Wednesday, 9 August 2017

CAIRNS, George Ritchie

Second Lieutenant, 52nd Div. Ammunition Col., 
Royal Field Artillery
Died: 04/01/1916
Age: 20

Interred in Lancashire Landing Cemetery, Gallipoli
Remembered on family memorial in Bangor cemetery

George Ritchie Cairns was born in Partick, Glasgow, in 1894, the youngest son of James Cairns, a police constable (later police inspector) and his wife Mary Cairns nee McKeown, who came from Belfast.

He was educated at Hillhead High School in Glasgow University, where he graduated prior to enlisting shortly after the outbreak of war.

A keen athlete he won several prizes for running and was captain of the school's Rugby football team. It was his intention on leaving school to enter the legal profession and was to have entered the office of the Town Clerk on the day he was gazetted.

CAIRNS, James John

Lieutenant, 31st Batt., Australian Imperial Force
Died: 21/02/1926
Age: 48

Remembered on family memorial in Bangor cemetery

James John Cairns was born in Blackfriars, Glasgow, in 1878, the eldest son of James Cairns, a police constable (later an inspector) and his wife Mary Cairns nee McKeown, who came from Belfast.

After school he became a law clerk for the Glasgow corporation. Some time between 1911 and 1913 he emigrated to Australia where he met his wife Letitia Ford. They married in 1914 and their son James Ford Cairns was born later that year.

He enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force on 5th July 1915. Rising through the ranks he was transferred to the Officer Cadet School in England in April 1917 gaining the rank of Lieutenant by the end of that year.

His relatively respectable career started to go into decline when the war ended being arrested for drunkenness in Belfast in January 1919 and came to an abrupt end when he was cashiered latter that year for misappropriating funds.

He left France and turned up in Kenya where he died on 21st February 1926.

His son James Ford Cairns became a well-known Australian politician who was for a while Deputy Prime Minister.

Below is an extract from his biography which gives a more in-depth overview of his father's story.

Extract from "Keeper of the Faith: A biography of Jim Cairns"

THE FUTURE MAN OF PEACE arrived in war. The only child of James John Cairns and Letitia Cairns (nee Ford), James Ford Cairns was born in a terrace house at 22 Drummond Street Carlton on 4 October 1914. Only two months had passed since the commencement of hostilities in Europe — not enough time to diminish the tide of imperial patriotism that had swept up the bulk of Australians. The nation was transfixed by the news of the fighting on the Western Front in Belgium and Northern France. The day before Cairns was born, the Argus commented: 'All men are talking war and hearing war talked, thinking war, and dreaming war, and reading war. The war picture fills the mind to the exclusion of everything else ... [it] has dislocated all the regular annual output of thought and ideas'.

Although Cairns was only four years of age when armistice was declared in November 1918, his life was irrevocably stamped by the events of World War I. His father, James Cairns, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 5 July 1915. He was described in his enlistment papers as having a fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair, physical features that his son inherited. After training with the 59th Depot Company at Seymour, James Cairns was deployed to the 29th Battalion, 8th Infantry Brigade. On 10 November 1915 he embarked for the Middle East aboard the Ascanieus. He never returned.

According to his AIF service record, James Cairns was stationed in Egypt for several months. In March 1916 he was promoted to corporal and transferred to the 5th Divisional headquarters at Tel el Kebir on clerical duties. In June he embarked for France, where the 5th Division was to be committed to the Somme campaign on the Western Front. The following March James Cairns was selected to attend a training course at the Officers' Cadet School at Cambridge in England. While there he received 'special mention' in Sir Douglas Haig's despatches of 9 April 1917. He returned to France in August and was appointed as adjutant to the 31st Battalion, stationed in the field on the Western Front. His star continued to rise, and he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in November 1917. When hostilities ended, James Cairns remained with the 31st Battalion in France. Soon after, the troubles began that were to ruin what up until that point had been a successful, if unspectacular, service record. In January 1919 on leave in Belfast, where he was visiting his sister, he was arrested by military authorities for drunkenness. He was released after several days, officially censured, and sent to rejoin his unit. This was a minor misdemeanour and hardly unusual in the context of the AIFs reputation for unruly behaviour away from the battle front. Nonetheless, for an officer it was probably regarded as an incident of considerable dishonour.

