A MUDDY GRAVE IN FLANDERS

By Des Blackadder (Editor)

CASUALTIES for the Ulster Division between August 2 and 15 (killed wounded and missing) were 70 officers and 1500 other ranks; On 16-18 August the figures were 74 officers and 1941 other ranks. In little over two weeks the total casualties were 3,585.

A great many men from the Ballymena area were counted among this number.

For the first time since 1917 when the original casulaty reports were first received, we can give details of those men.

Lance Corporal James Rea

Intimation has been received by Mr. Matthew Rea, Carnalbana, in a letter from the front, that his son, L/cpl. James Rea, Royal Irish Rifles (8th Btn) has been killed in action. Deceased enlisted from Renfrew, Scotland, two years ago, where he was employed and had been about nine months at the front.

Ballymena Observer, August 17, 1917

Rifleman Thomas Taggart

Information has been received by Mrs. Taggart, who resides at Alfred Street, Ballymena, that her husband, Royal Irish Rifleman Thomas Taggart (14th btn.) has been killed in action. He enlisted in September last year and was at the front about nine months. Before enlisting, he was employed by Mr. John Carson, builder and contractor, Clonavon. He leaves a wife and two children.

Ballymena Observer, August 17, 1917

Rifleman William Greer

Notification has been received by his relatives who reside at Ahoghill, Ballymena, of the death in action of Rifleman William Greer of the machine gun section, Royal Irish Rifles (12th Btn).

Prior to joining the colours in 1914 Rifleman Greer was employed in the Lisnafillan Works, Galgorm, and was a well known football player. He had been at the front for a year and 10 months. He lived at New Row, Ahoghill.

Ballymena Observer, August 24, 1917

Private H. McIlroy

Private McIlroy of the Royal Irish Fusiliers (trench mortar battery) who was killed in action on August 16 was a son of Mrs. Taylor, Fenaghy, Cullybackey. His chaplain writes: "He was doing his duty bravely in the big battle on August 16 and you have every reason to be proud of him."

Lance Corporal James Hamilton

The relatives of L/cpl. James Hamilton. Royal Irish Rifles of Balllymatoskerty, Toomebridge, have been informed that he was killed in action on 12th August, 1917.

Ballymena Observer, August 24, 1917

Acting Company Sergeant Major William Nevin

Sergeant William Nevin, Royal Irish Rifles, was a native of Ballymena and formerly resided at Clonavon. He is the eldest son of Mr. Samuel Nevin, now of Chadwick Street, Belfast.

His father was for some time a tailor in the employment of Messrs. Barclay and Crawford, Ballymena and his grandmother. Mrs. Nevin resides in Mill Street, Ballymena.

He returned to the front in May last after recovering from wounds received in action on 1st July 1916. He was previously in the employment of Lafayette, Donegal Place, Belfast, as a photographer and was a member of the original YCVs.

Ballymena Observer, August 31, 1917

Lance Corporal Andrew McCartney

Information has been received by Mr. Samuel McCartney, hairdresser, Henry Street, that his only son, L/cpl. Andrew McCartney, Royal Irish Rifles, died of wounds received in action in the recent heavy fighting in which the Ulster Division took part.

Unofficial information received last week by Mr. McCartney stated that his son had been severely wounded, having lost a leg. Prior to enlisting in 1914, L/cpl. McCartney was a fitter in Messrs. Kane Brothers, Harryville. He was a member of the Rechabite Order, also a member of Ballee LOL and of the RBP.

Ballymena Observer, August 31, 1917

Lance Corporal Allan Montgomery

Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery, Castle Street, Ballymena, have received intimation that their son, Lance Corporal Allan Montgomery, Royal Irish Rifles, has been reported killed in action,

Rev. John Knowles in a letter dated 21st August 1917 says:- "I write to express to you my sincere sympathy in the great loss that has come to you through the death of your son 15634 Lance Corporal A. Montgomery who was killed in action on August 16th. I am very sorry that up to the present, his body has not been recovered but we hope that soon an advance may take place

which will render this possible.

"Your son has seen much service out here and in everything that he did he proved himself a brave and gallant soldier, and we were all sorry to hear that the decoration for which he had been recommended, and which he thoroughly merited, was somehow never bestowed upon him.

