Local historian Trevor Temple chronicles the individuals associated with Londonderry who lost their lives in WWI.
Barr, Lieutenant Samuel Tudor
Thirty-one year old Samuel Tudor Barr, 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars, Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line (incl. Yeomanry and Imperial Camel Corps), was killed in action on February 23, 1915.
He was the son of Sir James and Lady Barr, of Otterspool Bank, Aigburth Vale, Liverpool. His remains are interred in Hooge Crater Cemetery, which lies about four kilometres east of Ypres in the Flemish province of West-Vlaanderen in Belgium.
On the outbreak of the Great War, the 3rd Hussars were stationed at Shorncliffe, Kent, as part of the 4th Cavalry Brigade. On mobilisation, the brigade was assigned to the Cavalry Division of the British Expeditionary Force, and was sent to France, arriving in Rouen on August 17, 1914. By August 21, it was in action opposing the German cavalry at Mons. For a fortnight the retreat from Mons saw the Hussars pushed back through Le Cateau over 200 miles until, on September 5, the British and French armies turned, inflicting defeats on the Germans at the Marne and the Aisne. The struggle for Flanders began in October in Ypres with the cavalry fighting as infantry holding the lines at Messines under intense pressure. In the same month, the 4th Brigade was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Division, with which it remained for the remainder of the war, serving on the Western Front.
Lieutenant Barr’s father, the eminent physician, Sir James Barr, was born at Claremont, near Donemana, County Tyrone, on September 25, 1849. He was educated at the Academy, Londonderry, and Glasgow University, where he graduated in 1873, and his first professional appointment was as house physician at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Subsequently he went on a voyage to South America and on his arrival in Liverpool he was appointed to the Northern Hospital as house physician, settling in Everton at that time.
He married on July 12, 1882, in Holy Trinity Church, Walton-on-the-Hill, Lancashire, Isabella Maria Woolley, daughter of Jeremiah Woolley of Liverpool. She died in September 1938.
Working in Kirkdale Gaol in Liverpool, as a Medical Officer, Dr Barr developed a strong interest in the care of prisoners. Controversy followed his 1885 visit to Ireland to report on the condition of Irish prisons at a time when the first Home Rule debate was in full spate. Vehement protests were made by Irish Nationalists against the conditions under which political prisoners were being treated and Lord Balfour, then Chief Secretary for Ireland, requested that an English prison medical officer should be sent across to report on the matter.
A storm burst when Dr Barr reported that the conditions in Irish prisons, regarding both diet and hygiene, were better than those in English gaols and that, considering their refusal to obey prison orders, the political prisoners were being treated with marked leniency. Nationalists were furious and Dr Barr’s life was threatened on frequent occasions.
James Barr gave evidence to the Capital Sentences Committee (1886-88) and in 1891 was involved in the training of the first three hangmen who were put on the list of persons competent to perform executions.
He was knighted in 1905; elected President of the British Medical Association in 1912; and awarded a CBE in 1920. He was Vice President of the Society of Constructive Birth Control and a strong supporter of birth control pioneer, Marie Stopes.
James Barr lived in London from 1926, when he retired from active service, and died at Wildcroft Manor, Putney Heath, Surrey, on November 16, 1938, at the age of 89. Munk’s Roll – a series of published works containing entries of the Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians – described him as being ‘a vigorous, pugnacious man with a strong Ulster accent, impervious to criticism and incapable of moderation.’
Kelly, Guardsman John Joseph, 4876
John Joseph Kelly, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, was born at Londonderry, enlisted at Glasgow, Lanarkshire, and died from wounds in hospital at Bethune, France, on February 25, 1915.
Aged 26, he was the brother of James Kelly, 67, St Columb’s Wells, Derry. His name is commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial, and his remains are interred in Bethune Town Cemetery.
Bethune was a town of France, in the department of Pas-de-Calais, 24 miles north-west of Arras, at the junction of two canals. Before the Great War its industries were oil distilling, salt refining, and earthenware and linen manufacture. During the Great War, Bethune was a principal railway head for the Allies’ positions north of the Lys river, strategically covering their communications with the Channel ports.
