The following two chapters provide significant details about some of the Workman Clark men who either died or survived the Great War, many of the latter with dreadful life-changing injuries. The research of these men has revealed that, in all too many instances, they were from large families where many of their siblings had not survived to adulthood, or where a parent had died prematurely. It is well documented that there was great deprivation in working class areas across the United Kingdom in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century. It is well-attested that Belfast was particularly deficient in matters of Public Health, Sanitation and Housing to the extent that the loss of one or more infants was not only commonplace but expected. The death in war of a son or brother, who had survived the many challenges to reach adulthood, must have been a particularly dreadful additional blow to those families who had already lost children – a fact that is inevitably widely overlooked when the emphasis is on the men only.
The Workman Clark War Memorial records the names of 136 employees who died during the Great War and detailed research for this book has identified 133 of these men. Summary information for each of the fatalities can be accessed here, and this chapter contains biographies on a selection of those men who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of King and Country.
The youngest fatality named on the memorial is John Graham Watson who was born on 10th October 1900 at 4 Hanover Street to William Watson (a Smith) and Marion Watson (nee Fleming). They had eight children of which six boys, John being the third son, were still alive in 1911, when the family was living at Bentinck Street. It is not known what his job in the shipyard entailed, but in 1917, he was serving as a Trimmer with the Mercantile Marine on HMS Stonecrop, which was built in 1913 as a collier and named SS Glenfoyle. She was requisitioned for war service and converted into a “Q-ship”, entering the Special Service in May 1917 as HMS Stonecrop. “Q-ships” were merchant vessels fitted with hidden armaments to entice submarines to surface and, as the submarine neared the Q-ship, the crew would man the hidden guns and engage the U-boat. The U-Boat commanders saved torpedoes for large vessels but would surface to try to sink smaller vessels with the deck-mounted cannon. This gave the crew of a “Q-Ship” the opportunity to sink the submarine. As this was among the most hazardous duties in the war at sea and, whilst Q-ships sank 11 German submarines, U-boats sank 22 Q-ships. The 1,680-ton Stonecrop was armed with a 4-inch, a 12 pounder and four 200-pound howitzers and had sunk U-88 following an exchange of fire off the coast of Ireland on 17th September 1917 (Q Ships and Their Story, E Keble Chatterton, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1922). Ironically, U-88 was commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Walther von Schwieger, who had been in command of U-20 when she sank RMS Lusitania in 1915). The crew of Stonecrop did not have long to savour their victory as she was sunk by the German submarine U-43 on 18th September 1917 off the South-West coast of Ireland, with the loss of 36 lives. John Graham Watson was 16 years old when he died and is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London. Another Ulsterman, Trimmer John Gawn (17) from Ballyboley near Larne, also died when Stonecrop was sunk.
The oldest fatality named on the memorial is William John McClune (sometimes McClun or McLune), who was born on 11th October 1872 at Lambeg to John McClune, a bleacher, and Elizabeth McClune (nee Crowe). William McClune enlisted with the Royal Irish Rifles on 2nd July 1888. During his first period of army service, he was stationed in Malta (1891-1895) and India (1899-1900) and served in the South African War from December 1900 to July 1901. He was discharged at Magilligan Camp on 20th July 1901, receiving a War Gratuity of £5 (approximately £625 in current terms) the following month. On 28th December 1901, he enlisted with the Royal Garrison Regiment for a two-year period, which was extended in 1903 and 1905. He was discharged on 22nd October 1905 with a bonus of £11 (approximately £1,360 in current terms). On 19th October 1914, eight days after turning 42, William McClune, now a labourer in the shipyard, enlisted with the Royal Irish Rifles. As he was entitled to the receive the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, he must have served overseas sometime after 1915. The Workman Clark Memorial records that he served with 5th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers but he was serving with 2nd Garrison Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers when he was discharged due to illness on 16th May 1918. Private William John McClune died of cardiac disease in his home on Cumberland Street on 15th August 1918, aged 45. He had served in the army for 21 years and is buried in Belfast City Cemetery. The inscription on the headstone records: He served his generation. The entry in the Register of Deaths and in the burial records for Belfast City Cemetery record his age as 46. In registering the death and later burial, the family may have stated that he was in his 46th year, which would explain the discrepancy. The record on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records his age as 48.
The first Workman Clark employee to die on active service was William Warnock from Richmond Street in the Clifton Ward of the city. William was born on 27th July 1881 at North Street in Newtownards to James Warnock and Sarah Warnock (nee Orr), who had 14 children but only ten survived to 1911. His father, a Bundler, died of bronchitis at the family home in North Howard Street on 4th December 1900, aged 40. In 1911, Sarah Warnock was living at Richmond Street with six of her children, ranging in age from 14 to 30. William and his brothers, James (30) and Thomas (20) are listed as Shipyard Labourers in the 1911 Census. William was recalled from the army reserve to 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and landed at Le Havre on 23rd August 1914. He was reported missing and was subsequently declared as having been killed in action on 26th August 1914. He was 33 years of age and is commemorated on the La Ferte-sous- Jouarre Memorial in France.