Worse was to come. In May 1919 James Cairns was reported absent without leave in France and declared an illegal absentee. On 5 August 1919 he surrendered himself to military authorities in London and was placed under close arrest. The next month he was tried by General Court Martial on four charges. The first three alleged that he had misapplied regimental money for 'his own use with intent to defraud' on three separate occasions between 20 March and 2 May 1919. The amounts involved totalled 5535 francs and 85 centimes, equivalent to almost two years' pay for an AIF private. The final charge related to his absence without leave between 9 May and 5 August. James Cairns pleaded guilty to all four charges, and was sentenced to be cashiered and his pay stopped until he had made good the money that he had defrauded. He was due to embark for Australia aboard the Aeneas on 22 November 1919. He failed to do so, and an entry in his service record bluntly states that 'no further action will be taken to arrange his passage to Australia'. On 15 March 1920, on the letterhead of the steamship Llanstephan Castle, he wrote to the AIF requesting an official statement of his service record and asking whether he was entitled to any medals in respect of his period of service. In a postscript he added that he was 'not quite sure of my final destination but a letter addressed to me c/o this steamer at Durban [South Africa] should find me sooner or later.'

From there the trail goes cold. As Paul Ormonde discovered when researching his biography of Cairns in the mid-1970s, there was great reticence within the family about James Cairns' fate. Until her death in 1964, Letitia Cairns appears to have maintained the pretence that her husband was killed in the war. Jim Cairns did not learn otherwise until he was middle-aged. He too has often seemed reluctant to acknowledge that his father abandoned both himself and his mother, and is remarkably vague about what happened to him after the war. The most reliable account is that James Cairns was killed in a car crash in Kenya in 1927, although Cairns claims to have heard dozens of other versions.

The reason James Cairns did not return to Australia in 1919 seems less mysterious. His decision to head for Africa was probably motivated by a desire to find a place to start life afresh, where he would not be haunted by the stigma of the events of the preceding twelve months. Yet this may be only part of the explanation. Born in Hillhead in Glasgow in Scotland, James Cairns had been in his early thirties when he arrived in Australia aboard the one-class ship, the Benalla, in May 1913. According to Jim Cairns, his father had been 'part of the establishment for the greater part of his life'. It is true that James Cairns sprang from a conservative and comfortable middle-class family. He was the eldest son of a Glasgow police inspector and had apparently received a public school education. After leaving school, he found secure employment in the Town Clerk's Office in the Glasgow Town Hall. He remained there for some eighteen years and had reached the grade of senior clerk when last listed as an employee of the City of Glasgow in 1912. What prompted him to come to Australia the following year is unclear. Possibly it was a sense of wanderlust and adventure, or perhaps he was escaping something.

The reason behind the Ford family's decision to emigrate to Australia is far more obvious. The Fords were 'poor farmers' from Lancashire. Letitia's father, John Thomas Ford, had started work at a cotton mill when he was nine years old. He and his wife, Elizabeth Ann, and other members of the family later worked as tenant farmers on a small dairy holding not far outside Blackpool. In 1912, weary of the family's continuing economic struggle, John Ford decided to begin a new life in Australia. After sailing from Britain, he spent a brief spell working in Western Australia, then arrived in Victoria, where he found a job as manager of a pig farm in Keilor, 20 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. He sent for his wife and daughters, Eleanor, Letitia (Letty) and Sara. It was on the voyage to Australia aboard the Benalla that 19-year-old Letty met James Cairns.

Despite their disparate social backgrounds and substantial age difference, romance blossomed between James and Letty. Shortly after their arrival in Melbourne the Fords moved into 22 Drummond Street, Carlton, while James Cairns found lodgings nearby in Victoria Parade, East Melbourne. James and Letty continued to see one another, and early in 1914 Letty fell pregnant. Although fundamentally tolerant and generous spirited, John and Elizabeth Ford conscientiously abided by a puritan Methodist ethic; they believed in the virtue of hard work and austerity, and shunned the sins of the flesh. The discovery that their middle daughter had become pregnant out of wedlock must have come as a shock and a source of anguish.

