Gavin Bamford and Nigel Henderson, from History Hub Ulster, together with friend John McCormick recently visited Cregagh Methodist Church to view their Great War ‘War Memorial’. Rev. Ken Connor facilitated our visit.
As we were discussing and photographing the memorial, Rev. Ken Connor appeared with the nicely framed Castlereagh Road Methodist Church ‘Roll of Honour’ in his hands.
This Great War ‘Roll of Honour’ had been out of the public eye for many years. The dates on the hand-written parchment roll (pictured above) are from 1914 to 1917. The year 1917 is unusual but may simply mean that no more men from that congregation volunteered after 1917.
A quick reconciliation of the names on both plaque & parchment showed that many names were duplicated. Later research showed that a temporary Methodist Church was built in 1894 on ground at the junction of Castlereagh Road with Clara Street. In 1912 the congregation took the decision to move to another site. The war intervened with their plans. In 1923 an option on a site on the Castlereagh Road was agreed and a new church was opened in 1927.
Robert Allison Haldane was born on 10th May 1874 at Milton in Lanarkshire to Thomas Haldane and Margaret Haldane (nee Allison). He married Jessie Horn on 17th June 1898 at Blythswood Congregational Church in Glasgow. Their first two children were born in Scotland but they were living at Kingscourt Street in the Ormeau Ward when their third child was born in January 1903.
In 1911, Robert, Jessie and their six children were living at Glenvarnock Street off the Cregagh Road and Robert was employed as a moulder in an iron works. Robert Haldane enlisted with the 8th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and his is the fifth name on the Roll of Honour for Castlereagh Road Methodist. Robert Allison Haldane, the last child of Robert and Jessie, was born at 162 Templemore Street on 8th April 1915, two months before his father left Ireland with the 36th (Ulster) Division.
Robert Allison Haldane was Killed in Action on 2nd July 1916, aged 42, and has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing in France. Jessie Haldane received a War Gratuity of £8 in November 1919 and a weekly pension of twenty-seven shillings from March 1917 for herself and five children under the age of 16. On 10th November 1929, Master Robert Allison Haldane laid a wreath on behalf of the Boys’ Brigade at the unveiling of the Cregagh War Memorial in the colony of house built for veterans of the Great War. He was wearing the three service medals awarded to his father.
On the war memorial tablet, there are several sets of brothers, including the Cesar brothers. Three sons of Robert Cesar, a lithographic printer, and Mary Callwell of Tildarg Street served in the Great War and the family was recorded as “Presbyterian” in the 1901 Census and the 1911 Census.
Norman Cesar was born on 30th May 1896 at Portallo Street and was a labourer when he enlisted in Belfast with 4th (Reserve) Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on 7th August 1914. His religious denomination was recorded as “Presbyterian”. He joined the 1st Battalion on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 18th July 1915. The battalion was withdrawn from Gallipoli in January 1916 and transferred to the Western Front in March 1916. He sustained gunshot wounds to the side on 1st July 1916 and to the right leg on 27th January 1917. The latter necessitated evacuation to the UK and, when fully recovered, he was posted to the 7th Battalion in May 1917. He sustained gunshot wounds to the head on 11th August 1917 which necessitated evacuation to UK. He was subsequently posted to the 6th Battalion in November 1917. Norman Cesar was transferred to the Class Z Army Reserve on 12th March 1919.
John Ernest Cesar was born on 3rd July 1894 at McClure Street and was a labourer when he enlisted with 4th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Belfast on 20th March 1911, his denomination being recorded as “Presbyterian”. He transferred to the Regular Army on 29th August 1912. He was stationed at Dover with 2nd Battalion at the outbreak of the war and was deployed to the Western Front on 23rd August 1914. He remained in the same battalion throughout the war and held the rank of Lance-Corporal when he was discharged due to wounds on 12th May 1919, with Silver War Badge Number B197457. Ernest Cesar received a 40% Disablement Pension in respect of gunshot wounds to the chest at the rate of sixteen shillings per week from April 1920.
Robert Cesar was born on 15th December 1889 at McClure Street in Cromac Ward. He was stationed in the Far East with the 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 1911 and in India on the outbreak of the war. His battalion was recalled from India, arriving in England in January 1915 and being incorporated into the newly-formed 29th Division. The division departed England for the Eastern Mediterranean in Marc 1915 and Robert Cesar landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula with on 25th April 1915. He was killed in action on 22nd May 1915, aged 25, and is buried in the Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Mary Cesar received a War Gratuity of £5 in July 1919.
Soldiers research undertaken by Nigel Henderson