Wednesday, 27 December 2017

CARSON, Robert

Major, 139th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery
Died: 24/08/1916
Age: 37

Interred in Martinsart British Cemetery
Remembered on family memorial in Bangor Cemetery

Robert was born in Craigavad on 6th April 1879. He was the second son of William Carson, a solicitor (later a clerk of the peace for the city of Belfast) and his wife Isabella Carson (nee Major).

Educated at Campbell College, Belfast (1894-1896) and Trinity College, Dublin, Robert went to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, from were he went to the Royal Regiment of Artillery with the rank of Second Lieutenant on 26th May 1900.

He was a member of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club, and also played for the 2nd XV. of the North of Ireland Football Club.

Robert spent eight years serving in India and on 24th January 1902, he married Helen Beatrice Heyworth, of Liverpool, in St. Thomas' parish church, Bombay.

He was promoted to Lieutenant on 11th February 1902, and then Captain on 26th May 1913.

Robert was at a home station on the outbreak of the war and went to France almost immediately. He was mentioned in despatches in late 1915 and promoted Major on 30th December 1915.

He died after having left his dugout during a heavy bombardment, on 24th August 1916, to check that the men of his company were safely under cover.

CARSON – August 24, killed in action, Robert Carson, Major, Royal Garrison Artillery, the dearly-loved husband of Helen Beatrice Carson, Bredon, near Tewkesbury.
Liverpool Echo, 7th September 1916

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

TORRENS, James Claude

Sec.-Lieut. James C. Torrens
Second Lieutenant, "B" Co. 19th Batt., Machine Gun Corps
Died: 30/05/1918
Age: 27

Remembered on Soissons Memorial
Remembered on family memorial in Bangor Cemetery

James Claude Torrens was born in New Zealand in 1891. He was the son of James Torrens and his wife Matilda Torrens (nee Bradshaw). His parents had been married in 1888, his father then a farmer in Kildowney, Ballymena, and his mother, Matilda, hailing from the neighbouring townland of Ballynatormey.

It is unclear when the family moved to New Zealand but they had returned to Ireland by 1901 where they are recorded in the 1901 census as living in Ballymullen, Bangor.

Educated at the Municipal Techical Institute, James became a draughtsman in the drawing office of Workman, Clark & Co. shipyard.

The memorial panel from the Soissons Memorial
on which James is recorded
On the outbreak of the war, James joined the Y.C.Vs. were he gained the rank of Lance Corporal and fought at the Somme on 1st July. Afterwards he transferred to the Machine Gun Corp were he became a Sergeant and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 26th June 1917.

The Belfast Newsletter of 22nd June 1918 reported that "A letter has been received by his father from his captain, which states – 'From all accounts I hear he went back to fetch out one of the gun-teams, which would have been surrounded had he not gone back. His work at all times has been of the highest standard, and he did, I know, fine work in the last fight. He ws certainly one of my best section officers, and his death is a great blow to me.'"

His brother, William, was an officer in the American Army and both are recorded on the memorial scroll in Ballygrainey Presbyterian Church.

Portrait image from Larne Times courtesy of Nigel Henderson.

GRACEY, William Parr

Trooper, Natal Mounted Police, Second Boer War

Interred in Pretoria Old Cemetery, South Africa
Remembered on family memorial in Bangor Cemetery

William Parr Gracey was born on the 9th February 1882 in Monaghan. He was the eldest child of James Gracey from Co. Down , manager of the Monaghan branch of the Belfast Bank, and his wife Elizabeth Whitla a local Monaghan girl. The family home at the time being  Dublin St., Monaghan.

Why he ended up in South Africa at such a young age is unclear but go he did and he enlisted in the Natal Police on 5 April 1899. His service number was 2308.

The Second Boer War began on 12th October 1899. After a number of small engagements the British withdrew to Ladysmith. The northern Natal Police, approx 90 men, where also brought to Ladysmith which became besieged by the Boers on 2nd November 1899. The siege lasted for 118 days before it was relieved.

Siege of Ladysmith — a bird’s-eye view by A. Sutherland 1900.

The Times, 9th March 1900
It is reported that the Natal Police casualties during the siege were one man killed, three wounded and three died of disease.

One of those was the unlucky William Gracey who is recorded as dying of enteric fever on 27th February, the 117th day of the siege – and the last day – the relief column arriving the next day 28th February 1900.

Further information on the Natal Police can be found at

Monday, 11 December 2017

MOHAN, Henry Deacon

Captain, 10th Batt., King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)
Died: 11/04/1916
Remembered on Basra Memorial 
Remembered on family memorial in Bangor cemetery

Henry (Harry) Mohan was born on the 2nd January 1889 at Haywood Avenue, Ballynafeigh. He was the son of George Mohan, a Clerk in a linen warehouse, and his wife Isabella Mohan (nee Hempton).

