North Belfast Remembers Job Opportunities

We are looking for three people to help with our project North Belfast Remembers. Application details at the bottom of the page.

Project:

A series of arts and heritage based events aiming to connect the local community with the Decade of Centenaries and the First World War.  It aims to engage the community with their local history and begin a dialogue about the place of remembrance in today’s society. It provides an opportunity for intergenerational storytelling aiming to enable older people and children to understand the importance of each other in the community.

NORTH BELFAST REMEMBERS PROJECT MANAGER

December 2015 – March 2016 (78 hours total / £12 per hour / Freelance)

Roughly 4 hours per week, rising to 8 hours per week in March 2016.

Role:

Project Management of 10 research workshops, 5 art workshops and a final larger scale event in March 2016

Essential:

3 years project management experience / an interest in history / ability to work to own timetable and within budget / time management skills /Ability to engage with all members of our community

Desirable:

Experience having worked with older people and children / knowledge of North Belfast particularly BT14 / BT15

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NORTH BELFAST REMEMBERS ARTIST

5 x 60 mins children’s workshops in February and March 2016 (plus 5 x 60 mins prep time)

 (10 hours total / £30 per hour / Freelance)

Brief:

Artist for 5 arts workshops of 20 children each, aged 8 – 12 years old in community venues in North Belfast. The brief will be discussed in more detail with the chosen artist, but will involve decorating glass bottles.

Essential:

3 years arts experience / an interest in history / ability to work to own timetable and within budget / /Ability to engage with all members of our community / Experience working with children

Desirable:

Knowledge of North Belfast particularly BT14 / BT15

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NORTH BELFAST REMEMBERS RESEARCHER

December 2015  (20 hours research / £12 per hour / Freelance)

January – February 2016  (20 hours workshop delivery/ £12 per hour / Freelance)

Role:

Research of ww1 servicemen from North Belfast and delivery of 10 x 90 minute research workshops for older people in community venues in North Belfast. (plus 10 x 30 min prep time)

Essential:

3 years research experience / an interest in history / ability to work to own timetable and within budget / time management skills / ability to engage with all members of our community

Desirable:

Experience having worked with older people / knowledge of North Belfast particularly BT14 / BT15

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Applications:

Please send cover letter and CV to research@historyhubulster.co.uk

Closing Date: Wednesday 25th November 2015

 

 

Please note this email is not monitored daily and we cannot acknowledge every application.

Belfast City Council 2015 (Master) CRC logo

VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) – 70th Anniversary

Bonfires, effigies and gramophones, parades, bunting and fairy lights: How Lisburn celebrated VE Day on 8 May 1945

By the end of April 1945 it was clear that World War 2 was coming to an end.  The German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler had taken his own life on the last day of April.  His successor, Admiral Donitz authorised the military surrender of Germany which took place on 7th May 1945.  The British Prime Minister, Mr Winston Churchill declared the following day to be known as VE Day (Victory in Europe Day).  A public holiday of two days was declared.

Life in Lisburn was the same as in any other place in Northern Ireland.  Among the advertisements in the weekly Lisburn Standard were the following:  Girls Training Corps holding a parade and display; Wallace High School entry requirements; Welcome & Christian Workers’ Union Mission Sunday School and Lisburn Variety Theatre with its Saturday Night Show.  The annual RVH ‘house to house’ collection went on as normal.

The Lisburn Standard was a weekly paper and the news relating to VE Day was written and published on Friday 11th May 1945.  The paper described the events from Monday 7th May – a radio broadcast warned the nation to ‘stand by’ for an important announcement to be broadcast at 4pm.  The locals listened to their radio sets at home and at work but no announcement came.

The local Urban District Council meeting took place that night.  At 7.45pm, the meeting was disturbed by a telephone call to Mr T H McConnell the Town Clerk.   The caller said that the Prime Minister, Mr Churchill would announce VE Day at 3pm the following day, Tuesday.  In addition, both Tuesday and Wednesday would be observed as general holidays.  The local ARP (Air Raid Precautions) Officer, Mr R H Gibson soon broadcast the news over loud-speakers in Market Square, where it was then spread by pedestrians all over the town.  Members of nursing, domestic and outdoor staff who were to work on the public holidays would be given two days double pay or two days holiday at a later date.

Although the official celebrations were to start the next day, the townspeople showed their relief and pleasure in no uncertain manner.  At 3pm, Mr Churchill’s broadcast was relayed around Market Square to an attentive crowd who cheered when it was finished.  An open-air religious service was held after the King made his speech. Streets were packed and crowds paraded up and down until the wee hours of Tuesday morning.  A squad of Belgian soldiers billeted in Lisburn marched to Dunmurry and then back to Knockmore, singing ‘Tipperary’ and other songs made popular in wartime.  They lighted an impromptu bonfire in Seymour Street, brought out a melodion and danced for hours.

By the next day, the town had been plentifully decorated and looked really well.  There were flags, bunting and decorations making the streets a riot of colour.  At night, fairy lights and the glow of bonfires added to the gaiety of the scene.  A few shop fronts were boarded up, but not many, with most shops displaying patriotic colours.  Messrs J C Patterson’s premises in Bow Street and the Picture House looked well with their fairy lights.  Other grounds and buildings attracted considerable attention and the effect was impressive.  Once again the celebrations lasted into the wee small hours.

After a break of a few hours, the celebrations continued into Wednesday evening.  Everyone was out, young and old, in gay attire.  The girls were in their light summer dresses for it was an ideal, warm summer day.  (The paper emphasised that it was now at liberty to describe the weather without regard to security).  Parties were numerous and animated.  In the streets, the people forgot their habitual reserve and sang, danced and made merry with one another as though they were all acquainted.  Bonfires burned.  Effigies of Adolf Hitler were burnt with zest.  Gramophone records were relayed over improvised loud-speaker systems.  Children were entertained by street groups.   There was no thought of bed in most people’s mind.  Anyone who tried got no sleep at all. Wednesday was more subdued, until the night came.  By then, most folk were thoroughly tired out.  There was talk of just having the task of ‘knocking-out Japan’.  No one could tell when VA Day (Victory in Asia Day) would come.

Celebrations weren’t just for Lisburn; Dunmurry went wild with joy.  Impromptu bands paraded on the Monday night through to Wednesday.  Mr Robert Green and a large team of local boys worked on a huge bonfire.  It was lit on the Tuesday night by Mrs Beattie J.P.  Again, an effigy of Hitler and his detested and discredited swastika perished in the flames.  Finaghy too, had its bonfire and a Hitler effigy burnt.

