BALLYMENA 1914-1918

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1915 - Not such a lovely war ...

Ballymena 1915 

Ballymena 1915 - A Scottish Regimental Band leads a recruiting 'fancy dress' parade through the streets of Harryville. This picture was taken at Salisbury Square and many of the houses are still recognisable.

January 1915 

13th General Hospital was housed in this building and in a collection of Wooden huts. It was based at Boulogne, France from 14th October 1914 to February 1919.
Imperial War Museum Photograph: IWM  Q29162 (Surgical Ward No.3)
Staff Sergeant Kerr, RAMC and 13th General Hospital, was serving in Malta at the start of hostilities but was rapidly moved to Aldershot, England and then onward to the forward zone in Flanders. He was at Ostend, Belgium for a short time before being evacuated on the retirement of the Naval Brigade, the RAMC going to Dunkirk.

Thomas Kerr, Brookville Terrace, Ballymena, was later in 1915 promoted to the role of Quartermaster Sergeant, and was eventually promoted to become 'Acting Sergeant Major of a motor ambulance convoy' in late 1915.

No. 13 General Hospital.
B Hut. Slight cases. 6th October 1916
 © IWM (Q 29164)

Able Seaman Samuel M. Gourley

GOURLEY, Samuel Mooney, Clyde 3/2177, Able Seaman, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, serving on H.M.S. Viknor, died on the 13th January 1915. Aged 21, he was the son of James Gourley, Portglenone. He is commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

The Observer reported February 12, 1915:

We regret to state that Samuel M. Gourley, A.B. of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, lost his life in the sinking of HMS Viknor. Young Gourley, who was only 21 years of age, was a son of Mr. James Gourley, Portglenone. He was called up at the outbreak of war and took part in the defence of Antwerp, and was amongst those who made their escape towards Ostend.


Feeling the strain

Private William Allen, Alexander Street, who was serving at the front with the Royal  Engineers, is now invalided to No. 11 Field Ambulance, suffering from syncope as a result of his strenuous experiences in the trenches.

Miss Murray, formerly of Lawnview Place, Ballymena is serving as a Red Cross Nurse at the front.

Sergeant John Blair, formerly of  Lisbreen, Martinstown, who is attached to the 119th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, has had some 16 years of service in the army. Writing home a few days ago he stated he was in good health.

Ballymena Observer January 15, 1914


Cullybackey recruits

WE are pleased to learn that many of the young men from the Maine Works, Cullybackey, have joined the colours and some are at the front, and those who recently joined are in training at Newtownards, Lurgan and Antrim.

We also understand that they are very busy with Government work in the Maine, dyeing khakis and French blues, on linen and cotton goods, and are bound to feel the want of the trained hands leaving them at this time.

They had two young men called up from the Reserve named Lance Corporals Henry and Charles McIlroy. They have both been in the fighting line since early August and the latter has been twice wounded and is in present in a hospital in Rouen,  France.

Ballymena Observer January 22, 1915


LEETCH, James, 9423, Guardsman, 1st Scots Guards, missing/believed killed on the 25th January, 1915. Aged 22, he was born in Ballymena and enlisted in Glasgow. He was the son of Robert and Mary Jane, Galgorm, Ballymena. He is remembered on the Le Touret Memorial, France and commemorated in Ahoghill Church of Ireland.


McCLEARY, Andrew, 12428, Guardsman, 1st Scots Guards, was KIA on the 25th January 1915. Aged 31, he was born in Clough, Co Antrim and enlisted in Bo'ness, near Edinburgh. He was the husband of Annie McCleary, 27, Murrayfield Terrace, West Lothian, Scotland. He is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, France.

THE war office has notified Mrs. McClintock of Boyd's Entry, Ballymena, that her son Private David McClintock, Royal Irish Rifles (Obituary in 1914 section) has been wounded and missing since September 18. Mrs. McClintock has been advised by the War Office to communicate with the American consul to find out if her son is a prisoner.

Southern Signal Section, Training Corps, Royal Engineers, Tunbridge Wells.

Standing: W Millar (Belfast)
Sitting, Left to Right: C Stewart (Belfast), T Herlighy (Broughshane Street, Ballymena), & John P Cluff (Moat Road, Ballymena)
Ballymena Weekly Telegraph, 23rd January 1915

Adam McAteer

Mr. Archibald McAteer, Waring Street, has five sons in the King's army, all of whom joined prior to the outbreak of war. Wilson and Archie are with the Royal Field Artillery. Adam is with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, James with the Royal Irish Rifles and Nathaniel with the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons.

Join the band 

The Seven Towers Flute Band  have given eight of their youngest members to serve in Kitchener's Army and the Royal NavyMessrs. James Moore (1st Flute); Robert Parke (2nd Flute); Thos. Colville and Harry Walsh (3rd flute) William J. McNiece (F flute) and Samuel McFetridge (bass drum). The band continues to make progress under the tuition of Mr. A. H. Perrin and are also fortunate in having a gentleman like Dr. Jones, who takes such a keen interest in their affairs.


The Young Conquerors Flute Band have shown a fine example of patriotism in giving seven of their members to the King's army. The following are the names - Hugh McDowell, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; Samuel Wilson, Royal Dublin Fusiliers; James Barr, Hugh Smith, Robert Magee, William J. Magee and James Thompson all of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles.

Ballymena Observer January 29, 1915


February 1915 

Warrant Officer (First Class) Alexander (Alick) McNiece, HMS New Zealand and formerly HMS Lion, with his brother Archie McNiece, RAMC, Canadian Cintingent.

Private R. Carey


CAREY, R, 17359, Private, 11th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died at home on February 27, 1915. He is buried in Ballymena New Cemetery.


Frostbite and illness

PRIVATE Charles McManus, Ballymena, of the Royal Irish Fusiliers (newspaper error: McManus was 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers), has arrived home on furlough in Ballymena, suffering from frostbite as a result of exposure in the trenches.

Sergeant A Graham, Royal Irish Fusiliers & Bridge Street, Ballymena - recovering from a bullet wound to his left side received in action at Armentieres.

Trooper Robert Mitchell


Trooper Mitchell, son of Mr. Richard Mitchell, Clarence Street,  of the 12th Lancers, is at present in a hospital in England suffering from a slight cold. Before returning to the front he hopes to pay a visit to Ballymena and his many local friends wish him the best of luck.


Mrs. McAteer of Waring Street has received a letter from the King informing her that he has heard with much interest of her five sons in the services.

Ballymena Observer February 5, 1915

Back to front

PRIVATE James Whiteside, of Monaghan, Ballymena, who serves with the Royal Scots Greys (Royal Scots Dragoon Guards), has been wounded but is off to the front again. 

Private Dick McCormick of North Street is from the front suffering from frostbite. He was with the Royal Irish Rifles.

Ballymena Observer February 12. 1915

Hot Food on a Cold Day: Men, depending on circumstances,  ate cold rations or cooked for themselves in the trenches,  or they made use of field kitchens when they were behind the lines.  When they were on the front lines, and conditions allowed, they were brought hot food from field kitchens.

Note the leather jackets and gloves.

March 1915

ANDREWS, Hugh, 7955, 1st Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on March 10, 1915. He is named Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, France. He was born in Ballymena and enlisted in Belfast.

HENRY, Thomas, 8779, Lance Corporal, 1st Royal Irish Rifles was missing in action from 11th March, 1915. The date of his death is given as 10th March, 1915. He was born at Glenhugh Road, Ahoghill, enlisted in Glasgow and he lived at Moneyglass. He is remembered on the Le Touret Memorial, France.

The Observer reported July 23, 1915:

Lance Corporal Thomas Henry, Glenhugh Road, Ahoghill of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, has been reported missing since 11th March 1915. Intimation to this effect was received by his mother, who will be glad to receive any news concerning his whereabouts from any the Irish Riflemen at the front. Lance Corporal Henry who is only 22 years of age was in the special reserve and was called up at the outbreak of war. He had been at the front since August last year.

Chief Petty Officer Daniel McCurdy, Bridge Street, Ballymena - was serving aboard HMS Conqueror in March 1915 when this photograph was taken during his furlough in his home town. He had joined the Royal Navy as a stoker some twenty years previously and held a medal for long service and good conduct.

Lance Corporal Joseph Martin

MARTIN, Joseph, 9014, Lance Corporal, 1st Royal Irish Rifles was KIA on the 10th March, 1915. He was born in Londonderry and was the son of Elizabeth Martin of 15 Hope Street, Ballymena. He is remembered on the Le Touret Memorial, France and commemorated in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena.

The Observer reported April 2, 1915 

Deep regret will be felt at the reported death of Lance Corporal Joseph Martin, Hope Street, of the 1st Bn. Royal Irish Rifles, which sad event occurred on March 10 at the victory of Neuve Chapelle. This sad news was received by the parents of Lance Corporal Martin on Monday, through a chum named Alexander who is himself connected with Ballymena.

Lance Corporal Martin had been in India four years with the 1st Battalion and shortly after the outbreak of war his regiment was called to the battlefields of France. Since that time he was a regular correspondent to his parents, always stating that he was in the best of health and spirits. No letters have been received from him for a considerable period and it is feared the worst has happened.

Roll up ...

Recruiting in Ballymena during the last week has been pretty brisk and 12 young men have passed the necessary test and have been posted to their respective regiments, principally in the Ulster Division. A great number more offered their services, a number of whom were over age and some under age. The number of  Ballymena men now with the colours totals over 600.

16th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles on Ribecourt Road, 20th November 1917

(Photograph courtesy of Imperial War Museum - (c) IWM (Q6291)

It has been decided by the authorities that the 16th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles, having been constituted as the Pioneer Battalion of the Ulster Division, extra duty pay at the rate of 2d per diem (day) will be allowed to the men; the increase is to be retrospective. 

(Pioneers - a unit within the Division which would, in modern terms, be designated as 'combat engineers', men with specialist skills in construction, etc. Ed.)

Ballymena Observer, March 12. 1915

Corporal Alexander Hale was an old soldier, had spent 15 years with the colours, and had served in India and South Africa. He was a reservist and was recalled to serve in the Army Service Corps.

Carnlough Hero

John French has recommended Company Sergeant Major Hugh McVeigh of the Irish Guards for reception of the  medal for 'distinguished service in the field'. CSM McVeigh is a native of Carnlough, where his parents reside. When his superior officers were put out of action in the course of a recent charge, he took command and led his men to victory. At the outbreak of war, as a reserve man with the rank of sergeant, he rejoined the Guards and has been on active service since. He was promoted on the field. 

(Sir John French - the BEF's early war commander. A soldier of the old school, he was replaced by the more famous Douglas Haig.)

Ballymena Observer, March 19,1915

Sir John French (public domain photo)

April 1915 

Severely wounded

NOTIFICATION has been received by Mr. Mark Thompson, Queen Street, caretaker of the Old Churchyard, that his brother Private Robert Thompson (son of the late John Thompson, Henry Street, Harryville) of the 1st Bn. Royal Irish Rifles has been severely wounded on 14th March. Private Thompson is now in a hospital in Rouen. He was in India for a period of three years and, after the outbreak of war, was called to France.

David Larkin

Information has been received from Private David Larkin, Hill Street, of 1st Bn. Royal Irish Rifles: 

"I am in a hospital wounded. I got it on 11th March at Neuve Chapelle, a bullet through my left forearm and a piece of shrapnel shell in the upper part of my right leg. It was something dreadful to see how some of the men were suffering. I had to crawl on my hands and knees to the dressing station. ... I shall never forget that battle. My company suffered most, there are only four of us left out of 100 and I consider myself lucky getting off with wounds....The Germans were cut to pieces and lost thousands. They deserved all they got for man, woman and child are all alike to them. ... It would make your blood run cold to hear the people of Neuve Chapelle tell of the cruel treatment they received at the hands of the Germans. ... I had a letter from A.... about a parcel that she and a few others had sent me but of course I was not there to receive it. It will not be lost. Some of the boys will get it and it will be divided up between them. That is the way we all do when the owner is away wounded, so I must thank you very much for the parcel. You would be surprised how a little parcel brightens up the troops. They are pleased as schoolchildren."

Ballymena Observer, April 2, 1915

Lt Col George Brenton Laurie, Officer Commanding 1st Royal Irish Rifles, fell at Neuve Chapelle. The inscription on the family memorial in St Mary the Virgin, Carlton on Trent, Notts reads:

In loving memory of George Brenton Laurie, Colonel commanding 1st Battn Royal Irish Rifles, 2nd son of Lt General Laurie CB, MP, who fell in action in the Great European War on Friday, March 12th 1915 aged 47, while gallantly leading his men in a victorious charge at Neuve Chapelle, France. Twice mentioned in despatches, he received his commission in 1885, fought in the Egyptian Campaign 1889, the South Africa War 1901 & was awarded the Queen’s Medal with 5 clasps. 
‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’

Battle of Neuve Chapelle, 10th -13th March 1915: Neuve Chapelle was a bloody affair. The British losses in the four attacking divisions were 544 Officers and 11,108 Other Ranks killed, wounded and missing. German losses are estimated at a similar figure of 12000, which included 1687 prisoners.
1st Royal Irish Rifles lost 18 Officers and 400 Other Ranks. These included two Ballymena men, 7955 Hugh Andrews and 9014 Joseph Martin. - Virtual Memorial

Other senior officers who died in the action were as follows:

Lt-Col Wilfred Bliss, OC 2nd Scottish Rifles. Killed in action 10 March 1915.
Lt-Col Laurence Fisher-Rowe, OC 1st Grenadier Guards. Died of wounds 12 March 1915.
Lt-Col Henry Uniacke, OC 2nd Gordon Highlanders. Died of wounds 13 March 1915.
Lt-Col Ernest Wodehouse, OC 1st Worcesters. Killed in action at uncertain date 10-13 March 1915.
Lt-Col George McAndrew, OC 2nd Lincolns. Killed in action 14 March 1915.
Lt-Col Colin McLean, OC 6th Gordon Highlanders. Died of wounds 13 March 1915.

Poem by No. 9180 RIFLEMAN J. DICKSON. A " Coy., 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, Dublin.

Come, please just pay attention, and a story I will tell
Of how the gallant R.I.R.s were the first in Neuve Chapelle;
Colonel Laurie gave the order for the regiment to advance,
And when they met the Germans our boys did make them dance.

With bayonets fixed we rushed them, though outnumbered five to one;
Each one did prove a hero, and many a gallant deed was done;
Our noble Colonel, he was killed, our Major fell as well,
And a score of our brave officers lost their lives at Neuve Chapelle.

Our men were lost in hundreds, no regiment could do more,
And when the fight was over our officers numbered four;
Yet manfully they struggled amidst that living hell,
And out of all the British Army were the first in Neuve Chapelle.

Then here's to the gallant R.I.R., those riflemen so brave,
Who nobly did their duty and found a soldier's grave;
So may their glory ever shine, for they have proved their worth,
And laurels brought to Ireland for the honour of the North.

Above: John Bowden's funeral moves along Church Street, Ballymena. The carriage is pulled by his comrades from the 12th Royal Irish Rifles (Central Antrim Volunteers). Note the size of the crowd, a measure of support for troops.

BOWDEN, John, 18880, Lance Corporal, 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died through illness on April 1, 1915 and was buried in Ballymena New Cemetery, Cushendall Road. Aged 19, he was the son of David and Margaret Bowden of Slatt, Ballymena. He enlisted in Ballymena. He is commemorated in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church.

The Observer reported April 9, 1915:

Much regret is felt in the 12th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles at the death of Lance Corporal John Bowden, of Ballymena, which took place on Thursday morning, April 1, at the Newtownards Camp.

Ambulances and alcohol

WE have very great pleasure in announcing that our appeal in last week's Observer for a sum of  £500 has resulted in the magnificent and gratifying response of more than £250 in subscriptions in one week. This is one-half of what will be required to furnish one of the best motor ambulances to the war office for immediate service at the front. As we said in last week's appeal, the scheme has got nothing whatever to do with any political party or religious denomination. It is for us all, masses and classes, and all must take a pleasure in its promotion.

At the annual meeting of the Vestry held on Wednesday, April 7, the following resolution was passed, Rev. T.  Dowzer, M.A., Chairman. 

That the Vestry of  St. Patrick's Church, Broughshane are unanimously of the opinion that prohibition of intoxicating drink should be carried out by the Government during the time of the war and also that this prohibition should be applied to all officers, NCOs and men of the British army and navy.

