The Ulster Division parades past Belfast City Hall prior to leaving for France
PRIVATE Samuel W. Maxwell, formerly of Killyless, Cullybackey, and of the New Zealand contingent, is at present on a visit to his friends in Ireland, after being treated for wounds received at the Dardanelles (Gallipoli). Private Maxwell and his parents emigrated to New Zealand some seven years ago and, at the outbreak of war, he volunteered his services and accompanied the main body of the first NZ Contingent to Egypt where he finished his training.
His contingent was called to the Dardanelles at the opening of hostilities and he was wounded early in September 1915 by shrapnel in the back. He was taken to hospital in Cairo and was afterwards transferred to a London hospital from where he came to Ireland on a short furlough. He is a nephew of Mr. Joseph Maxwell, Dagusville, Ballymena.
(11/202 Samuel White Maxwell had been born at Killlyless, Cullybackey, but was working as a labourer in NZ when the war started. He was just 20 years and 8 months old when he enlisted in August 1914, and he was to serve 5 years and 101 days in the army before being discharged on the 28 November 1919. He finished his training in Egypt in 1914-15, was at Gallipoli in 1915, and was with the Egyptian Exp Force in 1916. He transferred to the Western Front in 1916 and remained there until the end of the war. During leave in Ireland in 1918 he stayed with Miss E Gregg, Killyless, Cullybackey. He died on the 14 May 1968.
The 1901 census records Maxwell as a 7 year old living with his widowed aunt Mary J Gregg (Grigg sic), a farmer, and her family. They were Jane,Sarah A, Alexander, Mary E and John, a blacksmith. They are recorded in 1911. Mary Jane was living with her children Sarah A, Alexander and Mary E, a dressmaker. The last was presumably the E Gregg with whom he was staying in 1918.)
Photograph courtesy of Sarbena Maxwell
This week's recruiting:
20th Royal Irish Rifles: Rifleman David McConnell, Railway Street; William Gordon, Robert McAuley, Ballymarlow; Robert Foster, Dunnyvadden; W, J. Bankead, Ballee; Samuel Gamble, Kells.
4th Royal Irish Rifles - Hugh Gribben, Alexander Street;
10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers - David Kernohan, Ballymena.
SERGEANT J.H.J. Carson, Crumkill, of the Inniskilling Dragoons, brother of Mr. George Carson, Carnaughts, has been promoted to the rank of Squadron Sgt. Major and Warrant Officer. SSM Carson was nine years in India with the Dragoons and is now with the Indian Expeditionary Force.
January 7, 1916
CARMICHAEL Robert, S/7056, L/Cpl. 2 Black Watch. DOW January 9, 1916. Buried Amara War cemetery, Iraq. Born Ballymena, enlisted Kirkintilloch, Scotland. Aunt at Tannybrake, Kells.
65th list - 1,379 Patriotic Men
North Irish Horse - Trooper Edward McClure, Gracehill;
20th Royal Irish Rifles - Robert Gillen, Crebilly; Norman Irwin, Clonavon, William Lennon, Craigs.
Irish Guards - John Forsythe, Castle Street;
Army Ordnance Corps - George Lyttle, William Street;
Connaught Rangers - John McAllister, Duke Street.
PRIVATE J.C. McDowell of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (perhaps one of the most famous 'colonial' battalions of the war. Ed.) has written home to his relatives who reside at Windsor Terrace, Ballymena, from the 2nd Field Hospital, stating that he had been wounded on the right hand and that he is improving.
MRS. McCann, Creagh, Toomebridge, has received a letter from her son, Private Patrick McCann, Royal Munster Fusiliers saying that he has been wounded in the recent retreat in Serbia and is now in hospital.