Following the declaration of peace, advertising changed in the following week’s Lisburn Standard.   The Belfast Savings Bank told of the ‘Dove of Peace’ spreading its wings.  A ‘Victory Queen’ contest was announced.  Christ Church was to hold a ‘Thanksgiving for Victory’ service and Railway Street Presbyterian Church would hold a ‘Thanksgiving and Dedication’ service.

Research – Gavin Bamford, Member, History Hub Ulster

Thanks also to Catherine Burrell, member History Hub Ulster and Lisburn Museum.

 

WW1 Centenary: The Catholic Young Citizens: Roman Catholic Ulstermen in the 36th (Ulster) Division

Rifleman James Dooley

Rifleman James Dooley

The enlistment registers of the 14th (Young Citizen Volunteer) Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles, shows that despite the loyalist narrative that has sprung up around the 36th Ulster Division, there were a number of men who described themselves as Roman Catholic enlisting in the battalion.

There were at least 88 Roman Catholics with addresses all over Ireland who enlisted in the Young Citizen Volunteer Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles, of which 42 were from Ulster.

These men included:

  • Foundry worker William Kerr from Whiterock who was killed in action aged 22, Alfred Wynne who died aged only 18 from the New Lodge and Robert Dennison of Lisburn who died just 4 weeks before the end of the war.
  • Two Roman Catholic RIC Sergeants lost their sons in the war, Crumlin Road Gaelic speaker Charles Blake died aged 24, while East Belfast’s Martin William Jennings died aged 21.
  • Roman Catholic brothers who served include the Rooney brothers. Kilkeel born and Short Strand reared, only one would return home; Peter Rooney was killed on the first day of the Somme aged only 20.  Widowed mother, Ernestine of Bangor was lucky to have both of her boys Raymond and Ernest Warnock home safe after the war despite one son being wounded.
  • James Davey Maxwell’s father was a Scots Presbyterian from Glasgow and his mother an English Catholic from Liverpool. Their Catholic son James was killed in action at The Battle of Langemarck, aged only 20.
  • Newly married Gaelic speaker, 18 year old John McKee from Armagh was killed in action in April 1918, his wife Cecelia placing on his gravestone ‘On His Soul Sweet Jesus Have Mercy’.
  • Marksman William McGarrell of Dromore died of his wounds aged 21 in the Dressing Station, his body buried in Duhallow Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery.
  • Ormeau lad James Magee served till the end of the war, being promoted to Lance Corporal. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal, both of which were marked as returned.
  • Another Ormeau boy to survive the war was 2nd Lieutenant James Redmond from Kimberly Street who served with both the YCV and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Rifleman Jack Flynn

Rifleman Jack Flynn

The 36th Ulster Division was made up of 107th, 108th, 109th Brigades, Divisional troops, mounted troops and artillery as well as Royal Engineers, Royal Army Medical Corps and other divisional troops.  These Brigades included Royal Irish Rifles, Royal Irish Fusiliers and Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

The 14th (YCV) Royal Irish Rifles was formed in Belfast in September 1914 from the Belfast Volunteers and came under orders of 109th Brigade in 36th (Ulster) Division. The battalion moved to Bundoran in December 1914 moving on to Randalstown in January 1915.  In July 1915 they were moved to Seaford and in October 1915 they landed at Boulogne. On 18 February 1918 the battalion was disbanded in France and personnel re-allocated to other battalions of Royal Irish Rifles.

The review of the 36th Ulster Division before they embarked for France occurred in May 1915. The Belfast Newsletter of 6th May noted under the headline Young Citizens Arrive in Belfast:

Rifleman W Kerr

Rifleman William Kerr

“The 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (Young Citizen Volunteers) left camp Randalstown yesterday morning, and marched via Crumlin to Belfast for the purpose of taking part in the review of the Ulster Division on Saturday. The men carried their rifles, packs, and entrenching tools, and notwithstanding the long distance they had covered – 22 miles – they appeared to be in excellent condition as they passed through the centre of the city at six o’clock in the evening on their way to the yard of Messrs. Davidson & Co. Ltd., Mountpottinger Road, where they piled arms and were dismissed.

Lieutenant-Colonel R. P. D. Spencer Chichester, the commanding officer, rode at the head of his men, and the battalion band played appropriate airs. A large number of spectators witnessed the progress of the men through the city. The battalion was accompanied by its cyclist, signalling, and ambulance detachments, as well as by its transport.

This evening the rank and file will be the guests of the officers at the Royal Hippodrome, and at six o’clock tomorrow evening they will attend a meeting in the Ulster Hall. On Sunday they will attend a Divine service in the Ulster Hall at 2:30 p.m., and at noon on Monday they will leave the city on the return march to Randalstown.”

As the Unionist Centenary Committee marks the centenary of the Review of the 36th Ulster Division with a Parade past the City Hall on Saturday 9th May, it must be remembered that the 36th Ulster Division was not only made up of Protestants. People across Ireland enlisted in the war effort for various reasons, and there were at least 88 Roman Catholics with addresses all over Ireland who enlisted in the Young Citizen Volunteers, of which 42 were from Ulster. At least 8 Roman Catholic Ulstermen in the YCV gave their lives with the Ulster Division.

Karen O’Rawe from History Hub Ulster said: “It is important that our commemorative activities acknowledge the true history of the men who served in the 36th (Ulster) Division.  The divergence between the real history of the 36th and the single minded commemoration which exists in our communities today needs to be recognised. A wholly unionist Protestant Division marching off to war is an imagined past and History Hub Ulster would like to use the opportunity of the Centenary to extend an invitation for others to tell their stories whether Catholic, Jewish or Quaker, or indeed those from other regions of Ireland and the UK who were drafted into the Ulster Division.”

Upon reading the research by History Hub Ulster, Jeffrey Donaldson, Chairman of the NI WW1 Centenary Committee commented: “The fact that a number of recruits to the YCV Battalion were Roman Catholic, albeit a small proportion, nevertheless challenges the perception of some unionists that this unit was exclusively Protestant and the perception of some nationalists that no Catholics would associate with the organisation.”