(Temperance - the campaign against alcohol was of major social importance in pre-war Britain. Many societies were established to encourage people not to fall foul of the 'demon drink.' Indeed, it was during WW1 that Britain's licensing laws were first introduced, part of Defence of the Realm Act (DORA), to prevent war workers from over indulging in drink and thus disrupting production. Hatred on alcohol was very strong in the north of Ireland, especially amongst Presbyterians. Ed.)

Ballymena Observer, April 9, 1915

Troops, however, were given one third of a pint of rum per week, 'medicinal rum',  and this probably disturbed some of the clergy.  Troops were also worried - they said that SRD, thought to stand for Service Rations Depot, meant Seldom Reaches Destination or Soon Runs Dry. In the front line, rum was issued at dawn and at dusk, usually a large spoonful, and an unknown Officer allegedly said, '... men ... live for rum. ... some ... would commit suicide if the rum ration were withdrawn. And in truth the rum is good - fine, strong, warming stuff - the very concentrated essence of army-council wisdom.

2nd Lt. H. B. Hodges 

HODGES, Henry Burden, Second Lieutenant, 2nd Bn. King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, was killed in action on the 18th April, 1915. Aged 19, he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. F. W. Hodges, of Glenravel House, Glenravel, Ballymena, Co. Antrim. He is commemorated on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate) and on a headstone in Ballymena New Cemetery, Cushendall Road.

The Observer reported, April 30, 1915: 

2nd Lt. Hodges was the younger son of Mr. J. F. W. Hodges J.P. He was only 19 years of age and was educated at Sherborne School, Dorset and Sandhurst. He was a noted athlete; last year (1914) he won the public school championship at Aldershot in the light weights. He was posted to the KOYLI on 23rd December last and went to the front in the middle of March. A prominent Ulster Volunteer and for a time instructor to the Newtowncrommelin Company of the UVF. His brother Lt. J. F. Hodges, was wounded on the day that 2nd Lt. Hodges went into the trenches.

Lt. J. F. Hodges, 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers, brother of Lt H B Hodges, wounded at St Eloi

Intimation has been received by his parents in Ballymena from the War Office that Private John Laverty, Alexander Street, Royal Irish Rifles has been reported as missing. Another brother, Private James Laverty is with the Royal Engineers at the front.

LAVERTY, John, 17499, Private, 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 20th April 1915. Aged 23, he was born in Ballymena and enlisted in Ballymoney. He was the son of James and Margaret Laverty, 2 Alexander Street, Ballymena. He is commemorated on Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate).

The Observer reported, April 30, 1915 :  

Sergeant T. Reilly, B Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, in a letter to Ballymena, states that Rifleman John Laverty was killed in action on March 19, 1915. Rifleman Laverty, who had previously been reported missing, belonged to Alexander Street, Ballymena, where his parents live. He is the son of a soldier and has a brother at the front with the Royal Engineers.

Off to Dublin

MISS Nora Patman, daughter of the late Canon Patman, Rector of Ahoghill, is at present on the nursing staff of an ambulance train in France.

Dr. A. Duncan, Harryville House, Ballymena, has joined the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) and has been ordered to report to Dublin for duty.

Ballymena Observer, April 23, 1915

McMICHAEL Hugh, 10720, Private, 2nd Bn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 28th April, 1915.  He was the son of James McMichael, Linenhall Street, Ballymena. He is commemorated Le Touret Memorial.

The Observer reported, July 30, 1915 -

Mr. James McMichael, Linenhall Street, Ballymena, has received official notice that his son, Hugh McMichael, has been killed at the front. His son was a private in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Another son. Private Charles McMichael of the 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who had been seven years in India, has been wounded and is now in hospital in Egypt. A third son, Staff Sergeant Farrier William James McMichael is at present in France with the North Irish Horse. Four of Mr. McMichael's sons-in-law are with Kitchener's army.

Hugh and Charles McMichael: Notice that the date of death for Hugh in the newspaper photograph does not agree with the CWGC record and that elsewhere Charles is listed as Royal Dublin Fusiliers. 11689 Private Joseph McMichael was killed in action with the 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on the 26th February 1917.  He is buried in Fouquescourt British Cemetery. William and Charles McMichael are probably those listed below.

Medal Index Cards. Note the spelling of McMachael (sic)

Sorry to say  ...

LANCE Corporal John (BWT says James) McCurley, William Street, of the 2nd Bn. Royal Irish Rifles, who was wounded on March 1 at West Ypres, has been home on a few days furlough. He stated that he was wounded by a bullet on the hand while in charge of a fatigue party bringing up supplies to the trenches.

(Ypres (now Ieper) - the Belgian town of Ypres was almost surrounded by the German army. Throughout the war, the British and Belgians fought to preserve this 'salient' from being overrun, thus the reference to 1st, 2nd and 3rd Ypres (3rd Ypres is often referred to as the Battle of Passchendaele) . Ed.)

Ballymena Observer, April 30, 1915

May 1915 

Driver Robert Baird, Royal Field Artillery, formerly of Ballymena.
Lance Corporal James McCurley, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, wounded in action on 1st March 1915, lived on William Street, Ballymena. He was probably 18150, Royal Irish Rifles, later 28182 Royal Irish Fusiliers.
Private John Patterson, Black Watch formerly lived at Greenvale Street, Ballymena. 
He was reme as the gaolkeeper for Summerfield FC.

7613 Fusilier James Templeton, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was  killed in action on the 26th August 1914.  He was the husband of Susan Templeton, of 327, Cupar St., Belfast. He was born on the 5 September 1883 at Rowan Street, Belfast and was the son of Ballymena couple George and Agnes Templeton, Tullygarley and later of Moat Road, Ballymena. He had served during the Boer War and was subsequently employed in the Sirocco Works, Belfast.
He was a brother of Rifleman Robert Templeton, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles and of Sapper George Templeton, Royal Engineers. His brother-in-law was Fusileer John Cummings, Royal Inniskillen Fusiliers.

McFALL, James, 10277, Rifleman, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 8th May, 1915. He was the son of the late James McFall, brother of Daniel, who would be killed in action on the July 1, 1916.  He was the cousin of Daniel who was also killed in action in 1915.

He was born at Craigywarren, and had kin at Garfield Place, Ballymena. He is commemorated on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate), Belgium.

The Observer reported, May 21, 1915 - 

Intimation of the death of Private McFall, Dunfane, has been received in Ballymena. Private McFall joined the Royal Irish Rifles about 18 months ago and went into action with his battalion. His brother, Private Daniel McFall, is serving with the Ulster Division in the same regiment. News of his death was received from his cousin who is also at the front.

This week's recruiting:-

12th Royal Irish Rifles - Samuel Shaw, Drumfin; James Telford, 8 Alexander Street, Alex, Luke 37 Springwell Street; James Stewart, Pound Cottage, Wm. Furgrove, Hillmount, Robert Letters, Hillmount, Henry Watt, Hillmount, John Gordon, Hillmount, Wilson Kirkpatrick, Hillmount; Matthew G. McCrory, Hillmount; Henry Stewart, Pound Cottage; Robert Little, Galgorm Street; John Dunn, North Street, Robert McCartney, Hillmount; Samuel Dawson, Galgorm.

17th Royal Irish Rifles - David Lorimer 9 Alexander Street; George McAuley, 3 Alexander Street; Hugh Leith, Cullybackey; Andrew McCallion, Cullybackey; William Ramsey, Cullybackey.

5th Royal Irish Rifles - Samuel G. A. McWilliams, Duneaney; Fred McNeill, Dunminning.

Connaught Rangers - Samuel O'Dornan 11 William Street; Joe Nixon Parkhead.

Irish Guards, William White Kenbally, Broughshane.

Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers - James Reid, The Braid

Royal Scots - Hugh McClurkin, Galgorm Street; William John Wilson, James Street; Thomas Colgan, Galgorm Street (Thomas McColgan jr. - actually Seaforth Highlanders). 

Ahoghill couple die on Lusitania

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Agnew were homeward bound on the Lusitania when she was torpedoed by a German submarine.

Mr. and Mrs. Agnew were resident in Monnessen, Pennsylvania, four years and were returning to Ballylummin, Ahoghill. Tom Agnew, carpenter, was son of  the late John Agnew, farmer, Ballylummin, who died in September last  year.

Walter Agnew, another brother, who has been a motor inspector in the States, and returned to this country six months ago to manage the farm, received a wire from the Cunard Company, stating that the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Agnew had not been recovered.

LusitaniaBefore the 32,000 ton Lusitania had sailed on May 1st 1915 New York newspapers had carried an advert paid for by the German Embassy that said any ship that sailed into the 'European War Zone' was a potential target for German submarines. Some newspapers printed the warning directly next to Cunard's list of departure dates. However, many of the passengers came to the conclusion that they were safe.

Kapitän-leutnant Schwieger and the U20 took up station off the Irish coast near the Old Head of Kinsale. On May 7th, the Lusitania came into sight. The ship's captain, Captain Turner, was worried as he could see no protective naval ships in the danger zone; it was as if all other ships had cleared the waters as a result of a British Admiralty warning.

A torpedo was fired at 2.10 in the afternoon and the Lusitania took just eighteen minutes to sink. The speed and the angle of sinking made it extremely difficult to launch the lifeboats. 1,153 passengers and crew drowned. 128 of them were Americans. There was understandable anger throughout America and Great Britain.  The death of many American citizens in this sinking was a considerable public relations blow to the German cause and was a contributory factor in America's eventual decision to declare war on Germany two years later. Ed.

Ballymena Observer,  May 21, 1915

Behind the wire

PRIVATE William Telford, Alexander Street, of the Royal Irish Rifles has been wounded and a prisoner of war in Germany since September 23, 1914.

    • Mrs. Graham, Clarence Street, Ballymena, has been notified by the War Office that her brother, Private Patrick O'Kane of the 1st Royal Irish Rifles has been wounded in the right hand and is now in hospital. A letter received from Private O'Kane shortly after the notification., states that he is progressing favourably. This is the second time he has been wounded, sustaining the previous one in the left hand in December last, at Ypres and lost a finger as a result. He was in India with his regiment at the outbreak of war.
    • Mrs. Campbell, 7, Galgorm Road, Ballymena, has received official intimation that her son, Private Joseph Campbell of the Royal Scots, has been wounded and is at present in hospital in Manchester. Private Campbell is suffering from shrapnel wounds in the arm and legs.
    • Lance Corporal Tom McCord, Ahoghill, 2nd Bn. Royal Irish Rifles, has been reported as missing.
    • Private James Leetch, Galgorm, of the Scots Guards, has been missing since January 20, 1915
Ballymena Observer, May 21 1915

CURRIE, John, 3154, Private, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was KIA on the 16 May, 1915. He is named Le Touret Memorial, France. He was born in Ballymena and enlisted in Belfast. His sister lived at 8 Patrick Place, Ballymena.

GORDON, Thomas, 3192, Private 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was killed in action on 16 May 1915. Aged 28, he was born in Ballymena, enlisted in Belfast, and was the son of Thomas and Jeannie, 129, Mervue Street, Belfast. He is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, France.

BOYD, Robert James, 32932, Private, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was KIA at Festubert, May 16, 1915. He is named on the Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais. He was born in Ballyclare and enlisted in Belfast. Aged 22, he was the son of William and Mary Boyd, Ballyscullion, Toomebridge.

The Observer reported, March 10, 1916

Mr. William Boyd, Millquarter, Toomebridge, has been officially notified of the death of his son, Private Robert Boyd, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Private Boyd has been reported missing since the Battle of Festubert on 16th May, 1915.

FERRIS, William, 8362, Corporal, 2nd Royal Irish Regiment, was KIA on the 8 May, 1915. Aged 29, he was born in Ballymena and was the son of Frank and Martha Ferris, 69 Cindy Road, Custom House, London. He is commemorated on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate), Belgium.

FRANCEY, Thomas, 8061, Private, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was KIA  on the 16 May, 1915. Aged 29, he was born in Ballymena and was the husband of Mary Jane Francey, 117 Thorndyke Street, Belfast. He is named on the Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais.

FAULKNER, Thomas, Private, 1st Irish Guards, was KIA on the 18 May, 1915. Service no. 1885. Aged 33, he was the son of Alex and Annie Faulkner, Ahoghill. His wife Sarah lived at 10 Somerset Street, Belfast. He is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, France.

McCONNELL, James, 984, Private, 11th Australian Infantry,  was KIA on the 19th May 1915.  He was born in Australia, raised in Ballymena, and attended Ballymena Academy. He is buried in Lone Pine Cemetery, Gallipoli. 

The Observer reported September 10, 1915:

OFFICIAL news has been received by Mr. Charles McConnell J.P., Ballymena that his nephew, Private James McConnell, who was serving at the Dardanelles with the First Australian Contingent has been killed in action. Private McConnell, who was born in Australia, came to Ireland when a boy to stay with his Uncles, Messrs. C. and M. McConnell, and was educated at the Cushendall Road National School and at Ballymena Academy. He subsequently served his apprenticeship in engineering with firm of Messrs. Combe, Barbour, Belfast prior to his return to Australia.

Private Harry Loughlin, 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers, who is a native of Ballymena, has been wounded and is at present in hospital.

Rifleman James Nixon

NIXON, James, 8313, Rifleman, 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 9th May, 1915.  Born Ballymena, he had been 13 years in forces, and had fought at Mons and Neuve Chapelle. His wife lived at 11, Parkhead, Ballymena. He is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium.

Ballymena Observer, September 1, 1916:

OFFICIAL notification has been received by Mrs. Nixon, Parkhead, Ballymena, that her son Rifleman James Nixon, Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on 9th May 1915. Rifleman Nixon was 13 years in the army, nine of which he spent on service in India. He was through the memorable retreat from Mons and the battle of Neuve Chapelle.

McATEER, Adam, 10187, Private, 'D' Coy, 1st Battalion,  Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was Missing/Killed in Action on the 22nd May 1915. Aged 21, he was born in Cullybackey and enlisted in Glasgow. He was the son of Archibald and Jane McAteer, 26 Waring Street, Ballymena. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli and in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church.

The Observer reported, 15 September, 1915 - 

News is anxiously awaited concerning the fate of Private Adam McAteer, Waring Street, Ballymena, of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, whose father received intimation from the War Office on the 22nd May to the effect that he was missing. Private McAteer came from from India with the Regiment shortly after the outbreak of war and proceeded to the front. Since he was reported missing no trace of him can be found. 

Right: New recruit Andrew Millar of Cullybackey was wounded on 1st July 1916

This week's recruiting - 

12th Royal Irish Rifles - Samuel Davison, Galgorm; John Maybin, Lower Broughshane.

17th Royal Irish Rifles - Wm. Allen, Dunnyvadden; James Gordon, Cullybackey; Andrew Millar, Cullybackey, Joseph Logan, Cullybackey; Thomas Lowry, Cullybackey, Edward Mairs, Parkhead, John Warwick, 3 Waveney Avenue, Ballymena; Robert John Lowry, Fenagh Cullybackey; Wm. Weir, Carncarney, Ahoghill.

King's Own Scottish Borderers - Alex. Grahamslaw, Raceview; Samuel Kyle Ahoghill. 

Three times wounded

Mrs. McIlroy, Alfred Street, has received intimation that her husband, Pte. W. McIlroy of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, has been wounded below the knee on the left leg, and is now in No.2 Canadian Hospital, France. This the third time that Pte. McIlroy has been wounded.

Ballymena Observer, May 28, 1915

June 1915 

The casualties mount ...

Intimation has been received by Mrs. Willie Moore, Alexander Street, Ballymena, that her  husband the well-known Ballymena footballer, has been wounded whilst serving with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. Private Moore, who belongs to the 1st Inniskillings was wounded in France about Christmas and after a short furlough returned to active service.

Private McComb, Dunnygarron, Cullybackey, who is on active service with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in the Dardanelles, Turkey, was wounded in action on May 14. He had gone there in March.
He was a regular soldier, then with seven years service, two years of which were served in India and three in China.

Right: James Harbison

Mr. Robert Harbison, Main Street, Cullybackey, has received official intimation to the effect that his son, Private James Harbison, 2nd Bn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was wounded in action in France on May 10th. He has a wound on the thigh.

Ballymena Observer June 4, 1915

TILNEY, John, 7201, Rifleman, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on the 2 June, 1915. He was born in Ballymena and lived in Belfast. He is buried in Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, Belgium. Ridge Wood Military cemetery is located 5 Kms south-west of Ieper (Ypres).