Trooper Robert Burnitt of the North Irish Horse, at present on active service, formerly assistant clerk to Mr. Charles Johnson in the Ballymena Workhouse, acknowledges with thanks the receipt of a parcel of cigarettes received from the employees of Messrs. John Wilson and Son, Harryville Factory, which were much appreciated by him and his comrades
PRIVATE Joseph Curry of the New Zealand Contingent, who has just recovered from an attack of enteric fever which he developed at the Dardanelles, is at present on leave with his mother and father, Mr. and Mrs William Curry of Ballynacaird, Lisnamurrican. Private Curry, who is in his 25th year, emigrated to New Zealand in the year of 1912 where he joined the Volunteer Force, and when war broke out he volunteered for active service on August 8th 1914.
After three months' training in New Zealand, the contingent embarked for Albany where they joined the Australian Force. The training of the New Zealanders was completed in Egypt. Early in the New Year they were called up to meet an attack made by the Turks, which they easily repulsed.
In this encounter they had their first casualties. The battalion in which he was a machine gunner, was amongst the first to land at the Dardanelles on April 25th 1915. Curry had many narrow escapes at the landing. He was in the trenches for three months when he took ill and was sent to hospital at Malta. later he was transferred to a hospital in Birmingham and at present is on six week's leave.
Ballymena Observer January 14. 1916
BARCLAY, James, 9802, Private. 1 Gordon Highlanders, KIA, January 17, 1916. Buried La Clytte Military Cemetery, Belgium. Born Kells, enlisted Aberdeen. Commemorated in Connor Presbyterian Church.
66th List 1,383 Patriotic Men
Our 66th list shows a big falling off in recruits in the Ballymena District when compared with the figures for the corresponding period of last year. During the past week, four men joined the colours and for the 3rd week in January 1915 there were 18. If Ballymena's fine record is to be kept up there will have to be more active steps taken in promoting recruiting in the district.
4th Royal Irish Rifles - James Donnelly, Ahoghill;
COLONEL J. Barnett Wilson, of Knowehead, Broughshane, who, in the early months of the war was in charge of Shorecliff Military and several other detached hospitals on the south coast and has also been for some time in command of the Medical Staff of the 12th Division in France has been appointed District Director Medical Services of the 16th Army Corps. He will therefore be in command of the staff having medical surveillance of 120,000 men.
A Clough Soldier's Story - 'Dispatch Rider's Ordeal'
TWO thrilling incidents are related by Gunner Whiteside Royal Field Artillery, in a letter to his friends in Clough, Co. Antrim.
It is really marvellous how our airmen go for the Germans and in nine cases out of ten come off best. It is very exciting to watch as many as six machines battling away, thousands of feet up in the air.
I have seen several Taubes (A German aircraft) come down head foremost and there was precious little value in them when they landed.
One evening I was sent with a message to the trenches and was sitting in the dug out with the telephone operator when the enemy took it into their head to make a surprise attack. You can imagine my feelings when, hearing the commotion, I popped my head round the corner and saw the Germans clambering over our parapet. You bet I was soon on my hind legs and looking for a rifle. I soon got one and just by good luck there was a bayonet on the end of it.
Tumbling out, I soon came to the first German who was looking for trouble. As, perhaps you know, an artilleryman knows precious little how to use a bayonet, but I knew if I didn't get him he would very soon have me.
My luck was in and I got him fair and square, but in my excitement I must have overdone it, as I couldn't get the bayonet out again. He took the rifle and all out of my hands as he fell. Before I had time to recover, I saw another Hun making for me at top speed. I though it was all up with me , and, as a last desperate resort I scooped up a double handful of mud and flung it right in his face.
This had the effect of making him drop the rifle and do a bit of a goose-step, all the time howling with the pain of his eyes. I lost no time and was soon sitting on his chest, choking the Hunnish life out of him. By this time the boys had mopped up the lot and here we are waiting for some more fun.
On another day we were sitting round the gun having an easy spell when suddenly we spied a cyclist coming bumping along as hard as he could pelt. When he was about 30 yards away we heard the whistle of a shell which let right in front of him. For a minute or so we saw nothing; then out of the smoke came the cyclist, spitting and swearing with the front wheel around his neck.