The 42 men are listed below:

Rifleman William Kerr of Forth River Gardens, Springfield Road, Belfast KIA

Rifleman James Dooley of Church View, Holywood KIA

Rifleman Charles J Blake of Crumlin Road, Belfast KIA

Corporal James Davy Maxwell of 136 Dunluce Avenue, Lisburn Road, Belfast KIA

Rifleman Robert Dennison of 71 Bridge Street, Lisburn KIA

Rifleman Patrick Hughes of Altcar Street, Belfast KIA

Lance Corporal William McGarrell of Lurgan Bane, Dromore KIA

Rifleman Martin William Jennings of 33 London Street, Belfast KIA

Rifleman John Campbell of Knockbarragh, Rostrevor

Rifleman James Magee of 45 Spruce Street, Belfast

Rifleman Alfred Wynne of 84 Lepper Street, Belfast

Rifleman John Flynn of 143 Dunluce Avenue, Belfast

Lance Corporal John McKee of Annacramp, Armagh

Rifleman Francis McNally of 20 Havana Street, Belfast

Lance Corporal John O’Brien of Bailieborough, Cavan

2nd Lieutenant James Redmond of 80 Kimberly Street, Belfast

Rifleman Peter Rooney of 43 Kilmood Street, Belfast

Rifleman Thomas Rooney of 43 Kilmood Street, Belfast

Rifleman Raymond D Warnock of 54 Ballyholme Road, Bangor

Corporal Ernest J Warnock of 54 Ballyholme Road, Bangor

Rifleman H Bryan of 24 Kingston Street, Belfast

Rifleman P Brownlee of 25 Belgrave Street, Belfast

Rifleman F Girvan of 3 Mary Place, Whitehouse, Belfast

Rifleman Thomas Hall of Ballylueas, Downpatrick

Rifleman E Russell of Tullymore, Newcastle

Rifleman W. J. Smith of 105 Albert Street, Belfast

Rifleman T Tumelty of 13 Sheriff Street, Belfast

Rifleman P Vallelly of Stanhope Street, Belfast

Rifleman F Kunan of 148 Ravenhill Road, Belfast

Rifleman William Loughran of 16 Marys Street, Belfast

Rifleman E Robinson of Magheralin, Lurgan

Rifleman P Rodgers of 5 Sunwick Street, Belfast

Rifleman Hugh Magee of Carrycowan, Martinstown

Rifleman J Macklin of 22 Valentine Street, Belfast

Rifleman T Murphy of 17 Parkview Street, Belfast

Rifleman A McVeigh of 28 Croft Road, Carnlough

Rifleman H McNamara of Ballynahinch Street, Hillsborough

Rifleman J McMullen of 23 Sherwood Street, Belfast

Rifleman J McLaughlin of 71 Derwent Street, Belfast

Rifleman E McGreevy of Ballyalton, Downpatrick

Rifleman M Quinn of Levanmore, Newry

Lance Corporal T Dogherty of Sappagh Muff, Donegal

 

Research: Karen O’Rawe, Chair, History Hub Ulster

Pictures: Nigel Henderson, Member, History Hub Ulster

With thanks to John McCormick

History Hub Ulster is a research group based in Belfast, but working on projects across Ulster

 

 

‘Last Post’ Gallipoli Commemoration – Ulster Folk Museum

You are welcome to our ‘Last Post’ Gallipoli Commemoration event being held on Sunday, 26th April 2015 at 2pm at the Northern Banking Company exhibit within the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra.

invite with logo FINAL

We will be commemorating four bank officials from the Northern Banking Company who volunteered and enlisted to serve during the Great War.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Thomas W Cooper was an Englishman and joined Northern Bank in 1904 as a bank porter.  He was working in Grafton Street branch, Dublin when he enlisted into the 5th Bn. Royal Irish Regiment (10th Irish Division).  Thomas saw service in Gallipoli, the landing at Suvla Bay and in the Salonika campaign before transferring to the Western Front.  He was demobilised in April 1919 and was awarded the Star, the British War Medal and the British Victory Medal.

Private Charles Kevin Fitzsimons was born on 9th November 1890.  His family was from Newry and were of Roman Catholic faith.  Kevin joined Northern Bank in 1909 at Head Office, Belfast.  Transfers followed to Mohill, Ballycastle and Shercock.  In October 1914, whilst based in Shercock branch, Kevin enlisted into the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Private.  He served with the British Expeditionary Force in France and saw further action during the Suvla Bay Landings at Gallipoli and in Salonika.  Later he transferred to the 2nd Bn. Royal Irish Fusiliers, which had joined the 10th Irish Division in November 1916, and further action was seen in the Salonika (Struma Valley) and Palestine (Gaza and Nablus) campaigns before being demobilised in April 1919.  Fitzsimons was awarded the Star, the British War Medal and the British Victory Medal.  Following demobilisation, he rejoined the Northern Bank in early 1919 at Shercock.  Transfers followed to Ballycastle and then back in charge of Shercock.  Further transfers followed with Dowra, Shercock, Skerries, Head Office, Oldcastle and Head Office.  He died in 1953 aged 62.

Lieutenant Thomas Richard Jenkins was born in Oldcastle on 5th December 1893.  He was the son of Thomas F Jenkins and Mary E Jenkins who were of Church of Ireland faith.  In 1911 whilst living in Moylagh, Co. Meath, Thomas joined Northern Bank, Head Office.   Transfers followed with Dromore, Bailieborough and Ball’s Branch, Dublin.  In October 1914, whilst he was working in Ball’s Branch, Thomas volunteered and enlisted into the Royal Dublin Fusiliers (10th Irish Division) as a Private.   Jenkins saw action at Suvla Bay in the Gallipoli campaign and in the subsequent campaign against the Bulgarians in Salonika.  Promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in 1917 with the Durham Light Infantry and later promoted to Lieutenant in early 1919.   In early 1919, Jenkins transferred to the Military Accountancy Department, India.  Demobilisation came in December 1919.  He was awarded the Star, the British War Medal and the British Victory Medal.  Following demobilisation, Jenkins rejoined the Northern Bank in January 1920 at Head Office.  Transfers followed to Ball’s Branch, Dublin, Head Office and back to Ball’s Branch, Dublin.  Jenkins left the bank in 1926.