"Now he has won a soldier's higher honour by laying down his life fighting for a glorious cause. He has been faithful unto death and we all mourn his loss and our heartfelt sympathy goes out to you."

Lance Corporal Montgomery was on three occasions recommended for distinctions, amongst them being the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery.

Ballymena Observer, August 31, 1917

Rifleman Matthew Hill

Mr. Matthew Hill, Broughshane, has been notified that his son, Rifleman Matthew Hill, Royal Irish Rifles (7th Btn) has been killed in action on 8th August 1917. Deceased joined the army last winter and shortly afterwards went to the front.

Ballymena Observer, August 31, 1917

Rifleman Scott Thompson

The relatives of Rifleman Scott Thompson, Royal Irish Rifles, who reside at Lisnafillan, Galgorm, have received information to the effect that he was killed in the recent offensive. Rifleman Thompson was formerly employed in the Lisnafillan Bleaching Works. He was previously wounded and after recovering, returned to the front. His brother Charles was lost in the recent disaster which overtook HMS Vanguard.

Ballymena Observer, August 31, 1917

Rifleman Adam Craig

Mrs. Craig, who resides at Bridge End, Galgorm, has been informed that her husband, Rfn. Adam Craig, Royal Irish Rifles, has been killed in action.

Rifleman Craig was a son of the late Mr. Adam Craig and joined the colours shortly after the outbreak of hostilities. He was employed in the Lisnafillan Bleaching Works and leaves a wife and five children.

Ballymena Observer, August 31, 1917

Rifleman Alex. Montgomery

Miss Montgomery, Kirkinriola, has received information that her nephew, Rifleman Alex Montgomery, Royal Irish Rifles, has been killed in action during the recent heavy fighting.

Rfn. Montgomery, who was in his 23rd year, was a member of Craigywarren LOL 476 and a member of the UVF prior to joining the army in November 1915.

He was an employee of the Midland Railway.

His commanding officer, in a letter dated 22nd August, states:- "I deeply regret to inform you of the death of your nephew, Rifleman A, Montgomery. He was killed fighting gallantly for his King and Country. He is greatly missed by everyone in his company, both by officers and men, he was always so cheery and pleasant and ever ready to lend a helping hand to a comrade in need.

Both officers and men of the company beg that you will accept their sincere sympathy in your sad bereavement.

Ballymena Observer, August 31, 1917

Rifleman William Flynn

Notification has been received from Mr. J. Flynn, formerly manager of Lisnafillan Bleaching Works, and now of Upperlands, that his son, Rifleman William Flynn, has been killed in action.

Rfn. Flynn was a member of the UVF and was the first man to enlist from the Galgorm Company. He went to the front with the Ulster Division and prior to enlisting was employed in the Lisnafillan Works.

Ballymena Observer, August 31, 1917

Signaller Nathaniel Dunlop

Signaller Nathaniel Dunlop, Royal Irish Rifles, reported killed in action on 16th August, was the second son of Mr. John Dunlop, Loan, Cullybackey. He enlisted in February 1916 at the age of 18 years and after training in Carrickfergus and Newtownards, proceeded to France in April. Prior to enlistment he was in the employment of Mr. A. Harbison, Cullybackey, as a carpenter.

Signaller Dunlop was a member of the UCF Sabbath School and was awarded prizes for regular attendance extending over 10 years.

Ballymena Observer, September 7, 1917

Rifleman W. J. Watson

Mr. Robert Watson, Alexander Street, Ballymena, has received notification to the effect that his only son, Rifleman William J. Watson, 12th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on 16th August. Rfn. Watson, who enlisted in September 1914 was wounded at the Somme on July 1st 1916 receiving a gunshot wound to the right arm.

Prior to joining the colours he was in the employment of the Braidwater Spinning Company.

Ballymena Observer, September 7, 1917

Rifleman Charles Sinclair

Rfn. Charles Sinclair, Royal Irish Rifles, who has been killed in action, was a native of Kirkinriola, Ballymena, and a son of Mrs. Catherine Sinclair.

