alex & Lena Wylie, nee Anderson, of Harperstown, Cullybackey. He had left Ireland some five years previously and had initially gone to Oldham to be with his sister, Mrs Street. He was the husband of Annie Wylie, 17, Rope Street, Oldham, and he had been employed by Messrs Bradbury & Co, Wellington Works, Oldham. He had worked previously for Frazer & Haughton at Hillmount Works, Cullybackey.

He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

WYLIE,  Archie, 23197, Private, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died of wounds on the 2nd October 1918.  We do not know when he was wounded, possibly not on the 2nd October, but the War Diary makes clear it was a difficult day for the 2nd Inniskilling Fusiliers that day.
They had originally moved up on the 1st October to support an attack by the 1st Inniskillings along the Roulers-Menin Railway, but this was cancelled. They relieved the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers and part on the 12th Royal Irish Rifles instead. The diary then says, 'Post of 'C' Company at Twig Farm was this afternoon driven out under a heavy artillery and machine gun barrage but was retaken by a counter attack ... of the 9th Battalion immediately afterwards'. It adds later that 'the day ended with fairly heavy enemy shelling and almost complete silence on the part of our artillery. Roads were patrolled from Dadizeele to Twig Farm and from Pease Corner to Vijfwegen'. It is entirely possible he was wounded in the shelling, the outpost attack, or during the patrolling.
He was aged 24, born 1 July 1892, and was the son of John and Margaret Wylie, nee Young, Ballywatermoy, Craigs, Cullybackey. He had lived at Ballywatermoy (1901) and Tullygarley (1911) and he enlisted in Glasgow. He is buried in Haringhe Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium and commemorated in Killymurris Presbyterian Church, Glarryford and in Cullybackey United Free Church. His brothers John and David were also killed.
WYLIE,  David,  20446, Lance Sergeant, 7th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died of wounds on the  5th April 1916.  The unit had taken 'over the left of Puits 14 Bis Sector, extending from Chalk Pit Alley on the right to Posen Alley on the left.' These trenches were NE of Loos village. 'A', 'B' & 'C' Companies were in the front line and 'D' Company was in reserve. They remained in the area until after the day of Wylie's death, but there is no way of knowing on which date he was wounded prior to his death on the 5th April.
He was born on the 1 May 1887 at Ballywatermoy, Cullybackey, had lived at Ballywatermoy (1901) and Tullygarley (1911),  and enlisted in Glasgow. He was the son of John and Margaret Wylie, nee Young, of Ballywatermoy, Dunminning, Cullybackey. He is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery, France. Brothers Archie and John were also killed.
WYLIE, John, 13837, Private, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 28th April 1918.  The War Diary for the 28th April 1918 says, 'the enemy shelled Picklehaube and Wieltje very heavily several times during the day ... patrols were sent out frequently and gained valuable information'. It is not known whether Wylie was killed during the shelling or while on patrol.
He was aged 34 years and had been  born at Ballywatermoy, Cullybackey on the 1 April 1884, and he was the son of John and Margaret Wylie, nee Young, of Ballywatermoy.  The family were at Ballywatermoy in 1901 and at Tullygarley, Ballymena in 1911. John Wylie enlisted Belfast.  He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium. He was the brother of Archie and David, also killed, and of Mrs Jane Boyd, 107, East Bread Street, Beersbridge Road, Belfast.


WYLIE,  Robert,  331411, Pioneer, Inland Waterways and Docks,  Royal Engineers, died at home on the 29th January 1918.  He had been discharged from the army on 11 December 1917 due to illness, and the record of his death says he, a butcher, had had pulmonary tuberculosis for one year. His wife Annie was present at his Fair Hill Lane home when he died. He had married Annie Watt, of William Sttreet, Ballymena and daughter of James, in St Patrick's Parish Church, Ballyclug on the 15 December 1904. He, the son of butcher Robert, was then living at Springwell Street, though he is later associated with Gilmore (Gilmer) Street and Fairhill Lane, Ballymena. He is buried Ballymena Old Churchyard, Church Street, Ballymena.