Private William Frederick Alexander Mathews was born in Dublin in 1893 and was the son of Marcus Beresford Mathews and Mrs Annie Mathews.  Marcus Mathews was a bank manager and with his family lived in Henry Street, Dublin.   The family were of Church of Ireland faith.  In 1910, William joined Northern Bank at Ball’s branch, Dublin.  The following year the family moved to Northern Bank House, Grafton Street, Dublin.  In early 1914 William was transferred to Head Office in Belfast.  After the outbreak of war, William volunteered and enlisted into the 7th Bn. Royal Dublin Fusiliers (10th Irish Division) as a Private.  He fought in battles at Suvla Bay Landing and Chocolate Hill before being killed in action on 13th September 1915 aged 21.  William was awarded the Star, the British War Medal and the British Victory Medal.  He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey.

Research by History Hub Ulster Treasurer Gavin Bamford

 

 

 

WW1 Centenary: Social Media reunites Great War Silver War Badge with Belfast soldier’s family

History Hub Ulster member, Nigel Henderson, has been successful in re-uniting a lost Great War Silver War Badge with a living relative of the North Belfast soldier to whom it was awarded. The Silver War Badge was issued to men who were discharged from military service due to war-related injuries or illness. The recipients were required wear the badge on the right lapel to show that they had “done their bit” and would not be regarded as shirkers.

HHU's Gavin Bamford and Limerick RBL's Brian Duffy

HHU’s Gavin Bamford and Limerick RBL’s Brian Duffy

Albert Edward Baxter was born around 1884 or 1885 to James Baxter and Agnes Baxter and the family lived at various addresses, Midland Street (Woodvale), Argyle Street (Woodvale), Byron Street (Oldpark) and Harkness Parade (Sydenham).

He enlisted into the Royal Engineers (Service Number 57649, 121st Field Company) on 28/11/1914 within four months of war being declared and, after training, was posted to France with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on 04/10/1915, where he stayed for just over 1 year. His next posting was back to the Home Service until he was discharged on 24/12/1917 with an unspecified sickness, being awarded Silver War Badge number 295512. Home Service suited Albert, a tailor by trade, as he met Margaret McFarlane and they married on 08/07/1907 in St Anne’s Church, Belfast. Albert died on 16/02/1960 aged 75 and his widow, Margaret, died a couple of months later on 05/04/1960 aged 74. They are both buried in Roselawn.

In early 2014, Brian Duffy, Secretary of the Limerick Branch of the Royal British Legion, discovered the Silver War Badge on a militaria stall in the St George’s Street Arcade in Dublin. Realising the badge had been issued to a Belfast man who had served in the Royal Engineers just as his own Dublin grandfather had, he secured it in the hope of reuniting it with the Baxter family.

Silver War BadgeBrian said, “I was browsing in the hope of finding my own grand-fathers lost medals but seeing this badge’s local connection, I believed that it could and should be reunited with Albert Baxter’s family. It was an act of Remembrance really and I posted an appeal on the Facebook page that I administer for the Limerick Branch of the Royal British Legion. Our Belfast following is quite strong and I was confident someone there would be able to help”.Pop in Shop Belfast

History Hub Ulster’s Nigel Henderson, a local Great War researcher, picked up on the post and, having done some additional local research, identified the date on which Albert Baxter died and the names other members of Albert’s family from the death notices in the Belfast newspapers. Nigel posted a request appealing for relatives to come forward on the Belfast Forum and a response was received from Garry Young of Ballybeen in January 2015.
Garry, whose father served with the Royal Ulster Rifles and whose grandfather died with the King’s Royal Rifle Corp during the Dunkirk evacuation, said,

“I knew that my great grand-father was in the Great War, but I did not have any other details. It is fantastic to have this piece of my family history and I am truly grateful to Brian and Nigel for making it possible.”

Unfortunately, Garry Young was too unwell to meet Brian himself and his grandfather’s Silver War Badge was accepted on his behalf by History Hub Ulster’s Gavin Bamford.

Photos: Nigel Henderson

Personal account of HMS Maidstone escape

Personal account of Republican internees escape from HMS Maidstone on 17 Jan 1972

History Hub Ulster recently interviewed Tom, a former Royal Navy Stoker from Bangor, who served on HMS Hartland Point in the early 1970s.  Here’s his account:

HMS Hartland Point

HMS Hartland Point

 “The Hartland Point was brought to Belfast and originally moored ahead of the Maidstone.  Before Harland Point’s arrival, prisoners, sailors and prison officers were all accommodated on the Maidstone which was not ideal.  In 1972 the decision was taken to move Hartland Point around to the stern of Maidstone.  Maidstone was to have her stern cut open, and Hartland Point her bow, to enable a gangway to be connected between the two.  This would afford the prison officers quick access on to the Maidstone when required.”

“As an electrical engineer, my duties were mainly maintenance.  Prisoners bunk lights would often fail.  When they reported it, it was my job to fix it.  I would be escorted by a prison officer onto the Maidstone and in to the prisoners’ accommodation.  It was quite scary at times!”

Tom was serving on board Hartland Point on 17th January 1972 when seven Republican prisoners escaped:

“Hartland Point had mooring cables connected from her stern to the bows of Maidstone.  When she was moved, the cables on Maidstone’s bows were left dangling.  Prisoners spotted the cables dangling outside the scuttles (portholes) and saw the opportunity to escape.  During the night, they managed to pull the ropes in to the scuttles and climb out on to them.  They used the ropes to swing themselves out to a point where they could get through the barbed wire, and descended into the icy cold water to make their escape.”

These men were referred to as ‘The Magnificent Seven’.  Their side of the story can be found at http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/16314 (copied below):

HMS Maidstone in Belfast

HMS Maidstone in Belfast

The Magnificent Seven

BY ARAN FOLEY

This week 35 years ago, on 17 January 1972, seven republican internees escaped from the British prison ship, HMS Maidstone, moored at the coal wharf in Belfast docks, and swam to freedom. They achieved fame in news headlines across the world as ‘The Magnificent Seven’.

Originally a Royal Navy submarine depot ship, the Maidstone was used as an emergency billet for British troops. After the introduction of internment, though, of the original 226 people detained, 122 were held in the Maidstone in the most cramped and inhumane of conditions where opportunities for even the most basic of needs such as exercise were virtually non-existent. Gerry Adams was held there for a brief time.

Some of the internees had been planning an escape and the transfer of 50 internees to the new internment camp at Magilligan the day before meant they had to urgently push forward their plan.

