July 1, 1916, and The Fountain

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The plan was a not a complex one: Fourth Army, under the control of General Sir Henry Rawlinson, was to proceed one-and-a-half miles along a 14-mile wide front. Reserve Army (later renamed Fifth Army), under General Sir Hubert Gough, would then advance through the gap, seize the town of Bapaume, and then swing north towards Arras, rolling up the enemy trenches as it went.

In the event, things did not go quite according to the plan.

The artillery bombardment that heralded the Battle of the Somme began on June 24, 1916, and would continue for a whole week until July 1 – long enough, it was approximated, to cut the German wire, annihilate most of their front-line positions, and generally dishearten any troops it failed to kill.

For a number of reasons, including a shortage of shells, local variations in the strength and duration of the bombardment, and the fact that the German lines held a number of deep bunkers unaffected by the shelling, the bombardment did not achieve all of its ambitions. Hence when the Battle of the Somme opened on July 1, troops in many areas found the barbed wire in front of them intact, leaving them exposed to the German machine guns as they tried desperately to cut their way through.

The total number of casualties suffered by the British on the first day of the Somme was 57, 470, including almost 20, 000 dead. Among those who died or were fatally wounded that day were at least 28 men who had strong family ties with the Fountain district in Londonderry. Their names are as follows…

Allen, Company Sergeant Major Henry Stewart, 15277

‘A’ Company, 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Derry Volunteers). Born on June 2, 1878. Enlisted Londonderry. Member of Ebrington Presbyterian Church. Son of William John and Martha (nee Wilson) Allen, 120, Spencer Road. Brother and brother-in-law of William and Annie M Allen, 11, George’s Street. Name commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial. Name also recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France.

Allen, Private Robert, 20954

‘C’ Company, 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Born on April 13, 1897. Son of William and Rebecca (nee Wallace) Allen, 10, Victoria Street, Londonderry. Interred in Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme, France. Name inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 1914-18 War. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Robert Allen formerly worked in the Londonderry Shipyard.

Allender, Lance Corporal John James, 15280

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Enlisted at Finner Camp. Son of John Allender, 10, Fountain Place. Name inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 1914-18 War. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Joining the colours on the outbreak of war, Lance Corporal Allender went to the Western Front with the Ulster Division in September 1915.

Ballantine, Private William Alexander (Billy), 10954

2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Born on 12/13 March, 1888. Member of First Derry Presbyterian Church. Resident of Fountain Street, Londonderry. Husband of Ellen (formerly Moore), whom he married on January 24, 1916. Son of Benjamin and Sarah (nee Campbell) Ballantine. Son-in-law of Edward and Margaret Moore, 19, Albert Place. Fought at Suvla Bay in the 6th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Name inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 1914-18 War. Name also recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France, and on the Diamond War Memorial.

Boyd, Lance Corporal Robert Thomas, 15338

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Born on August 19, 1896. Only son of Samuel and Elizabeth (nee White) Boyd, 11, Kennedy Street, Londonderry. Brother of Rebecca May (born December 3, 1893). Brother and brother-in-law of Margaret and William Barnett, 13, Kennedy Street, who were married, at St Columb’s Cathedral, on December 16, 1919. Interred in the Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme, France. Name inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 1914-18 War. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Lance Corporal Robert Boyd joined the Ulster Division on its formation, and went to the Front with it at the end of 1915.

Brown, Private Robert, 22345

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Born Carrigans, County Donegal. Son of Mary Jane Brown, 13, Fountain Place, Londonderry. Husband of Jessie Brown, 32, Fountain Place, Londonderry. Name commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France. Name also inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 1914-18 War, and on the Diamond War Memorial.

Private Brown’s brother, John, also of the Derry Volunteers, died, on July 2, 1916, of wounds received in action. Another brother, James Brown, served at the Front with the Inniskillings.

Devine, Private William James, 25525

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Brother of Deborah Devine, 21, Fountain Place, Londonderry. Name inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 1914-18 War, and on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Donnell, Private John (Jack), 15482

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Age 19/20. Eldest son of Mr Charles Donnell, 35, Wapping Lane. Brother of Charles Donnell, 10, Aubrey Street. Name recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France, and St Augustine’s Church (Church of Ireland), Londonderry, First World War Memorial. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Private Donnell, who had a brother on active service with the Derry Volunteers, was a member of Churchhill Loyal Orange Lodge 871 and Walker Club of Apprentice Boys of Derry. He joined the colours on the outbreak of war, and went to the Front with the Ulster Division in September 1915.