A few years later his father had become manager of a hemstitching factory and in 1900 the family moved to Ashley Avenue in Belfast.

Educated at Queen's University, where he was a member of the OTC, Harry took up the linen business and was a clerk in the Managers Dept. and by 1911 the family had moved to Cromwell Road in Bangor.

In 1913, Harry sailed from Glasgow in the ss Cameronia to go the the United States to his uncle, William Wishaw, in Brooklyn were he took up a position in the linen trade there.

When war broke out, Harry left his employment and travelled to France with a mule transport before returning to Belfast. After preliminary training with the 10th (Reserve) Battalion he was gazetted as temporary Second-Lieutenant in February 1915 and was then posted to the 6th Service Battalion.

Soldiers of the 10th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, resting during route march
at Swanage with officers: Captain Charles Clarence Brachi, Harry Deacon Mohan, Walter McFarlane. KO2928/05-126

Harry then saw service in the Gallipoli campaign from 6th October 1915. His battalion were evacuated from Gallipoli due to heavy losses and illness and sailed for Port Said in February 1916 before travelling onto the Persian Gulf, disembarking at Basra on 27th February for service in the Mesopotamian campaign. During the voyage, on 24th February 1916, he was appointed to Temporary Captain and given command of a company.

Harry was slightly wounded on 5th April 1916 whilst in the trenches at Hannah during the first attack on Turkish positions at the Orah canal. He was then reported as missing in action on 9th April 1916 at Sannaujat. In December 1917 the War Office officially declared him as killed in action (or died of wounds) on the 11th April 1916.

Henry Deacon Mohan is also commemorated on the Queen’s University War Memorial and in their Book of Remembrance.

MOHAN -- Reported wounded and missing April 11, 1916, now presumed by War Office killed in action (or died of wounds) on that date, Captain H. D. Mohan, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, dearly-loved and eldest son of George Mohan, Cromwell Road, Belfast. GEORGE MOHAN.
Belfast Newsletter, 6th December 1917

Sunday, 26 November 2017


Rifleman, 11th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Service No: 18/97
Died: 15/03/1916
Age: 29

Interred in Forceville Communal Cemetery and Extension
Remembered on family memorial in Bangor Cemetery

Samuel is recorded on the Memorial
in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church
Samuel McWha Moffett was born 19th March 1886 in Ballyleidy (Clandeboye), Bangor. He was the son of Thomas Moffett, a labourer, and his wife Elizabeth Moffett (nee Russell) and was the youngest of their nine children. The family moved shortly after to Ballymullen, Crawfordsburn where they are recorded as living in both the 1901 and 1911 census.

In the 1911 census Samuel's occupation is recorded as clerk. He was also a member of Bangor Commercial L.O.L. 477.

Rifleman Samuel Moffatt, 11th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (South Antrim Volunteers), has died in hospital of wounds received in France. Deceased was a son of Mr. Thomas Moffatt. Clandeboye, County Down, and a member of Bangor Commercial L.O.L. No. 447.
Northern Whig, 25th March 1916

MOFFETT -- March 15, 1916, killed in action, Rifleman Samuel Moffett, 11th Batt. Royal Irish Rifles, youngest son of Thomas Moffett, Clandeboye.

MOFFETT -- Died in hospital, on 15th March, 1916, from wounds received in action on same date, Rifleman Samuel Moffett, number 18/97 C Company 11th Batt. R.I.R., son of Thomas Moffett, Clandeboye. Deeply regretted by members of above. M. GIBSON, W.M.; R. D. MONTGOMERY, Secretary.
Belfast Newsletter, 25th March 1916

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

REA, Vivian Trevor Tighe

Lieut. Vivian T. T. Rea
Lieutenant, 4th Batt. attd. 2nd Batt., Royal Irish Rifles
Died: 25/10/1914
Age: 23
Interred in Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy
Remembered on family memorial in Bangor Cemetery

Vivian Trevor Tighe Rea, was born in Mendoza, Argentina in 1891, the only son of Henry Tighe Rea and Clara Small and eldest of their five children. His parents were married in St. John's Anglican Church, Buenos Aires in June 1890.

The family returned to Ireland and were living on the Sandown Road, Belfast, in 1901, where his father is listed as working as an accountant in a shipyard office. Vivian went on to study at Campbell College, Belfast, from 1905 to1908, before going to Queens University were, in 1910, he gained a B.A. with honours in logic, metaphysics, history of philosophy, and jurisprudence.

In 1906 his father was appointed a Vice-Consul for the Argentine Republic. He later became an honorary Vice-Consul of the Netherlands being decorated for his services in 1932.