WYLIE, Thomas, 22467, Private, 11th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 1st July 1916, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme.  He was born at Ballywatermoy, Craigs, Cullybackey on the 19 December 1896, lived in Ballywatermoy, Cullybackey, and was the son of John and Elizabeth Wylie, nee Russell. The family are at Ballywatermoy at the time of the 1901 and 1911 censuses. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

WYLIE, William, 4402, Rifleman, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, was KIA on the 1st July 1916 on the Somme.  He was the son of William and the late Ellen Wylie, Tullygrawley, Glarryford. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and in Killymurris Presbyterian Church.

William Wylie (also Wiley) married Ellen McAninch, (also McNinch) in Ballymena Register Office on the 2nd February 1883. He said he was from Crankill,; his bride was from Carnlea.

The 1901 Irish census records William and Ellen, both 40 years old, and nine children. Son William is recorded as being 7 years old, though no local record of the birth can be found.


Lieutenant George Patrick Neville Young (MC) 

photograph courtesy of Our heroes, South Dublin Libraries 


YOUNG (MC), George Patrick Neville,  Lieutenant, 2nd Leinster Regiment, died on 25th July in Boulogne Hospital of wounds received earlier in July 1915.  He was the 23 year old son of  George Lawrence & Annie Young, Culdaff House, Donegal & of Millmount, Randalstown.

Lieutenant Young was wounded on the night of the 10/11 July 1915. His friend Dennis Barnett reported to his mother that Young 'got a shrapnel bullet nicely through the shoulder, and insisted on walking round the line to say good-bye to everyone before starting for the dressing station. There was no despondency there. He'll get a good holiday which he's earned if anyone did.'
Regrettably, he died from gangrene two weeks later on 25 July.

Samuels, Dorothy Gage (nee Young, married in 1913), Millmount, Randalstown was the wife of Captain Arthur Purefoy Irwin Samuels and she was also a sister of fellow 11th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles officer Guy Owen Lawrence Young and of George Neville Patrick Young (MC), Lieutenant, 2nd Leinster Regiment, who died on 25th July in Boulogne Hospital of wounds received on the 12th July 1915. 


YOUNG, Thomas, 2674, Lance-Serjeant, 6th Royal Irish Regiment, was killed in action on the 3rd September 1916.  He was aged 43, probably a professional soldier, and the son of John and Elizabeth Young.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme and remembered in Killagan Parish Church, Glarryford? CWGC record his parents as John and Elizabeth Young, 5, Cross Street, Rosemount, Co. Londonderry, his wife as Elizabeth Young, 24, Donegal Street, Londonderry.

This entry owed much to 'Ballymoney Heroes', the wonderful little volume by Robert Thompson. However, in this instance I believe he identified the wrong soldier. I can find no link to the couple in Londonderry.


The Last Will and Testament of 1057 Rifleman Thomas Young, 1st Royal Irish Rifles

The above entry in the Irish census drew my attention, notably because of the location, the parent's name, the religious denomination and the age of the Thomas Young in the entry. 18/1057 or 1057 Rifleman Thomas Young, 1st Royal Irish Rifles, died aged 25 years on the 21st March 1918. He was killed on the first day of the German Spring Offensive onslaught, actually missing since the date and later presumed to have died on that date. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial, Somme. No family details are provided with the CWGC entry.
Thomas's name is associated with Killagan Parish Church, and the church is sited in the townland of Drumadoon; the census also makes clear he was an Anglican. His will leaves his effects to his father John Young, actually the grandfather who had reared him (grandmother Mary Young died on the 20th December 1905 at Drumadoon), and the address is given in his will as the nearby Knockahollet townland; the 1911 census also shows the family at Tullaghbane townland, Clough (or Clogh) - the townland is actually closer to Cloughmills. The various townland addresses probably stems from the grandfather moving around somewhat owing to the fact that he was an agricultural labourer.
1057 Rifleman Thomas Young is probably the boy who grew up in and around Drumadoon and whose name appears on Killagan Parish Church records.
(18/1057 - the 18 here shows he enlisted initially in the 18th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles. This was formed at Holywood, Belfast in April 1915, and it moved to Clandeboye, Co Down in July of that year. It was created for training a reserve and presumably Thomas Young went from it to the 1st Royal Irish Rifles as a reinforcement. The personnel of the unit were all absorbed in to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion in April 1918.)