The last Workman Clark employee to die on war service was Arthur McClelland from the York Road area. Arthur McClelland was born on 12th September 1889 at Little York Street to Alexander McClelland, a shipyard driller, and Mary Anne McClelland (nee Miller) of Grove Street. Arthur McClelland was a labourer when he married Mary Liggett (known as Minnie) Murphy on 14th July 1914 at St Enoch’s Presbyterian Church. Arthur was a member of the Shipwrights Orange Lodge and Cavehill Royal Black Preceptory. He was living at Southwell Street when he enlisted with the Army Service Corp’s Ulster Divisional Train on 28th December 1914. On 1st March 1916, Minnie gave birth to a son, James. Arthur was deployed to France in June 1916 and was awarded a Good Conduct badge in December 1916. Driver Arthur McClelland was serving with a Horse Transport Company in the 4th Divisional Train when he died of influenza and pneumonia at the 30th Casualty Clearing Station on 10th November 1918. He was 29 years of age and is buried in the Cambrai East Military Cemetery in France. His widow received a War Gratuity of £22 and ten shillings (approximately £1,188 in current terms) in May 1919. In March 1920, Mary was residing at Henry Street when she wrote as follows to the War Office:
Kindly acknowledge my sincere thanks for the Memorial Scroll and King’s Letter forwarded to us in memory of my late husband Driver Arthur McClelland ASC as I will always have it to look upon only those who have lost are able to tell. Thank you very much from his sorrowing widow and little son.
David John McCarron was born on 12th September 1878 at Frank Place to David John McCarron and Sarah Ann Graden McCarron (nee Thompson) who had been married in Willowfield Parish Church on 28th February 1873. His mother died of phlegmasia dolens (an uncommon manifestation of deep-vein thrombosis) at the family home on Fourth Street on 29th December 1887, aged 36. The family was living at Brussels Street when his father married Mary Thompson, a sister of Sarah, in St Anne’s Parish Church on 15th March 1891. His father died of dropsy on 17th March 1899 at Snugville Street. David John McCarron was living at Rugby Street when he married Sarah McGrath of Foxglove Street on 24th March 1902 at St Anne’s Parish Church and they had one child, Maria McCarron born on 27th June 1903 at 24 Frankfort Street. David John McCarron was a red leader when he enlisted with the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons and was deployed to the Western Front with the 36th (Ulster) Division in October 1915. In May 1916, he was transferred to a base depot and, in July, he was attached to 2nd Echelon Headquarters as batman to Captain Roche-Kelly of the Army Veterinary Corps. Six weeks later, he was attached to 1st Echelon Headquarters near Amiens. In October 1916, McCarron fell ill, spitting blood for three days, and he was evacuated to Ireland. Although still in the army, David was employed by Workman Clark, but his health continued to deteriorate. In October 1917, he reported to the Military Hospital at Victoria Barracks with a range of symptoms – spitting blood, shortness of breath and rapid heart action. A medical board at Enniskillen on 3rd March 1918 found he was suffering from arterial degeneration with dilation of the heart and concluded that the disease had been aggravated by, but not caused by, his military service. The board recorded that he was 60 per cent disabled and permanently unfit for further service. On 4th April 1918, McCarron was discharged as being permanently unfit for war service and was granted a pension. His military character was recorded as good. He died of heart disease at Athens Street on 4th July 1918 and is buried in an unmarked plot in Dundonald Cemetery. As the surviving service papers clearly record that he was discharged due to a heart condition that had been aggravated by his war service, David McCarron qualifies to be recognised as an official war fatality. The evidence was submitted to the relevant authority and, in August 2020, David John McCarron was added to the CWGC database as an official war fatality. In due course, his final resting place will be marked with a CWGC gravestone.
Adam Bruce was born around 1888 in Scotland to Donald Bruce and Isabella Clark, being the eldest of their nine children – their last child being born in 1906. His father was a ship’s joiner and the family was living at Glasgow Street in 1911, when Adam was recorded as being a Marine Engineer. At the outbreak of the war, Adam was employed by Workman Clark and he served as Second Engineer with the Mercantile Marine Reserve. He was serving on HM Tug Labour when he contracted pneumonia and died at the family home in Glasgow Street in the Duncairn area of Belfast on 29th November 1918, aged 30. His funeral to Carnmoney Cemetery received full naval honours and was attended by representatives from the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Castleton Temperance LOL 867, Clifton Temperance LOL 1936, Royal Black Chapter, and Jennymount Methodist Church. Adam Bruce was commemorated on the War Memorial organ in Jennymount Methodist Church which was unveiled and dedicated on 21st September 1922. The memorial was lost when the church was destroyed in a fire in January 2003
Alexander McIndoe was a son of Alexander McIndoe and Mary McIndoe (nee Mills) of Glasgow – his father later married Sarah Ann Beattie (nee Mathews). Alexander was a boiler maker and living at Bute Street in the Duncairn area, when he married Eliza Jane Bond, a Spinner from Ayr Street, at St Anne’s Parish Church on 29th October 1901. In 1911, Alexander and Eliza Jane were living at Harrisburg Street with four children under the age of eight. One of their children, Alexander, was born at Rowan Street on 28th December 1910 but only lived ten days. They had further children in 1911 (Alexander) and 1914 (Robert). Alexander enlisted with 15th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and was deployed to the Western Front in October 1915. He had been invalided home and was attached to the 17th Battalion when he was recalled to active service in April 1917. At 9:15pm on 14th April 1917, the SS Duke of Cumberland set sail from Donegall Quay for Fleetwood and, amongst the passengers, were soldiers and sailors returning to their units and ships. As the ship was passing the Workman Clark North Yard, a Deck Steward observed a soldier lurching against the rail and falling overboard – he also reported seeing a Navy man removing his clothing. As it was a bitterly cold night and very dark, he advised the Navy man not to go into the water. As he was raising the alarm, he heard a second splash and knew that the Navy man had dived into the sea to rescue the man. Both Alexander McIndoe and Dawson James Clarke died in the incident – McIndoe being buried in Carnmoney whilst Able Seaman Clarke of HMS Acteon was buried in Dundonald Cemetery