Gilliland, Lance Corporal James (Jamie), 15544

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Born Burt, County Donegal. Brother of Mr Samuel Gilliland, 14, Albert Place, Londonderry. Brother-in-law of Maud Gilliland, 27, Cuthbert Street, Waterside, Londonderry. Name recorded on Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Greer, Private William (Willie) Lecky, 20381

‘B’ Company, 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Member of Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church. Son of Alexander and Maggie Lecky Greer, 12, Henry Street. Brother of Robert, Alex, Elizabeth, and Maggie Isabel. Interred in Forceville Communal Cemetery and Extension. Name commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial. Before joining the Ulster Division Willie Greer worked in the Shipyard.

Jackson, Private Joseph, 22349

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Member of Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church. Son of Archibald and Mary Jackson, 38, Albert Street. Grandson of Mr Joseph Jackson, Myroe, Limavady. Name recorded on Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

McAllister, Private William, 19780

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Son of Rebecca and Thomas McAllister, and brother of James McAllister, 13, Henry Street. Interred in Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme, France. Name recorded on Christ Church (Church of Ireland), Londonderry, World War 1 Memorial. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

William McAllister’s mother received a letter, dated July 26, 1916, from the Reverend JG Paton, chaplain, conveying to her the news that her son was believed killed. ‘He was with a Lewis gun team in the great advance,’ wrote Mr Paton, ‘and they got to the third German line. All the members of that team have been reported missing after doing splendid work, and it is the general opinion that they have been killed. He did nobly, and has all too probably given his life for his country. I can tell you nothing further just now. We all send you our sympathy, and pray that God will comfort you and help you to take your hard part as bravely as your brave son has done his.’

At time of death Private William McAllister had three brothers with the colours – David in the 6th Dragoons (almost certainly the same Private D McAllister, Royal Irish Fusiliers, and brother of deceased, who was wounded on March 24, 1918); Andrew in the Royal Engineers; and John in the Royal Marine Engineers.

McBride, Private James, 15790

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Age 33. Husband of Lizzie McClelland, 17, Fountain Place, whom he married on April 16, 1900, in Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church. Name recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

McElhinney, Private Thomas (Tommy), 11128

1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Name commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Tommy McElhinney, who was a son of Mrs Matilda McElhinney, Fountain Street, fought through the Dardanelles campaign, where he was twice wounded. One of his brothers was taken prisoner while serving with the Royal Irish Fusiliers, and another served with the navy.

McGahey, Private James (Jamie), 10959

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Died on July 16, 1916, in Germany, from wounds received in action on July 1, 1916. Son of Mrs Elizabeth McGahey, 2, Clarence Place. Brother and brother-in-law of Charles and Mabel McGahey, 15, Kennedy Street, Londonderry. Interred in Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel, Hessen, Germany. Name inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 1914-18 War. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

McGowan, Lance Corporal Donald, 15849

‘B’ Company, 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Born Cullion, County Tyrone. Age 22. Member of Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church. Son of George and Jane McGowan, 55, Fountain Street. Brother of Jeannie Atkinson, 12, Artillery Street, Londonderry. Listed on Murray Parent Club of Apprentice Boys of Derry 1914-18 War Roll of Honour. Interred in Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme, France. Name commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Lance Corporal McGowan’s brother-in-law also made the supreme sacrifice on July 1, 1916, and he had two other brothers on active service at time of death.

McGregor, Corporal Samuel Jackson, 15848

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, attached to the Trench Mortar Battery. Age 23/24. Member of First Derry Presbyterian Church. Prominent member of the ‘No Surrender’ Band. Fifth son of Thomas and Matilda McGregor, 8, Kennedy Street. Name recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

McIntyre, Private John, 26701

11th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Donegal Volunteers). Son of Hugh McIntyre, Gordon Terrace, Londonderry. Husband of Sarah McIntyre, 23, Fountain Street. Father of Sarah and Esther. Name recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

The Reverend Alexander Spence, chaplain, writing to Private McIntyre’s wife, intimated that the body of her husband, missing since July 1, 1916, had been found and given Christian burial. The Reverend Spence wrote of the deceased – ‘He was a splendid soldier and fearless, and he died doing his duty, amid brave men.’