On 30 April 1914 James and Letty were married in a simple ceremony at the home of a Baptist minister in East Melbourne, with John Ford and Letty's elder sister Eleanor as witnesses. James Cairns moved into the Ford home in Carlton, but predictably it was not long before tensions surfaced between the Fords and their new son-in-law. In September James Cairns secured a position in the Melbourne Town Hall Clerk's Office with a handsome starting salary of £200 per annum. Because his duties included the organisation of social functions and official entertainments, as his son later explained, he 'was at dinners, banquets, parties and so forth a great deal'. In effect, James Cairns' job afforded him the opportunity to mix in Melbourne social circles and indulge his taste for the high life. His weakness for alcohol created special consternation at home. Referring to the reticence that had surrounded his father's memory,

Jim Cairns noted one reason was that 'at more than one stage of his life he drank too much. My mother and grandparents didn't drink at all. I think they were more than a little ashamed of it.'

It is conceivable, then, that another factor behind James Cairns' desertion of his family was that once the initial flush of romance between him and Letty faded, and their social differences became more apparent, he no longer saw the marriage as a compelling reason to return to Australia after the war. While there is no evidence that he had actually been coerced into the marriage after Letty became pregnant, it is feasible that the war offered him a way out of a domestic situation he had inadvertently stumbled into.

If this is speculation, the crucial impact of James Cairns' abandonment of his wife and son in determining the nature of Jim Cairns' upbringing is beyond question. The first consequence of his father's absence was that Cairns was not raised in a conventional nuclear family. Not long after James Cairns departed for the war, Letty's parents leased a property known as Victoria Farm on Macedon Road, Sunbury. For the next four years or so the farm was home to John and Elizabeth Ford, Letty Cairns and her baby son, Eleanor and Sara Ford, their cousin Mattie Smith and the Fords' domestic Lizzie Salthouse. Life in this extended family was to be a consistent pattern of Jim Cairns' childhood and adolescence, although he was too young to remember much about the years at Victoria Farm. His mother remained the centre of his universe and his principal recollection of this period was of being physically close with her.

CAIRNS, Percival

Lieutenant, Royal Flying Corps.
Died: 28/06/1926
Age: 36

Remembered on family memorial in Bangor cemetery

Percival Cairns was born in, Glasgow on 22nd August 1889, the third son of James Cairns, a police constable (later police inspector) and his wife Mary Cairns nee McKeown, who came from Belfast. He studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1905 to 1912 and married Christina Elliot McAllister in 1914.

He enlisted in the Royal Artillery and served with the 3rd Lowland Howitzer Brigade and transferred to the Royal Flying Corps at the beginning of 1918. He was discharged in the end of 1919.

After the war he returned to his occupation as an architect and went in to partnership with Neil Campbell Duff. He died on 28th June 1926 of pulmonary tuberculosis.

A biography of his career is given below.

From the Mackintosh Architecture archive in University of Glasgow.

Percival Cairns was born in Springburn, Glasgow in 1889. He attended the Glasgow School of Art from 1906-7 until 1910-11, while also engaged as an apprentice to Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh from April 1909 to April 1910. He is recorded in the 1911 census as an 'architectural draughtsman'.

Cairns became an associate member of the Glasgow Architectural Institute around 1913. The Glasgow Post Office Directory gives his office as 108 Douglas Street (an address shared by architect Robert J. Walker), while another entry lists '136 Wellington Street'; no. 136 was also shared with other practices, including John A. W. Grant. It is thought that Cairns may have been articled to Neil Campbell Duff between 1905 and 1912, but it is not till 1914 that there is firm evidence of him working as Duff's assistant.

Duff had an unusual specialism: the production of scenes of crime, or 'locus' plans, for legal firms and as evidence for courts. Examples from Cairns's time include a murder site at Sheildhall timber wharf (1914), and an arson-damaged shop in Partick (1915). Duff concentrated on the entertainment industry, frequently as part of a syndicate which identified sites for potential development into dance halls or cinemas. The syndicate would form a joint-stock company with a public share issue, thus raising capital to fund the construction. Among Duff's projects on which Cairns was probably employed was the planned Regent Hotel and Picture House in Sauchiehall Street, advertised in December 1913.