William Phoenix was born at Ballylough near Waringstown on 5th June 1875 to George Phoenix, a National School Teacher, and Mary Ann Phoenix (nee McKinnon). He was employed as an iron driller at Govan in Scotland when he married Lucy Conlon on 22nd October 1899 in the Roman Catholic Chapel at Tullylish, near Banbridge. In 1911, William and Lucy Phoenix were living at Byron Street in the Oldpark area with their four daughters – Mary Ann (9), Maggie (7), Sarah (3) and Rose Irene (1). They had a further two children, George (1912) and James (1914). William was a Foreman Driller at Workman Clark when he enlisted with the Royal Engineers on 12th September 1914. William was rated as a Skilled Fitter and proceeded to France with 150th Field Company in October 1915. In October 1916, the London Gazette reported that Corporal Phoenix had been awarded the Military Medal. On 29th January 1917, whilst carrying out an important task for which he had volunteered, Corporal Phoenix received gunshot wounds to the abdomen. In a letter to Lucy Phoenix, Major John Charters Boyle wrote, I hope that it is not a serious wound, but I have not been able to hear as he was taken away immediately to hospital. He is a fine fellow, and I am sorry as he was always the first to offer to volunteer for any work. I have known him now for two and a half-years and have the greatest regard for him. Tragically, Corporal William Phoenix died of his wounds the following day at No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station. He was 41 years of age and is buried in the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension at Nord in France. In July 1917, Lucy Phoenix was awarded a pension of thirty-two shillings and sixpence per week (approximately £117 per week in current terms) for herself and five children. The Military Medal awarded to William Phoenix was presented to Lucy Phoenix by Brigadier-General Hacket Pain in a public ceremony at Victoria Barracks on Friday 24th August 1917. In November 1919, Lucy received a War Gratuity of £11 and ten shillings (approximately £607 in current terms).
William John Lemon was born on 17th August 1893 at North Queen Street to Thomas Wesley Lemon and Ellen Lemon (nee McMichael), being one of their 11 children. His father, a member of Belfast Harbour LOL 1883, died of acute pneumonia at the family home on 28th February 1913 and was buried in Balmoral Cemetery. In 1911, William was recorded as being a mill worker but was employed at Workman Clark when he enlisted with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was serving with 7th Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers in the 10th (Irish) Division when the 30th Brigade landed at Suvla Bay on 7th August 1915. In October 1915, the battalion moved via Mudros to Salonika and, in February 1916, a local newspaper reported that William Lemon had been admitted to hospital in Cairo suffering from frostbite. William John Lemon was serving with 2nd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers when he was reported missing on 10th November 1917, the last day of the Second Battle of Passchendaele and the final phase of the Third Battle of Ypres. On 17th December 1917, the Ranks and Files losses column in the Belfast Evening Telegraph included this entry: Private Wm. Lemon, Royal Munster Fusiliers, is reported missing since the 10th ult. Information concerning him will be gratefully received by his mother at 311 North Queen Street, Belfast. It was not until September 1918 that Private Lemon’s death was confirmed. He was 24 years old when he died and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium and on the memorial tablet for the North Belfast Mission (also known as the “People’s Hall”) of the Methodist Church. William Lemon was a member of the Queen Victoria Memorial Temperance LOL 700 and his mother wrote to Frank and Sara Workman on 11th August 1919 thanking them for their kindness and sympathy and asking them to accept my gratitude for placing his name on the memorial tablet which will always show how he died that others might live. The letter is part of the Edward Workman Archive. It is possible that Ellen Lemon was in the seated area reserved for relatives when the Workman Clark War Memorial was unveiled on 8th August 1919.
William McIlroy was born on 13th July 1883 at Dundee Street to William McIlroy and Mary McIlroy (nee Orr) and was living at Craig’s Terrace off Northumberland Street when he married Elizabeth Mussen at Trinity Church of Ireland on 10th May 1902. William and Elizabeth McIIroy lived at Dundee Street and they were living at Aberdeen Street by 1911. Before the war, William had been a member of LOL 1942 (Blue Banner), Royal Black Preceptory 20, the West Belfast Regiment UVF and the Boilermaker’s Society (No 3 Belfast Branch). William McIlroy was an army reservist and employed as a holder-up at Workman Clark at the outbreak of the war. He was recalled from the reserve and posted to the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in France on 11th November 1914, six days after Elizabeth had given birth to their final child. On 25th April 1915, the Belfast News-Letter published an article about Lance- Corporal McIlroy which included the contents of a letter to his brother-in-law, James Pritchard of Dundee Street. Lance-Corporal McIlroy wrote:
You would laugh sometimes if you saw the curious positions we are in. You would think we would be in no notion of writing letters, with the “Black Marias” bursting overhead; but you get used to them. They are all in the day’s work so long as they don’t come too close. I see I am losing a lot of money being out here. £30, you were saying, my squad had. That is a bit of all right, and a big difference from what we get here, but you know somebody has got to do it. We are not only fighting for France and Belgium, but we are fighting for our homes and wives and children. God help us if we were ever under the German eagle. I can see enough of their atrocities out here – a whole country wrecked and ruined; but the day is not far distant when they will have to suffer for the damage they have done. No; I would rather [not] want the big money so long as God spares me to give a hand to knock the Germans out; so you can tell them all who are talking about the money that as long as my wife and children get what does them I am satisfied.
