Chronicling the individuals associated with the Londonderry area who lost their lives in the First World War.
Lawrence, Second Lieutenant Malcolm Eyton
Malcolm Eyton Lawrence, 6th Battalion (attached 2nd Battalion) King’s Royal Rifle Corps, was killed in action on January 10, 1915, aged 25.
He was the son of the Hon. Henry Arnold Lawrence, and his remains are interred in the Arras Road Cemetery, Roclincourt – a village a little east of the road from Arras to Lens and Lille, in the Pas de Calais region, France.
Malcolm Lawrence was educated at Eton, and served for one year in the Yorkshire Light Infantry as a special reserve officer. For the four years prior to the outbreak of the Great War he had been living in British Columbia, Canada. He enlisted in the 88th Victoria Fusiliers on the day war was declared, and came to England with the first Canadian contingent. On landing he heard that his young brother, Christopher, who had a commission in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, had been killed in action at the Aisne. He was offered and accepted a commission in his brother’s regiment, and joined the 6th Battalion at Sheerness early in November 1914, and was sent to France after a few weeks. He was killed while leading a storming party which was ordered to take an important position. His commanding officer wrote: ‘On reaching the position he found that a brother officer, who had led another storming party, was in need of assistance, as he had lost more than half his men. Lawrence dashed over the intervening seventy yards with some of his men, and was no doubt responsible for getting back his brother officer, who was now left alone and would have been cut off.’
Malcolm Lawrence was the grandson of John Laird Mair Lawrence, afterwards Lord Lawrence, the great Indian administrator, who was born on March 4, 1811. He was about five years younger than his brother, Henry, who gained great distinction as a soldier and administrator in the Indian service, and who was killed by a shell at the Lucknow Residency in 1857.
John Laird Mair Lawrence spent his early years in Derry, and was educated at Foyle College. A statue to him stood at Lawrence Hill and was later relocated to Springtown (having been, originally, erected in Lahore). The statue, by Sir Joseph Boehme, showed Lawrence with a pen in one hand and a sword in the other to illustrate his versatility as an administrator and soldier. Another statue of Lawrence stands in Waterloo Place in central London.
Galbraith, Able Seaman Francis/Frank, J/28128
Frank Galbraith, Royal Navy, was drowned in H.M.S. ‘Viknor’, on January 13, 1915.
Aged 17, he was the son of John and Martha Galbraith, and nephew of Annie Foster, 7, Stewart’s Terrace, Londonderry. A member of Great James’ Street Presbyterian Church, Londonderry, his name is recorded on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire. His name is also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.
The armed merchant cruiser HMS ‘Viknor,’ had been built as long ago as 1888 by Napier and Sons at Glasgow as a passenger liner, named the ‘Atrato,’ for use on routes between Britain and the West Indies. Capable of carrying 279 passengers, in 1912 she was renamed as the ‘Viking’ by new owners – the Viking Cruise Company – and used for cruising.
In 1914, she was requisitioned by the British Admiralty on the outbreak of the Great War. Now named HMS ‘Viknor,’ she was armed as a ‘merchant cruiser’ and allocated to the Royal Navy’s 10th Cruiser Squadron which was tasked with patrolling between Iceland and Northern Scotland.
During the first weeks of 1915, the ‘Viknor’ was on patrol off the North West coast of Ireland. She seems to have been in radio contact but she was to vanish in heavy weather on January 13, close to Tory Island, off the coast of Donegal, without sending a distress signal. She took with her the 291-man crew, as well as a German national who had been taken off a neutral Norwegian vessel under suspicion of being a secret agent, as well as six other men who have been referred to as ‘stowaways,’ Some wreckage and numerous corpses were afterwards washed up on the Irish and Scottish coasts.
Though the cause of the ‘Viknor’s’ loss cannot be established with certainty, it is probable that she hit a German mine.
Reporting on the loss of the ‘Viknor,’ the Derry Standard, on January 27, 1915, said: ‘One of the worst shipping disasters to Tyneside people for many years is the loss of the merchant war vessel Viknor, as many of the crew hailed from that district. The Admiralty announcement caused distressing scenes at South Shields and the surrounding district. Yesterday morning crowds assembled on the Milldam, where the vessel’s crew always signed articles when she was engaged on cruising tours to Norway, and painful scenes were witnessed when the worst became known. The Viknor was familiar to Shields seamen and firemen, and at the outbreak of the war was on a pleasure cruise to Norway, having to abandon the trip and come back to the Tyne.
‘Yesterday morning the dead body of a naval man, afterwards identified as Petty Officer E. Blockley, was landed at Bangor, county Down. From the evidence given at the inquest it appeared that he had been picked up in Belfast Lough. One of the naval officers stated that he believed deceased belonged to the Viknor. When picked up the man was wearing a lifebelt and an inflated collar.’