After renting a house at Oxford (now Oban) Drive, Kelvinside, in 1915, Cairns vanishes from the records until 1919, possibly due to war service. Around 1919, Duff took Cairns into partnership, and the title of the firm reflects this from 1920. A further share-issue was made in 1921, to fund their jointly-signed design, the 'Palais de Danse' hall at Eglinton Toll, specifically chosen to be near major tram interchanges in southern Glasgow. Cairns died in 1926.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

SMYTH, Irvine Johnston

Second Lieutenant, 6th Batt., Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Died: 03/09/1915
Age: 23

Interred in Green Hill Cemetery
Remembered on family Memorial Bangor Cemetery

Irvine Johnston Smyth was born in Hill Street, Lurgan, on the 18th December 1891. He was the eldest of three sons of William Henry Smyth, a Methodist Minister and Mary Jemima Ruskell Smyth (nee Johnston).

His parents were married on 11th September 1890 in Donaghadee Methodist Church where Mary’s father, Rev Irvine Johnston, ministered from 1890 until 1893.

He was educated at the Belfast Academy, Methodist College, Belfast (receiving a M'Arthur Scholarship in 1905) and Wesley College, Dublin. He passed the Matriculation examination of Royal University of Ireland in 1908 and went to Trinity College, Dublin.

Irvine was working in the Civil Service on the outbreak of war and enlisted in the 6th Royal Highlanders (Black Watch Territorials)  It wasn't long before he transferred to the Officers Training Corps and was commissioned as Second-Lieutenant on the 16th December 1914 and posted to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

In a letter received by his father, a brother officer wrote – "He was in charge of the machine-guns, and he very soon became known along the line of trenches for his skill. Other officers from other regiments would come along to see how Smyth, of the Inniskillings, had placed his guns, and to check their ranges by his. For coolness under fire and disregard of danger there were few his equal. One day he and I were huddled together under a little cover, and the enemy were picking off anybody who showed himself, from a close range, when a man was hit not far from us. Smyth jumped up immediately to do what he could for the wounded man, regardless of his own danger. It was the same when any of his own men were hit. He never hesitated to expose himself. I have lost a friend, the 6th Inniskillings have lost a skilled and important officer, and the men a splendid leader."


Tribute to a Gallant Officer.

A tribute to the memory of Second-Lieutenant Irvine J. Smyth, 6th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, whose death in the Gallipoli Peninsula was recently reported, is paid in a letter received by his father from a brother officer, who writes – "He was in charge of the machine-guns, and he very soon became known along the line of trenches for his skill. Other officers from other regiments would come along to see how Smyth, of the Inniskillings, had placed his guns, and to check their ranges by his. For coolness under fire and disregard of danger there were few his equal. One day he and I were huddled together under a little cover, and the enemy were picking off anybody who showed himself, from a close range, when a man was hit not far from us. Smyth jumped up immediately to do what he could for the wounded man, regardless of his own danger. It was the same when any of his own men were hit. He never hesitated to expose himself. I have lost a friend, the 6th Inniskillings have lost a skilled and important officer, and the men a splendid leader." 
    This gallant officer was a son of Rev. W. H. Smyth, a Newtownards man, who was formerly minister of University Road and Carlisle Memorial Methodist Churches, Belfast, and who has accepted an invitation to the latter congregation for June, 1916. Deceased, who was a grandson of Rev. Irvine Johnston, Bangor, was born in Lurgan.
Belfast Newsletter, 9th October 1915

Monday, 17 July 2017

SKIMIN, George

Mate, Franz Fischer (London)
Died: 01/02/1916
Age: 48

Remembered on Tower Hill Memorial
Remembered on family memorial in Bangor Cemetery

George Skimin was born on the 21st June, 1867, in Church Street, Bangor. His parents were John Skimin (aka Skimmon), a sailor, and his wife Eliza Skimin (nee Leay).

Like his father before him, George took to the sea and signed on as a ships boy in 1884.