The men — Jim Bryson, Tommy Tolan, Thomas Kane, Martin Taylor, Tommy Gorman, Peter Rodgers and Seán Convery — had noticed a seal swimming through the ring of barbed wire which surrounded the ship. The prisoners reasoned that the gap was also sufficient to allow a human through. They had also been tossing tin cans overboard to monitor the movements of the tide.

On the night of 16 January, the conditions were judged right and the escape bid was ready to go. The nervous tension was exacerbated by a late head-count of internees by guards, causing an unexpected delay of 20 minutes which was to almost scupper the escape’s success. The head-count over, the escape went ahead behind schedule.

In a scene reminiscent of a Second World War POW movie, the men camouflaged themselves with boot polish and covered themselves in butter to insulate themselves from the cold waters they would have to swim through if they were to make it to freedom. Cutting through a steel bar in a porthole, they clambered down the ship’s steel cable.

It took them 20 minutes to swim through the bitingly cold water. Several of the men who couldn’t swim had to be helped by their comrades. Despite this, and serious injuries inflicted by the barbed wire, all seven men made it ashore otherwise unscathed. The problem was that they had landed 500 yards down from the agreed rendezvous point with units of the IRA’s Belfast Brigade, waiting to take them to safe houses.

By the time the escapees had made it to the original meeting point, their comrades had left, believing that the non-appearance of the Maidstone men meant that the escape had been aborted.

This forced the escapees, cold and dripping wet, to improvise.

They commandeered a bus at Queens Road Terminus and drove across the city themselves. Peter Rodgers (clad only in his underpants!) approached a bus driver and asked him for a loan of his overcoat, explaining to the somewhat startled driver, and in something approaching the truth, that he had fallen in to the water. The driver handed over his coat and then set off on his route. On his return at 6.30pm he left the bus. The seven men clambered aboard. Rodgers, who had been a bus driver himself, took the wheel and off they sped. Reaction from the security men at the main gate was minimal, which is probably explainable by the fact that it was not every day they were confronted by the spectacle of a bus full of semi-naked men speeding out the gates.

During the journey they were spotted by a British Army patrol but upon entering the staunchly republican area of the Markets the patrol refused to follow them any further for fear of an ambush. Before British troops could surround the area, the men had been spirited away to different parts of Belfast and the British search was in vain.

Hours later, sitting in a drinking club, the escapees were much amused – as indeed were most of the country – by the appearance of one Colonel Tony Budd of the Royal Horse Artillery appearing on the TV news to assure them that all was in order. But everything wasn’t in order – the Magnificent Seven were out.

The Magnificent Seven escaped from the British prison ship, HMS Maidstone 35 years ago.

WW1 Centenary: Ulstermen killed at the Battle of La Bassee

WW1 Centenary: Ulster men killed at the Battle of La Bassée.

By 22nd October 1914, the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles had been at the front in France for 70 days. In that time, they had suffered 94 fatalities. In the following five days they were to lose nearly exactly double that figure – 186, in the vicinity of a northern French village which was to become the scene of a vicious set piece battle in the spring of 1915 – Neuve Chapelle.

Amongst the rank and file who fell in this period of savage fighting were three men from West Belfast.

Private Patrick Bannon

Private Patrick Bannon

First to die on 25 October 1914 was 24-year-old Private Patrick Bannon. Patrick was the eldest son of Peter and Mary Bannon, who were originally from Cork, Patrick himself was born in Monaghan. Both parents worked in the flax mills and the family lived at Milton Street in the lower Falls area. Patrick had been with the battalion in France since their arrival on 14 August and had seen much action in that time. In common with the two other West Belfast men highlighted, Patrick has no known grave and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial to the Missing.

Private Robert James Foley

Private Robert James Foley

 

The following day, on 26 October 1914, 29-year-old Private Robert James Foley was killed. He was the son of Patrick and Mary Ellen Foley who at the time of his death resided at 59 Servia Street with Patrick’s sister Maggie who worked in a linen mill. In 1911, the family resided a short distance away in Plevna Street. Patrick had been at the front for just over two months before his death.

On 27 October 1914, 36- year-old Private Joseph Lavery was killed. A veteran of the South African

Private Joseph Lavery

Private Joseph Lavery

War, he received the South Africa medal with clasps for service at Cape Colony, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. Returning to civilian life, he worked as a dock labourer before re-enlisting on the outbreak of war. In 1911 his home was recorded at Johnston’s Court off Durham street, where he resided with his wife, Catherine and his daughters Catherine and Mary – both under six years old when their father was killed. The family had also lived at Bank Street and Berry Street, close to the city centre. Private Lavery had been at the front for only six weeks before his death.

Of the five officers who died, two had connections to North Down, and Campbell College.

Lieutenant Vivian Trevor Tighe Rea

Lieutenant Vivian Trevor Tighe Rea

Lieutenant Vivian Trevor Tighe Rea, was born in Mendoza, Argentina in August of 1891. An only son, his father was a steamship broker and the Vice Consul in Belfast for the Netherlands and Argentina. He was educated at Campbell College Belfast from 1905-1908, where he held a scholarship before going to Queens University, and then Trinity College Dublin where he studied for the Church. In a change of career he enlisted in the Royal Irish Rifles attaining the rank of Lieutenant in 1913. On 25 October 1914, Lt Rea was severely wounded in the front line. He was removed to a Chateau behind the lines where the Battalion medical facilities were, but succumbed to his wounds. He was buried in the grounds of the chateau, but that same night the Germans heavily shelled the area setting the chateau on fire and destroying it. His remains were exhumed and identified in 1921, and re-buried in the Guards Cemetery (Windy Corner) Cuinchy a short distance from Neuve Chapelle. His father arranged for his headstone to bear the inscription, ‘I have fought the good fight.’ In a very busy life cut short, Lt Rea was also a leading light in the nascent Boy Scouts movement, being scoutmaster of the Bangor Troop and Honorary Secretary of the Ulster Scout Council. In a mark of appreciation a stained glass memorial window was erected in his memory at St Comgall’s Church of Ireland, Bangor.