We started to laugh at the figure he cut but as he came staggering towards us we were hushed for we saw that his left hand was cut clean off and only a shattered bleeding stump was left. He stagged up to our major, handed him a dispatch, saluted and collapsed at the major's feet. He was barely 18
AMONGST the officers who have reached England with Canadian troops is Captain W. A. Adams, who has arrived in Belfast on a visit to his relatives. Captain Adams is a native of Ballymena and he is a barrister-at-law, in practice at Que Appele, Saskatchewan.
Ballymena Observer, January 21 1916.
20th Royal Irish Rifles - Robert N. Kyle, Glebe Cottages, Rasharkin; Charles Irwin, Larne Street; Joseph Reid, Mount Street.
Inniskilling Dragoons - Wm. Robinson, Ballinacaird.
Joined since the outbreak of war:
Royal Engineers: Pte. Walter Henry, son of Mr. James Henry, Urban Councillor, Rural District Councillor, Mill Street, Ballymena.
Canadian Contingent: Pte Robert Ross, formerly of Ballymena; Pte Samuel Finlay, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Finlay, Queen Street.
INTIMATION has been received by his friends in Ballymena that Pte. Patrick Bonar, Flag Lane, 2nd Leinsters, is at present in St. Helen's Hospital in England suffering from an old gunshot wound to the arm.
Mr. Samuel Wilson, Ballydugenan House, Toomebridge, has received a postcard from Private Joseph McCartney, 7th Leinsters, stating he has been wounded and is in hospital in France.
RECENTLY Private Robert Ross, Canadian Contingent, brother of Mr. Matthew Ross, High Street, Ballymena, was home on a visit to his friends in Ballymena, after being treated for wounds received in an action in France. He is an old soldier who served in the Royal Artillery for 12 years and at the outbreak of the present war he offered his services to King and Country.
Lance Corporal Dan Lorimer, Ballymena, of the 2nd Btn Royal Irish Rifles who was recently mentioned in dispatches and was later awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (actually 'Mentioned in Despatches'), is at present home on ten days leave following a nasty bullet wound in the hand. This is the third time Lance Corporal Lorimer has been wounded.
Ballymena Observer, January 28, 1916
68th list - 1,408 Patriotic Men
This week's recruiting:-
18th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles - Allan McClean, Coreen, Broughshane; J. McGrath, Alexander Street; Hugh Stewart, Laymore; Charles Reynolds, Clonavon.
Joined since the outbreak of war:
Royal Scots - Corporal Isaac Kerr and Private W. Kerr, Newtowncrommelin (both KIA);
Highland Light Infantry - Private Robert Falconer, Skerry East;
Scottish Rifles (Cameronians): Signaller John Scott, Newtowncrommelin;
Gordon Highlanders - Lance Corporal W. McCartney, Legagrane, Cargan;
Royal Navy - Robert John McIntyre, HMS Fox, Newtowncrommelin.
Canadian Contingent - Pte Matthew Anderson, son of Mr. Matthew Anderson, Omerbane; Pte Tom Aicken, from Omerbane.
18th Notts and Derby - Pte Robert McCartney, late of Bridge Street.
MRS. J. Stewart, Glenwillow House, Toomebridge, has been notified by the War Office that her son, Lt. Dr. John Stewart, RAMC, has been severely wounded on the chest and arms by shell fire in France and is now in hospital. Dr. Stewart who is second son of the late Mr. John Stewart and grandson of the late Rev. Hall Stewart, for many years Pastor of Grange Presbyterian Congregation, had a distinguished college career, shortly after the completion of which he volunteered for service in the RAMC.
Private William Telford, 1st Btn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, has been wounded and is in hospital in Egypt. He is 22 years of age and a son of Mrs. Telford, Alexander Street, Ballymena, who has another son, Rfn. James Telford serving with the 12th Royal Irish Rifles (Ulster Division) in France.
SEMPEY James, 19751, Corporal, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, KIA on the 10th February. 1916. Aged 29, he was born in Ballymena, the son of Hugh and Isabella Sempey. He lived Ballyclare. His former wife, Sarah McNeill (f. Sempey), lived at Main Street, Ballyclare. He is buried Mesnil Ridge Cemetery Somme.