In June 1892 he married his wife Jane Barnes in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church. Her father James was also sailor.

List of those killed in the Great War
in Trinity Presbyterian Church, Bangor
Over the years his maritime career progressed. He passed his examinations in April 1896 earning his Mates certificate and gained his Master's Certificate of Competency in November 1903.

Mainly working the coasting trade, George served on various vessels, and in November 1915 signed on as Mate on the Franz Fisher.

Built by Irvine & Co., West Hartlepool in 1881 the Franz Fischer was a German owned steamer that had been requisitioned by the Admiralty for service as a collier.

She was on a voyage from Hartlepool to Cowes with a cargo of coal on 1st February 1916, when she was sunk two miles south of Kentish Knock lightvessel. Of the 16 crew members, 13 were lost.

The cause of her loss has been the source of some controversy over the years however. British records give her loss as the result of a bomb from a zeppelin – L19. However, later research, which is now more accepted, claims she was sunk by the German submarine UB-17.

George's name is recorded on the war memorial of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Bangor, and on the Roll of Honour for Bangor Masonic.


Captain George Skimin, a Bangor seaman, who was engaged in transport work since beginning of the war, has been killed by the explosion of a bomb from a Zeppelin. He was a son of the late Captain Skimin, Bangor, and a brother of Mr. Arthur Skimin, clerk of the Bangor gas undertaking. He was a member of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Bangor. Deceased's widow, two sons, and daughter reside at Holborn Avenue, Belfast.
Belfast Newsletter, 12th February 1916

Tuesday, 11 July 2017


Second Lieutenant, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, attd. 6th Rajputana Rifles
Service No: 190209
Died: 30/09/1942
Age: 29

Interred in Rawalpindi War Cemetery (Punjab, Pakistan).
Remembered on Family Memorial in Bangor Cemetery

David Morrow was born in Ballymagee Street, Bangor, on 28th June 1913. He was the son of Matthew Morrow, a plumber, and his wife Agnes Morrow (nee Moffatt).

He was educated at Bangor Grammar School and his Headmaster wrote on his death: "He was a quick-witted, clever, attractive youngster — a favourite with everyone — but, frankly, no scholar: I think he was too full of restless vitality and a craving for action for that. His figure was lithe and slight, but intensely athletic, and as he grew older he shot up very straight and tall. He took a very prominent part from the first in the school games: We have photographs of him in a small boys’ team, in the Medallion side of 1928, in the 1st XV rugby side of 1930, and in the 1st XV cricket team of 1931. He played in various positions in the back division: I remember him specially as the scrum-half of his year’s 1st XV under Fred McMurray’s captaincy.

“He was strikingly handsome as a boy and later as a young man, with curling fair hair over mobile and expressive features. His smile was characteristic of him; it was always there — a smile of complete friendliness and good nature entirely simple and natural. He had a capacity for mischief — and when he was punished for neglecting his work or getting into trouble he bore no resentment. He frequently exasperated his teachers, but no one could be angry with him for long. I seem to remember that he was fond of dogs and had a way with them, and that he was useful at times in taking charge of stray dogs that had found their way into our classrooms — to the immense delight of the boys."

After leaving school David began a succesful career in the world of insurance.

When he enlisted he went to the Officer Cadet Training Corp and was commissioned as Second-Lieutenant in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on the 7th June 1941.

MORROW – September (in India), Second-Lieutenant David Morrow, third and youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Morrow, Ward Avenue, Bangor.
Belfast Newsletter, 9th September 1942.

JEFFARES, Michael Henry

Lieutenant, Royal Irish Rifles
Died: 22/05/1953
Age: 61

Interred in Bangor Cemetery.

Michael Henry Jeffares was born on the 29th April 1892 in Seskin, Co. Carlow, the son of Michael Henry Jeffares (aka Jeffers) and Catherine Jeffares nee Collier.

After school, Michael trained as a Chemist passing the Pharmaceutical License Examination in October 1915.

In July 1916, he enlisted in the 11th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers and not long after was promoted to Lance-Corporal. He transferred to the Officer Cadet Corps in November 1916.