Describing the actions of the 1st Irish Guards on the day Guardsman Kelly lost his life, their historian, Rudyard Kipling, wrote: ‘Towards the end of the month our men had finished their trench-cleanings and brickings-up, had buried all dead that could be got at, and word went round that, if the situation on the 25th February could be considered “healthy” the Prince of Wales would visit them. The Germans, perhaps on information received (for the back-areas were thronged with spies), chose that day to be very active with a small gun, and as a fresh trench linking up with the French on the La Bassée road had been made and was visible against some newfallen snow, they shelled that too. For this reason the Prince was not taken quite up to the front line, at which “he was rather annoyed.” The precaution was reasonable enough. A few minutes after he had left a sector judged “comparatively safe” 2nd Lieutenant T. Allen was killed by a shell pitching on the parapet there. Three privates were also killed and 4 wounded by shell or bomb on that “healthy” day. The same gun which had been giving trouble during the Prince’s visit was thought to be located by flash somewhere on the north side of the La Bassée road and siege-howitzers kept it subdued till the evening of the 25th, when, with the usual German scrupulosity, it began to shell the main road, by which reliefs came, at ten-minute intervals for three hours, but with no casualties as far as the Irish were concerned. One shell, duly noted, arrived near Brigade Headquarters and a battery of ours was asked to abate the nuisance. It is curious that only a few hours later the Germans were shelling a French battery not far from Béthune with ten-inch stuff which, if expended on the main road, would have disorganised our reliefs very completely. This was on the eve of going into Corps Reserve at Béthune, where the Battalion took over the Collège de Jeunes Filles from the Worcesters, the best billets since the war began...’
Packenham, Lance Corporal William H., 7765
William Packenham, 2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers, was born at Granard, three miles west of Ballywillan, County Longford.
He resided at Athy, an urban district and market town of Kildare, and enlisted at Mullingar, a county town of County Westmeath, situated on the Brosna river and the Royal Canal, fifty miles north-west of Dublin. He died on February 26, 1915, at Colchester Military Hospital, Essex, from wounds received in action near Ypres, Belgium, on October 29, 1914. His remains are interred in Colchester Cemetery.
2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers were stationed at Aldershot, Hampshire, when the Great War broke out in August 1914. They arrived at Boulogne, France, on August 14, 1914, forming part of 5th Brigade in 2nd Division of the original British Expeditionary Force. 2nd Connaught Rangers introduced the marching song ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ to the Western Front, and during the opening year of the War took part in: the Retreat from Mons; Rearguard Action of Le Grand Fayt; Battle of Coup De Soupir Farm; Battle of the Aisne; and First Battle of Ypres. They suffered such heavy casualties in the opening months of the War that 2nd Battalion was disbanded and amalgamated with 1st Battalion Connaught Rangers in December 1914.
Corporal Packenham was for some time in the employment of Mr A. A. Watt, D.L., Thornhill, Londonderry, and was held in high esteem by his employer and fellow-workers. He was a member of the Culmore Company U.V.F., and was drill instructor to Kilderry and Birdstown companies before being called up as a reservist when the Great War broke out. He was a sidesman and member of the choir of Culmore Church, and, on the last day of February 1915, reference was made of his death by the clergyman in charge. Appropriate hymns were used, and at the close of the morning and evening services the Dead March was played by the organist. Corporal Packenham left a wife and child to mourn his loss.
Murray, Private Patrick, 1484
Patrick Murray, 6th Battalion Princess Louise’s Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was born at Londonderry, and enlisted at Paisley, Renfrewshire.
He died on March 3, 1915, and his remains are interred in Bedford Cemetery, Bedfordshire.
1/6th (Renfrewshire) Battalion Princess Louise’s (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders), Territorial Force, was stationed at Paisley as part of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Brigade of the Highland Division, when the Great War broke out in August, 1914. Later that month they moved to Bedford – a borough and county town of Bedfordshire, which stood on both banks of the Ouse, fifty miles north-north-west from London.
Lawrence, Private Frederick, 5955
Frederick Lawrence, 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was born at Kasauli, in the Simla Hill States of the Punjab, India, enlisted at Belfast, and died at the Military Hospital, Waterside, Londonderry, on Tuesday, March 9, 1915.
Aged 38, he was the son of Fred Lawrence, Ipswich, and husband of Maggie Lawrence, 2, Orchard Lane, Bridge Street, Londonderry. His name is commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.
Frederick Lawrence had quite a remarkable career. He was in the first draft of the Inniskilling Fusiliers who left Ireland at the outbreak of the Boer War, and he came through that campaign unscathed. He had many exciting adventures, but these were entirely surpassed by his experiences during the Great War. He went out with the first batch of his regiment and took part in several engagements. He was invalided home, and a few weeks before his death rejoined his regiment at Ebrington Barracks. He succumbed on Tuesday, March 9, 1915, to a fatal attack of pneumonia. As a ferry boatman he was well known, and amongst the National Volunteers he was very popular, having prominently identified himself with the movement as an instructor. His wife and four children resided at Bridge Street, Derry.
On Thursday, March 11, 1915, Private Lawrence was interred with military honours in Londonderry City Cemetery. The impressive military funeral attracted considerable attention in the city as the cortege to the strains of funeral music proceeded to the Cemetery. At the graveside three volleys were fired and the Last Post was sounded.