Captain Henry Ousely Davis

Captain Henry Ousely Davis

Another Old Campbellian to fall two days after Lieutenant Rea on 27th October 1914 was Captain Henry Ousely Davis. Born at Church Road, Holywood in September 1884, he was the eldest son of Henry and Mary Davis. He initially attended Portora Royal School Enniskillen before moving to Campbell College in 1901. He remained there until 1903 and played rugby for the school First XV. He entered Sandhurst in 1903 and was commissioned into the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in 1905. He resigned his commission in 1910 and appears to have become heavily involved with the UVF, becoming a member of its Headquarters Staff. In that capacity early in 1914 he approached Campbell College asking if its facilities could be used as a hospital in the event of civil war. At the outbreak of the First World War he re-enlisted in the Royal Irish Rifles. Captain Davis was killed by shrapnel on 27 October 1914, and in the confusion of battle his body was never recovered. In 1921, his family received correspondence from the Imperial War Graves Commission asking for a description of Henry as they intended to open a grave to try and obtain and identification. Sir Edward Carson became involved in the matter, but no positive identification was ever made. Captain Henry Ousely Davis is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial to the Missing, on a plaque in Holywood Parish Church, St Philip and St James.

Both men are commemorated on both the Campbell College Roll of Honour and the North of Ireland Football Club Roll of Honour.

Battalion Background

The 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles came into being following the reorganisation of the British Army in 1881. The amalgamation of two historic regiments – the 83rd (County of Dublin) and the 86th (Royal County Down) Regiments of Foot, formed one of many two battalion Regiments in the army – the 1st and 2nd Battalions Royal Irish Rifles. The regimental depot was located in Belfast at Victoria barracks which stood where the New Lodge is now. The main barracks entrance was at Henry Place which still joins with Clifton Street.  At the outbreak of the First World War, neither battalion had spent any meaningful time in Belfast since their formation, globetrotting being the norm with the 1st Battalion posted to South Africa, India, Burma and Aden, and the 2nd Battalion spending time in Bermuda, Canada, Gibraltar, Egypt, Malta and India as well as South Africa for the war at the turn of the century. When war was declared however, they were in the less glamorous surroundings of Tidworth in Wiltshire.  Well below their active service strength of 1,000, the 2nd Battalion received 224 reservists from the depot in Belfast before embarking for France as part of 7 Brigade, 3rd Division of the British Expeditionary Force, arriving at Rouen around teatime on 14 August 1914.

Outline of the Battle of La Bassée

The Battalion was involved in the first battle of the war at Mons on 23 August and then at Le Cateau on 26 August. Then began the long strategic retreat which confused many of the Rifles, as they had given such a good account of themselves against the best the German army could throw at them. The Battle of the Aisne in mid-September again saw the battalion on the offensive, and following this they spent a short period in rest billets before marching and being transported to Neuve Chapelle, arriving on the morning of 22nd October. At this time, both the allies and the Germans were ‘jockeying for position’, as what had been relatively open warfare slowly but surely ground to a halt. In the north Flanders plain, the Germans had control of the small town of La Bassee and the strategically important but geographically insignificant Aubers Ridge, (it rose to only 20 metres at its highest). The British forces were clustered round the lower lying marshy ground around Neuve Chapelle. On arrival, the Rifles set about trying to strengthen their position but were not granted that luxury by the Germans, and what followed was warfare in its most raw state with vicious attack and counterattack involving hand to hand fighting, and extensive use of the bayonet, all done under constant shelling by the Germans and what has become known as ‘friendly fire’ incidents involving British Artillery. Initially things went well for the Rifles. A German attack on 23 October was ruthlessly repulsed as an account by Corporal Lucy, a native of Cork, who went on to become a Lieutenant Colonel indicates:

“We let them have it. We blasted and blew them to death. They fell in scores, in hundreds, the marching column wilting under our rapid fire.”

Severe German shelling from heavy artillery took place throughout 24 October, and the German Infantry attack renewed in the evening which led to hand to hand fighting and close quarter bayonet work. This attack was also repulsed with heavy casualties on both sides. Such was the ferocity of the fighting that the Corps Commander, General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien issued the following order on 25 October:

“During an attack by the enemy on the 7th Infantry Brigade last night, the enemy came to close quarters with the Royal Irish Rifles, who repulsed them with great gallantry with the bayonet and made several prisoners. The Corps Commander wishes to compliment the regiment on its splendid feat, and directs that all battalions of the corps shall be informed of the circumstances and of his high appreciation of the gallantry displayed.”

The morning of 25 October saw another attack by the Germans which breached the Rifles defences for a time until reinforcements from the battalion were able to force them out, again sustaining many casualties. More galling for the Rifles was the fact that they came under heavy shelling by British artillery which took some time to stop as it was impossible to communicate with the gunners due to the telephone wires being cut. On 26 October, the Germans broke through the Rifles line in a massed attack and two Companies, B and D simply disappeared, either killed or captured. The remaining exhausted Rifles, dwindling in number managed to rally and once more force the Germans back, but on 27 October were forced due to overwhelming enemy numbers and firepower to withdraw to the village of Neuve Chapelle itself.

Research by History Hub Ulster Associate Member Michael Nugent.

Michael Nugent has recently launched a new research website for families hoping to find out more about their World War One ancestors at http://ww1researchireland.com/

Pictures courtesy of Nigel Henderson at http://www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com

La Bassee men

 

HMS HAWKE Centenary: Heartbreaking stories of fathers-to-be who would never see their newborn children.

The sinking of HMS HAWKE: One of the greatest single losses of Royal Navy sailors from Ulster with 49 Ulstermen lost to just one U-boat

During the week when the Royal Navy traditionally remembers the Immortal Memory of Admiral Nelson and his final victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, it is worth pausing to reflect on the centenary of a naval incident that had a significant impact on so many Ulster families, the sinking of HMS Hawke. One of the greatest single losses of Royal Navy sailors from Ulster, this incident occurred on the 15th October 1914 when the German Submarine U-9 which was patrolling the North Sea came across two British Cruisers HMS Hawke and her sister ship HMS Theseus.

HMS_HawkeUnder the command of German hero Commander Weddigen, U-9 fired on the British ships. This was the same German submarine which had caused the deaths of almost 1500 British seamen only 3 weeks earlier with the torpedoing of the ‘Livebait Squadron’. The submarine’s first torpedo hit HMS Hawke, igniting a magazine and causing a tremendous explosion which ripped much of the ship apart. Hawke sank in a few minutes with the loss of her Commander and 523 men. Only 74 men were saved.

Sailors from Ulster lost on Hawke included the tragic loss of three fathers-to-be, leaving pregnant wives to fend for themselves throughout the difficult war years.

-Leading Stoker Joyce Power left young twins and a pregnant wife in Ballymena. His daughter Margaret Hawke Power named after the ship he was killed on.