GORDON, Robert, Corporal, 6218, 1st Canadian Infantry (Western Ontario) Regiment, was reported missing/believed killed at Givenchy on 15 June, 1915. Aged 24, he was the son of Wilson and Agnes, Straid, Gracehill. Comm. Vimy Memorial and Ahoghill Church of Ireland.

The Observer reported October 8, 1915  -

Official intimation has been received that Cpl. Robert Gordon, 1st Bn. Canadians, who was posted as missing on 15th June last was killed at Givenchy. Deceased who was 25 years of age, was the second son of Mr. Wilson Gordon, of Straid, Ballymena. He had been in Canada for three years at the outbreak of war.

37th List  of Patriotic Men

This week's recruiting:

    • 18th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles - John Millar, Tullygarley; John Cameron, 9 Ballymoney Street; Thomas Patterson, Garfield Place; Samuel Millar, Larne Street; James Sloane, 16 Waveney Avenue; William Leetch, 80 Queen Street; William Nevin, Larne Street.
    • RAMC - Samuel Leetch, 80 Queen Street; Robert Eagleson, Bridge Street.
    • Royal Engineers - Thomas McAllister, 15 Duke Street; Thomas Herbison, Prospect Place; W. Jas. McLaughlin, King Street.
    • Dental Mechanic - John Walsh, Wellington Street.


    • Royal Field Artillery: Driver D. Davison, Rocavan; 
    • Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers: Private Hugh McMichael, Linenhall Street (killed);
    • Royal Dublin Fusiliers: Pte Charles McMichael (wounded); 
    • North Irish Horse, Staff Sergeant Farrier Wm. McMichael, Linenhall Street.

Joined since the outbreak of war

    • RAMC - Lt. J.K. Brownlees attached London Irish Rifles; 
    • Royal Irish Rifles - Cpl. John Thompson, Cullybackey;
    • 14th Royal Irish Rifles (YCVBn.: Pte Thomas Craig, Cullybackey; Pte. Robert McCartney, Cullybackey; Pte. Samuel Watt, Cullybackey; Pte. James Millar, Cullybackey.
    • Canadian Contingent - Cpl. James McMaster, formerly Ballygelly, Broughshane, 10th Bn. Canadian Infantry; Cpl. W. H. Rea, formerly of Rocavan, Canadian Artillery; Pte John C. McDowell, Kinhilt Street, MG Section, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. ...

Lance Corporal William Dempster, Waveney Avenue, of the 1st Bn. Cameron Highlanders, has been at home on furlough during the last few days after treatment for a shrapnel wound on the arm, sustained at Richebourg on 9th May 1915. Lance Corporal Dempster was 12 years in the army, and at the outbreak of war he volunteered in Liverpool for active service. He has been through many big engagements and had some exciting experiences.

Lance Corporal William Dempster, 1st Bn. Cameron Highlanders

Sergeant John 'Johnny' Houston: Footballer & Soldier

John Houston of Ballymena, the Irish International Association football player, has joined the 4th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles, stationed at Carrickfergus, retaining the rank of Sergeant which he previously held in the 2nd Battalion. Sergeant Houston formerly played for South End Olympic and Linfield and for the past three seasons he has been attached to Everton. He is a brother of Private Leslie Houston who was killed in action. (see separate page: Houston - Footballer Soldier)

The friends of Private Alexander Dempster, 3rd Battalion, Inniskilling Fusiliers, belonging to Adair's Court, Ballymena, have received intimation that he has been wounded in the left shoulder [actually left leg] at the Dardanelles. This is the second time he has been wounded. He received a shrapnel wounds in France on April 3 and on recovery was sent out to the Dardanelles.

Ballymena Observer, April 1915


Private Alexander Dempster, Adair's Court, Ballymena, of the 3rd Bn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was home recently on furlough and was looking fresh and well after his arduous duties in the trenches. Private Dempster was through a great number of engagements and was wounded in the left leg by shrapnel at Neuve Chapelle on the 3rd April 1915. [adapted]. He had previously suffered from blood-poisoning after being cut by barbed wire and had endured a bout of pneumonia.

Ballymena Observer, 11th June 1915

(Neuve Chapelle - a village in Northern France. Initially the British attacked successfully, but the attack bogged down and heavy casualties ensued.)

Alexander Dempster survived the Great War. He appears to have been the son of shoemaker Henry Dempster's 2nd wife, Eliza (Lizzie) Anderson. He was born Alexander Anderson in Ballymena Workhouse on the 13th March 1894.

A view from the trenches

Farrier Alex Rainey, Clarence Street, attached to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, was home on Furlough last week, after being treated in hospital for a bullet wound in the chest. In an interview with a representative of this paper, he gave some interesting particulars on his experiences on the continent with the Royal Irish Fusiliers since the outbreak of war.  He was in all of the big engagements, commencing with the retreat from Mons, followed in close succession by the battles of the Marne, the Aisne, Metrin, Armetieres, La Bassee, Neuve Chapelle, St. Eloi, Ypres, and Hill 60.

It was on April 25 that he received his wound. It appears the Fusiliers were being brought up to reinforce the Canadians and a machine gun opened fire on the place where the Ballymena soldier's Company was waiting and a bullet, which he thought was intended for the officer in front of him, entered his chest and he was quickly dressed by an officer and sent to the rear, and in time reached Rouen Hospital where he was well looked after by a Ballymena officer, Lt. R. A. Hepple.

Farrier Rainey was present on the occasion of  Capt. Orr's death when the Fusiliers were called up as a reinforcement to the Somerset Light Infantry. He saw Capt. Orr the night previous to his death, and was fighting 200 yards from him when he fell gallantly leading his men in a bayonet charge.  Captain Orr and a large number of Somersets were killed by shrapnel shell. The Somersets, on this occasion, made a successful onslaught on the German trenches, which they captured.

About the worst time he had was in the street fighting at Armentieres. The Fusiliers were the first British soldiers to enter the city and they had a great reception from the French people. During the fighting there they had to run the gauntlet of hidden machine guns and a great number of his comrades were knocked out.

Farrier Rainey referred to a number of Ballymena men he had met with at the front, including R. Adair of the 12th Lancers who was considered an excellent shot and had done good duty as a sniper. The Observer Tobacco fund, he said, was a great organisation. Previous to the newspaper tobacco funds, they seldom had a supply of tobacco or cigarettes but now there is nearly always a supply coming to them from some newspaper or another.

Ballymena Observer June 25, 1915

July 1915 

39th List - 1044 Patriotic Men

This week's recruiting: 

    • 18th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles - John Tuff, 1 King Street; John Davison, Whinfield, Clonavon; Robert Barr, 138 Queen Street; Samuel Currie, 8 Patrick Place; John Henry, 42 Queen Street; John Smith, 13 Patrick Place.

Cushendall recruits for the Irish Brigade

    • Hugh Spence, P. McAllister, Michael O'Connell, Patrick Crolly, Daniel McCafferty, Patrick McAuley.

Joined since the outbreak of war - 

    • Cadet Corps (Royal Irish Rifles) Clare Haslett, Galgorm Road.

Private Mann's Thrilling Experiences

PRIVATE Samuel Mann, High Street, Ballymena, of the Canadian contingent, who has seen fierce fighting at the front gave the following thrilling narrative of his experiences:

After some training in Canada, we were sent to Salisbury Plain in England where, after three and a half months spent in finishing our training, we were efficient and well prepared for the fighting line. We embarked on a transport for France and after four days in rough sailing we were landed somewhere in France. After a short stay on the coast we boarded a cattle train and were taken inland. On the 10th April we were taken out for what we thought was a route march but we were soon brought to our senses when we heard the thunder of the guns becoming clear. We were soon close to the firing line near Armentieres. When we reached the firing line the French were retreating but when the Germans saw the Canadians still advancing they beat a hasty retreat.

The Germans at length reached their trenches and turned their machine guns on us and men were mown down in great numbers. They dug in at midnight and remained five days under incessant shell fire, dozens of his comrades being blown to pieces but they still held on and did not retire. They were eventually relieved and sent for a 46 hour rest.

On the following evening when we were having tea in the billets, round went the word to get ready for action. We arrived in the trenches on the left of St. Julien and again met the French retiring, We stopped the Huns and drove them back into their first line of trenches.

They dug themselves in and remained there until they were reinforced by the Buffs (East Kent Regiment).On Saturday they lost many men through the retirement of the French, and the Germans took four guns. They got orders to recover the lost ground and secure the guns. They did this and drove the Germans back in the face of powerful odds.

In connection with the fighting at Hill 60, Private Mann said there was a little wood on the left of it and they lost 900 men in clearing it outThe English soldiers blew the hill up and the result of it was that the place where the hill stood was as flat as any of the surrounding ground, said Private Mann.

They remained there for 18 days and after being relieved went to a place called the 'Horse Shoe' or better known as the 'Death Trap'.

During the time we were there a spy on top of one of the churches in St. John gave the position away but we speedily ferreted him out and shot him. We again got orders for action and went in near Ypres where we stayed in the trenches for four days. A day's rest came again and then a 25 mile match which brought us to a small town where we were billeted.

They were brought up to full strength by reinforcements and were ordered to La Bassee. On the 12th May they went in as reinforcement to the English troops and took a German line of trenches.

We were fighting along with the Irish Guards and several other Guards regiments at that time and when we came out of one of the bayonet charges the Guards cheered us all the way, they were calling our boys the White Goorkas (Gurkhas), he said.

Private Mann and two of his comrades were sitting in a dug-out one day and a shell burst upon them burying them with earth. When he was extricated, he was unconscious and after he regained his senses it was to find that he had lost his teeth. The other two soldiers were buried forever. Private Mann was sent to Havre where he remained for two weeks and after spending some time in a hospital in England, he got home on a few days leave. He has a memento of the war in the shape of the head of a shell which burst near him.

Ballymena Observer, July 2 1915

Another Ballymena Canadian - Sergeant Major Matthew Graham, originally from Glarryford

Another man from Ballymena serving with Canadian Forces - James Spence, formerly of Galgorm Street and son of Samuel

TODD, Hugh, Engineer Commander,  Royal Naval Reserve, of Harryville, Ballymena, died in Inverness Hospital on 3 July, 1915.  He is buried in Carnmoney Cemetery, Co. Antrim and commemorated in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church. The headstone shown is in Ballymena Old Presbyterian Cemetery, Church Street, Ballymena.

Engineering Commander Hugh Todd

Private Daniel McFall

McFALL Daniel, 10276, Rifleman,  2nd Royal Irish Rifles, was KIA on 10th July 1915. He was the son of Thomas and Rosetta McFall, and he had kin at 3 or 16 Garfield Place, Ballymena. He is commemorated on Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate) and in Cloughwater Presbyterian Church.

The Observer reported July 30, 1915 -

Mrs. Rosetta McFall, Garfield Place, Ballymena, has received official notification that her third son, Pte Daniel McFall, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Rifles has been killed in action in France. Deceased, who was only 19 years old, enlisted towards the end of 1913 and was about nine months at the front when killed. His cousin, James McFall, who was in the same regiment, was also killed in action recently.

Out of Africa

Sammy Moore, Waveney Avenue, of  the Royal Marines, who has seen active service in the Cameroons, is at present home on furlough in Ballymena. Young Moore has been in the Marines upwards of three years and his many friends in Ballymena were glad to see him again.

MR. A. E. Cowan, son of Mr. John Cowan, Broughshane Street, Ballymena, has been granted a commission as 2nd Lt. in the Royal Engineers stationed at Chatham. Mr. Cowan, who is an old Academy pupil, finished his education at  the Royal College of Science, Dublin and his large circle of friends in Ballymena wish him every success for the future.

Ballymena Observer July 2, 1915

Letting off steam ...

Correspondence to the Editor

A distinguished Ballymena soldier

Pioneer Robert Wylie

Dear Sir 

I observe with pleasure in this week's issue of the 'Ballymena Observer' where Mr. Samuel Hood and the Urban Council have brought to the notice of the general public, the names of several officers from this district who have distinguished themselves on the field of battle.

We all rejoice with the relatives of those distinguished soldiers and are proud of the brave County Antrim officers who have been conspicuous among the millions of soldiers for their noble deeds. I had no idea there were so many from these parts that we could be so especially proud of, but if you will allow me space in your paper, I will add another, whose name seems to have been omitted from the list.

His is not an officer's name, but as Burns would say 'a poor but honest soger'  23504 Pioneer R. Wylie, Royal Engineers who was mentioned in despatches and has been recommended in recognition of 'conspicuous bravery in the field'.

He is a real Ballymena man, was born and brought up in King Street, Harryville and now lives in Gilmore Street with his family.

Private Wylie is quite young and smart and a good type of Irish soldier though he has just been discharged from the army with 25 shillings per week of a pension, having been incapacitated through gas used by the Germans. When I see Wylie, I always like to salute him and when I see a group of young men and Wylie near by, I point to him and say,  'Go thou and do likewise.'

 Yours Faithfully,

Andrew McQuiston.

This letter set the cat amongst the pigeons when the Urban Council next met. Mr. McQuiston was reflecting the views of many 'real Ballymena folk' that the officers from the 'big house' families of the district, some of  whom had only limited contact with the town and common people, were receiving more than their fair share of publicity. Private Wylie's name was hurriedly added to the Urban Council's list of congratulations - causing several red faces in the chamber! It would not be the last time, that the ordinary 'sogers' would take the great and good of the Urban Council to task for their often contemptuous remarks about the rank and file. Ed.

Ballymena Observer July 16, 1915

FRANCEY, James, 17487, Private, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was KIA on the 22 July, 1915. Aged 38, he was the son of William and Ellen Jane Francey, 88 Queen Street, Ballymena. He enlisted in Hamilton and lived in Queenstown. He is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery, Pas de Calais and commemorated in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church.

The Observer reported July 30, 1915:

Mr. William Francey, Queen Street, Harryville, who is a pork cutter in Messrs. Morton and Simpson's had received information that his eldest son, Private James Francey, who was in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed on a recent date.

It appears that Private Francey, who is attached to the Ambulance Corps of the Battalion, was in a building some miles behind the firing lines which was hit with a shell, with the result that the Ballymena man was killed. Private Francey joined the Inniskillings in November and had been at the front four months. He had left this neighbourhood for some years prior to enlisting but his old friends here will regret to hear of his death. Mr. Francey has two other sons and a nephew with the colours.

Private Thomas McLaughlin

McLAUGHLIN, Thomas, 18136, Private, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 22nd July, 1915. Aged 36, he was born at Skerry, enlisted in Londonderry, and lived in Broughshane.

He was the son of John and Mary Ann McLaughlin, and his wife Annie went to live at 24 Orchard Row, Londonderry. He is buried in Hinges Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais.

The family had two more serving sons.

Left: George Thompson, a recent recruit along with his brothers and a brother-in-law, is pictured here with his wife Jane. He became a Lance Corporal with the Royal Irish Rifles and was gassed and captured on March 21, 1918 during the German offensive.

43rd List - 1.082 Patriotic Men

This week's recruiting:

  • 18th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles - Hugh Wylie, Fair Hill Lane; Johnston McGaw, Fair Hill Lane; Wm. Lorimer, Alexander Street; Daniel Wisener, Lisnacrogher; Wm Lowery, Parkhead - Wm. McCarley, Moat Road; John McKay, Springwell Street; Samuel Allen, Fenagh. 
  • Royal Irish Rifles (Cadet Corps): Jack Crawford, Ashville, Ballymena
  • Reservist: Corporal R. McCosh, Kenbally.

Joined since the outbreak of war -
    • 15th Royal Irish Rifles - Private Adam Thompson, Galgorm Street; 
    • Seaforth Highlanders - Private William Thompson, Galgorm Street; 
    • Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders - Private Wilson Thompson, Galgorm Street; 
    • 18th Royal Irish Rifles - Private George Thompson, Galgorm Street.

Hugh Reynolds

Private H. Reynolds, 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who is present in No 3 General Hospital, Wandsworth, London, has written home to his mother who resides at Adair's Court, Church Street, Ballymena, to inform here that he was wounded at the Dardanelles and is the first Ballymena man to return to England from that theatre of war.

Lance Corporal Thomas Reade, Ballycloughan, son of Mr. James Reade who went to the front with the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles has been here for a few days leave after treatment in a hospital for wounds. He was wounded twice, with  shrapnel and secondly with a bullet wound in the left shoulder at Fromelles on May 9. 