Mahon, Private Michael, 8432
Michael Mahon, Prince of Wales’ Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) 1st Battalion, was born at Derry, enlisted at Greenock, Renfrewshire – situated 23 miles north west of Glasgow – and died in Flanders on January 14, 1915.
His name is recorded on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.
In 1914, the 1st Battalion of the Leinster Regiment was serving in Fyzabad, India, and sailed from Bombay to England in October, arriving, on November 16, at the seaport of Plymouth, Devonshire. They moved to Winchester, Hampshire, and came under the orders of 82nd Brigade in 27th Division. The Division was formed at Magdalen Hill Camp, near Winchester, in November-December 1914 and was soon rushed as a much-needed reinforcement to France. The 1st Leinsters embarked at Southampton and arrived at Le Havre on December 20, 1914. They then moved to concentrate in the area between Aire and Arques – the latter situated in the middle of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, 40 kilometres from Calais and Dunkerque.
The 1st Leinsters subsequently relieved the Cameron Highlanders on January 12, 1915, at St Elois – a village of Belgium, situated two miles south of Ypres, which was the scene of much fighting in 1915 and 1916. Private Mahon died at St Eloi two days later. Three other soldiers of the 1st Leinsters died on the same day: Private David Duffy, 10009, who was born at Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, situated 13 miles north-west of Birmingham; Lance Corporal Frederick Love, 8311, who was born at Keighley, Yorkshire, nine miles north-west of Bradford and seventeen miles from Leeds; and Private William McLoughlin, 9679, aged 35, who was born at Cloghan, King’s County (later renamed Offaly) and enlisted at Birr, King’s County, Ireland.
Dunlop, Private T., 13625
Private T. Dunlop, 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was born at Templemore, County Londonderry, enlisted at Donemana, and resided at Londonderry.
He died on January 26, 1915. His remains are interred in Antrim New Cemetery, County Antrim.
Bradley, Private William, 2943
William Bradley, 6th Battalion Royal Irish Regiment, was born at Glendermott, County Londonderry, enlisted at Derry, and died on February 13, 1915.
He was the son of James Bradley, 2, Clifton Street, Waterside, Derry, and his remains are interred in Fermoy Military Cemetery, County Cork. His name is commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.
McGonagle, Private Charles, 4738
Charles McGonagle, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, died on February 14, 1915.
Aged 20, he was the son of Stephen and Annie McGonagle, and brother of Joseph McGonagle, 228, Lecky Road, Derry. His name is commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial, and his remains are interred in Cuinchy Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
Cuinchy was a village of France, situated about two miles south of La Bassee. There was some hard fighting there in January and February 1915. In trenches near the village, the 1st Scots Guards and 1st Coldstream Guards were suddenly attacked on January 25, and dislodged. After several attempts to recapture and hold the trenches, a picked party of Irish Guards and Coldstream Guards, after careful preparation, managed this successfully.
Writing about the activities of the Irish Guards around the time of Private McGonagle’s death, Rudyard Kipling said: ‘On the 11th February, for example, it is noted that the men had baked meat and suet pudding “for the first time since the war began”; on the 13th not one man was even wounded through the whole day and night; while on the 15th more than half the Battalion had hot baths “for the first time since January.” The diaries record these facts as of equal importance with a small advance by the French on their right, who captured a trench but fell into a nest of angry machine-guns and had to retire. The Battalion’s share in the work was but to assist in keeping the enemy’s heads down; in return for which the Germans shelled them an hour, killing 1 and wounding 5...’
David, Private William, 10564
William David, 1st Battalion Welsh Regiment, was born at Glendermott, County Londonderry, enlisted at Londonderry, and died in Flanders on February 20, 1915.
Aged 20, he was the son of Mary Ann David, and sister of May Andrews, 13, Bond Street, Waterside, Londonderry. His name is recorded on the All Saints’ Church (Church of Ireland), Clooney Parish, Londonderry, 1914-18 Roll of Honour, and on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium. His name is also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.
The 1st Battalion Welsh Regiment was stationed in Chakrata, India, as part of the Dehra Dun Brigade in Meerut Division, when the Great War began in August 1914. It returned to England from Karachi landing at Plymouth in late 1914. It moved to Hursley Park, Hampshire, where soldiers were mobilised in a large army camp, and then came under the orders of and remained with the 84th Brigade in 28th Division.
The 28th Division was formed at Hursley, Pitt Hill, and Magdalen Hill Camps near Winchester in December 1914 – January 1915 and was rushed as a much-needed reinforcement to France. The units of the Division embarked at Southampton and landed at Le Havre on 16-19 January 1915, and then moved to concentrate in the area between Bailleul (a French town in the department of Nord, near the Belgian border, 46 miles south-east of Calais) and Hazebrouck (another French town, which lay on the canalised river Bourre, 32 miles west-north-west of Lille) subsequently engaging in various actions on the Western Front.