McWILLIAMS Herbert, 17/1344 Rifleman, 8th Royal Irish Rifles, Killed in Action on the 10th February 1916. Aged 19, born Ahoghill, enlisted Belfast. Son of Ellen McWilliams, 9 Abingdon Street, Belfast. He is buried in Auchonvillers Military Cemetery, Somme.
69th list - 1,408 Patriotic Men
This week's recruiting:-
18th Royal Irish Rifles - Joseph Knox, Greenvale Street; William Turtle, Springwell Street; William Harvey, Alexander Street.
4th Btn, Royal Irish Rifles, James Laverty, Alexander Street.
Joined since the outbreak of war -
Canadian Contingent - Private Andrew Murphy, formerly of Greenvale Street.
Squadron Sergt. Major D.A. Cathcart, an experienced non-commissioned officer of the Royal Scots Greys, has, for service in the field, been specially promoted to a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal West Kent Regt. and joins the 1st battalion. He is a grandson of the late Mr. James Cathcart of Slatt and a brother of John Cathcart of Alfred Street, Ballymena.
Signaller Harry Walsh, Waveney Road, Ballymena, came home from the front recently on a short leave. He is looking remarkably fit and states that all the boys out there are in the best of spirits.
Ballymena Observer, February 11. 1916
70th list - 1,410 Patriotic Men - 'Only two local recruits this week!'
18th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles - Constable Edward Copeland, R.I.C.;
Irish Guards, John Greer - Alfred Street.
REV. George Clenaghan, C.C. Glenravel, Ballymena, has been appointed an army chaplain and takes up duty in about three weeks.
Mr. W. H. Davison, Mayor of Kensington, who is the son of Mr. R. Davison, Beechfield, Ballymena, on a recent visit to the front at the invitation of the war office, came upon Captain Orr's grave in a peaceful little spot near the firing line. It was covered with fresh green sods and daffodils were growing at the root.
Lt. R. M. Pryde, second son of Mr. James Pryde, Leighinmohr, Ballymena, who is attached to the 15th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles (Ulster Division) is home on a well-earned rest from the trenches. Before the outbreak of war, Lt. Pryde was closely connected with the Ulster Volunteer Force and was commanding officer of B Coy. 1st Btn. North Antrim Regiment.
Sgt. Major John Wright, Carniny, of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles (Ulster Division) has returned to the front after a few days leave from the firing line. Sgt. Major Wright was an enthusiastic Ulster Volunteer and was one of the local commanders.
Lt. Charles Gage Stuart, RN, 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.'
Lt. Stuart is a son of Mr. William Stuart C.E. of Mount Earl, Ballymena and a brother of 2nd Lt. W. G. B. Stuart of the 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (Central Antrim Volunteers), and 2nd Lt. Stuart, North Irish Horse. He is also a nephew of the late Rear Admiral Leslie Stuart, CMG, and served with that officer in HMS Vengeance on the China Station during the Russo-Japanese war. Lt. Stuart's seniority as Lieutenant dates from 1st April 1909. When the war broke out he was serving on the cruiser Glasgow, on the south-east coasts of America. He was in the action with Von Spee's squadron on November 1 in which the 'Good Hope' and the 'Monmouth' were sunk. (Battle of Coronel was an Imperial German Naval victory over the Royal Navy on 1 November 1914, off the coast of central Chile. The East Asia Squadron of the Imperial German Navy led by Vice-Admiral von Spee met and defeated the British West Indies Squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Cradock.) The 'Glasgow' got away damaged on that occasion but lived to fight another day and Lt. Stuart had the satisfaction of being on board his ship in the engagement in which the Dresden was sunk on March 14th. (The Battle of the Falkland Islands was a decisive British naval victory over the Imperial German Navy on 8 December 1914 and revenge for the Coronel defeat. The British hunted down Admiral von Spee, then commanding the German squadron of two armoured cruisers, SMS Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the light cruisers SMS Nürnberg (1906), Dresden and Leipzig, and three auxiliaries, who attempted to raid the British supply base at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. A British squadron, consisting of the battlecruisers HMS Invincible and Inflexible, the armoured cruisers HMS Carnarvon, Cornwall and Kent, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Macedonia and the light cruisers HMS Bristol and Glasgow, had arrived in Stanley the day before. It was a decisive British victory. Admiral Spee and his two sons were among the German dead and of the German force of eight ships, only two escaped: the auxiliary Seydlitz and the light cruiser Dresden. Dresden hid for three months before she was cornered by a British squadron (Kent, Glasgow and Orama) and sunk the on 14 March 1915. )
Ballymena Observer, February 18, 1916
The falling off in recruiting has been noticeable during the past two months. For the eight weeks of January and February, 1915 there were 54 recruits and for the same period this year there were only 34.