-Also drowned was Able Seaman Albert Patterson Wilson whose first daughter Frances was born only 4 weeks later on 14 November.

-Mariette Isabella Donald was born at the end of 1914, her father Martie Donald not returning to Carrickfergus to meet his newborn daughter.

-The Gorman siblings from Clifton Park in Belfast lost one brother, Charles on HMS Pathfinder in September only to hear of the death of another brother, Able Seaman James Toland Gorman, only one month later on HMS Hawke.

-Sullatober Flute band from Carrickfergus who lost one of their players Henry McMurran on HMS Cressy just 3 weeks before, suffered yet another tragedy with the loss of another member, Stoker (1st class) Andrew McAllister.

-Another loss for Ulster was Lieutenant Commander Ruric Henry Waring, the first of the sons of Colonel Thomas Waring JP of Waringstown to be killed. Ruric’s younger brother Major Holt Waring would be killed in 1918 at the Front.

In August 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, Hawke was part of the 10th Cruiser Squadron, operating on blockade duties between the Shetland Islands and Norway. In October 1914, the 10th Cruiser Squadron was deployed further south in the North Sea as part of efforts to stop German warships from attacking a troop convoy from Canada. On 15 October, the squadron was on patrol off Aberdeen and HMS Hawke stopped at 0930 to pick up mail from her sister ship HMS Endymion. Hawke proceeded to return to her station without zig-zagging to avoid danger, and was out of sight of the rest of the Squadron when a single torpedo from U-9 struck Hawke and she quickly capsized. The remainder of the Squadron only realised something was wrong when, after a further, unsuccessful attack on Theseus, they were ordered to retreat and no response was received from Hawke. The destroyer Swift was dispatched from Scapa Flow to search for Hawke and found a raft carrying 22 men, while a boat with a further 49 survivors was rescued by a Norwegian steamer.

524 men drowned, including the ship’s Captain, Hugh P. E. T. Williams, and 49 Ulstermen. Only 74 men were saved, of which 6 were from Ulster.

A surviving Stoker explained:
‘Those on deck for an instant immediately after the explosion saw the periscope of a submarine which showed above the water like a broomstick. The Hawke was holed above the engine room and commenced to cant over to starboard with alarming rapidity. Her plates were twisted and torn and a huge gap was rent in her side. An attempt to man the guns was made but owing to the extra acute list of the vessel it was found impossible to train them on the submerged craft. The horror of the situation was added to when a tank of oil fuel caught fire and the flames advanced with fatal rapidity. Seeing there was not the ghost of a chance of doing any good by remaining in what was obviously a death trap I determined to make a dash for it. I scrambled precipitately up the iron ladder to the main deck. All this had happened in less time than it takes to tell.’

He continued:
‘But such is British pluck and coolness of nerve even in the face of such a situation that already after the initial shock the Captain, Commander and a midshipman were on the bridge and calmly on the fleet manoeuvre in the Solent, orders were given out and calmly obeyed. The bugler sounded the ‘Still’ call which called upon every man to remain at the post in which the call reached him. Apparently during the first minute or two, the belief was entertained that all that was wrong was the boiler explosion, but the rapidity with which the cruiser was making water on her starboard side rudely and quickly disputed all minds of this belief.’

Another survivor explained that:
‘The Captain, Commander and the midshipman had stuck bravely to their posts on the bridge to the last, and were seen to disappear and the ship finally plunged bow first amidst a maelstrom of cruel, swirling waters’

One survivor when interviewed pointed out that:
‘the crew for the most part were Irishmen, the reason being that at the outbreak of war the Hawke which was one of the oldest ships of the British Navy, was stationed at Queenstown… there were only around 24 active servicemen on board, the remainder being fleet reservists’

None of these men’s bodies was recovered for burial, most remaining where they drowned. The centenary of the sinking of HMS Hawke and the tragic loss of so many men of Ulster will be remembered at the Royal Navy’s annual Trafalgar Day Service in Belfast on 19th October 2014.

Ulstermen known to have died on HMS Hawke are:

Stoker (1st class) Nathaniel Agnew, born Belfast

Able Seaman Robert Algie, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) David Bell, born Ballymena

Stoker (1st class) George Jackson Campbell, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) John Chisim, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) Hugh Patrick Cormican, born Belfast

Able Seaman Hugh Crawford, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) Robert Creighton, born Larne

Stoker (1st class) James Dickey, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) Mariott (Martie) Robert D Donald, born Carrickfergus

Petty Officer (1st class) William James Elkin, born Coleraine

Stoker (1st class) Samuel Fee, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) William John Gillespie, born Lisburn

Able Seaman James Toland Gorman, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) William Greer, born Ballybay, Monaghan

Stoker (1st class) Robert John Hamilton, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) William James Harper, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) Robert Hunter, born Belfast

Able Seaman William Johnston, born Carrickfergus

Stoker (1st class) Isaac Lewis, lived Belfast

Stoker (1st class) Andrew McAllister, born Carrickfergus

Able Seaman David McCaugherty, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) Hugh McComb, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) William McFarlane

Stoker (1st class) James McNally, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) John Mills, born Belfast

Chief Petty Officer Charles Molloy, born Drumragh, Tyrone

Stoker (1st class) Edward Mullen, born Belfast

Able Seaman William James Ross, born Belfast

Leading Stoker Joyce Power, born Ballymena

Stoker (1st class) Thomas Henry Sefton, lived Belfast

Stoker (1st class) John Smyth, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) Archer Thompson, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) David Tully

Stoker (1st class) Charles Edward Uprichard, born Lurgan

Stoker (1st class) Henry Wasson, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) James Wilson, born Newry

Able Seaman Albert Patterson Wilson, lived Belfast

Stoker (1st class) John Yates, born Belfast

Boy (1st class) Clare Robert Adams, born Enniskillen

Stoker (1st class) William Clarke, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) Edward Crossin, born Belfast

Able Seaman John Thomas Gibson Dawson, born Belfast

Able Seaman James Charles Gamble, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) Daniel Laverty, born Belfast

Stoker (1st class) Alexander Mairs, born Ballymena

Leading Stoker Patrick McEvoy, born Dechomet, Banbridge

Stoker (1st class) Hugh McGinley, born Inch Island, Donegal

Lieutenant Commander Ruric Henry Waring, born Waringstown

*Research by Karen O’Rawe, Chair History Hub Ulster and William Hull, Research Assistant, Now Project.