Private McIntyre was formerly a cutter in Messrs. Welch Margetson & Co.’s, and had a brother killed serving with the Irish Guards. Mrs McIntyre was left with seven children, the eldest of whom served with the 12th (Reserve) Battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Martin, Private Samuel Alexander, 8706

1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers. Died in the 1st General Hospital, France, on July 19/20, 1916, from wounds received in action on July 1, 1916. Husband of Mrs Minnie Martin, 4, Orchard Row. Brother of Fannie Gallagher, and brother-in-law of James Smallwoods, 14, Aubrey Street. Interred in Etretat Churchyard. Name recorded on Christ Church (Church of Ireland), Londonderry, World War 1 Memorial. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Maxwell, Private Nicholas (Nicky), 9550

1st/2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Born Stranorlar, County Donegal. Died from wounds received on July 1, 1916, at North Eventon War Hospital, Leicester, on July 12, 1916. Age 26. Interred in Londonderry City Cemetery. Brother and brother-in-law of George and Maria Maxwell, 4, Wapping Lane. Brother and brother-in-law of Elizabeth (Lizzie) and Andrew Creswell, 1, Gordon Terrace, Londonderry. Name inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 1914-18 War. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Nicholas Maxwell was one of three soldier sons of Mary Ann and Robert Maxwell, 4, Wapping Lane, Londonderry. An eight years’ service man, he fought in many engagements, both in Flanders and the Dardanelles. He was wounded in the latter campaign in May 1915, and again severely wounded during heavy fighting on the British front in France. His mother was on the way from Derry to see her wounded son when the word came that he had died. His funeral took place in Londonderry on Saturday, July 15, 1916, and was attended by the pipe and brass band of the 3rd Inniskillings, a firing party, and a number of the soldier’s comrades.

Miller, Lance Corporal Alexander, 15736

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Possibly son of Hessie and John Miller. Brother of Miss Jeannie Miller, 73, Fountain Street. Member of Second Derry (Strand Road) Presbyterian Church. Name commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial. Name also listed on Murray Parent Club of Apprentice Boys of Derry 1914-18 War Roll of Honour.

Neill, Private James, 15901

‘B’ Company, 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Born Moville. Member of First Derry Presbyterian Church. Resident of Fountain Street. Brother of Lily B Neill, Waterloo Place. Name recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Norris, Private John, 21081

‘D’ Company, 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Native of Drumahoe, County Londonderry. Resident of Londonderry for ten years. Age 35. Member of First Derry Presbyterian Church. Son of Robert and Nancy Norris, Brook Hall, County Londonderry. Husband of Mrs Elizabeth (Lizzie) Norris (later Young), 34, Fountain Place. Name recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Russell, Lance Corporal Robert, 15988

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Age 24. Son of James Russell, Albert Street, Londonderry. Husband of Lavina Russell, 6, Barnewall Place, Waterside, Londonderry. Name inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 1914-18 War. Name commemorated on Glendermott Parish Church World War 1 Memorial. Name also recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France, and commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Stewart, Private Adam Allison, 20958

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Age 19. Member of Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church. Only son of Sarah J Stewart, 21, Albert Street, Londonderry, and Mr Thomas Stewart, Edenmore, Limavady. Name recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France, and commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Before joining the Ulster Division, Adam Stewart was a plumber in the Foyle Shipyard, Londonderry.

Writing to Private Stewart’s mother, the Reverend JG Paton, chaplain, said: ‘I am sorry to have to tell you of the death of your son. He was in the great advance of the 1st July, and was next Lieutenant Douglas, of Limavady, when a shell came, killing your son and wounding the officer. Your boy did his part like a man and died without the pain which too many had to suffer. This news has only just come to hand or you would have had it sooner. You have the satisfaction of knowing that you have every reason to be proud of your son, and we all pray that you may be comforted from Above at this time.’

Williams, Company Sergeant Major George Henry, 14500

11th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Donegal Volunteers). Born Mulray, County Donegal. Name recorded on Christ Church (Church of Ireland), Londonderry, World War 1 Memorial. Youngest son of Mr George Williams, ex-SO, HM Coastguards, 8, Marlborough Avenue, Londonderry. Brother and brother-in-law of Richard and Elizabeth Williams, 4, Kennedy Street. Interred in Warloy Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France. Name recorded on the Diamond War Memorial.

George Henry Williams served twelve years in the RGA, his time of service expiring one year prior to World War One, and joined the Ulster Division on its formation.

Wray, Corporal Thomas, 16121

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Husband of Elizabeth Wray, 15, Fountain Street. Name commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France, and on the Diamond War Memorial. Name also inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 1914-18 War.

Wright, Private George, 16119

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Age 19. Son of Thomas and Jane Wright, and brother of Maggie and Mary Wright, 30, Orchard Row. Brother and brother-in-law of Fanny Evelyn and William Edwards, 16, Aubrey Street. Brother and brother-in-law of Catherine and Robert Doherty, 71, Fountain Street. Possibly brother and brother-in-law of Ellen and Matthew Kennedy, 24, Henry Street. Name listed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France, and on the Diamond War Memorial. Name also inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 1914-18 War, and commemorated on Glendermott Parish Church World War 1 Memorial.