Lance Corporal Reade has gone to Dublin where he joined the 3rd Battalion.

Captain William McMeekin Chesney, who has been awarded the Military Cross, is the son of Mr. David Chesney, Kilcury, Ahoghill.

A commission in the Royal Field Artillery has been granted to Mr. William Perry, Ahoghill, Ballymena. Mr. Perry Jun. was educated at Ballymena Model School, Ballymena Academy and subsequently went to Trinity College, Dublin where he has been for the past five years, studying for the Church.

Private John McAuley, Connaught Rangers, has arrived home in Ballymena with a bullet wound in the head. He was in hospital in France and Birmingham.

Charles Caulfield, ice cream vendor, Bridge Street, has been called up by  the Italian  Government and left on Wednesday for Belfast where he joined a number of other Italians who were re-joining the colours. (The Cafolla family took the name Caulfield when they first arrived in Ballymena in the early 1900s. In their heyday they had three successful 'chip shops' in the town. The Bridge Street cafe will be well remembered for its Edwardian styling. Ed.)

With the Royal Irish Rifles in Flanders on 16th June 1915

Corporal Robert Platt, Portglenone.

Corporal Platt of 2nd Royal Irish Rifles writes home to his father, Mr. John Platt, gardener, Portglenone House, describing the battle on the above date, in which the Rifles distinguished themselves and lost a large number of men.

Since last I wrote to you we were in a charge and it was awful. We started out the night before and marched 13 miles. We arrived at the place about half past one in the morning so that we were put into an old trench and told to await orders so you can have an idea that our nerves were strung to the highest pitch.

So, the Germans started to rain shells into us but then our artillery opened fire on the German trenches. The row was awful. the whole sky was just in one great blaze with bursting shells.

Sharp at three o'clock the order came down our lines to fix bayonets and to load our rifles and 10 minutes later down came the order to charge so we all rushed over the trench but a good few of our boys fell on the parapet as the Germans had their machine guns trained on us but on we went and as one fell, another took his place.

We arrived at the German trench and when it came to the steel they could not match us and I am proud to say that I put a few out with the bayonet myself.  Although one does not think of it at the time, one does think of it after the excitement is over.We took over 200 prisoners and a couple of  machine guns. I sent home a German sword.

But we were not satisfied with one trench we went on and took two more lines of them. They shelled us the whole day after we took them and they eventuallty sent loads of gas but we stuck on for what we had so dearly won.

I was to be recommended for the DCM for fetching in wounded under fire but the officer that took my name was killed shortly afterwards and I do not know how it will go now but I was promoted on the field by our own officer to Corporal.

I was buried three times by shells and had to be dug out and I got a slight bullet wound in the thigh but I am out of  hospital again and expect to go into action in a couple of  day's time.

The battle took place on 16th June. It was even  worse than the charge we made at Hill 60. The Germans lost a good deal more than we did. The Brigade officer says the Rifles have made a name for themselves out here that will go down in history. All the English Regiments out here are very fond of the Rifles since we came out of the charge.

Ballymena Observer, July 30, 1915

August 1915 

Private James Gillen

GILLEN James, 6480, Private, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was KIA on 31 July 1915. He was aged 33, and his next of kin was Mary Killen, Glenbuck, Dunloy, formerly instructor to Dunloy Irish National Volunteers. He is named on Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.

43rd List - 1094 Patriotic Men

This week's recruiting:

    • 18th Royal Irish Rifles - Joseph Hollinger, Alexander Street; John Wisnener, Cloughmills; John Scullion, John Street; James Glenholmes, Ballycowan; Wm. D. Hamilton, Ballycowan; James D. Lamont, 91 Queen Street; Hugh Reynolds, 8 Garfield Place.
    • Royal Engineers, Chemistry Corps - Eric Jean Bradshaw, Glenardagh.

Joined since the outbreak of war
    • Royal Naval Air Service, Armoured Car Section - Petty Officer S. A. Bellis, Waveney Cottages, Ballymena; 
    • Army Service Corps - Alex. McClean, Casement Street; 
    • Canadian Contingent - Tom Mooney, Ballycraigy
    • Railway Construction Corps; Arthur McNeilly, Broughshane Road.


ANOTHER Ballymena Academy Old Boy, Mr. James Hunter, son of Mr. Thomas Hunter, Postmaster and ex-petty sessions clerk at Glenarm, has obtained a commission in the Royal Naval Reserve. He earned his apprenticeship in the Star Line (James P. Corry & Co. of Belfast and London) with whom he severed his connection a few days ago, and after a short instruction from Mr. Boomer of Belfast, successfully passed his examination for 1st mate. He then applied for a commission in the Royal Naval Reserve. He is now in training at Devonport.

PRIVATE William Leetch of the 18th Royal Irish Rifles,  son of Mr. W. Leetch of Queen Street, has been promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. He has only had six weeks' soldiering.

Ballymena Observer, August 6, 1915

ANDERSON, David, 12085, Private, 5 Royal Irish Fusiliers, died of Wounds at sea on the August 8, 1915. He is named on Helles Memorial, Turkey. He was born in Ballymena.

BUCHANAN John, 10638, Cpl. 6 Royal Irish Rifles, was KIA on August 10, 1915 at Gallipoli. He is named on the Helles Memorial. He was born in and enlisted at Ballymena, though he lived in Belfast.

TORBITT, William, Pte, 6th Royal Irish Fusiliers, was KIA on the 15 August, 1915. Service no. 12684. He was born at Ahoghill and lived in Belfast. He is buried in Helles Cemetery, Gallipoli.

Private Thomas McIntyre Smyth

SMYTH, Thomas McIntyre, S/1943, Private, 7th Seaforth Highlanders, was KIA on the 16th August, 1915. He was born at Dungall, Clough, and enlisted in Johnstone, Scotland. He is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial. 

45th List - 1,111 Patriotic Men

This week's recruiting:-

    • 18th Royal Irish Rifles - James McCaig, Edward Street; Robert Clarke, Alexander Street; W.J.Esler, Kells; Robert McCracken, Cullybackey.
    • 5th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles - Charles Loughery, Galorm Parks (Carniny); 
    • 6th Royal Irish Dragoons - Thomas McMurray, Upper Tannybrake, Kells; 
    • RAMC - Lt. James Kyle, Broadway Avenue; 
    • Army Cyclist Corps - Pte. James Wier, Liscoom, Ballymena; 
    • 9th Royal Scots - John Gerald McClean, Provincial Bank, Ballymena.

Joined the outbreak of war

    • Irish Guards, - Pte. James G. Robinson, Rathkeel, Broughshane.

No luck ...

Mrs. Rose Ann Moore, Alexander Street, has received intimation from the War Office that her husband, Private W. Moore, the well known Ballymena footballer, has been wounded again at the front with his old regiment,  the 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was invalided home last December suffering from frostbite and on rejoining his regiment afterwards went to the Dardanelles, where he was wounded on May 7th and was sent to an hospital in Cairo. He again went to the front after he had recovered from that injury. He has now been wounded for the third time.

MRS. Dempsey, Slatt, Ballymena, has been officially notified that her son Private John  Dempsey (3766) 7th Seaforth Highlanders was wounded in action on the 20th inst. but all inquiries made since then have failed to trace him in any of the hospitals and it is presumed that he is wounded and missing. Mrs. Dempsey has another son, Private Thomas Dempsey serving in the 9th Gordon Highlanders.

MR. James G. Robinson, son of Mr. John Robinson of Rathkeel, who has been in the Canadian Bank of Commerce, London has joined as a private soldier in the Irish Guards.

MR. James A. Wier, eldest son of Mr. John Wier JP, Liscoom, Ballymena, who has returned to 'do his bit' from the Argentine, where he was employed as an accountant on an estancia, has joined the army cyclist corps as a private.

Dr. James T. Kyle, son of Mr. James Kyle, Broadway, Ballymena, has been granted a commission in the RAMC and has been ordered to report to Limerick. Dr. Kyle, who was educated at Ballymena Academy and Queen's College, held the post of assistant medical officer to the Education Board at Dewsbury, Yorkshire.

Ballymena Observer, August 20 , 1915

Dr James Taylor Kyle (above) was the son of James Kyle and Margaret Taylor and he was born at Park Street, Ballymena on the 8th July 1889. His parents had been married in Cullybackey Presbyterian Church on the 6th September 1887.
James (Snr) was the son of John Kyle, a baker, and his wife, recorded as Maggie, was the daughter of James Taylor, recorded as an agent. The family were living at Wellington Street, Ballymena in 1901 and at Broughshane Street in 1911. James Taylor, then 21 years old, is listed as a medical student at the latter date, and he was the eldest of four surviving children of six that had been born. His father was by then a well known auctioneer and insurance agent, his premises at Broadway, Ballymena.
James Taylor Kyle was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on the 23rd August 1915 (London Gazette, Issue 29302,  Supplement 9300, 20th September 1915), went to France and Flanders, and served throughout the war, retiring as Captain J T Kyle. His service is remembered in 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church.

KENNEDY, Joseph, 2829, Private, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was KIA on 21st August, 1915. He was born in Ballymena and enlisted in Belfast. Aged 20, he was the son of Isabella Kennedy, 6 Disraeli Street, Belfast. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli. 

HEFFRON, Patrick, 3812, Private, 5th Connaught Rangers, was KIA on the 22nd August, 1915. Aged 21, he was born in Ballymena and was the son of the late Patrick and Mary Ann Heffron. He lived in  Liverpool. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli. 

September 1915

Left: New recruit Thomas Larkin (his brother was wounded at Neuve Chapelle). He is pictured in the 'slouch hat' and bandolier typical of the pre-war Ulster Volunteer Force.

47th List - 1,123 Patriotic Men

This week's recruiting:

  • 18th Royal Irish Rifles - Thomas Larkin, 22 Hill Street; 
  • 4th  Royal Irish Rifles - John Cairns 26 Larne Street; James Cushenan, 13 James Street.

  • 2nd Royal Irish Rifles - Sergt. Major Scullion, Crosskeys. 

Joined since the outbreak of war

    • Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers -  2nd Lt. F. W. Vint, Waveney Road; Pte. Samuel Baird, Cloughmills; Pte James Wylie, Cullybackey; 
    • Royal Garrison Artillery - 2nd Lt. James Vint, Waveney Road; 
    • Royal Irish Fusiliers - 2nd Lt. T. W. Patton, Cloughwater; 
    • 2nd Royal Irish Rifles - Pte John Digney, Clonavon.

More bad news

Private William Finlay

Intimation has been received by his parents who reside at 142, Queen Street, that Private William Finlay, 6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, has been wounded in action on the 13th August at the Dardanelles and just three days after he landed there. Private Finlay was formerly on the Ballymena Postal Staff and was subsequently transferred to Belfast where he enlisted. He has sustained a bullet wound in the thigh and is now under treatment in the Royal Naval Hospital, Bighi, Malta.

Ballymena Observer, September 3. 1915

HAMILL, Shepherd, 3795, Rifleman, 11th Royal Irish Rifles, died at home 3rd September, 1915.  Aged 19, he was the the son of John and Nancy of Taylorstown, Toome. He is buried in Grange Corner Presbyterian Church and commemorated there. Headstone reads ... Privates Shepherd and Alex Hamill ... Both died at home.

Left: Captain John Clarke 

CLARKE, John, Captain, 1st/2nd Welsh Field Ambulance, KIA September 9, 1915. Buried at Hill 10 Cemetery, Gallipoli. Aged 32, son of William and Mary Anne (nee White), High Street, Ballymena. MD in Aberbargoed. He is commemorated in Wellington St. Presbyterian Church.

The Observer reported, September 17, 1915 -

The death of Capt. John Clarke RAMC, 1st Welsh Field Ambulance, Welsh Territorial Division, who was killed in action at the Dardanelles, was notified by telegram received from the War Office on Wednesday last. Captain Clarke was the third son of Mr. William Clarke, boot and shoe manufacturer, Wellington Street, Ballymena and a brother of Mr. James Clarke, solicitor.

He was born in Ballymena 32 years ago and educated at the local Academy, Edinburgh University and Queen's Belfast. Prior to the war he was in medical practice at Aberbargoed, near Cardiff.  It is only a few weeks since he received his captaincy and now he has fallen in the service of his country. He was held in the highest esteem in his native town.

Clarke Family Grave: Cushendall Road,New Cemetery, Ballymena

TURTLE, Rifleman John of the 6th Royal Irish Rifles, Springwell Street, Ballymena, who was wounded by a bullet striking his hand at the Dardanelles, is at present home on a short furlough. Private Turtle, who was an employee of the Braidwater Spinning Company, joined the army about eight months ago and was at the front only about six weeks when he was wounded. He was a popular member of the Springfield Football Club.

Lance Corporal James Wilson, Ballygarvey Terrace & King's Own Scottish Borders wounded at Gallipoli on 12th July, 1915

Lieutenant G C Ballentine, 5th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was wounded at the Dardanelles on Sunday, 15th September 1915.  He was the son of Mr J G Ballentine, chief clerk to the magistrates of the city of Belfast.  He was a native of Ballymena, where his sisters were still living in 1915.

Left: Private Robert Tweed, Clonavon Place (BWT says Bridge Street Place) & 1st Battalion,  Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers wounded at Dardanelles.

He had lost two fingers on his left hand and he had been treated at St George's Military Hospital, Pembroke, Malta.

INTIMATION has been received by his parents residing at Garfield Place, Ballymena, that their son Private Alexander Watson of the 6th Royal Irish Rifles has been wounded at the Dardanelles. Private Watson joined the colours at the outbreak of the war and proceeded to the front about six months ago. The news to hand states that he has received a  bullet wound in the ankle. 

A brother, Private Samuel Watson is also serving with the 6th Royal Irish Rifles at the Dardanelles. In a letter home to his parents from the military hospital. Cottonenta, Malta, Private Sandy (Alexander) Watson says:

"Just a few lines to let you know that I am wounded and in hospital. Johnny Turk got me all right with a shrapnel bullet in the left leg, just above the ankle. I am being treated here  all right and hope to be quite well soon. My brother Sam was all right, the last time I saw him and as for Johnny Turtle (Springwell Street), I heard he was wounded in the hand."

MR. Archibald Beattie, Galgorm Street, Ballymena, has been notified that his son, Private Archie Beattie of the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles has been wounded at the Dardanelles.

Private Henry McDonnell, 6th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles - was wounded, his arm broken by a piece of shrapnel, in the fighting at the Dardanelles, Turkey. He, a recalled reserve man, said the shell that wounded him killed his captain. 
He and his wife lived at Water Street, Ballymena. It appears that Henry McDonnell (20), labourer of Larne Street, Harryville, had married mill worker Jane Bradley (21), also Larne Street, in Ballymena Roman Catholic Church on 21st May 1906. He had been employed by Ballymena Urban Council at one time.

THE first Ulster Volunteer Force member from Ballymena to enlist has been wounded. Mrs. Mary Hamilton, Springwell Street, received the information from the war Office that her husband, Corporal Harry Hamilton of the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles has been dangerously wounded below the right ear. Corporal Hamilton, who prior to the outbreak of war was employed as a sawyer by Messrs. J. Coleman and Co., Ballymena, enlisted in the Irish Rifles on August 10th, 1914. He was a member of the Harryville Unionist Club and was connected with the Orange Order, being attached to the Dunfane Lodge.

Private Alex. Peacock, 2nd Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force, (13th Battalion.) who was recently wounded, writes to his mother who lives at Rasharkin to say that he is now recovered and expects to be sent out to the Dardanelles with other members of his company.

Private Patrick Bonar, Flag Lane, Ballymena, of the 2nd Battalion, Leinster Regiment is at present under treatment in the 13th Stationary Hospital, Rouen. He is a well known Ballymena footballer and played for Summerfield FC.

CAPTAIN Owen Wilson, RAMC, son of  Dr. James Wilson, River View, Galgorm, who went to France with the first troops, has secured second place in the Indian Medical Exam and is now on his way to India to take up his new duties.

Ballymena Observer, September 10, 1915

49th List

Joined since outbreak of war -

    • 17th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles - Rifleman George Wilson, Clonavon.

This week's recruiting:- 

  • 16th (Irish Division) - John Molloy, 5 Duke Street; Alex. Donnelly, Fair Hill Lane; Alex. Irvine, Springwell Street.
  • 4th Royal Irish Rifles - Andrew McMurray, Anticur, Killagan; 
  • 18th Royal Irish Rifles - Joseph Park O'Neill, Springwell Street. 