A “Black Maria” was one of several terms used by soldiers to refer to a German howitzer shell. A riveting squad was made up of a heater-boy, a catch-boy, a holder-up and two riveters. William’s letter refers to a £30 (which equates to approximately £3,150 in current terms), which would have been an exceptionally generous amount, even when distributed among five workers. The letter does not make clear what period the bonus covered and it is possible that the newspaper printed £30 instead of 30 shillings (£165 in current terms). Lance Corporal William McIlroy was killed in action on 16th June 1915, aged 31, during the Battle of Hooge. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres and on the war memorials for the Shankill Road Mission and St Mary’s Parish Church on the Crumlin Road. William McIlroy was survived by Elizabeth and their five children – the eldest being Agnes (11) and the youngest, Robert, was six months old. Elizabeth married John Allen, a widower and a blacksmith, at the Crescent Presbyterian Church on 5th June 1919. In the letter above, William said that he would be satisfied as long as my wife and children get what does them. Elizabeth received a War Gratuity of £3 in August 1919 (approximately £158 in current terms).
James McCollam (sometimes recorded as McCallum) was born on 7th August 1891 at Peveril Street to John McCollam, a boot and shoemaker, and Margaret McCollam (nee Carlisle), being one of their eight children. James McCollam, a member of Baird Memorial LOL 230 and Craigavon Royal Black Preceptory, was an apprentice riveter at the Workman Clark shipyard. He was a member of the South Belfast Regiment UVF and enlisted with the Royal Irish Rifles. He was deployed to France in October 1915 with 10th Battalion and signed his Army Will, nominating his mother as his next of kin, on 5th November 1915. Rifleman James McCollam was killed in action on 24th November 1915, aged 24, and is buried in the Sucrerie Military Cemetery at Colincamps in France. Second-Lieutenant William John Tipping wrote to inform Margaret McCollam of the death of her son:
It is with very great regret indeed that I write to inform you that your son was killed in action in France on the 24th November. He was in the platoon under my command, and was well known to me as an efficient and enthusiastic soldier. The company was holding a rather nasty section of the front line trench, and on the morning of the 24th was subject to intense artillery bombardment by the enemy, during which your son met his death. I saw him only a few minutes before he was killed, and he was bearing himself bravely and cheerfully during a very trying ordeal. He was one of the best soldiers in my platoon. I am very sorry indeed to lose him. The company commander and other officers of the company desire me to convey to you their sincere sympathy.
(Northern Whig, 2nd December 1915)
A younger brother, Sergeant John McCollam (8th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles), was killed in action on 21st June 1917, aged 23, and is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres in Belgium. Both brothers are commemorated on the memorial tablet for Donegall Pass Presbyterian Church.
Thomas McCullough was born on 6th December 1893 at Trafalgar Street in the Docks area to Thomas McCullough, a carter, and Agnes McCullough (nee Boyd), being one of their 11 children. In addition to being a member of the Orange Institution and the Royal Black Preceptory, Thomas was a member of the City Temperance Pipe Band and the North Belfast Regiment UVF. Thomas was an apprentice caulker at the Workman Clark shipyard when he enlisted with the Royal Irish Rifles. Towards the end of his period of training, Thomas McCullough married Alice Dunlop, a ruler from Glasgow Street, on 5th April 1915 at Mariners’ Parish Church on Corporation Street. Thomas McCullough was deployed to France with 15th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in October 1915. He held the rank of Acting Corporal when he was killed in action on 23rd December 1915. He was 22 years old and is buried in the Sucrerie Military Cemetery at Colincamps in France and commemorated on the Roll of Honour for York Street Presbyterian Church. The Reverend James Quinn, a Church of Ireland chaplain, wrote to Alice McCullough:
It is with extreme regret I have to inform you of the death of your husband. He was on duty with his battalion in the trenches on the 23rd, when was hit by a high explosive shell and killed instantly. I am extremely sorry for you, as are all who knew him. Please accept my sincerest sympathy. You have at least the consolation of knowing that your husband was a brave man and has died doing a man’s part. May God give you grace to bear the burden laid upon you, and comfort you with His presence. Your husband was buried yesterday in a little cemetery for British soldiers near to the trenches. I read the burial service, and a party of men from his battalion were present.
(Larne Times, 6th January 1916)
On 22nd February 1916, Alice gave birth to a daughter who she named, Thomasena. Agnes McCullough received a War Gratuity of £5 (approximately £270 in current terrms) in August 1919, nearly four years after the death of her husband.
