1915 - Not such a lovely war ...
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.
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
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.
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 Navy: Messrs. 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
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.
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.
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 March 1, 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.
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
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)
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.
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."
(Battalions - A regiment is made up of battalions (Bns or Btns). These are in turn made of Companies, Platoons and Sections. Regular battalions obviously had numerical designations such as 1st, 2nd or 3rd (Reserve). Ed)
Ballymena Observer, April 2, 1915
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
Lusitania - Before 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
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.
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 19th 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
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.
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:
Joined since the outbreak of war
Football and fighting
LANCE Corporal William Dempster, Waveney Avenue, of the 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 May 9. Lance Corporal Dempster was 12 years in the army, and at the outbreak of war he volunteered for active service. He has been through many big engagements and had some exciting experiences.
Sergeant John 'Johnny' Houston
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 Bn. Sergt. 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 expanded entry on Johnny beside Leslie Houston entry.)
PRIVATE Alex. Dempster, Ballymena, of the 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 leg by shrapnel at Neuve Chapelle.
(Neuve Chapelle - a village in Northern France. Initially the British attacked successfully, but the attack bogged down and heavy casualties ensued.)
Ballymena Observer June 11, 1915
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 Basee, 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
39th List - 1044 Patriotic Men
This week's recruiting:
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 out. The 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
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
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.'
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.