Vivian was very active in the Scout movement becoming honorary secretary for the Ulster Provisional Council of Baden-Powell Scouts and was the Scoutmaster of the 1st Bangor troop. He was also an member of the Queen's University OTC and, in 1912, he joined the 4th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles being gazetted a second-lieutenant on probation on 10th February, which was confirmed in June 1912. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 20th February 1913.

Vivian felt called to the ministry of the Church of Ireland and so after Queen's went to the Divinity School in Trinity College Dublin. He was also active in the Trinity College Theological Society were he laterly became secretary.

On the outbreak of war he volunteered for service and left for the front on the 25th September 1914 to help fill vacancies in the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.

On the 16th November 1914, the Belfast Newsletter gave the following report of his death:
Death of Lieutenant Vivian Rea.
Subsequent to the retreat at Mons, the 7th Brigade, in which were included the Wiltshires, Manchesters, South Lancashires, and Irish Rifles, took part in the forward movement towards Lille, via La Bassee. They occupied Richebourg, and proceeded thence to Neuve Chapelle, about twelve miles south-west of Lille, and thence to Herlies and Aubers, both of which were taken. The Irish Regiment got too far ahead, and was ordered to retire towards Neuve Chapelle, where trenches had been prepared by the villagers. The 2nd Rifles were under fire here for thirteen days, during which time the majority of their officers were either killed or wounded. October 24th and 2Sth were two of the most terrible days experienced. The Rifles had for some time been kept in the trenches continuously day and night, and on these days several determined attempts were made to rush the British trenches. None of these were successful until the evening of the 26th, when the trenches and the adjoining village were partly occupied by the Germans. The enemy's success was short-lived, for the whole of the lost ground was retaken by the Rifles, then sadly diminished in numbers, aided by the Indian troops, who had been hurriedly sent to reinforce them.
It was on the 25th October that Lieutenant Vivian T. T Rea received a fatal wound in the tranches. His company commander, Captain H. A. Kennedy, had previously been severely wounded, but was still alive, and a part of this officer's duties had presumably devolved upon Lieutenant Rea. (Captain Kennedy has since died of his wounds). The ambulance party attended, notwithstanding the rain of shrapnel and rifle bullets, and Lieutenant Rea was taken to a chateau at the end of the village of Neuve Chapelle, about 300 yards behind the trenches. The medical officer saw that the wound was fatal, and that the wounded officer was rapidly sinking. Lieut. Rea spoke to the doctor, and on learning his condition charged him with a reassuring message to those at home. Shortly afterwards he lapsed into unconsciousness, and died almost without suffering. After nightfall his body was interred, together with that of Captain Reynolds, in the grounds of the chateau. Shortly after Lieutenant Rea had been brought into the chateau wounded, another severe casualty occurred to an officer. Two stretcher-bearers were sent out to bring the wounded officer in, and both these men were shot dead by the enemy. At three o’clock on the following morning, the 26th ult., the chateau, which had been used as a base by the staff, and the cellars of which were utilised as a hospital for the wounded, was shelled and set on fire by the enemy. It was necessary to hurriedly remove the wounded, and shortly afterwards the building was reduced to ruins.
Of Lieutenant Rea, it may be added that the night before he was fatally wounded, on hearing the cries of wounded men in front of "B" Company's trench during a lull in the firing at nightfall, he took one or two of the men of his company and brought the wounded men into safety. They were attended by the base medical officer, who, however, expostulated with the gallant officer on ground that there waa insufficient room in the cellars of the chateau for the British wounded soldiers. A brother officer states:— Lieutenant Rea died like a gallant gentleman; his men were devoted to him, and said that he put heart into them in the desperate fighting. Another officer says of him: Lieutenant Rea was not only extremely popular with all who came in contact with him, both officers and men, but he was also a very plucky and diligent officer. He rendered valuable assistance as an interpreter when not in the trenches owing to his fluent knowledge of the French language. The medical officer who was in charge of the base hospital at Neuve Chapelle, and who has been invalided home suffering from concussion, states that he buried twenty officers of the Royal Irish Riflas, and that the experience was one never to be forgotten.
Vivian is recorded on a number of memorials including those of St. Comgall's Church in Bangor
and Trinity College Dublin

Private William Leckey, of B Company, 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, returning home to 16, Memel Street, Bridge End, having been wounded in the right hand and left thigh, reported in an interview with the Belfast Newsletter:
"After Captain Kennedy had fallen, Lieutenant Vivian T. T. Rea, 'a fine gentleman and a brave officer,' took command of his company, displaying in the highest degree those noble qualities which have characterised the officers during the terrible fighting in which the Rifles were engaged. Lieutenant Rea was principally concerned with the welfare of the men under his control, and he fell on 25th October while crossing open ground between the trenches, the hail of shrapnel and rifle fire being of the most deadly character. He had had a long conversation with Private Leckey some time before he was killed, his popularity with the men being based on his evident concern for their well-being, his plucky conduct in the face of great danger, and his coolness and nerve under the most trying circumstances."

