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.
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.
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
8180, Rifleman, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the
12th December 1914. 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.
Aged 30, he was born on the 24 October 1888 at Coach Entry, off Castle Street, Ballymena, the son of painter Sam and Catherine Nelson, nee McKillop, of Castle Street (1901 census) and Henry Street (1911 census), Ballymena. He had married Margaret Thompson at People's Hall (Methodist) Chapel, Belfast on the 20 January 1911. He enlisted in Belfast and lived at 8, North Ann Street, Belfast. He is buried Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France.
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
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.
Left: O'DORNAN, Samuel, 4301, Private, 6th Connaught Rangers, died of wounds on the 11th September 1916. 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.)
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.
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)
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:
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.
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. He married Margaret Campbell of the Vow, Rasharkin in Finvoy Presbyterian Church on the 20 February 1912.
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.
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.
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.
127 Rifleman William, 15th Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on
the 31st October 1916 and he is remembered on the Ypres Memorial (Menin
Peterkin's Scots Guards advanced diagonally from Loos towards Puits 14, right side of map.
Irish Guards were at Chalk Pit, top right.
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
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.
28611 Private Archibald, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed
in action on the 27th January 1917. On that date 87th Brigade of the 29th Division, which included the 1st Inniskillings, 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 covered the advance. Other 8-inch howitzers bombarded strong-points and road junctions, and heavy batteries were able to neutralize German artillery. 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.
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.
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 his brother. See 'Royal Scots Brothers.'
Corporal James Rea, son of Matthew, Drumcrow, Broughshane.
Photograph courtesy of Nigel Henderson, Ulster History Hub
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 (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.
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, 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.
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 8 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Left: SIMPSON, Alexander, 79354, Gunner, 9th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, was killed in action near Dikkebus, Belgium on the 21 July 1917. He was the son of James and Annie Simpson, Firview Farm, Ballymaconnelly, Rasharkin. He had studied Art in London and was a noted athlete and footballer, and for some time prior to his enlistment he had been living in Kilbride, Scotland. He is incorrectly listed as James Simpson in the Ballymena Observer, 14 September 1917.
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.
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
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
SMITH, Samuel Lyle, 28326, Gunner, 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 admitted to No.5 General Hospital on the 9th May 1918 with gunshot wounds to the left hip and the right leg and died there in Rouen on the 23rd May.
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.
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 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, 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,
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.
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 Craigwarren 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 Maegretta, nee McKelvey, Curragh, Monaghan, Clinty, Ballymena. His parents later lived at Vow, Ballymoney.
Right: SPEEDIE, Harry, 14572, Sergeant, Royal Canadian Dragoons, died on the 30th March 1918 and is named on the Vimy Memorial. Born on the 13 March 1885, he was the son of the late Henry & Mrs Margaret Speedie, Clover Hill, Randalstown. He is named in the Congregational Roll of Honour for 1st Randalstown Presbyterian Church. What appears to be his brothers, T J Speedie of the 12th RIR & Captain W Speedie of the RAMC, are also listed. He was about 5' 9" tall and had light brown hair and grey eyes. He was single and was working in Canada as a commercial salesman at the time of his enlistment.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.'
Wounded in Action: George, James and Alexander Surgenor, Bridge End, Galgorm
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
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.
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, 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
information: 5619 CSM Robert H Wallace, 'C'
Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, a veteran of the South
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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, 722 Private Andrew, 28th Bn. Australian Infantry, A.I.F, died on the 12 October 1915 and aged 27 years. 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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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 Beaumont Hamel on the 18th November 1916. He had then been in the army about 12 months.
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, 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.
There are problems. Local birth registration records show Robert Wiley, son of William and Ellen Wiley, nee McAninch, was born at Carnlea, Ballymena on the 1 March 1893. The 1901 Irish census records William and Ellen, both 40 years old, and nine children. The couple had married in the Registrar's Office, Ballymena on the 2 February 1893, though they had obviously lived together for some years; he said he was from Crankill, Craigs and she was from Carnlea, Kirkinriola. Son William is recorded as being 7 years old, hence suggesting he was born circa 1893. Son Robert was just 3 years old.
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.