Official information has been received that Private D. W. Mullan of the 6th Munsters, son of the late Dr. Andrew Mullan, MD  MA of Wellington Street, Ballymena, has been wounded at the Dardanelles. He went to the front with the 10th Irish Division. He was shot by a sniper in the leg. 

The friends of Private Alexander Dempster, 3rd Battalion, Inniskilling Fusiliers, belonging to Adair's Court, Ballymena, have received intimation that he has been wounded in the left shoulder [actually left leg] at the Dardanelles. This is the second time he has been wounded. He received a shrapnel wounds in France on April 3 and on recovery was sent out to the Dardanelles. 

Right: Archie Devlin of Bridge Street. The Devlin family have been well known for their 'Fruit & Veg' in Ballymena since the late 19th Century.

Private Archie Devlin, son of Mr. Joseph Devlin, fruiterer of Bridge Street, Ballymena, has written home to his parents stating that he was wounded in action at the Dardanelles on August 22. Private Devlin joined the Inniskillings a short time after the outbreak of war and has been two months in the firing line. 

Mr. Robert McCartney, Townhill, Portglenone, has received a letter from the war office stating that his son, Private Andrew McCartney, Welsh Regiment, wounded at the Dardanelles is seriously ill. 

Private Alexander Moore of the 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, now on active service in the Dardanelles, writing last week to a friend in Ballymena, says: 'We have had a very difficult time but are making great progress and the end should not be far off. I have been hit twice by shrapnel but am not out of action yet.'

Ballymena Observer, September 17, 1915

50th List - 1,147 patriotic men

Joined since the outbreak of war -

    • Highland Light Infantry - Fred J. A. Orr, Clough; James Galbraith, Carnlea.
    • Royal Engineers - Pte. John Blair, Drumaglea.
    • Canadian Contingent, 2nd Dragoons - Pte. James McClean, Hamilton Ontario, formerly of Mount Street, Ballymena - Pte Samuel Strange, Hamilton, Ontario, formerly of Glenwherry.
    • Australian Contingent - Pte. Tom McKay, son of Mr. Samuel McKay, Drumrankin.

This week's recruiting - 

    • North Irish Horse - Frank McBurney, Ballylig; James Currie, Ballyloughan.
    • 18th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles - Edward Taylor, Fenagh.

Captain Arthur J. W. Compton, RAMC, medical officer to the 1st Bn. Coldstream Guards has been wounded in Flanders. He was educated at Ballymena Academy and Queen's College Galway. 

The relatives of Private John Erwin, 5th Bn. Royal Irish Fusiliers, of Kinhilt Street, Ballymena and formerly of Ballymena Post Office staff, have received intimation that he was wounded at the Dardanelles. The news is contained in a letter from Private Erwin himself, in which he says the bullet passed through some letters he had in his pocket and slightly injured his arm, subsequently entering the throat of a fellow soldier, killing him instantaneously.

Mrs. Wallace, Galgorm Street, Ballymena, has received intimation that her son Rifleman John Wallace of the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, was wounded at the Dardanelles on 15th August and is at present in the King George Hospital in London in a rather critical condition suffering from dysentery. Private Wallace, who was was formerly employed at Eaton's Bookstall at Ballymena Railway Station, joined on the outbreak of war.

Miss M. O. Simpson, West Church Manse, Ballymena, has joined Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service reserve and has been posted for duty in Egypt.

Miss Bresland, daughter of the late Mr. James Bresland, formerly headmaster of Ballymena Model School, has been accepted by St. John Ambulance Association and has been posted for service in Egypt. 

Surgeon J. G. Boal, RN, of Ballymena, has recently been transferred from HMS Termeraire to the new swift destroyer, HMS Lightfoot. This is one of the very latest boats. Surgeon Boal was home this week on a few days' visit to his friends in Ballymena.

Ballymena Observer, September 24, 1915.

Private William Ramsey, 5th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was wounded on the 15th August 1915 while serving in the Dardanelles. His mother lived at Galgorm Street, Ballymena.

Private William Ramsey, 5th Inniskilling Fusiliers
The Battle of Loos, 25th September - 15th October 1915
The September deaths, notably amongst Ballymena men serving in Scottish regiments, owed much to the Battle of Loos. The battle was the first big British offensive action, though truly only the British part of an even bigger French attack, the Third Battle of Artois. It was also the first time that the British used poison gas and the first large deployment of New Army units.
The British had to fight over ground south of La Bassée Canal and about which they had expressed severe reservations; it was flat and German positions overlooked the area. Moreover, the attack began before stocks of ammunition and heavy artillery were fully adequate.
British use of gas was overall a failure, the opening artillery bombardment insufficient to suppress German MGs or fully cut the barbed wire. Poor planning and communications turned the whole affair into a debacle.
Heavy casualties resulted, though there was some success on the first day, the troops breaking deep into enemy positions near Loos and Hulluch and capturing the village of Loos-en-Gohelle. The 7th and 9th Divisions even managed to establish a foothold on the significant Hohenzollern Redoubt. Success, however, did not last.
Strong German positions were reinforced before follow-up attacks: Reserves, exhausted from marching on poor roads, had been held too far behind the first assaulting waves. They were unable to arrive in theatre on time to exploit the first successes, and when they were thrown into the attack between the 26th and 28th September, they found themselves in a bloodbath, advancing towards the Germans without covering artillery fire. Major-General Richard Hilton, at that time a Forward Observation Officer, said of the battle: ‘The real tragedy ... was its nearness to complete success. Most of us who reached the crest of Hill 70 ... were firmly convinced that we had broken through on that Sunday, 26th September 1915. There seemed to be nothing ahead of us, but an unoccupied and incomplete trench system. The only two things that prevented our advancing into the suburbs of Lens were, firstly, the exhaustion of the "Jocks" themselves ... and, secondly, the flanking fire of numerous German machine-guns, which swept that bare hill from some factory buildings in Cite St. Auguste to the south of us. All that we needed was more artillery ammunition to blast those clearly-located machine-guns, plus some fresh infantry to take over from the weary and depleted "Jocks." But, alas, neither ammunition nor reinforcements were immediately available, and the great opportunity passed.'
The shambolic advance was called off in failure on 28 September, though it was renewed on 13 October. However, further heavy losses and poor weather led to its abandonment. British casualties in total were around 59,000 men.

Left: Private Arthur Laverty

LAVERTY, Arthur, 19470, Private, 11th (S) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry, was KIA on the 25th September 1915. He was born in Ballymena and enlisted in Coatbridge, Scotland.  He was the son of Alex Laverty, Hillmount, Cullybackey. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial and Cuningham Memorial Presbyterian Church.

The Observer reported February 4, 1916 -  NEWS has been received by Mr. Alexander Laverty of Kilrea Road, Cullybackey, through the medium of the Red Cross HQ that his son, Pte. Arthur Laverty, 11th Bn. Highland Light Infantry, has been killed in action. Private Laverty was in Scotland on the outbreak of war when he enlisted.

FINLAY, Thomas, S/5965, Private, 10th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, killed in action on the 25 September 1915. Aged 20, he was the son of Thomas, Skeagh, Carnalbana. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, the Dumbarton Memorial, and in Carnalbana Presbyterian Church.

CRAIG, John, 13674, Private, 7th Royal Scots Fusiliers, was killed in action on September 26, 1915. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial and in 1st Ahoghill Presbyterian Church. Aged 23, he was the son of Mary J. Craig, Ballee.

Right: Lt. J. G. Caruth

CARUTH, James Gordon, 2 Lieutenant, 5th Royal Irish Rifles (att. 2nd Royal Irish  Rifles) was KIA on September 25, 1915. He is named on Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate), Belgium. Aged 19, he was the son of J.D. and Constance Helen Caruth, Hugomont, Ballymena. He is commemorated in West Presbyterian Church.

The Observer reported, October 1, 1915  -

Mr. James D. Caruth, Hugomont, Ballymena, received an official message from the War Office yesterday stating that his eldest son, 2nd Lt. J. G. Caruth of the 5th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles had been killed in action between 25th and 27th September. He was only 19 years of age.

He was educated at Cheltenham College, England and he received his commission in September 1914 in the 5th Royal Irish Rifles.  He was sent to France with a draft and was attached to the 2nd Battalion of the Rifles. He was a playing member of the Ballymena Cricket Club.  

McCRORY, William, 7501, Sgt., 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, killed in action on the 25th September, 1915. He was born in Ballymena and enlisted in Belfast. He is commemorated on Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate), Ypres, Belgium.

Left: Private W. J. Mewhinney

MEWHINNEY (Mawhinney), William James, 15841, Private, 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 29th September 1915.  He was born on the 12th February 1878 at Culnafay, Grange of Ballyscullion, Upper Toome. He is commemorated on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate).

The Observer reported, October 15, 1915 -

Mr. William John Mawhinney, who resides at Ballynafie, Portglenone has received information that his son Pte. Wm. J. Mawhinney of the 2nd Btn. Royal Scots Fusiliers, has been killed in action. Private Mawhinney enlisted in Scotland where his wife and family reside.

McCARTNEY, Andrew, 12733, Private,  8th Welsh Regiment, died on the 30th September, 1915. Aged 50, he was born in Ballymena, the son of Robert McCartney and husband of Maggie Ross McCartney.  He is buried in Alexandria War Cemetery.

51st List - 1, 158 Patriotic men 

Joined since the outbreak of war

    • Royal Navy, Electrician - Wm John Adair, Queen Street ; 
    • Canadian Contingent, Private James Kielt, formerly Ballymena.

This week's recruiting:-
18th Royal Irish Rifles - Alex. Herbison, Loughmegarry; William Smyth, Moat Road; Samuel Mawhinney, Appletee, Shankbridge; Alex Black, 70 Queen Street.
    • RAMC - James Rea, Hope Street; John Gillen, Wellington Street; Wm. Ballentine, Bryan Street; James Mewhirter and John A. Maybin, both Ballymena.

Private Adam Lynn, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, has written to his mother, who resides at James Street, Ballymena, stating that he has received a slight wound in the right ankle while on active service in the Dardanelles. He is now in the Royal Naval Hospital in Malta and is making a good recovery.

Private Lynn, who is only 19 years of age, joined the 8th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers shortly after the outbreak of war, and on proceeding to the Dardanelles, was transferred to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. 

His father came through the South African War without a scratch and received the King's and Queen's Medals. He belonged to the Royal Irish Rifles. 

Corporal John Boyle, Ballymena, 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles has been wounded at the Dardanelles. Corporal Boyle who served through the South African War, is a well known local footballer, having played regularly for Summerfield FC. 

Lt. H. W. Weir, MB, RAMC, son of Mr. John Weir, JP, Liscoom, Ballymena, has been gazetted to the rank of Captain. He went to the front in December 1914 with the 83rd Field Ambulance and for the past seven months has been medical officer to the 2nd Battalion, Cameron Highlanders. 

Mrs. Wolseley, widow of the late Mr. C. Wolseley Jnr. Galgorm Road, Ballymena, who some time ago volunteered her services as a nurse to the War Office, has received instructions to proceed to France. Mrs. Wolseley is a daughter of the late Mrs. James Bresland, formerly Headmaster of Ballymena Model School, and was connected with the local branch of the St. John Ambulance Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force Nursing Corps. Two other local nurses connected with the St. John Ambulance, Miss C. Lancashire and Miss D. Caruth have volunteered and been accepted but have not yet been called up.

Ballymena Observer, October 1, 1915

52nd List - 1,162 Patriotic Men

Joined since the outbreak of war - 

    • Canadian Contingent - Private. David Mitchell, formerly Gracehill; Private Robert Craig, formerly Gracehill; Private William J. Woodcock, formerly of Patrick Place.

This week's recruiting

4th Royal Irish Rifles - William John Reynolds, 4 Blaney's Court.

Right: Corporal Eric Jean Bradshaw

Mr. Bradshaw, school inspector, Broughshane Road, Ballymena, has received a letter from his son, Corporal Eric Jean Bradshaw, who is in a base hospital at Rouen, informing him that he has been wounded in the neck by a piece of shrapnel while in the trenches and again in the knee by a piece of high explosive shell while on his way to the rear. Corporal Bradshaw joined the Chemistry Corps of the Royal Engineers only a few weeks ago.

In his letter he states he was wounded on Saturday, September 25, and it took him six hours to get out of the communication trench when he was wounded again on the way out by a whizzbang (HV shrapnel shell), dozens of which were bursting all over the place. 

Proceeding, he writes:

'About eight o'clock I reached a field ambulance and was brought to a clearing hospital further back. I stopped there for a day and was shifted back further to a general hospital which, after our arrival, was converted into a clearing station so we had to go back further still.

'We stayed in that hospital for about two days and then were transferred to trains and brought here to Rouen. It was an awful journey and lasted over six hours. The train was not an ambulance train, just an ordinary French 3rd class 'crawler'. I am writing this in the YMCA Hall. It is a grand place with books and papers and games. There are concerts occasionally and paper is provided for writing letters.

You will have seen in the papers that our attack was a great success. I saw them bringing in the prisoners - hundreds of them. Just opposite to where I was in the trench we captured 17 machine guns on a 22 yard front. It was a regular fort with bomb-proof shelters etc. The Germans thought it was impregnable.'

Mr. Mark Thompson of 5 Queen Street, Ballymena, has received intimation that his brother, Private Robert Thompson of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, was wounded on the 25th of September and is now in Bristol Royal Infirmary. Private Thompson, who has been six years in the army, was wounded at Neuve Chapelle on March 10th. On recovering he returned to the front and has now two bones in his left leg broken. He has two brothers in the army.

Ballymena Observer, October 8, 1915

53rd List - 1,166 Patriotic Men

Joined since the outbreak of war

    • South African Irish - Private Wm. Douglas, formerly of Ballymena.

This week's recruiting:- 

    • 18th Bn Royal Irish Rifles - Alex Montgomery, Princes Street; Private Robert Martin, 5 Bridge Street Place.
    • Royal Engineers - Private David McConnell, 1 Railway Street.

Lieutenant Samuel Allen Bell of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles was wounded on the head by a shell on Sunday, September 26th. He is a son of Mr. James Bell, of Grovehill, Bally, Ballymena. It is thought that when Lt. S. Bell was having his wounds dressed, 2nd Lt. Caruth (see obituaries) took command of the company and was killed. 

Private James McCartney, 4th Inniskilling Fusiliers, son of Mr. James McCartney of Bridge Street, Ballymena, who went to the Dardanelles on May 1st has been ill and is at present being treated in hospital in Malta. He was formerly a machine man in the (Ballymena) Observer Office. 

Mrs. Montgomery, residing at Killyfleugh, Ballymena, has been told that her son, Private Harry Montgomery, Black Watch, has been wounded, a bullet wound in the shoulder, in France and is in hospital in Wimereux. He was in Scotland when the war broke out and joined the colours there.
S/7697 Harry Montgomery, 2nd Bn. Black Watch, was later killed in the Persian Gulf on the 22nd April 1916. He had before enlistment been living in Broxburn.

Private Harry Montgomery, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders).

Rifleman Alexander Connor of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, son of the late Mr. Robert Connor, Larne Street, Harryville, Ballymena, has written to his mother stating that he was wounded in two places in the recent big advance and he is now in a hospital in Aberdeen. He joined at the outbreak of war, giving up his employment in the Waveney Laundry to do so. 

Mrs. McKee, Ballee, was notified by the War Office during the week that her son Private James McKee of the Highland Light Infantry is in a hospital in Alexandria seriously ill. 

Mr. James S. Boal, solicitor, Ballymena, has received a commission in the Royal Garrison Artillery.

Writing to his aunt, who resides in North Street, Ballymena, Lance Corporal Dan Lorimer (8066), 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, a well known Ballymena man who was previously wounded at the Battle of Mons, said:-

'We had a big fight with the Germans and that is the reason I did not write sooner. I tell you it was rough. We cut them down like sheep as soon as we ran up to them. I reckon there were six or seven of them called for every one of us.

I reckon I was lucky as I never got a scrape. I was recommended for the DCM for bravery on the field and I am getting full corporal - that is two stripes .'

Corporal Lorimer has two brothers, Sergeant John Lorimer and Private David Lorimer, in the Inniskillings, and Rifleman Willie Lorimer, 18th Royal Irish Rifles, with the army. His brother-in-law, Private Bob Owens, is with the Highland Light Infantry.