On 20 November 1915 a stained glass memorial window was unveiled in Bangor Parish Church in his memory. The ceremony was attended by ten officers and 100 men of the 4th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles who had travelled from Carrickfergus.

REA – October 25, killed in action in Belgium, Vivian T. Tighe Rea, B.A., Lieutenant, Royal Irish Rifles, only son of Henry Tighe Rea, of 1, Glandore Park, Belfast, and grandson of the late Hugh Rea, of Clifton Lodge, Belfast, and Northern Bank, Derry.
Belfast Newsletter, 30th October 1914.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017


Sec.-Lieutenant James Hollywood
Sec.-Lieutenant, 18th Batt. (att. 12th Batt.), Royal Irish Rifles
Died: 01/07/1916
Age: 23

Recorded on Thiepval Memorial
Recorded on family memorial in Bangor Cemetery

James was born on 16th April 1893, in 139 Albert Bridge Road, Belfast. He was the son of James Hollywood, a house agent and Elizabeth Hollywood nee Carson. The family moved to Bangor in the late 1890s and lived in Ballyholme Road before moving to Ballygrot (Helen’s Bay).

He attended Friend's School, Lisburn from  September 1904 to July 1906 then going to the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Belfast.

Employed at Ross Brothers Linen Merchants in Linenhall Street, Belfast, James also spent some time in the Young Citizen Volunteers before joining the Ulster Volunteer Force and is recorded on the Roll  of Honour for the 1st Batt. North Down Regt. as serving in ‘F’ Company alongside his brother Arthur.

The family attended First Bangor Presbyterian Church and both James and brother Arthur are recorded on the church’s war memorial.

He joined the 18th Royal Irish Rifles on 14th September 1914 as  a Corporal, being appointed Company Quartermaster Sergeant on 14th  October 1914 and received a commission in the 18th (R.) Battalion Royal Irish Rifles at Clandeboye, 5th May, 1915, before being sent to the Central Antrim Regiment.

He was killed during the Ulster Division attack at Thiepval Woods. His body was reportedly found later in the year by men of the 2nd Hants Regiment but subsequently lost.

Second-Lieutenant James Hollywood, Royal Irish Rifles, killed in action, was a son of Mr. James Hollywood, J.P., Red Gorton, Helen's Bay, and 130, Albertbridge Road, Belfast.
The Witness, 14th July 1916


Second-Lieutenant James Hollywood

Second-Lieutenant James Hollywood, Royal Irish Rifles, killed in action, was a son of Mr. James Hollywood, J.P., Red Gorton, Helen's Bay, and 130, Albertbridge Road, Belfast. He was in the service of Ross Bros., Linenhall Street, before he received a commission in the 18th (R.) Battalion Royal Irish Rifles at Clandeboye, 5th May, 1915, being sent recently to the Central Antrim Regiment. His brother, Lieutenant A. C. Hollwood, Royal Irish Fusiliers, was wounded some months ago.                                                      
Belfast Newsletter, 7th July 1916


Mr. James Hollywood's Heavy Loss

Belfast Water Commissioners' Sympathy

At the fortnightly meeting of the Belfast City and District Water Commissioners, held yesterday at the Water Offices, Royal Avenue, the chairman said he wished, before they proceeded with the ordinary business of the meeting, to call their attention to the calamity that had overtaken the family of one of their members, He referred to Mr. James Hollywood, J.P., two of whose sons – boys of whom any father might be justly proud – had been killed in action in France. He was sure their hearts went out to Mr. Hollywood and his family in that terrible bereavement, and he moved – "That he deep and heartfelt sympathy of the members of the Board be respectfully tendered to Mr. and Mrs. Hollywood in the great sorrow that has fallen upon them by the death in action in France of their two sons, who, in response to their country's call, entered his Majesty's Army, and have yeilded up their lives in defence of the Empire."

Mr. E. W. Pim, J.P., in seconding the resolution, said he felt deeply for Mr. Hollywood and his wife in the great bereavement which had overtaken them, and, indeed, he could not help thinking of many families in Belfast which had also suffered great loss. Their soldiers at the front were undergoing very severe trials, and were nobly doing their duty to their King and country. (Hear, hear.)

The resolution was passed in silence, the members standing.
Belfast Newsletter, 14th July 1916

Portrait image from the RBAI Inst and the Great War website