*Three years before, on 20 September 1911, Hawke, under command of Commander W. F. Blunt, collided in the Solent with the White Star liner RMS Olympic. In the course of the collision, Hawke lost her bow. The subsequent trial pronounced Hawke to be free from any blame. During the trial, a theory was advanced that the large amount of water displaced by the Olympic had generated a suction that had drawn Hawke off course. The decision of the first court to try the case provoked a series of legal appeals.

*There were 6 known Ulster men who survived the tragedy. These were: Charles Trainer from Derry, JA Allen from Belfast, Thomas H Doyle from Belfast, Thomas Hoy from Larne, John Aitken, from Belfast and James O’Neill, from Belfast.

*Newspaper photographs courtesy of History Hub Ulster member, Nigel Henderson at http://www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com

History Hub Ulster is a research group based in Belfast, but working on projects across Ulster.

 

 

Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers baptism of fire at Le Cateau

Exactly 100 years ago, the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers had a ferocious baptism of fire near the small town of Le Cateau in Northern France. Thirty six men were killed, twenty four of them from Ulster, two of them teenagers from East Belfast. 19 year olds Private John McKean Simms and Private Samuel Hoy lived only a few streets away from each other and died together in battle.

Three weeks earlier, the Inniskillings had been performing guard duty at Dover Castle but now, made up to active service strength with drafts of reservists, they found themselves in the front line only two days after arriving in France.  Their position was on the very left of the British line, facing overwhelming odds from a buoyant German army.  Trenches as we think of them now did not exist then, and the soldiers had to make do with what cover existed or could be hastily created.

The German Army pressed the retreating British and French armies following the battle of Mons on 23rd August.  However, General Horace Smith-Dorrien, the Corps Commander ordered his troops to stand and fight at Le Cateau, as he believed a continued retreat would have led to a rout.

The attack began before dawn with a move by the German Jagers, to encircle the Inniskillings but they were driven back by accurate rifle fire. This set a pattern for the rest of the day, until an organised withdrawal was arranged.

Private John McKean SimmsBy the end of the day, the Inniskillings had lost thirty-six men killed, and many more wounded.

Nine of those killed were from the greater Belfast area, including two Belfast teenagers.

Private John McKean Simms, 19 years old, was born in Carrickfergus. He came from a large family of ten brothers and sisters.  His father Robert was a cattle dealer and at the outbreak of war, the family was living at 58 Portallo Street, Belfast.  A message boy before enlisting, John was posted as missing after the battle, but his body was subsequently recovered and he was buried near where he fell in Esnes Communal Cemetery alongside seven of his comrades.  John is commemorated on both the Cregagh Presbyterian Church and Strand-Sydenham Presbyterian Church Roll of Honour. Two of his brothers also served in the Great War. Thomas Simms had enlisted with Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers but was discharged as being under-age. He later served with Machine Gun Corps, achieving the rank of Sergeant and being awarded the Military Medal in 1918 whilst serving with MGC as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. Robert James Simms served as a Shipwright with the Royal Navy.Private Samuel Hoy

A few streets away in Belfast at 82 Newcastle Street off the Newtownards Road was home to 19 year old Private Samuel Hoy. The eldest son of Samuel and Margaret Hoy, prior to the war he had followed his father’s trade as a carpenter.  Samuel’s body, like the majority of those of his comrades killed that day, was never recovered and he is commemorated on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial to the Missing.  He is also commemorated on the Westbourne Presbyterian Church Roll Of Honour.  Eight years after his death in 1922, Samuel’s mother received his medals.

An official communique published in the Belfast News Letter on 31 August stated:

“The battle on this day 26th August was of the most severe and desperate character. The troops offered a superb and most stubborn resistance to the tremendous odds with which they were confronted, and at length extricated themselves in good order, though with serious losses and under the heaviest artillery fire.”

A number of John and Samuel’s brothers-in-arms who died that day were not much older at only 20 and 21 years old. The 36 men killed that day were the first soldiers from the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers to be killed on active service in the Great War.

The 24 men from Ulster killed on 26 August were:

Private William Robert Elliott, Holywood, Co. Down

Private James Smyth, Louisa St, Belfast

L/Corporal Robert McCorkell, Clonleigh, Co. Donegal

Private Thomas Murray, Antrim

Private Charles O’Donnell, Glendermott, Co. Londonderry

Private John Rafferty, Butler St, Belfast

Private Samuel Ritchie, Manderson St, Belfast

Private William Ruddy, Ardgowan St, Belfast

Private Robert Scott, Seapatrick, Co. Down

Private Francis Joseph Quinn, Cappagh, Co. Tyrone

Private James Templeton, Cupar St, Belfast

Private William Warnock, Richmond St, Belfast

Serjeant Thomas Wilkinson, Cappagh, Co. Tyrone

Corporal George Ayer, Doagh, Co. Antrim

Private Robert Falls, Cookstown, Co.Tyrone

Private James Carr, Downpatrick, Co. Down

Private James Browne, Hillview St, Belfast

Private William Harvey, Convention St, Belfast

Private George Henning, Bessbrook, Co. Armagh

Private William Nixon, Portadown, Co. Armagh

Private Thomas Donnelly, Belfast

L/Corporal Joseph Willey, Christopher St, Belfast

History: The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers have a long and proud history and attachment with Ireland. The origins of the Regiment can be traced back to 1688 when citizens of Enniskillen organised to defend the town against the forces of King James. They were incorporated into the British army as the 27th Regiment of foot and fought with distinction at Waterloo. In 1881, as part of Army reforms, the 27th became the 1st and 2nd Battalions Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Three further battalions, 3rd, 4th and 5th became militia or reserve battalions.

Battles Fought: In addition to le Cateau, the 2nd Inniskillings fought at the battles of Marne and the Aisne in 1914, at Festubert in 1915, the Somme in 1916 and at St Quentin during the German spring offensive of 1918.  At le Cateau, the Inniskillings had a battle strength of around 1,000 officers and men. In addition to the thirty-six killed, many more were wounded and a number taken prisoner.

Research completed by Michael Nugent, Associate Member of History Hub Ulster http://historyhubulster.co.uk

Michael Nugent has recently launched a new research website for families hoping to find out more about their World War One ancestors at http://ww1researchireland.com

Pictures courtesy of History Hub Ulster Member, Nigel Henderson at http://www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com