Daniel Lorimer wrote home again  and his letter was published in the local newapaper on the 1st May 1915. It gave a harrowing insight into the true nature of war and the man.  He said, 'This is a terrible war. All my old chums are nearly gone. I am left [in] 'A' Company now, and I am in the machine gun section. It is a bit dangerous, for the enemy look for the machine gun and shell it; but I want to get my own back at the 'boche'.

I got the parcel all right, and my chum and I are about to have it for our dinner, but my other chum, who enjoyed the last parcel you sent, is not here to enjoy this one, as he was killed last night. I was glad to get the cigarettes, as I hadn't got  a smoke for some time.

8066 Rifleman D Lorimer, 2nd Bn. Royal Irish Rifles, Machine Gun Section.'

Mr. William Douglas, a Ballymena man who emigrated to South Africa some 13 years ago was home during the week on a short visit to his relatives in Ballymena, before proceeding to the front.

Mr. Douglas, who holds a medal for participation in the Zulu War, was resident in the Belgian Congo when the present war broke out and he instantly offered his services to the Empire. He joined the 3rd South African Infantry (South African Irish) and came through the whole of the campaign in German West Africa without a scratch.

At the conclusion of that campaign it was decided that a large force should be sent to the aid of the allies in Europe and 10,000 men volunteered, 2,000 of whom are already in England.  Private Douglas came over with the advance guard.

Ballymena men killed and wounded as Rifles make history

THE following text is of  Major General Haldane's farewell to the 2nd Bn. Royal Irish Rifles on the occasion of their removal from his command. Reference is made in it to the recent advance and the part taken in it by the 2nd Rifles. It was during this glorious action that 2nd Lt. Gordon Caruth was killed and Lt. S. A. Bell was wounded.

General Haldane said:

I have just got the opportunity to saw a few words to you before leaving. You are going to a more quiet part of the line and you will be under an Irish General there and perhaps he will understand you better than I do.

You have a splendid fighting record throughout the campaign, being complimented by Sir John French and General Smith Dorrien in corps orders. The fighting in this part of the line during the last few months has been very severe and this battalion has made history.

When the history of this campaign is written the name of the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles will be written in large print. Your commanding officer, Colonel Weir, has been promoted to a brigade, due largely to the conduct of the battalion on 25th September. Your brigadier was ordered to hold the Germans in the Ypres Salient while the other corps made the attack further south. You attacked the strongest position in the enemy's line.

We had not enough artillery ammunition in our line to give you more support. The result was that the Germans' hidden machine guns and cleverly laid barbed wire traps were not demolished entirely. All the big gun ammunition was required further south.

Your clever demonstration in front of this part of the line brought all the enemy's reserves to this point, thereby facilitating the offensive towards Loos. In fact, the enemy were prepared to attack but were half an hour too late. On reading the report, I found that the Royal Irish Rifles notwithstanding the enemy's preparation, not only pierced the German lines but actually held their first line trenches for 24 hours, but on account of the corps on their flanks failing to achieve their object, the battalion was unfortunately obliged to retire to their own lines, having no one in support on their flanks.

It was a splendid bit of work and proves that Irishmen will always get to the front no matter what obstacles are in their way. On that day you filled the German trenches with dead with that little weapon, the bayonet, which, when in an Irishman's hand is filled with life itself.

I am sorry to lose you but one has to bow to higher authority. I suppose you are sorry to say goodbye to this spot (laughter). The heaviest fighting has always been here so if I ever find myself in difficulties I will always count on the help of your battalion.

In this fighting the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles lost 15 officers killed, wounded and missing with a large number of the men suffering similarly.

(The action described above concerns a diversionary, spoiling attack made by the 2nd Bn Royal Irish Rifles as part of the overall Battle of Loos. Ed.)

The 12th Royal Irish Rifles (Central Antrims) was recently presented by the Chief Constable of Norfolk with a regimental pet. 'Slemish' is a very handsome, stern looking bloodhound. Slemish mountain is the highest peak in Mid-Antrim and for many years has been a popular meeting place for picnic parties.

Ballymena Observer, October 15, 1915

Right: Private Thomas McCully

McCULLY, Thomas, 12607, Guardsman, 2nd Scots Guards, KIA on the 17th October 1915. Aged 36, he enlisted in Linlithgow, near Edinburgh. He was the son of William McCully, Kirkinriola, Ballymena. His wife was Sarah McCully, 115 Greendykes Rd., Broxburn. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

The Observer reported, November 26, 1915 -

Private Thomas McCully of the 2nd Scots Guards, a native of Kirkinriola, Ballymena, was killed in action at Loos on 17th October. Deceased was, for the past 15 years, in the employment of the Broxburn Oil Company Ltd.

He joined at the outbreak of war. He served his apprenticeship as a blacksmith in the Harryville Foundry of Mr. David Christie. He was connected with the Loyal Orange Institution and was a member of LOL 476 Craigywarren from which he transferred to No.54 Broxburn Hearts of Oak LOL, of which he was Worshipful Master for a number of years. He leaves a wife and 5 children.

BRIZZLE (often Brizell), Samuel, 116648, Pioneer, 5 Labour Battalion, Royal Engineers, died on October 20, 1915. He is buried in Divisional Cemetery, Dickebusch Road, Ypres. Aged 46, he was born at Coach Entry, Ballymena and enlisted in London. His widow lived at 12 Trafalgar Street, Belfast.

BROWN, Hutchinson, 15200, Private, 11th Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), was KIA on October 20, 1915. He is buried in Carnoy Military Cemetery, Somme, France. He was born at Kilcurry, Ahoghill and enlisted in Glasgow. He lived in lived Busby.

KERR, John, 19883, Private, 6th Royal Irish Fusiliers, was killed in action on 23rd October 1915.  He was formerly of Patrick Place, Ballymena. He is commemorated on the Dorian Memorial, Greece.

Private Andrew Davidson

DAVIDSON, Andrew, S/3716, Private, 8th Seaforth Highlanders, was KIA on the 25 October, 1915. Aged 33, He was born in Ballymena and was the son of James and Eliza Davidson (nee Surgenor), Mid Shirva Farm, Twechar. His wife and two children lived at Tintock. He is named on the Loos Memorial.


54th List - 1,181 Patriotic Men


  • Pte. Samuel Boyd, Ballyreagh, Clough.

Joined since outbreak of war - 

    • 11th Royal Scots - Pte. James Murphy, Drumaglea; 
    • 13th Canadian Contingent - Pte. Wm. Watt, Frocess; 
    • 3rd Royal Irish Rifles - Pte. James Rea, Carnalbana; 
    • 5th Royal Irish Rifles - Bandsman J. Young, Clonavon; 
    • Royal Garrison Artillery - 2nd Lt. James S. Boal, Tullygarley.

This week's recruiting - 

    • Army Ordnance Corps - Private David Gordon, 36 Bridge Street; Private John Campbell, Lisnahuncheon; Private James Mullan, Bryan Street.
    • Royal Field Artillery -Private William McLean, Tannaghmore; 
    • Royal Horse Artillery -Private Samuel Linton, Killagan; 
    • 18th Royal Irish Rifles - Private Samuel Hamill, Crumkill.

Corporal W. J. Nesbitt of the Irish Guards, son of Mr. Samuel J. Nesbitt, Mount Street, Ballymena, is suffering from gas poisoning. He has been right through from the beginning of the war and was only wounded once. We understand he is making satisfactory progress.

Private William Galloway, 7th Bn. Royal Scottish Fusiliers, formerly of Caddy, Randalstown. He enlisted in Glasgow in January 1915, was at the front after July 1915, and was reported wounded in the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph of the 16th October 1915.

Mrs. Surgeoner, Bridge End, Galgorm, has  been notified that her three sons, Pte. George Surgeoner, 11th Royal Scots, Pte. James Surgeoner, 6th Cameron Highlanders and Pte Alex. Surgeoner, also of the 6th Cameron Highlanders, were all wounded during the recent advance in France, James also being posted as missing. The latter's wife and three children reside at 52 Main Street, Thorneybank (probably Thornliebank), Glasgow. George was shot through the right arm and is now in hospital in England. All three enlisted in Scotland.

Mrs. Calderwood, Carclinty, Craigs, has just received official intimation to the effect that her son Pte. Matthew Calderwood, Irish Guards, has received three shrapnel wounds in the chest, thigh and knee, in the great fighting at Loos. Pte. Calderwood, before enlisting, was a pupil at Ballymena Academy and passed the King's Scholarship Exams in April. He is at present in Cornelia Hospital, Poole, Dorset and is progressing favourably. 

Private Samuel Boyd, Ballyreagh, Clough, of the Irish Guards, who was home recently after being treated for wounds received at the front, claims to have been an eyewitness of the deed that won Sgt. Michael O'Leary of that Regiment, the Victoria Cross.

Driver Alex. Loughrey, Carniny, of the Royal Engineers, who has been at the front since the outbreak of war, was home during the week on furlough. He was looking fit and well despite his many exciting experiences. 

Private Bertie McCann, Broughshane Street, Ballymena, of the 7th Bn. Royal Munster Fusiliers, who was wounded recently in three places in the left leg, is at present home on leave. Pte. McCann joined the army about the middle of November last year and, after a course of training extending over eight months, he proceeded to the Dardanelles and landed at Suvla Bay last August. Consequently he was wounded and brought to Dublin where he received treatment. He is allowed 10 days leave. 

Mr. Jack Young Jnr, son of Mr. J. Young, photographer, Ballymena, who joined the 5th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles in August, being attached to the band, was granted leave to sit for the Edinburgh University entrance examination which he successfully passed.

Private Young is the well-known flautist who took part in many local concerts. He was a member of the Young Conquerors Flute Band and on numerous occasions assisted other bands in prize contests. He was awarded a medal for piccolo solos. Bandsman Young was a popular member of the Ballymena Academy XV.

Ballymena Observer,  October 22, 1915

55th List - 1,185  Patriotic Men

Joined since the outbreak of war -

    • Canadian Contingent - Private Adam Barr, Hanbury, British Columbia, formerly of Lower Tannybrake, Kells.

This week's recruiting - 

    • RAMC - Robert Hunter, Dromona; 
    • 12th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers - Samuel McHaig, Innisrush, Portlenone; 
    • Home Service - Private John O'Neill, Harryville.

Private Masterson, Irish Guards, has been wounded in Flanders and is now in hospital in Manchester. He was an RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary) man when he volunteered and is the son of Mr. Patrick Masterson, ex-head constable of the RIC in Ballymena. 

Corporal Harry Hamilton of Springwell Street, Ballymena, of the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, who was wounded at the Dardanelles on August 10, was allowed sick leave recently and paid a visit to his friends in Ballymena. Corporal Hamilton states that he came across several Ballymena men whilst at Gallipoli. He was in hospital at Alexandria.

The following men from the Ballymena District are in the 3rd Bn. Royal Irish Rifles, at present stationed at Portobello Barracks, Dublin:-

    • Rfn. James Rea, Drumcrow, Carnalbana;
    • Rfn. George Steele, Moat Road; 
    • Rfn. David Garrett, High Street, Renfrew, formerly of Buckna;
    • Rfn. Jas. Young, Carnalbana.

The following members of Ballymena Brass Band have joined the colours and are now on active service:- 

  • John Wallace, double bass, 11th Royal Irish Rifles; 
  • John Erwin, 1st trombone, Royal Irish Fusiliers; 
  • John Davison, 2nd trombone 18th Royal Irish Rifles; 
  • John McCay, solo cornet 18th Royal Irish Rifles; 
  • John Anderson, 2nd cornet 12th Royal Irish Rifles; 
  • David Adair, 2nd cornet 12th Royal Irish Rifles; 
  • Alexander Wallace, solo horn 12th Royal Irish Rifles; 
  • Herbert Marshall, 1st baritone 5th Royal Irish Rifles; 
  • William Blair, flugel horn, 4th Royal Irish Rifles ; 
  • J. Montgomery 2nd horn Royal Irish Fusiliers; 
  • W. J. Woodcock 1st trombone Canadian Expeditionary Force; 
  • James McClean, solo cornet, Canadian Expeditionary Force.

The band has a few young lads endeavouring to learn the instruments so as to keep the organisation moving until the 'boys' come back.

Cadet R. Crawford who joined the Royal Irish Rifles a few months ago, has received a commission in the 18th Bn. of the Royal Irish Rifles, Ulster Division. 2nd Lt. Crawford is a son of Mr. Robert Crawford, Ashville, Ballymena. He was a popular member of Ballymena Academy Rugby XV.

Mr. Robert Crawford, Ashville, Ballymena, father of Cadet R Crawford, was the brother of Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert Steward Crawford C.M.G. M.D., R.A.M.C.(Left), who served with distinction during the war, and for his services, which were mentioned in despatches, by Field-Marshal Viscount French, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. He was in command of the 14th Field Ambulance from mobilisation until August 1915, and was through some of the heaviest fighting on the western front, frequently carrying out his work under heavy shell fire. He later commanded the 18th Stationary Hospital, Mediterranean Expeditionary Force for a time. 

Lieut. Col. G S & Robert Crawford were sons of the then late Mr. S. Crawford, Clough, Co. Antrim.

Mr. James R. Darragh, son of the late Mr. Samuel Darragh, Ballycraigy has received a commission in the 3/6 West Riding Regiment.

His many friends in Ballymena and elsewhere will be pleased to learn that Sgt. W. J. Nesbitt, eldest son of Mr. Samuel Nesbitt, Flax Mill owner of Mount Street, Ballymena, and of the 1st Bn. Irish Guards, has been recommended for a commission and will in all probability be attached in future to the 4th (Service) Gloucester Regiment and will, he expects, be proceeding to a new sphere of operations on Friday after a few days' leave at home from Flanders where he has been for almost the past 12 months.

He has seen during this time, some very severe fighting and has himself been wounded by shell fire in the legs and had to undergo several attacks from gas from which he is still suffering and at times pitting up blood from the severe spasms of coughing.

He was mentioned in dispatches by Sir John French for distinguished bravery in holding a crater with a platoon of only 49 against outnumbering forces of Germans.

The Guards bombed the Germans out of this crater and had the distinction of holding it for 24 hours until reinforcements arrived.

Just as they were going down a communicating trench, one of Sgt. Nesbitt's comrades was killed by a shell. The Germans, unable to hold their position, withdrew and when Sgt. Nesbitt's gallant little force returned to their quarters that night there were only 11 to answer the roll call.

At the recent battle at Hulluch, they were ordered to storm the line of enemy trenches which they did with all the dash and gallantry associated with this historic regiment, but in a dug-out they discovered 10 Germans in hiding and firing for all they were worth.

On seeing them, Sgt. Nesbitt dashed upon them and fired ten rounds into their trench killing every one of them. Fearing lest any of then might only be wounded and escape, he jumped into the dugout, rifle in hand and bayoneted the entire lot amidst the cheers of the few comrades who witnessed his heroism.

Sgt. Nesbitt, who is come of a good old fighting stock, was through all the South African war and his two brothers, Riflemen Tom and Robert Nesbitt are at present attached to the 18th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles.

Ballymena Observer, October 29, 1915

56th List - 1,206 Patriotic Men

This has been the best week for recruiting in Ballymena for 12 months. 18 young men have joined the army in the past seven days, 11 of whom are from the country and seven from the town of Ballymena.

Editor's note: This follows a major recruiting drive in the area. One of the features of this campaign was a very, hard hitting editorial in the Observer which pointed out that many 'sons of farmers and the middle classes' had failed to match the volunteering spirit shown by the 'working classes of the town'.

Joined since the outbreak of war:-

    • Army Service Corps, - Sergeant John Fisher, Kells; 
    • 4th Dragoons - Trooper Samuel James Fisher, Kells; 
    • 1st Royal Scots - Private Hugh Fisher, Kells.