On 1st March 1917, he received a commission as Second Lieutenant in the 5th Batt., Royal Irish Rifles going to France in May 1917. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 1st September 1918.

His brother Richard who had previously served with the South African Police, was a Captain in the 4th Batt., Royal Irish Rifles and was killed on 6th October 1917.

After the war Michael returned to his career as a Chemist in New Ross and in 1924 married a Belfast girl, Rebecca Morrison.

JEFFARES – May 22, 1953, at his residence, Thornhill, 28 Osborne Park, Bangor, Michael Henry, loved husband of Rebecca Jeffares. Interred in Bangor Cemetry. Deeply regretted by his sorrowing Wife and Family.
County Down Spectator, 30th May 1953.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

COLLIER, Reginald John

Second Lieutenant, Royal Flying Corps
Service No: 16207
Age: 19
Date of Death: 12/02/1918

Interred in Bangor Cemetery

Reginald John Collier was born on 15th October 1898 at 21 Strandmillis Gardens, Belfast, to William F. Collier, an accountant, and Marion F. Collier (nee Townsend). The family later moved to Evelyan Gardens on the Cavehill Road before settling in Bangor in the early 1900s.

Known as Jack, he was educated at Bangor Grammar School and Kings Hospital School, Dublin and took up a position in the Belfast Banking Company, working in their Cromac Street branch when he enlisted in early 1917.

A BE 2E which was the type of aircraft Jack was flying.

He was also a member of the Queen's University Officer Training Corps in the years 1916-1917.

He transfered from the General List to the the Royal Flying Corp with the rank of Second Lieutenant in August 1917.

On 12th February 1918, Reginald was killed in a flying accident while training with 13 Training Squadron at RAF Yatesbury.

He is remembered on the war memorial in St. Comgall's parish church in Bangor and in the Queen's University Roll of Honour.

COLLIER – February 12, accidentally killed when flying, Reginald John Collier, Second-Lieutenant R.F.C., only son of W. F. Collier, 123, Hamilton Road, Bangor, aged 19. Funeral service in Bangor Parish Church this day (Saturday, 16th inst.), at 2.30. Funeral immediately after to Bangor New Cemetery.
Northern Whig, 16th February 1918.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

APPERSON, George Johnston

Major, 13th Batt., Royal Irish Rifles
Died: 13/06/1950
Age: 59

Interred in Bangor cemetery

George Johnston Apperson was born in Wellington Place, Dundalk on the 6th January 1891. He was the eldest son of Francis Apperson, then a drapers assistant and his wife Margaret nee Johnston.

Shortly after, the family moved to Belfast were they resided in Jocelyn Avenue and, as his fathers prospects improved, to Bangor where they are recorded in the 19i1 census living in Sheridan Drive.

On leaving school George became a clerk in the firm of Messrs. W. and R. Barnett, grain merchants in Belfast and played Rugby football for North of Ireland.

On the formation of the UVF, he became a member of A Company, 1st Battalion, North Down Regiment and on the outbreak of war enlisted in the 13th (1st County Down Volunteers) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in November 1914 and received his training at Clandeboye and Seaford before going to France with his battalion.

In April 1916 he was wounded in several places when a bomb exploded prematurely.

On his return to duty in August 1916 he was promoted to Lieutenant but was wounded again two months later. He received his promotion to Captain in January 1917.

In March 1917 he was awarded the Military Cross: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He, single-handed, attacked a party of five of the enemy and shot two of them with his revolver. He has at all times set a splendid example of courage and determination."

In September 1917, he was promoted to Major.

When the 13th Battalion was disbanded, he served with the 12th (County Antrim) Battalion and was in command of the cadre of the 1st Battalion on their return to England in May 1919 and returned to Belfast in June.

After the war he returned to W. & R. Barnett, Ltd., the Belfast grain importers, and in October 1921 he married Dorothy Boyd. He became Barnett's manager in South America until 1925 and eventually became a director of the firm.

On the outbreak of the Second World War he volunteered again, and after serving at several home stations was appointed to command the Queen's University Senior Training Corps, holding that post until 1940. He was made an honorary M.A. of the University.

