Local historian Trevor Temple chronicles the individuals associated with Londonderry who lost their lives in WWI.
Kennedy, Private Joseph, 10092
Joseph Kennedy, ‘A’ Company, 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was born at Raphoe, County Donegal, enlisted at Omagh, and died at the Dardanelles on May 23, 1915.
Aged 21, he was the son of Joseph and Margaret Kennedy, 9, Epworth Street, Derry, and 124, West Graham Street, Glasgow.
He was also possibly the brother of Margaret Beattie, who married Thomas Culbertson, second son of Mr and Mrs M. S. Furness, 40, Harrison Road, Edinburgh, on May 9, 1922, at St Andrews’ Episcopal Church, Glasgow.
Being Unionists, Joseph, Mina and Margaret Kennedy, 9, Epworth Street, signed the 1912 Ulster Covenant pledging resistance to Home Rule for Ireland.
Private Kennedy’s remains are interred in Pink Farm Cemetery, Helles, and his name is recorded on the Christ Church (Church of Ireland), Londonderry, World War 1 Memorial. His name is also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.
In a letter received from him, by the same post as brought the notification of his death, Private Kennedy mentioned that he had two narrow escapes.
‘Two bullets went through my cap, one of them grazing my head all along without cutting me. When I felt the sting of it I thought I was shot. The other one left a black mark on my cap. The same evening, as I was leaving the trench to go into a dug-out in the rear, a shell struck the parapet just on my right front, but, as luck would have it, didn’t explode.’
In an earlier letter the young Derry man described the landing of the Inniskillings at the Dardanelles, and the first action. Referring to the annoyance caused by snipers, he wrote: ‘I killed one and wounded another. The sergeant spotted them in the trees with his glasses. He told me to have a shot at 750. The first cut the leaves of the tree, and the next got him. He fell down like a bundle of rags. We saw him later. He was shot right through the head. The other sniper was also in the tree. He fell down head first when I fired, but crawled into cover before I could get another pot at him.’ In another passage he described seeing a Captain Ridings being wounded almost beside him. ‘Some fellow bandaged him up, and I carried him back to cover. I think it is a miracle both of us were not riddled, as bullets were flying all round.’
The name of Joseph Kennedy was read out during a memorial service held in St Columb’s (Church of Ireland) Cathedral, Londonderry, on Sunday, August 1, 1915, to commemorate the officers and men of the city of Derry, who had died during the first year of the Great War.
Lynch, Private John, 3287
John Lynch, 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was born at Templemore, County Londonderry, enlisted at Londonderry, and died at the Dardanelles on May 23, 1915.
His remains are interred in Pink Farm Cemetery, Helles, and his name is commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.
McGinley, Private James, 10435
James McGinley, 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, died at Flanders on May 24, 1915.
Aged 26, he was the son of Charles and Mary J. McGinley, 18, Cross Street, Waterside, Londonderry. He was also the brother of Ellen J.; Charlotte; Charles; Joseph; Patrick; Michael; and Francis. His name is recorded on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium, and commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.
On May 24, 1915, the 2nd Dublin Fusiliers were subjected to a major gas attack at Mouse Trap Farm, a Flemish chalet about two and a half miles from Ypre’s Menin Gate. Close to 3am, red lights speckled in the skies overhead. The Germans had begun firing chlorine gas. The gas came ‘drifting down wind in a solid bank some three miles in length and forty feet in depth, bleaching the grass, blighting the trees and leaving a broad scar of destruction behind it.’ The RDF trenches were about 35 metres from the German lines. The soldiers desperately attempted to evade the poison but it was useless. Many dropped instantly, the others were picked off by the quick-moving German infantry.
By 9.30pm, out of a strength of 668, 647 were casualties, 149 listed dead. Included among the fatalities was Sergeant William Malone, whose brother, Lieutenant Michael Malone, Irish Volunteers, was an Easter Rising casualty, killed at Northumberland Street, on April 26, 1916.
Another 2nd Dublin Fusilier fatality at Mouse Trap Farm on May 24, 1915, was former Irish Rugby International Captain, Basil Maclear. His brother, Lieutenant Colonel Percy Maclear was also killed in action on August 30, 1914, and is remembered on the Lokoja Memorial, Nigeria.
McIntyre, Private James, 9977
James McIntyre, 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers, died in France on May 24, 1915.
He was the brother of Charles McIntyre, 2, Artisan Street, Rosemount, Derry, and his remains are interred in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France. His name is commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.
Private McIntyre was stationed with his battalion in India for six years, and had been at the Front since December 1914. Describing the activities of the 2nd Irish Fusiliers in the month Private McIntyre lost his life, Henry Harris, author of The Royal Irish Fusiliers, wrote: ‘In the mid-May fighting the 1st and 2nd Battalions were on the right and left of their respective divisional fronts...It was the closest the two battalions were to come for the rest of the war. They shared adversity at this time; the mere occupation of trenches, without attacks, cost the 2nd Battalion two officers killed and four wounded and 192 other rank casualties during the month of May.’
Miller, Lieutenant Joseph Ewing Bruce
Joseph Ewing Bruce Miller, 5th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (attached 1st), was born on January 2, 1895, and died from terrible shrapnel wounds, in the chest and shoulder, at the Field Hospital, St Omer, France, on May 24, 1915.
Aged 20, he was the son of Dr Joseph Ewing and Helen Stewart Miller, Pump Street, Londonderry. He was educated at Foyle College, and belonged to the Apprentice Boys of Derry Club of Apprentice Boys of Derry. His remains are interred in Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France, and his name is inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected to that cathedral who died during the 1914-18 War. His name is also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.
Lieutenant Miller, after the outbreak of the Great War, received a commission in the 5th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles, and was stationed in Belfast up till March 16, 1915, when he went to the Front and was attached to the 1st Battalion.
At a sitting of the Londonderry Rural Petty Sessions, held on Wednesday, June 9, 1915, tribute was paid to Lieutenant Bruce Miller, and a number of Derry men, who had recently fallen in the field of battle. Lieutenant Colonel Cecil H. Browne-Lecky, D.L., who presided, said before proceeding with the business he wished, on behalf of the Bench, to express deep regret with reference to the sad loss a number of Derry families and some of their present brother justices had recently sustained. They desired to express sincere sympathy with one of their number, Dr Joseph Miller, on the loss of his fine and valiant son, who fell on the field of battle fighting for his country; with another of their colleagues, Mr Marshall Tillie, on the death of his son-in-law, Captain Geddes; also with the relatives of Captain Valentine Gilliland, Brookhall, whose father, the late Mr G. K. Gilliland. D.L., was a well known and eminent citizen and a constant attender at that bench.
They also deeply regretted the death of Lieutenant W. M. M. Gilliland, a son of Mrs Louis Gilliland; and of Captain Goold-Adams, whose father, the Venerable Archdeacon of Derry, was for many years a distinguished Derry clergyman. It was a source of great regret to the Bench that so many young lives were sacrificed when doing their duty for the welfare and safety of the United Kingdom.
There were, the Chairman added, many more young men in all stages of life who could follow these brilliant examples, and it was a pity that so far as Ireland was concerned, in spite of what had been done, more did not come forward to give effect to the magnificent fighting qualities of the race. The name of Bruce Miller was read out during a memorial service held in St Columb’s (Church of Ireland) Cathedral, Londonderry, on Sunday, August 1, 1915, to commemorate the officers and men of the city of Derry, who had died during the first year of the Great War.
His name was also among a list of Great War dead, associated with Foyle College, Londonderry, read aloud during that College’s annual prize giving ceremony, held on Thursday, December 19, 1918.
Bruce Miller belonged to a family that had been connected with the city of Londonderry for centuries. His great-grandfather, Dr Joseph Ewing Miller, a son of the Reverend Henry Miller, Presbyterian minister of Old Glendermott, served on the Corporation from 1832 to 1880, having been a member of the old Corporation which was abolished in 1841. He was Mayor of the next Corporation, known as the Reformed Corporation, which came into being in 1842, and held this position, during his forty-eight years’ membership, no fewer than seven times. Bruce Miller’s grandfather, Sir William Miller, J.P., M.B., of Termonbacca, served on Londonderry Corporation for thirty-two years, and was five times Mayor, in 1875-76-77-78-79.
Bruce Miller’s father, Dr Joseph Ewing Miller, has been described as genial and courteous in disposition, and skilful and conscientious as a physician. He was medical officer to the Post Office Department in the city of Londonderry, and also to the Prisons Board. He was also one of the honorary staff of the Infirmary, of which for a long succession of years his father was surgeon in charge. He married Miss Helen Stewart Bruce, daughter of Major Bruce, of Crawford Square. Their only daughter died not long after her husband, Captain Charles Norman, D.L., was killed in France during the Great War (Florinda, a little daughter of Captain and Mrs Norman, survived).
Francis, Sergeant Major John William Thomas, 7724
John William Thomas Francis, 1st Cheshire Regiment, was born at St Oswald’s, Chester.
He died at Nottingham on May 25, 1915, and was buried with full military honours in his native city of Chester. He was stationed in Derry prior to the outbreak of the Great War.
Not only was Sergeant Major Francis mentioned in despatches, but he was also awarded for gallantry at Le Cateau the French Medaille Militaire.
In regimental athletics he had a fine record. He was a good footballer and the champion middleweight boxer of the regiment.