This week's recruiting:-
    • 18th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles - Thomas Wilson, Duneaney; Hugh Johnson, William Anderson, James Duff, Ben Millar - all Hillmount, Cullybackey; John McAuley, Bridge Street; Robert John Kennedy, Broughdone; Thomas Scullion, Linenhall Street; David Jamison, Greenvale Street.
    • 4th Royal Irish Rifles - Wm. McKay, Ballylig, Broughshane; Robert Wylie, Fair Hill Lane.
    • 12th Royal Irish Rifles - David Wilson Millar, Tullygarley.
    • ASC - James Townsley, Kinbally; RGA Samuel Gillespie, Lower Broughshane; 
    • Royal Irish Fusiliers - John Hamilton, Clonavon; 
    • North Irish Horse - C. Elliott, Ulster Bank, John Aiken, Queen Street; 
    • Home Service - Matthew Finlay, Cloughmills.
Mrs. Blair, 7, Galgorm Street, Ballymena, received intimation last week from the war office to the effect that her grandson, Rifleman William Blair of the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles has been reported wounded at the Dardanelles and is at present missing. He was only 19 years of age and enlisted at the outbreak of war. Prior to joining the army Private Blair was an employee of Mr. Robert Carson, Confectioner of Clonavon.
Blair survived his trip to the Dardanelles, but 10938 Lance Corporal William Blair, then 21 and serving with the 1st Bn. Royal Irish Rifles, died on the 8th March 1917 of wounds received in Flanders - see Virtual Memorial.

Mr. Daniel McMullan, 82 Queen Street, Ballymena has been notified that his son Rifleman Wm. McMullan of the 12th Royal Irish Rifles has been slightly wounded in the ankle while in action. Rifleman McMullan, in a letter to his parents, described the wounds as a 'sore foot, which was only a sprain' for which he was put in hospital 'for a day or two'. They had a jolly time of it at the front and the battalion's first spell in the trenches was three days. He could not complain about anything.

William J McMullan was killed on the Somme in 1916 - see Virtual Memorial.

Rifleman Bob Thompson, son of the late Mr. John Thompson, whitesmith (tinsmith), of Henry Street, Ballymena, has had his left leg amputated owing to severe wounds received in action.

Ballymena Observer, November 5, 1915

Lance Corporal Thomas Cochrane

COCHRANE, Thomas Hill, 59175, L/Cpl, 21 Bn. Canadian Infantry (East Ontario Regiment), was KIA on November 11, 1915. He is buried in Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, Belgium. He was the son of John and Margaret Cochrane, Craigs, Cullybackey. He was the brother of John, and another brother, Hugh, was a Lieutenant in Canadian forces.

The Observer reported, December 3, 1915 -

News has been received of the death of Lance Corporal Thomas H. Cochrane, of the Canadian Division, who was killed in November. From the information to hand it appears he lost his life while saving a comrade. He was shot in the chest and died in a short time. He was a son of Mr. John Cochrane, of Cushendun, formerly of Craigs (Cullybackey). Deceased has a brother serving in the 12th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles.

57th List - 1,259 Patriotic Men 

It seems that the recruiting campaign had an amazing effect. An incredible number of men - many of them from the country districts - took the 'King's Shilling' during the second week of November 1915. The vast majority went to the 18th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles for training before being posted to their front-line units.

Left: New recruit Hugh Connaughty of Garvaghy, Portglenone. His brother Robert enlisted the following week.

Joined since the outbreak of war - 

  • 2nd Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders - Private John Carmichael, Upper Tannybrake, Kells; 
  • 2nd Royal Highland Regiment (Black Watch) - Private Robert Carmichael, Upper Tannybrake, Kells.

This week's recruiting:

  • 18th Royal Irish Rifles - R. James Robinson, Prospect Place; James Mairs, Parkhead; Henry Dempster, Parkhead; Hugh Connaughty, Garvaghy, Portglenone; Barclay Fleming, Garvaghy; Hugh Harris, Drumraw; Alex. McClean, Brackneymuckly; James Swann. Crevillyvalley; Thos. Shaw, Clough; David Allen, Alfred Street; Wm. McQuillan, Alexander Street; Agnew Crowe, Glenwherry; Alex. Sands. Ballyconnelly, Cullybackey; Adam Ireland, Aughafatten; James Robinson, Larne Street; Wm. Herbinson, Craigs; James Gillespie, Slatt; Wm. McCurdy, Artnagross; Wm. McVeigh, North Street; Wm. Montgomery, Kirkinriola; Thos. Picken, Slatt; Matthew Gibson, Slatt; James Weir, Ahoghill; Arthur Kennedy, Joseph Kennedy, George Kennedy all Broughdone; Joseph McAleese, Robert Street; James Rock, Ballygarvey.
  • 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles - Patrick McReynolds, Glenwherry; John Collins, Queen Street; R. J. McCreedy, Larne Street; John McGowan, Coach Entry; Wm. Hamilton, Grove, Dunclug; John Barr, Queen Street.
  • North Irish Horse - D. Kerr, Greenmount Terrace; W. Ferguson, Albert Place;  S. Montgomery, Greenmount Terrace; W. Johnston, Broughshane Road; S. Crawford, Tullymore, Broughshane.
  • 3/9th Royal Scots - Herbert Victor Brown, Sunnymead, Ballymena; 
  • Kings Own Scottish Borderers - Wm. McKee, Moat, Kells; 
  • Royal Garrison Artillery - Thomas McDonnell, Larne Street; 
  • Highland Light Infantry - Harry Armitage, Straid, Gracehill; 
  • Home Service - Frank McShane, James Street; Michael Walsh, Crebilly. 
  • 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers - Henry Clarke, Francis Street; 
  • Royal Munster Fusiliers - Patrick McGlynn, Ballymena; 
  • ASC - Thomas Wilson, Bridge Street; 
  • 19th Royal Irish Rifles - Simpson Montgomery, Cullybackey; Samuel Henry, Bridge Street; Wesley Hood, Mill Street; 
  • Royal Navy - John Orr, Killybeg.

Mr. Alexander Caruth, eldest son of Mr. Norman Caruth, C.C. Solicitor, Drumard, Ballymena, has received a commission in the Special Reserve of Officers and is being attached to the 3rd Gordon Highlanders at King Street Barracks, Aberdeen. 2nd Lt. Caruth who is 17, is an old Cheltenham College boy. He has often assisted Ballymena Cricket Club. His sister Miss Deborah Mary Caruth, who has joined the VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) is at present at No.5 General Hospital, France. She was one of the volunteer nurses at the Waveney Hospital.
Ballymena Observer

Alexander Caruth, also Alexander Cordukes Caruth, was born at Brocklamont/Brocklamount, Ballymena on the 2nd October 1898, the son of Norman Cordukes Caruth, solicitor, and his wife Jeanie. The parent couple, Norman Cordukes Caruth, son of solicitor Alexander Caruth, Ballymena, had married Jeanie Moore, daughter of clergyman John Charles Moore, Belfast, in Elmwood Presbyterian Church on the 23rd January 1894.
The Caruths lived at Brocklamont and had five children by the time of the 1911 census.  They were Deborah Mary (born 25th November 1894 at Flixton Place, Ballymena), Alexander (as above), John Charles Moore (born 3rd November 1900 at Brocklamont), Norman Cordukes (born 2nd October 1908), and Patrick Hamilton (born 31st August 1910 at Galgorm- probably Brocklamont).
The newspaper extract says Alexander got a commission in the 3rd Gordon Highlanders, but he appears to have served in the 1/7th Gurkha Rifles, this being stated in the records of 1st Ballymena Presbyterian Church -  ‘Caruth,  Alex C, Ballymena, Lieutenant, Gurkha Rifles’.
He was, as stated, a Lieutenant until late in the war. An entry of the 12th June 1918 in war diary of the 53rd Brigade, of which the 1/7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles were part, states that ‘Lt Caruth sanctioned to wear badges of acting rank of Captain whilst holding appointment of Acting Adjutant’, and on the 26th June 1918 it further states that ‘Lt A C Caruth appointed to be Acting Captain with pay and allowances of Lt. whilst Acting Adjutant, d. 25/5/18.’ His medal index card, issued by India, refers to him as Captain A C Caruth.

Amongst the number of young men who joined the North Irish Horse this week was Mr. William Ferguson of Albert Place, Ballymena. Trooper Ferguson was a well known vocalist in Ballymena and was a member of the YMCA Gymnastic team which won the Kerr Smiley Shield a few years ago. He was an assistant in Mr. Caruth's office.

Ballymena Observer,  November 12, 1915

Right- Robert Connaughty: Shell shocked while serving with 11th Royal Irish Rifles, 1st July 1916. He was wounded, a gunshot wound to face, in 1918, but survived the war.

58th List - 1,303 Patriotic Men

This week's recruiting - 

  • 4th Royal Irish Rifles - Hugh Magee, Carrycown, Martinstown; Malcolm McComb, Alfred Street; Wm. Neeson, Ballylummin, Ahoghill.
  • 18th Royal Irish Rifles  - Wm. Doherty, Ballycowan House, Ballymena; Nathan Russell, Alfred Street; Samuel Millar, Henry Street; R. Connaughty, Garvaghy, Portglenone; Thos. Sands, Ballyconnelly, Cullybackey; Thos. Moody, Drumrankin, Ahoghill; Wm. McMaster, Ballyconnelly; Thomas McAniney, Ballyweaney; Andrew McGall, Portglenone; M. O'Neill, Ballybolan, Ballymena; James Lowry, Fenagh; Samuel Neilly, Parkhead; George Leitch, Ballyconnelly; John Spence, Waring Street; John Gibson, Slatt; Robert Gilliland, Moat Road; W. J. McCaw, Glenone, Portglenone; John Anderson, North Street
  • 19th Royal Irish Rifles - Leonard Todd, Queen Street; David Mills, Balymarlow; R. Wilkinson, Cullybackey.
  • 20th Royal Irish Rifles - Wm. McNeill, Edward Street; David Holmes, Hugomont, Ballymena; John B. Thompson, Ballee; Samuel Ramsey, Ballee.
  • Irish Guards - Wm. Boyle, Bridge Street Place.
  • Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers - R. Bamber, Ballyconnelly; Charles Nelson, Adair's Court; Wm. Rice, Dunbought.
  • Connaught Rangers - Alex. Gillen, Crebilly.
  • Home service - Wm. Jas. Millar, Tullygarley; Alex McAleese, Pottinger Street, Cullybackey.
  • Army Service Corps - Wm. Cooke, William Street.
  • North Irish Horse - James Tennant, Harryville; Sam Steele, Alton Terrace; David Buchanan, Waveney Road; Thomas Montgomery, Kinhilt Street; Trooper Richmond, Ballymena.
  • Royal Naval Air Service - James E. Crawford, Clough.

Private Wiliam Blair of the 6th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles, who was officially reported on 28th October to be wounded and missing after fighting in the Dardanelles, has written home to his grandmother, who resides in Galgorm Street, stating that he had received her parcel and was all right. 

Ballymena Observer, November 19, 1915

23351 Private James Montgomery

MONTGOMERY, James, 23351, Private, 13th Royal Scots, was KIA on the 25th November, 1915. Aged 21, he was born in Ballymena, lived there. He was the son of Margaret Montgomery of 10 Fountain Place, Ballymena. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

The Observer reported (December 10, 1915) - 

Mrs. Montgomery, Fountain Place, Ballymena, has received official intimation from the War Office that her son, Private James Montgomery of the 13th Royal Scots, was killed in action on 25th November. Prior to outbreak of war he was an employee at the Braidwater Spinning Mill and he was in France for the past six months. He was in the firing line for the past 39 days. He was a member of St. Patrick's Church.

59th list - 1320 Patriotic Men

Joined since the outbreak of war - 

  • Australian Contingent - Private John Alexander, formerly of Coreen, Ballymena.

This week's recruiting - 

    • Royal Irish Rifles - Thomas Sloan, Joseph Peters, William McKeown, Robert White, Wilfred Barr - all of Broughshane.
    • Royal Naval Air Service - Bertie Dickey, Killagan.
    • Royal Navy - Samuel Wilson, Tullygarley; James Henry, Leighinmohr; Robert Murphy, Leighinmohr; William Moore, Spencestown.
    • 19th Royal Irish Rifles - David Jamison, Upper Buckna; F. McMurray, Lisnahilt, Broughshane; W. J. Robinson, Rathkeel, Broughshane.
    • 20th Royal Irish Rifles - R. Courtney, High Street; Wm. McKane, Park Street.
    • North Irish Horse - George Beattie, Church Street.
    • RAMC - George Rodgers, Cullybackey.

Corporal John Boyle (10683) of the 6th RIR who was formerly reported wounded at the Dardanelles is now reported wounded and missing. Corporal Boyle formerly played for Summerfield FC which he assisted to win the County Antrim Junior Shield.

Mr. W. J. Stuart, son of Mr. William Stuart of Mount Earl, Ballymena, has been gazetted as second-lieutenant in the North Irish Horse. He came here from New South Wales to join the army and has two brothers in the services, one in the army and one in the navy.

Mr. Bertie Dickey, son of Mr. R. J. Dickey of Killagan (Glarryford) has joined the Royal Naval Air Service. He is an old Ballymena Academy boy.

Mr. George Beatty and Mr. Robert Courtney who have joined the colours this week are assistants at Messrs. W. McClelland and Son, provision merchants. We understand their employers are granting half salary to these young men during the period of the war. 

Mr. T. S. Haslett, eldest son of Rev. T. S. Haslett, 1st Ballymena, who joined the cadet corps in connection with the Royal Irish Rifles a few weeks ago, has been granted a 2nd Lieutenancy in the Royal Irish Rifles. He is an old Ballymena Academy boy and in two successive seasons represented Ulster in the schools' inter-provincial football and cricket matches.

Two more Ballymena Academy old boys, Messrs. R. Crawford and J. Crawford, sons of Mr. Robert Crawford, Ashville, Ballymena, have been gazetted as 2nd Lieutenants in the Royal Irish Rifles.

Mr. William T. Smyth, second son of Mr. William Smyth, The Curragh, Ballymena, has received a commission in the 5th Connaught Rangers. 2nd Lt. Smyth, an old Academy boy has an elder brother, Lance Corporal John Smyth, prinicipal of Cloughwater National School, presently on active service with the Ulster Division.

Ballymena Observer, November 26, 1915

60th List - 1,332 Patriotic Men

Joined since outbreak of war - 

    • Alfred Mills, Crebilly.

This week's recruiting - 

    • North Irish Horse - John Forbes, George Forbes of Hillmount; James Anderson, Brocklamont; William Stevenson, Crankill; Harry Welsh, Cullybackey.
    • 18th Royal Irish Rifles - Andrew Shaw, Slatt; William Wilson, Killyfleugh; R. McCallion, Cullybackey Road.

Trooper P. Fox, son of Mr. Patrick Fox, Ballycraigy, who has been at the front for 16 months with the Royal Irish Lancers was home on leave. He has been wounded before but this is the first time that he has got home.

Ballykeel LOL 472 - Men who are 'doing their bit'

The following is a list of the names of Ballykeel Lodge men who have joined the colours and a few who are engaged in munition work.

Joseph Richardson, Alfred Street, KIA, 1st Royal Irish Rifles .

Alex. Richardson, Alfred Street, 12th Royal Irish Rifles.

James Lennox, Moat Road, 12th Royal Irish Rifles.

Robert Herbison, Springwell Street, 12th Royal Irish Rifles.

George Steele, Moat Road, 12th Royal Irish Rifles.

John Turbett, Moat Road, 12th Royal Irish Rifles.

James McAuley, Moat Road, 12th Royal Irish Rifles.

John Bell, Queen Street, 12th Bn Royal Irish Rifles.

Daniel McNeice, Queen Street, 12th Royal Irish Rifles.

David Clarke, James Street, 12th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles .

Alex. Moody, Alfred Street, 12th Royal Irish Rifles.

George Thompson, Alfred Street, 9th Bn Royal Irish Rifles .

David McCullough, Bridge Street, 9th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles.

Thomas Larkin, Springwell Street, 9th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles .

David Allen, Alfred Street, 9th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles.

Robert Moore, North Street, Royal Garrison Artillery.

William Russell, Castle Street, Royal Garrison Artillery.

Adam Lynn, Alfred Street, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

James Winnington, Moat Road, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Arthur Holmes, Canadians, formerly of Moat Road

David Buchanan, Waveney Road, North Irish Horse (NIH)

Samuel Steele, Alton Terrace, NIH.

William McNeill, Edward Street, NIH

George Hamilton, formerly Waring Street, War Work

Anderson Crawford, Larne Street, War Work

Edward Steele, Moat Road, War Work

Archie McNeice, Queen Street, War Work

Alex. Thompson, formerly Larne Street, War Work

John Tennant, Francis Street, War Work

Wm. Murray, formerly Moat Road, War Work

George Kernoghan, formerly Casement Street, War Work.