This week's recruiting -
North Irish Horse, - Trooper J.D.Martin, Bradford (formerly of Waveney Avenue, Ballymena);
18th Btn Royal Irish Rifles - John Craig, Ballygarvey;
19th Btn, Royal Irish Rifles - 2nd Lt. David Fleck, Greenhill, Ballymena.
PRIVATE William Murphy, Greenvale Street, of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, is at present lying in hospital at Salonika suffering from a severe ankle sprain. Private Murphy took part in the operations at the Dardanelles and was, before enlistment, a prominent figure in local football circles playing for Summerfield Strollers and later Summerfield FC.
MR. Thomas McKeown, Finkiltagh, Portglenone, has received information that his son, Private Robert McKeown of the 1st Seaforth Highlanders, was wounded on January 7, at the Persian Gulf. Private McKeown volunteered shortly after the outbreak of war and went to Belgium in January 1915. He was one of the unfortunate victims to suffer from the first gas attack at Hill 60. After his recovery from this he was went with a draft to the Persian Gulf Expeditionary Force.
IN a section of the 12th Btn Royal Irish Rifles there is a bantam cock that accompanied the battalion from Larne to France as a mascot. Soldiers on furlough from the regiment state that the mascot has become wonderfully cute.
A Ballymena man's experience at the Dardanelles and Serbia
LANCE Corporal Samuel Law, son of Mr. W. J. Law, Alfred Street, who is only 19, was formerly employed in the Braidwater Mill, and joined the army prior to the outbreak of war. He was attached to the (censored) and sent to Dublin to complete his training. Subsequently, he was ordered to the Dardanelles. Many and varied were the experiences he had there with the wily Turk.
On one occasion, his Division - almost certainly the 10th (Irish) Division - had to go without food for two days, as it was difficult owing to the desperate way in which the Turks harassed them for the commissariat to keep in touch.
From the Dardanelles, the battalion was sent to Serbia (the ill-fated Salonika expedition) to reinforce the French and stem the tide which was sweeping the Serbians from their native land. Many were the hairbreadth escapes he came through.
At times he thought his Division was lost, but they rallied and dealt some fine knock-out blows to the Bulgarian-German troops (Bulgaria had joined Germany, Austria and Turkey against the Allies).
Times without number they attacked and hoped to carry the day but at last the order came to withdraw and his Division had to bear the brunt of covering the main army when retreating to Salonika. At length, when all was clear, they were ordered to run for it:
You should have seen us go, he writes. Leaping to the parapet of our trenches we took to our beaters (Ballymena slang for 'feet') for the hills, which we reached in safety. Then, under cover, we prepared to make ourselves comfortable and enjoy a well-earned rest after our long spell in the trenches.
Our rest camp, he says, is christened 'Devil's Hollow'. I haven't seen any white women for months on end. One seems to be in the heart of Africa. It is most depressing at times. One doesn't realise the exhilarating joy which comes from seeing a white woman in these desolate and wild hills.
More woman nurses are badly needed. I think they would only be too glad to make haste and offer their services and come out to cheer us and make our lot a little brighter. You haven't seen our Division mentioned much in the papers in the fighting in and around Serbia but I may tell you they were a credit to the (censored), for the way in which they carried the burden of the last few days before leaving Salonika.
Young Law has so f