Alfred Owens was born on 4th May 1892 at Limestone Road to William John Owens, a Ship Broker, and Jane Owens (nee Service), being one of their five children. Before the war, Thomas was employed as a draughtsman in Workman Clark’s technical department. He was a member of the Ulster Cricket Club, Malone Rugby Football Club and the Central Presbyterian Association’s Rifle Club. At the outbreak of the war, he enlisted with the Royal Irish Rifles and held the rank of Lance-Corporal when he was deployed to France with the 14th Battalion. In January 1916, he transferred to the 109th Company of the Machine Gun Corps and held the rank of Sergeant when he was killed in action on 1st July 1916. He was 24 years old and has no known grave, being commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France and on the memorial tablet in Fisherwick Presbyterian Church. His brother, Thomas Owens, Secretary of the Belfast Ropeworks, received letters from Captain William McConachie, of the Waterside Distillery in Londonderry, and Lieutenant Edmund Henry Clokey. Captain McConachie wrote, Sergeant Owens was killed instantaneously, along with his officer, Mr Wedgwood, while taking his gun team over “No Man’s Land.” I had possibly the best machine gun company out here and I always looked on your brother as one of my best sergeants, and had marked him down for promotion immediately after the push was finished. He was the same cool chap in fight as he was in ordinary life. Lieutenant Clokey wrote, I saw him a couple of minutes before going over, and he was in great spirits. He was a very fine chap, and was looked upon as our best sergeant. The C.O. thought there was nobody like Owens (both quotations from Belfast News-Letter, 2nd August 1916). Mr Wedgwood was Lieutenant Gilbert Colclough Wedgwood, a son of Reverend George Ryles Wedgwood, Minster of Sandy Row Methodist Church. His brother, Second Lieutenant Philip Egerton Wedgwood (14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles) was also killed in action on 1st July 1916. (Image from the Magazine of the Central Presbyterian Association, courtesy of Edward Connolly.)
Andrew Charles Coulter Hamilton was born on 11th September 1896 at Mervue Street in the Duncairn Ward to Andrew Charles Coulter Hamilton and Mary Rainey Hamilton (nee Templeton), being one of their 13 children. The family had moved to Grace Avenue in the Pottinger Ward by 1901 and were living at Lismain Street in the Ormeau Ward in 1911. Andrew Hamilton senior was a driller in the Workman Clark shipyard and Andrew Hamilton junior was employed in the shipyard when he enlisted with the Royal Irish Rifles. He was deployed to France with the 8th Battalion and signed his Army Will on 26th May 1917. He nominated his mother as his beneficiary and gave the family address as Isoline Street. Andrew Hamilton survived the Battle of Messines (7th to 14th June 1917) but was killed in action on 17th August 1917 during the Battle of Langemarck. He was 20 years old when he died and is buried in the New Irish Farm Cemetery in Belgium.
John Leathem was born on 15th July 1886 at Upper Canning Street in the Duncairn area to John Leatham, a provision dealer, and Margaret Leatham (nee Graham), later of Valentine Street. John Leathem held the rank of Bombardier and was serving with the Royal Field Artillery when he drowned in a bathing accident on 11th May 1916. He was 29 years old and is buried in the Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt and on the memorial tablet in St Paul’s Church of Ireland on York Road.
John Lynn was born on 23rd April 1893 at Lepper Street to James Lynn (a riveter) and Elizabeth Lynn (nee McNamee), being one of their ten children. In 1911, the family was living at Spamount Street and John was recorded as being an apprentice Shipwright. John Lynn enlisted with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and was allocated to 5th Battalion. He landed at Suvla Bay on the Gallipoli Peninsula with the 10th (Irish) Division on 7th August 1915. Lance-Corporal John Lynn was killed in action on 15th August 1915, aged 22, and is buried in the Azmak Cemetery at Suvla.
James White was born on 21st September 1877 at McCleery Street to William White, a boot and shoemaker, and Margaret White (nee O’Brien), who later lived at Meadow Street. James White was living at North Queen Street when he married Charlotte Boyce of Pilot Street on 9th July 1904 at St Anne’s Parish Church. They had three children but only one, Elizabeth (born 1907), survived infancy. In 1911 the family was living at Bute Street but was living at Lilliput Street when Charlotte died of pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of 27 on 11th March 1912. James White had enlisted with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers but was subsequently transferred to 5th Battalion Connaught Rangers. As with John Lynn, James White landed at Suvla Bay on the Gallipoli Peninsula with the 10th (Irish) Division on 7th August 1915. Private James White died of wounds on 22nd August 1915, aged 37, and is buried in the 77th Field Ambulance Cemetery at Gallipoli. James had nominated his mother-in-law, Catherine Boyce, as guardian for his remaining daughter, Elizabeth. Catherine received a War Gratuity of £3 (approximately £158 in current terms) in August 1919 and a weekly allowance of five shillings (approximately £18 in current terms) from March 1916.
James Henry Robinson was born on 3rd April 1898 at the Belfast Fire Brigade Headquarters on Chichester Street to William John Robinson (Fireman) and Sarah Robinson (nee Johnston), being one of their 12 children. James Robinson, an apprentice plater, was a member of the South Belfast Regiment UVF and enlisted with the Royal Irish Rifles on 18th August 1914. He was posted to the 6th Battalion two days later and was promoted to Lance-Corporal on 8th April 1915. On 7th July 1915, his battalion sailed from Liverpool, bound for the island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea. The 6th Royal Irish Rifles landed at ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula with 29th Brigade of the 10th (Irish) Division on 5th August 1915. It was the first service battalion from the three Ulster infantry regiments to see action during the Great War, two months before the 36th (Ulster) Division arrived in France. Lance-Corporal James Henry Robinson was killed in action on 10th August 1915, aged 17, and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial at Gallipoli.