Ballymena Observer, December 3, 1915

Left: Lieutenant Charles Patrick MacAuley, South Irish Horse

The boy who would become the soldier was born at Caugherty (or Caherty), Ballyclug, Broughshane, Ballymena on the 4th February 1891, the son of farmer Charles MacAuley and Ellen Quinn, his wife. The family appear on the census records for 1901 and 1911. Charles (Sr.) was in 1901 at Caherty, Ballyclug, Ballymena/Broughshane and aged 48 years, his wife Ellen 45 years. They then listed seven children: Annie Jane (25), Catherine Agnes (23), Rose (21), James H (19), Hugh O (15), Nellie (11) and Charles P (9).
The family were still at Caherty in 1911. Charles was 64 and stated that he had been born in Belfast, his wife Ellen was 60 years old. The couple stated that they had been married for 38 years and that they had had eight children, all of whom were alive at that date. They listed four as present on the date of the census recording: Annie Jane, Catherine Agnes, Ellen and Charles Patrick. Ellen, supposedly 59 years old, died at Cagherty of pernicious anaemia on the 18th March 1912, her daughter Cassie at her bedside.
Before the outbreak of the Great war Charles Patrick MacAuley was working as an estate manager on the Co. Wicklow Estates of the O’Mahony family, an Irish landowning family whose interests also extended to Argentina. It was while in Wicklow that he volunteered for military service. The London Gazette (Issue 29373, page 11486), recording a War Office document of the 19th November 1915, shows his acceptance on probation in the Special Reserve of Officers (Cavalry) from 20th November 1915 in the South Irish Horse. He was to survive the war and remain in the British Army until he relinquished his commission in the South Irish Horse on the 1st April 1920. He was to retain his rank of Lieutenant. (London Gazette, Issue 31926, Supplement 6156)
Photograph of Lt C P MacAuley, then on furlough from the trenches, from Ballymena Weekly Telegraph, January 1917 - Courtesy of Nigel Henderson

Left: Private John Gilmer, Ballygarvey & Irish Guards 

61st List - 1,348 Patriotic Men

Joined since the outbreak of war:-

    • New Zealanders - Pte. James McBride, formerly of Coreen, Broughshane; 
  • North Irish Horse -Trooper Herbert Wm. McClean, Provincial Bank House; Trooper David James Johnston, 46 Mount Street; Farrier Jerry Cupples, Lisnevenagh.

This week's recruiting:

  • North Irish Horse - Joseph Bailie, Princes Street. 
  • RAMC - Lt. J. C. Wilson, Alexandra House
  • 18th Royal Irish Rifles - Stafford Garrett, Railway Street; W. Barr, Crumkill; John Agnew, Crumkill.
  • 20th Royal Irish Rifles - George Fullerton, Clonavon Road; William Allen, Ballee.
  • Bantams (Bantams were smaller, lighter men who would have been refused entry to normal regiments Ed.) - Hugh McAleese, Broughshane.; Home Service - John McClintock, Parkhead.
  • RAMC - Carson Woodcock, Patrick Place; Jack Gillespie, Cullybackey; Alex Murdock, Hillmount

Ballymena Observer, December 10, 1915

JOHNSTON, William Robert, 8166, Private, 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, died on the 11th December, 1915.  Aged 31. He was born in Ballymena and enlisted Belfast. He was the son of the late Alex. and Sarah Johnston, Ballymena. He is buried in Forceville Communal Cemetery, Somme.

62nd list -1,357 Patriotic Men

Joined since the outbreak of war -

    • 18th  Royal Irish Rifles - Samuel Steele, Robert Foster of Tullynamullan.
    • Irish Guards - M. A. Orr, Queen Street; John Blair, Queen Street.

This week's recruiting - 

    • North Irish Horse - James Graham, Clough; Bob Walker, Clough; Samuel Wilson, Railway Street.
    • Royal Engineers - Bernard Gillespie, Princes Street; 
    • 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers - William Caldwell, Cromkill.

Mr. John Colvin of Princes Street, Ballymena, has received information from an officer in the 12th Royal Irish Rifles, to the effect that his son Rifleman Thomas Colvin has been wounded in the right hand by the explosion of a shell. Mrs. J. H. Wright, a sister of the wounded private, also received information from her husband, Sgt. Major J. H. Wright, that her brother was slightly wounded in the arm and is now in hospital.

Rifleman Colvin was wounded while sitting reading about 7 o'clock in the evening. The letter received by Mrs. Wright was dated 1st December so that it would seem that Pte. Colvin was wounded on Tuesday, November 30th. Private Colvin who went to the front with the 12th Royal Irish Rifles (Ulster Division) is the second Ballymena man in that battalion to be wounded, the first being Rifleman William McMullan of Queen Street.

The friends of Trooper Robert Heron, North Irish Horse, who resides at Tully, Ballymena, have just received intimation to the effect that he is at present in hospital suffering from a dislocated shoulder blade and a broken leg sustained in Flanders. It is understood that a shell exploded close to Trooper Heron?s horse and he was thrown from his seat, the animal falling on top of him. Trooper Heron was called up on the outbreak of war and has been at the front for over a year.

Rifleman Alexander Orr, 12th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles who belongs to Glenarm, has been severely injured in France. He was trying to separate the two parts of the nose cap of a shell which he had found in the trenches and which he had brought to his billet as a souvenir. There was an unexploded fuse on the cap and it went off with the result that he was injured in the had, leg and hands. He was immediately removed to hospital.

Dr. John Charles Wilson, son of the late Mr. David Wilson of Alexandra House, Ballymena has been given a commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He is an old Academy boy.

Left: Dr John Charles Wilson, RAMC
Dr John Charles Wilson, born at Mount Street, Ballymena on the 25th October 1891, was the son of David Wilson, then a shop assistant.
David Wilson had married Ellen Allen in Connor Presbyterian Church on the 31st December 1873, and the couple, 37 years married at the time of the 1911 census, were living at Queen Street, Ballymena. They said that they had had nine children at that time, all of whom were alive.  The family also appear in the 1901 census return, again living at Queen Street. In 1901 and 1911 David was a commercial traveller, apparently selling grocery and provisions. He seems to have made a good career out of his job and was living at Alexandria House on the more desirable Galgorm Road at the time of his son's enlistment. David Wilson died aged 68 years on the 29th August 1914.
John Charles Wilson attended Ballymena Academy and then studied medicine at Queen University Belfast. He was employed in the Royal Victoria Hospital, acting as a house surgeon and then as an extern surgeon, before joining the RAMC. He was to serve in the latter throughout the Great War.
He was active in the Orange Order and the Masonic Order and he became a member of the Ulster Unionist Party. He was MP for Iveagh constituency, serving in that role from 1933 to 1938.
He died in 1968.

We have been informed that Rev. Canon A. E. Ross, Rector of Ballymena and Ballyclug, has offered his services to the army and has been appointed Chaplain. He will leave for the front at the beginning of the year.

Ballymena Observer, December 17, 1915

This is the first week since the outbreak of war that there have been no recruits in the Ballymena District. No doubt this is due to the Christmas Holidays.

Rev. H. C. Townsend, MA, Rector of Craigs Parish Church, County Antrim, has been appointed as an army chaplain. The Rev. gentleman has been in charge of Craigs' for upwards of 12 years.

Corporal Dan Lorimer, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, has been wounded for the second time. Intimation to that effect has been received by wife from Lance Corporal P. O'Kane who states that the injury is not serious. Corporal Lorimer took part in the retreat from Mons and was in the Battle of the Aisne where he was wounded.

Ballymena Observer, December 24, 1915

63rd List - 1,365 Patriotic Men

Joined since the outbreak of war - 

    • 16th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles - Rifleman Hugh McCready, son of Mrs. Margaret McCready, Ross, Kells; 
    • 11th Btn Royal Irish Rifles - Rifleman James Craig, Ballywatermoy; 
    • North Irish Horse - Trooper William Craig, Ballywatermoy.

This week's recruiting:-

    • 18th Royal Irish Rifles - Hugh Kernoghan, Tullygarley; John McCosh, Railway Street; R. Heggarty, Railway Street.
    • 20th Royal Irish Rifles  - Samuel Laird, Kells.
    • Royal Field Artillery - William Bonnar, Rocavan.

Lieutenant, later Surgeon, John Duffin, RAMC & Royal Navy (January 1915)
Photograph courtesy of N Henderson

Dr. J. Duffin has been appointed temporary surgeon in his Majesty's fleet. Surgeon Duffin is a son of Mr. Frank Duffin, formerly of Craigs, Cullybackey. He has been a year with the Royal Army Medical Corps and has recently returned from the front where he was in medical charge of the 16th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Ballymena Observer

Above: Ballymena Weekly  Telegraph, 8th January 1916

Dr John Duffin, MB, graduate of Queen's University Belfast,was the son of Francis Duffin, Craigs, Cullybackey and Jane Ditty, the couple having married in St Andrew's Church, Belfast on the 8th August 1889. Jane was then a teacher of 149 Maclure (sic) Street, Belfast. John was the eldest of the four children listed on the 1911 census return. He was said to be aged 20 and a medical student at that time, but no local record of birth can be found, though one recent source says he was born on the 30th May 1890. The others in the family were Florieda Annette (23rd August 1891, born Craigs), Kathleen Maud (8th January 1893, born Craigs), and Mabel Winifred (4th August 1894, born Craigs). The family were living in Belfast before the Great War, the 1901 and 1911 census returns recording them at University Avenue and Deramore Park respectively.

Dr John Duffin was in France with the RAMC after 8th October 1915, posted apparently to the 16th Royal Irish Rifles, but he later transferred to the Royal Navy. Navy List 1916Q3,  List of Officers in HMS Thunderer, records 'Temp. Surgeon John Duffin, MB, 20th March 1916.'  HMS Thunderer (1911) was an Orion-class battleship launched in 1911, which fought at Jutland 1916, and was broken up in 1927.

Mr. H. A. Robinson, who has been making munitions of war in England, has enlisted under Lord Derby's recruiting scheme (This scheme allowed men to enlist to avoid the 'white feather', but they were not immediately sent to the army). He is the only son of Mr. S. J. Robinson, Dromona, (Cullybackey).

Constable Howley RIC, who was stationed at the Harryville Barracks, Ballymena for some time, has volunteered his services for the army and has been accepted. He has joined the 7th (Pals) Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He will be succeeded in the Harryville Barracks by Constable Sweeney who is being transferred from Broughshane.

Mr. Alex O'Hara of Waveney Road, Ballymena, has received intimation from his son. Sgt. Thomas O'Hara, Royal Engineers, that he has accepted a commission in the Royal Engineers. 2nd Lt. O'Hara was a former pupil of Ballymena Academy and a trainee architect with the form of Henry Seaver, Belfast, had enlisted shortly after the outbreak of war. He has been promoted from the ranks. He had been at the front for some time with the Ulster Division and was of proven ability.
Thomas O'Hara was  a good rugby player and played on occasions for Ballymena Academy Old Boys. He was an accomplished cricketer and a playing member of the Ballymena Cricket Club.

2nd Lt Thomas O'Hara, Royal Engineers
Rifleman Thomas Colville, 12 Royal Irish Rifles (CAV) - was the son of Mr John Colville, Princes Sttreet, Ballymena, and the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph, 18th December 1915, noted that he had been wounded in the hand on the 30th November through the accidental explosion of the detonator of a shell in the room where he was reading a newspaper.
Widower John Colville of Carniny, Ballymena had married Lizzie Smyth of Teeshan, Ballymena in Wellington Presbyterian Church on the 8th October 1892.  She died of cancer at Clarence Street, Ballymena on the 21st February 1908.
The 1911 census return shows widower John (58) and four children, William (19), Agnes (17, Thomas (15) and Isabella (14),  living at Garfield Place, Broughshane Road, Ballymena, and Thomas was a mill worker.

Above: 2nd Lt. F. R. Skillen, who was transport officer for the King's Own Liverpool Regiment, was home from the front during the Christmas weekend. Mr. Skillen is the eldest son of Mr. Joseph Skillen of Claremont, Ballymena. He joined the army in the early Autumn of 1914 as a trooper in the North Irish Horse and in December was granted a commission.

Ballymena Observer, December 31, 1915

Captain Frederick Rutherford Skillen - Biography

Birth Record for Frederick Rutherford Skillen
Image courtesy of:

Gladstone Terrace appears to be the houses that are found on the left side of the Galgorm Road and which lie between the PSNI Station and the end of the Waveney Road.

Frederick Rutherford Skillen was a Belfast man, born on 26 August 1893 at 34 Beverley Street, Belfast, and he was one of a family of four children (Three were still alive at the time of the 1911 census and, Frederick excepted,  they had been born in Ballymena.), the offspring of a Joseph Skillen, manager of the Phoenix Weaving Company, Ballymena, and his wife, Mary Graham Morrow Skillen (nee Rutherford). The couple had married in Malone Church, Belfast on the 17th June 1892. The 1901 Irish census shows the family living at Ballee, the 1911 census then recording them at Gladstone Terrace, Galgorm Road, Ballymena. Frederick Rutherford was the eldest surviving child of the family and he was a 20-year-old shipping clerk in 1914.

No. 1232 Frederick Rutherford Skillen had enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 1 October 1914, but he had transferred to the 12th (Service) Battalion, King's (Liverpool Regiment) on 1 December 1914 after obtaining his commission as a Second Lieutenant. Skillen subsequently embarked for France with the battalion on the 22 July 1915. His role as transport officer in the unit is recorded in the Ballymena Observer of the 31 December 1915, it stating:
‘Second-Lieutenant F.R. Skillen, who was transport officer for the King's Own Liverpool Regiment, was home from the front during the Christmas weekend. ... He was looking fit, and had the best wishes of his many friends in Ballymena on his departure on Tuesday last.
12th (Service) Battalion, The King's Regiment (Liverpool) had been created at Seaforth in September 1914 and was part of Kitchener's Second New Army. It became part of the 20th (Light) Division. They trained locally and subsequently moved to Aldershot, becoming in January 1915 part of the 61st Brigade, though still with 20th (Light) Division. They moved to Guildford in early 1915 and were at Salisbury Plain in April for final training. They went overseas to France and Flanders via Boulougne in July 1915 and initially found themselves in the Saint-Omer area. The Fleurbaix area was used for their trench familiarisation, and then in 1916 they went into action at the the Battle of Mount Sorrel, in which the Division, along with the Canadians, recaptured the heights. They served on the Somme in the battles of Delville Wood, Guillemont, Flers-Courcelette, Morval and Le Transloy. In 1917 they were in action again during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, specifically the battles of Langemarck, Menin Road Ridge, Polygon Wood and the Cambrai Operations. In 1918 they fought in the battle of St Quentin, and they participated in the actions at the Somme crossings and the Battle of Rosieres.  They were very much in the thick of these 1918 actions and in April they were withdrawn to near Amiens for rest and the taking on of new drafts of men. They returned to action and fought at Selle, Valenciennes and Sambre and at the passage of the Grand Honelle. At the Armitice the Division was in the area between Bavay and Maubeuge and later moved to the Toutencourt-Marieux area. Their Division was demobilised January 1919 and May 1919.
2nd Lieutenant Skillen became a lieutenant in 1916, a captain in 1917. He sustained a wound to the arm on the opening day, the 16 August 1917, of the Battle of Langemarck, part of Third Ypres (Passchendaele) as his unit were attacking on the eastern side of the Steenbeek. That day 4 officers were killed and 7 wounded, with 41 other ranks killed, 230 wounded and 34 missing.
Skillen survived the war and had been mentioned Field-Marshal Haig's despatch of 7 April 1918 and again in Haig's despatch of 16 March 1919.  In February 1919 Skillen was posted to the 4th Battalion, King's (Liverpool Regiment), and soon after was attached to No.175 Prisoner of War Company. However and rather surprisingly, Skillen, charged with drunkenness and acting to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, faced a court martial at Calais on 11 November 1919. He was acquitted.
A few days later he was evacuated ill and he was not declared fit for service again for four months. Almost immediately he relinquished his commission on completion of his service.
In 1921 Skillen was employed as a health insurance officer in the Ministry of Health. He was a witness at his sister Dorothy Frances Skillen’s marriage to John Kyle, Ballymena on the 17th August 1921 at 1st Boardmills Presbyterian Church, Lisburn, Co Down. Two years later he enlisted in the ranks of the 52nd East Lancashire Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. His life thereafter is unknown.
He died on 23 February 1954 at the City Hospital, Lisburn Road, Belfast.
Skillen's brother also served during the Great War and was 287287 Gunner William Graham Rutherford Skillen, Royal Garrison Artillery.
This account is based on the following source: