The Sentinel’s dead from the first war

editorial image

During the terrible 1914-18 conflict, five members of the Sentinel staff each mourned the loss of a son, while a former editor, who had left the city in the late nineteenth century, also had a son killed in action.

Private George Wright The first son of a member of the Sentinel staff to die in the Great War was Private George Wright, 16119, 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Derry Volunteers), who was killed in action at the Somme on July 1, 1916, aged 19.

He was the son of Thomas and Jane Wright, and brother of Maggie and Mary Wright, 30, Orchard Row. He was also the brother and brother-in-law of Fanny Evelyn and William Edwards, 16, Aubrey Street (who were married on Sunday, February 28, 1915, at St Columb’s Cathedral); the brother and brother-in-law of Catherine and Robert Doherty, 71, Fountain Street (who were married on April 26, 1915, at St Columb’s Cathedral); the brother and brother-in-law of Annie and William Holloway, 22, Orchard Row; and the brother and brother-in-law of Ellen (who died on August 24, 1920, and was interred in Glendermott New Cemetery) and Matthew Kennedy, 24, Henry Street. George Wright’s name is listed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France, and on the Diamond War Memorial. His name is also inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected to that cathedral, who died during the 1914-18 War, and commemorated on Glendermott Parish Church World War 1 Memorial. George Wright joined the Derry Volunteers on the formation of the Ulster Division. His brother, Private Thomas Wright, 20, Ferguson Street, who was formerly in the 5th Inniskillings and joined the Derry Volunteers on the outbreak of the Great War, was wounded during the great bombardment preparatory to the big advance on July 1, 1916, and spent time in hospital suffering from shellshock. Private George Wright’s father, Thomas Wright, was connected with the Londonderry Sentinel for a period of fifty two years. He became an indentured apprentice in the Londonderry Sentinel in 1874, and his entire time was spent in the machine department. He became a Freeman of the city of Londonderry, a distinction of which he was always very proud. Sergeant Samuel F. Taylor The second son of a member of the Sentinel staff to lose their life in the Great War was Sergeant Samuel F. Taylor, 10124, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who was killed in action at Nieuport, Belgium, on August 8, 1917, aged 24. He was the fourth son of John and Mary Taylor, 111, Fountain Street, Londonderry, and brother of Matthew; John; Thomas; Annie; Jane; William; and Mary. His remains lie Interred in Coxyde Military Cemetery, Koksijde, West Vlaanderen, Belgium, and his name is inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 191418 War. His name is also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial. In a letter of sympathy to his parents Captain and Adjutant J. Colhoun wrote ‘ He was every inch a soldier. Since I joined the army I came in contact with him a lot from time to time, so know well what his loss will be to you all.’ Sergeant Taylor had been at the Front since the outbreak of war, being wounded in 1914 and promoted on the field. He had two brothers serving with the colours. One brother, John, 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was wounded at the Dardanelles in 1915, and spent time recovering in Netley Hospital. The other brother, Matthew, 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was wounded on the same day Sergeant Samuel Taylor died. Sergeant Samuel Taylor’s father, Mr John Taylor, was a native of Coleraine, and served his time with the Londonderry Sentinel newspaper works, where he was for forty years, most of which were spent in the newsroom, before his death, on December 30, 1934, at the age of 74. Sergeant Samuel Taylor’s brother, Private John Taylor, was admitted to the Londonderry Infirmary, around the beginning of January 1926, suffering from severe wounds to the throat, apparently caused by a razor. Initial reports stated it appeared Private Taylor was sitting in a room with his father on Sunday, January 3, 1926, when he was observed to stoop down. His father asked him was he looking for his kitbag, and, in reply, his son extended his hand towards him, remarking, “ Goodbye, father, I’m done.” He then collapsed and fell on the floor. The father, noticing a pool of blood on the floor, gave the alarm, and the Fire Brigade ambulance was summoned, and conveyed the wounded man to the Infirmary, where it was found that he was suffering from a lacerated wound on the throat, extending almost from ear to ear. At a special Court in Londonderry, on Tuesday, January 26, before Mr Denis Boyle, JP, and other magistrates, Private Taylor was charged with having attempted to commit suicide. The magistrates returned the accused for trial at the March Assizes, fixing bail at 20 and two sureties of 10 each. Corporal David Houston One week after the death of Sergeant Samuel Taylor, Corporal David Houston, 9574, 1st/ 8th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action at Ypres on August 16, 1917. He was the husband of Mrs Nellie Houston, 35, Wapping Lane, and possibly the brother of Mina Johnson, who married Frederick Spencer Willis, 37, Wapping Lane/ 5, McLaughlin’s Square, Ferguson Street, on March 19, 1921, at St Columb’s Cathedral. David Houston is interred in Larch Wood (Railway Cutting) Cemetery, Ieper, West Vlaanderen, Belgium. His name is inscribed on St Columb’s Cathedral ( Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 191418 War, and his name is also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial. Corporal Houston, who had ten years’ service, four of which were spent in India, was the only son of David and Jane ( nee Creswell) Houston, 30, Miller Street. Corporal Houston’s father, David ( senior), was one of the oldest employees in the Londonderry Sentinel when he passed away on Thursday, January 22, 1931, at the City and County Infirmary. Lieutenant Hugh Arbuckle The fourth son of a member of the Sentinel staff to die in the Great War was Second Lieutenant Hugh (Hubert) Arbuckle, 15295, 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment, who was killed in action on Monday, September 2, 1918, at the smashing of the Hindenburg Line, aged 26. He was the third son of Hugh and Annie Arbuckle, 9, Abercorn Place / 79, Foyle Road, Londonderry, and husband of Mary Helen Arbuckle, 131, Belmont Road, Belfast. He was the brother of Matilda; William; Mabel Wilson ( who married Robert, son of Hamilton Boyd, Londonderry, on June 30, 1914, at Derry Cathedral); and Samuel ( who married Jennie Blanche Luxemburger, on August 28, 1914, at Scranton, Pennsylvania, U. S. A., and died 16th October, 1955, at Tunkhannock, U. S. A., aged 67). Hubert Arbuckle is interred in Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy, Pas de Calais, France. Second Lieutenant Arbuckle was one of the first of the Derry men to answer the call to the colours on the outbreak of the Great War, joining the 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Ulster Division. He early received promotion to the rank of sergeant, and went to France with the Division in September 1915. Between that date and the great Somme advance of July 1, 1916, he took an active part in trench fighting. Writing, shortly after the Somme advance, to his mother from hospital in Birmingham, Hubert Arbuckle stated that he had been wounded in the left knee with shrapnel and was going on well. On May 30, 1918, at Newtownards Road Methodist Church, Belfast, he married Miss Mary Helen Cooke, second daughter of Mr Robert Cooke, 152, My Lady’s Road, Belfast. He had only returned to France some three months when he was killed. Initial reports stated that on the morning of the attack, which was to claim his life, Second Lieutenant Arbuckle took over the command of a company, and while leading him into action was wounded. Several of his men on seeing him fall carried him to a shell hole, but he insisted on being removed from it again in order to accompany the attacking troops. While thus advancing he collapsed owing to the severity of his wounds, and died. Hugh Arbuckle ( senior) was, for many years, a member of the select vestry of St Columb’s Cathedral. Corporal Edward Nutter The fifth son of a member of the Sentinel staff to die in the Great War was Corporal Edward Nutter, 20396, 1st Leinster Regiment/ 5th Royal Irish Rifles, who died at Alexandria, Egypt, of malaria fever, on October 25, 1918. He was the son of Thomas Nutter, 37, Fountain Street, Londonderry, and brother of William Nelson Nutter, who served in the Great War with the 10th Inniskillings. Corporal Nutter is interred in Ramleh War Cemetery, Israel, and his name is recorded on St Augustine’s Church ( Church of Ireland), Londonderry, First World War Memorial. His name is also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial. Corporal Edward Nutter’s father, Mr Thomas Nutter, was employed, for a period of more than fiftyeight years, in the paperruling department of the Londonderry Sentinel. In his early days Thomas Nutter took an active part in sport, especially cricket. He was connected with the St Columb’s Court eleven throughout the ten years of its existence in the 1880s and 1890s, and was recognised as a skilled bowler. Thomas Nutter died on Monday, June 13, 1932, and was buried in Glendermott Cemetery. He was over eighty. Second Lieutenant John Seymour Pressly The son of the former editor of the Londonderry Sentinel who died in the Great War was Second Lieutenant John ( Jack) Seymour Pressly, 1st/ 5th Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, who served on the Western Front, and was killed on November 15, 1915, aged 23. He was the son of David L. and Isabella Pressly, Ladbroke House, Scarcroft Road, York, and is interred in Bard Cottage Cemetery, Ieper, WestVlaanderen, Belgium. Second Lieutenant Pressly was born in Londonderry in 1892, and was quite an infant when his father left Derry (which would help explain why his name does not appear on the Diamond War Memorial). He was in commercial life in Winnipeg, Canada, and belonged to the Canadian Grenadiers. He returned home and received a commission in the K. O. Y. L. I. Second Lieutenant Pressly’s father was editor of the Londonderry Sentinel from 1884 to 1893. He died circa April 1922, and was, for the last eighteen years of his life, managing editor of the Yorkshire Herald. A native of Aberdeen, where he gained his early journalistic experience, he spent a few years in Cape Town. He came to Londonderry as chief reporter of the Derry Standard. Two Sentinel Survivors of the GreatWar Mr John J Casson, for 45 years an employee of the Londonderry Sentinel, died at his residence, 36, Ewing Street, Londonderry, at midnight on Sunday, April 16, 1933. Mr Casson, who was a native of the city, served his apprenticeship in the jobbing department of the Sentinel. For the fourteen years prior to his retirement, through continued ill health, he was on the staff of the newsroom. Although in his late forties at the time the Great War broke out, Mr Casson volunteered for active service in 1915. He joined up with the famous 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Derry Volunteers), and during his time at Finner Camp he was one of the men who was sent to Dublin for duty following the Easter Rebellion in 1916. After his return to Finner Camp he was drafted into the Royal Engineers, with whom he went to France. He was gassed at Ypres, and after a few months’ active service was invalided home. He never really recovered from the effects of his war service, and about a year prior to his death he retired from his work owing to poor health. Some improvement followed, and he was back again working in the jobbing department of the Sentinel towards the end of 1932, but later was taken seriously ill and confined to his room. Mr Casson was keenly interested in the Orange Institution, being a prominent member of LOL No. 871, and a great follower of football. His wife was well known in the Women’s Loyal Orange Association. In April 1947, fourteen years after the death of John Casson, John Denham McGuire passed away. His funeral took place from his residence, Castleview Terrace, Castlederg, and he was buried in Castlederg Cemetery. In his younger days, he was an employee of the Sentinel. He served with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in the FirstWorldWar. In 1923 he joined the RUC, being stationed in Castlederg until 1940, when he resigned. He rejoined the Army for World War II, but after a few months’ service was discharged medically unfit. About two years before his death he contracted a serious illness, which necessitated the amputation of his left leg, and afterwards spent considerable periods in hospital.