James Burns was born in Scotland around 1886 to Isaac Burns and Jean Burns (nee Martin) but the family had moved to Ireland by 1885 and was living on the Holywood Road in 1911. He was a Freemason and played for Ormiston Football Club. James Burns was a plater when he enlisted with the Seaforth Highlanders, being deployed to France with 1/5th (Sutherland and Caithness) Battalion on 27th September 1915. Private James Burns died of wounds at No 42 Casualty Clearing Station on 19th May 1916, aged 30, and is buried in the Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension in France.
William Hamilton Clegg was born on 21st April 1895 at Carnan Street in the Shankill area to John Clegg, a carpenter, and Anne Jane Clegg (nee Liddy), being one of their ten children. In 1911, the family was living at Blythe Street off Sandy Row and at Sturgeon Street when Hamilton Clegg enlisted with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on 6th August 1914 at Belfast. He was stationed at Fort Dunree with 4th Battalion, part of the Lough Swilly Defence, when he was discharged as being medically unfit for further military service on 23rd November 1914. He subsequently enlisted with the Cameron Highlanders, giving his name as William Hamilton Clegg. He joined the 1st Battalion in France on 11th September 1915 and was killed in action on 16th November 1917. He was 22 years of age and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.
James Corry was born on 25th October 1885 at Collyer Street in the Duncairn Ward to James Corry, a plater, and Anne Jane Corry (nee Lyttle) and, in 1911, he was stationed in India with 1st Battalion South Lancashire Regiment. He was living at Denmark Street when he married Mary Jane Crawford from Cable Street on 7th April 1912 at St Patrick’s Church of Ireland on the Newtownards Road. As a reservist, James Corry was recalled to active service on the outbreak of the war and was deployed to France with 2nd Battalion on 14th August 1914. He was killed in action on 24th October 1914, aged 24, during the First Battle of Ypres and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial in France. On 31st January 1915, his widow gave birth to their only child, Mary.
Herbert Meynell Jackson was born on 16th March 1895 at Rathmore Lodge in Greenisland to Matthew Jackson and Elizabeth Ann Davidson. His father was an industrialist and investor with interests in Iron Mines, the Acetylene Lighting Plant and a contractor for the erection of transmission power plants. Herbert was an Assistant Scoutmaster with the Jordanstown Troop and played for Carrickfergus Rugby Club. Herbert graduated as an engineer from Carrickfergus Technical Institute and was employed in Workman Clark’s Engineering Department when the war started. Herbert Jackson enlisted with the Royal Irish Rifles, being posted to 12th Battalion. He held the rank of Sergeant when he received his commission in March 1915. He served with 11th Battalion on the Western Front from March 1916, being gassed and then wounded on 1st September 1916. He was subsequently transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and graduated as a Flying Officer Observer in March 1917. Second Lieutenant Herbert Jackson was serving in 53 Squadron and was on reconnaissance in a Royal Aircraft Factory RE8 aircraft piloted by Lieutenant Murray Eden Newton when they were killed in action on 18th June 1917. Both men were 22 and, although buried in Oostaverne Wood near Wytschaete in Belgium, the location of their graves is not known and they are commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial in France. Herbert Jackson is also commemorated on the memorial tablets for St Patrick’s Church of Ireland in Jordanstown and St Nicholas’ Church of Ireland in Carrickfegus. In addition, he is commemorated on a family memorial in the Victoria Cemetery in Carrickfergus. His parents placed an entry in the Roll of Honour column published in the Belfast News-Letter on 29th June 1917. It included this testimony:
“Safe now with Jesus”
Amiable, kind and courageous in life, and dauntless in death, he died a hero beloved by a large circle of friends, who will sadly miss him.
On 18th June 1918, the family placed a notice in the Belfast News-Letter’s “Roll of Honour In Memoriam” column. It included this verse:
There is but one task for all
For each, one life to give.
Who stands if freedom falls?
Who dies if England lives?
James Kennedy McClurg (McClung on the Workman Clark War Memorial) was born on 3rd February 1890 at Carlow Street in the Shankill area to James Kennedy McClurg , a smith’s helper, and Annie McClurg (nee Morrow) , being one of their 12 children. The McClurg family was living at Penrith Street when James McClurg junior married Sarah Steele of Crimea Street at St Anne’s Parish Church on 15th April 1911. James McClurg was employed as a driller at Workman Clark when he enlisted with the Highland Light Infantry. He joined the 1/6th Battalion after it had been evacuated from Gallipoli and transferred to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. The battalion participated in the Palestine Campaign for over two years before being transferred to the Western Front in April 1918. Private McClurg was wounded during the Second Battle of Arras and died at No 3 Casualty Clearing Station on 28th August 1918, aged 27, and is buried in the Bagneux British Cemetery at Gezaincourt in France. His widow, Sarah, received a War Gratuity of £13 (approximately £686 in current terms) in November 1919.
William James Millar was born on 3rd February 1895 at Hanna Street in the Duncairn Ward to Hugh Millar, a Storeman in a Flour Mill, and Matilda Millar (nee Mann). In 1911, he was employed in a flax mill. William was recorded as a labourer when he married Jane Robb of Carnalea Street on 4th July 1914 in St Anne’s Parish Church. He was recorded as being a plumber and soldier when their only child, Fred, was born at Fleet Street on 21st January 1915. He enlisted with the Cheshire Regiment and was posted to the 15th Battalion, which landed at Le Havre in January 1916. Private William James Millar was killed in action on 20th August 1916, aged 21, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France. His officer wrote to Jane Millar saying:
I happened to be in charge of a working party a few nights ago (carrying bombs up to the front line). Of which your husband was a member. The Germans were putting over a great many high explosive shells, and we were taking cover in a communications trench. Suddenly a large shell fell on the parapet just beside us, and unfortunately a large piece caught your poor husband on the side of the head. He was in my platoon, and really was a very good boy indeed, always putting his heart and soul into everything he was given to do. He always had a lovely smile on his face, whether he was working or playing. I feel I have not only lost a good man, but a friend.
(Larne Times, 23rd September 1916)
John Gilliland was born on 26th August 1892 at Seaforde Street in the Pottinger Ward to John Gilliland, a carrier, and Elizabeth Gilliland (nee Quinn), who later lived at Bryson Street. In 1911, he was stationed at Hanover Square in London with 1st Battalion Irish Guards. He was employed at Workman Clark when the war started, was recalled from the reserves and was deployed to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards in France on 22nd November 1914. He was serving with 4th Battalion Guards Machine Gun Regiment when he was admitted to No 8 General Hospital in France with Trench Foot. Guardsman John Gilliland died of Bronchitis on 9th May 1918, aged 25. He is buried in the Bois Guillaume Communal Cemetery Extension in France and commemorated on the memorial tablet in Westbourne Presbyterian Church.
Alexander Montgomery was born on 5th October 1897 at Canning Street to Johnston Montgomery, an Engine Fitter, and Elizabeth Montgomery (nee Connell), being the eldest of their five children. The family was living at Oldpark Road when Alexander enlisted with the Seaforth Highlanders and was deployed to 4th (Ross Highland) Battalion in France after December 1915. He held the rank of Lance-Corporal and was serving with 2nd Battalion when he was Killed in Action on 3rd May 1917 during the Second Battle of Bullecourt, part of the wider Battle of Arras. Lance-Corporal Alexander Montgomery was 19 years old, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in France.
Thomas James Patterson was born on 27th September 1895 at Ivendragh near Templepatrick to James Patterson, a railway ganger, and Annie Patterson (nee Christie), being one of their nine children. In 1911, Thomas was employed as a railway labourer in 1911 but was employed in the shipyard when he enlisted with the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was posted to 109th Field Ambulance and deployed to France with the Ulster Division in October 1915. He was killed in action on 8th August 1916, aged 20, and is buried in the Berks Cemetery Extension in Belgium. He is commemorated on the memorial tablet in St Paul’s Church of Ireland on York Road and on the Roll of Honour for Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church. His brother, Samuel John Patterson, was wounded whilst serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps in the Ulster Division and was demobilised on 28th November 1918.
William James Pelan was born on 17th October 1887 at Lilliput Street in the Duncairn Ward to John Pelan, a joiner, and Annie Pelan (nee Long). He was a painter and living at Mountcollyer Road when he married Frances Mather from Craigavad Street on 8th July 1910 in Newington Presbyterian Church. Their four children were all born in Lilliput Street, two of whom died in infancy. Thomas was born in February 1911 and died of a cerebral abscess in November 1911 and Henrietta was born in September 1914 and died of acute enteritis in March 1915. Their two children who survived were Margaret, who was born on 25th August 1912, and Sarah, who was born on 29th September 1916 – the same day that her father died. William James Pelan was deployed to France with the Royal Garrison Artillery in March 1915 and was later attached to the 49th Trench Mortar Battery in the 16th (Irish) Division. He was admitted to the 1/3rd West Riding Field Ambulance on 7th September suffering from gas poisoning, re-joining his unit on 9th September. On 22nd September 1916, the London Gazette published the citation for the Distinguished Conduct Medal awarded to Corporal William James Pelan for an earlier act of gallantry:
For gallantry and devotion to duty. He was tireless in his endeavours to keep his gun in action, digging it out four times in one day under heavy fire. He did gallant work carrying men to the dressing station.
Corporal Pelan was killed in action on 29th September 1916, aged 27, and is buried in the Lonsdale Cemetery at Authuille in France. In writing to Frances Pelan, William’s captain said:
Your husband had served with me for nearly a year in trench mortars, and I had soon realised what a splendid soldier he was. Ever since he was first promoted to be a bombardier he redoubled his efforts, which resulted not only in his obtaining further promotion, but also his D.C.M., of which we were all very proud. The task he undertook when he was killed, poor fellow, was a most dangerous one, but this never bothered him in the least. He was looking after the safety of two of his party when he met his death, having previously seen to it that the remainder were safely under cover. He never did have a thought for himself where others were concerned, and I do hope that he died so heroically may be some consolation to you in your great bereavement. As his commanding officer I want to express the great loss that all his officers and comrades have suffered by his death. He was big favourite.
(Larne Times, 28th October 1916)
On Saturday 8th September 1917, William Pelan’s Distinguished Conduct Medal was presented to his widow by Brigadier-General Hackett Pain in a public ceremony at Victoria Barracks. Frances Pelan received a War Gratuity of £10 (approximately £528 in current terms) in August 1919.
Two sons of Albert Victor Falloon, a flax spinning mill engineer, and Louise Falloon (nee Logan) made the ultimate sacrifice in the Great War and are named on the Workman Clark Shipyard Memorial.
Albert Victor Falloon was born on 11th November 1895 at Ingram’s House in Lower Ballysillan. Albert Falloon junior enlisted with the Royal Marine Light Infantry on 23rd January 1913. Albert Falloon served on HMS Exmouth, which participated in the seizure of the Greek fleet at Salamis and landed Royal Marines at Athens on 1st December 1916. The British and French troops were defeated by the Greek Army and armed civilians and were forced to withdraw to their ships. It was during this engagement that Private Albert Victor Falloon was killed. He was 21 years old and is buried in the Piraeus Naval and Consular Cemetery in Greece. A few days earlier, his parents had received a letter from Albert in which he had stated that he was in splendid health and looking forward to an early visit home.
James Huston Falloon (born 27th August 1889), was also employed at Workman Clark and was a member of the North Belfast Regiment UVF before the war. He served on the Western Front with 122nd Field Company Royal Engineers in the Ulster Division from October 1915. He was admitted to hospital on 23rd September 1916 with severe wounds that necessitated the amputation of a leg. He died of his wounds at No13 General Hospital on 9th October 1916, aged 27. Driver James Huston Falloon is buried in the Boulogne Eastern Cemetery in France. The Falloon brothers are also commemorated on the memorial tablet in Ballysillan Presbyterian Church.
HMS Hawke Disaster
Four men commemorated on the Workman Clark War Memorial lost their lives on 15th October 1914 when HMS Hawke was sunk by German Submarine U-9 in the North Sea. According to newspaper reports, two other men formerly employed at Workman Clark also died in this disaster. Stoker 1st Class George Jackson Campbell and Able Seaman John Thomas Gibson are not commemorated on the Workman Clark War Memorial. The submarine’s first torpedo ignited a magazine and caused an explosion which ripped much of the ship apart. Hawke sank in a few minutes with the loss of 524 men, including at least 49 being Ulstermen. Only 74 men, including at least six Ulstermen, were saved. The Hawke fatalities are commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial in England.
William Greer was born on 1st December 1889 at Ballybay in County Monaghan to Robert Greer and Mary Jane Greer (nee Hamilton) but the family had moved to Hamilton Street in the Ormeau district by 1901. William was employed as a labourer when he joined the Royal Navy on 14th August 1906, being transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve on 14th August 1911. William was living on the Woodstock Road when he married Annie Hull of Cluan Place on 28 October 1911 in Albertbridge Congregational Church. They had two children – Mary Margaret (born in September 1912) and William (born in April 1914). They were living at Roundhill Street when William Greer was recalled from the reserve on 5th August 1914. He joined HMS Hawke as a Stoker and was 24 when he died. Annie Greer received a pension of five shillings per week plus an allowance of three shillings per week in respect of their two children – eight shillings per week would equate to £42 per week in current terms.
Samuel Fee was born on 12th April 1889 at the Lying-In Hospital on Clifton Street to Samuel Fee and Ellen Fee (nee Patrick) and was employed as a labourer when he joined the Royal Navy on 20th April 1906. Samuel Fee married Catherine Boyd on 21st December 1909 at Whitehouse Presbyterian Church. His mother, Ellen, died of Cancer of the Uterus on 26th December 1910 and Samuel was transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve on 20th April 1911. Samuel and Catherine had two sons – Samuel (born in April 1912) and William (born in July 1913). They were living at Drumnadrough in Whitehouse when Samuel was recalled from the reserve on 5th August 1914. He joined HMS Hawke as a Stoker 1st Class and was 25 when he died. Catherine Fee later lived at Barbour Street in Greencastle and received a pension of five shillings per week plus an allowance of three shillings per week in respect of their two sons.
Robert John Hamilton was born on 10th July 1889 at Blythe Street in the Sandy Row area to Joseph Hamilton and Sarah Hamilton (nee McKinley), being one of their 12 children. His father was a shipyard joiner and the family had moved to Mersey Street by 1901. Robert was a labourer when he joined the Royal Navy on 9th April 1907, being transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve on 14th April 1912. He was recalled from the reserve on 5th August 1914 and joined HMS Hawke as a stoker. He was 25 when he died. Two of his brothers also served in the Great War. Allen Hamilton was born on 24th December 1893 at Britannic Street and was a joiner at Workman Clark. He was recalled from the Army reserve and deployed to the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in France on 20th January 1915. Rifleman Allen Hamilton was serving with 1st Battalion when he was killed in action on 10th March 1915, aged 21. He has no known grave and is commemorated on Le Touret Memorial in France. David Shaw Hamilton was born on 10th May 1885 at Silvergrove Street in the Donegall Pass area. He was a caulker at Workman Clark when he joined the Royal Navy on 12th August 1908 and was transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve on 17th August 1913. He was recalled from the reserve on 2nd August 1914 and spent most of the war as a stoker on HMS Penelope. Leading Stoker Hamilton was demobilised on 30th March 1919.
Alexander Mairs was born on 29th March 1885 at Cullybackey to John Mairs (Kellswater Station Master for the Midland Railway Company) and Maggie Mairs (nee Kenny). Alexander was a driller when he joined the Royal Navy on 7th December 1905, being transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve on 10th December 1910. He was recalled from the reserve on 6th August 1914, joining HMS Hawke as a Stoker 1st Class, and was 29 when he died. He is commemorated on the war memorial in Kells Presbyterian Church and on a family memorial in Ballymena New Cemetery.
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