Ballymena Observer, September 7, 1917

(Any further information about this soldier would be greatly appreciated.)

Rifleman David Mills

Information has been received by his relatives who reside in the Ballymena District that Rifleman David Mills, Royal Irish Rifles, was amongst the many brave men from Ulster who made the supreme sacrifice in the advance on 16th August

Ballymena Observer, September 7, 1917

Sergeant Thomas Reid

Mr. James Reid of Ballycloughan, Broughshane, has been officially notified that his son Sgt. Thomas Reid 1st Btn. Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action on August 16th.

Ballymena Observer, September 14, 1917

Private Robert Bamber

Pte. Robert Bamber, Royal Irish Fusiliers (trench mortar battery), killed on action on August 16th was a son of Mrs. Susan Bamber, Springwell Street, Ballymena. Deceased was in the big offensive on that date when he was struck by a shell and killed instantly. His commanding officer writes:- "He was a good boy and a brave soldier."

Ballymena Observer, September 14, 1917

Rifleman W. J. McCaughrin

Rfn. William John McCaughrin, Royal Irish Rifles, son of Mrs. H. McCaughrin, Kells, Ballymena, has been reported killed in action.

Ballymena Observer, September 14, 1917

Rifleman Hugh Harris

Mr. Robert Harris, Craigs, Cullybackey, has received intimation to the effect that his only son, Hugh, Royal Irish Rifles, has died of wounds received in action.

Prior to enlisting about two years ago, he was in the employment of Mr. Hugh Coulter, Ballyconnelly, Cullybackey.

Ballymena Observer, September 14, 1917

Rifleman A. Kennedy

Mr. James Kennedy, Cullybackey, has received the following letter from the Rev. A. Gibson, Chaplain to the Forces, informing him that his son, Rfn. Arthur Kennedy is missing:-

26/8/17 Dear Mr. Kennedy, I am very sorry to tell you that your son Rfn. A. Kennedy Royal Irish Rifles, has been reported missing since August 16th. Unless you may have heard from him or of him from some reliable source it musty be concluded that he is either killed or a prisoner of war. I sincerely hope he is not killed and I feel for you because of the suspense and anxiety that will be yours for some time to come.

"In six weeks to two months time we hope to hear who are prisoners and I can only ask you to have patience till then and bear up as bravely as you can."

Rifleman Arthur Kennedy was wounded on 1st July 1916 and his brother, Rfn. R. J. Kennedy is reported missing from that date. Another brother, Rfn.George Kennedy of the same regiment was also wounded at the battle of the Somme.

Ballymena Observer, September 14, 1917

Rifleman David Jamison

Mr. Robert Jamison, 25 Greenvale Street, Ballymena, has been notified that his son Rfn. David Jamison, has been missing since August 16, 1917.

Prior to enlisting Rfn. Jamison was employed at the Braidwater Mill. His brother Rfn. James H. Jamison RIR, had one of his legs amputated as the result of a wound and is now discharged. Later confirmed dead in 1918.

Ballymena Observer, October 5, 1917

Rifleman William Bell

Mrs. A. Bell, Broughshane, has been notified that her second son, Rfn. William Bell, Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action or died of wounds on, or about, August 16, 1917. Rfn. Bell enlisted in November 1916 and went to

France last Aprril. Before enlisting he was employed in the Raceview Woollen Mills. Ballymena Observer, November 2, 1917

Corporal W. J. Robinson

Mr. Joseph Robinson of Rathkeel, Broughshane, has received a letter from the war office stating that his son, Corporal W. J. Robinson has been killed in action. He went to the front in December 1916.

Ballymena Observer, September 14, 1917

Private Robert White

Mr Samuel White. Knockboy, Broughshane, has been notified by the war office that his son, Private Robert White, Royal Irish Rifles, has been killed in action on 10th August last.

This is Mr. White's second son to meet the same fate. The other, Private William White, Irish Guards being killed on 15th September 1916. Mr. White has another son and a son-in-law serving at the front.

Ballymena Observer, September 29, 1917

Rifleman A. Kennedy

Rifleman A. Kennedy, who was killed in action on August 8, 1917, was the son of James and Eliza Kennedy, Ahoghill.