Major Apperson was very active in the ex-Service community. He was chairman of the Ulster Division ex-Officers’ Association and of the British Legion’s Club in Chichester Street. He was a member of the Council of the Royal Ulster Rifles Association and vice-chairman of the Belfast branch of the British Legion.

APPERSON – June 13, 1950, in Hospital, George Johnston, Major, M.C., M.A., dear husband of Dorothy Apperson, 151, Malone Road, belfast. House and funeral strictly private. No flowers, please.
Northern Whig, 14th June 1950

Thursday, 22 June 2017

OSWALD, Oswald Charles Williamson

Brigadier-General, Royal Artillery
Died: 25th August 1938
Age: 74

Interred in Bangor cemetery

Charles Williamson was born in Meerut, India, in 1864, the son of Colonel James Williamson (formerly Oswald)† of the 29th Punjab Infantry.

Educated at St. Peter's School, York, and Woolwich, Charles enlisted with the Royal Artillery in 1883 with the rank of Lieutenant and promoted Captain on 1 January 1892.

He served in the Burmese expedition of 1887-89 were he was slightly wounded and awarded Medal with two clasps.

He had a further award for service in the Waziristan Expedition of 1894-95; served with the Chitral Relief force under Sir Robert Low in 1895 (Medal with clasp); saw action in the the campaign on the North West Frontier of India under Sir William Lockhart in 1897-98 with the Tochi Field Force in command of No 6 (Bombay) Mountain Battery (clasp); fought in the South African War, receiving the Queen's Medal; and later saw action in Persia.

He was promoted to Major in 1901, Lieut.-Colonel in 1911 and Colonel in 1914.

He served throughout the Great War in Belgium, France, Macedonia, and Palestine. He was twice wounded and mentioned in despatches and received his appointment as Brigadier-General in 1917.

In 1919 he was G.O.C. Kantara (Suez area) and acted as Brigadier-General Royal Engineers in Egypt and Palestine, retiring with the rank of Hon. Brigadier-General in 1920.

He was made a Companion of the Bath in the Kings Birthday Honours in 1917 and awarded the Order of the Crown of Italy later that year. He also received the Order of St. Michael and St. George and the Order of the Nile (3rd Class) in 1918.

In 1908 he married Margaret (Meta) Carson, a daughter of Mr. William Carson, J.P., of Carnalea House, Bangor.

Brigadier-General Oswald wrote several publications including "61, or How Some Wheels Went Round,"‡ and contributed to several newspapers.

Oswald -- August 25, 1938, Brigadier-General Charles Williamson Oswald, C.B., C.M.G., F.R.G.S. (late R.A.), of Breathtulla, Helen's Bay, Co. Down.
Belfast Newsletter, 26th August 1938

†: I would be interested if anyone was able to enlighten as to why Col. Williamson was "formerly Oswald" or why Charles adopted the surname Williamson-Oswald later in his career.

‡: "61, or How Some Wheels Went Round" was a unit history of the 61st Heavy Artillery Group in the Great War. The unit, which was mainly composed of men enlisting under the 'Derby Scheme' midway through the war, served at Ploegsteert Wood in Belgium, on the Macedonian front and in Palestine. Oswald was the 61st's commander.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

PATON, Norman Giles

Sub-Lieutenant, HMML No. 403, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Died: 22/08/1918
Age: 32

Recorded on Chatham Naval Memorial
Recorded on family memorial Bangor cemetery

Norman Giles Paton was born in 4 Osborne Terrace, Belfast, on 2nd October 1886. He was the son of John Paton, a commission agent (who hailed from Scotland) and Maggie Paton nee Brown. The family moved to Bangor some time before 1911 where the census shows them living in Seaforth Road.

He attended Methodist College in Belfast before working as a Manufacturers Agent in the linen trade with his father and a brother, Frank, in Linenhall Street.

Norman received a commission as Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on 31st May, 1918, and served on HMS Hermione and ML 403. He was killed when ML 403 was torpedoed in the North Sea on 22nd August, 1918. He is recoded as buried at sea.

PATON, NORMAN GILES, Sub-Lieut., Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, eldest s. of John Paton, of Ardmore, Bangor, Linen Merchant, by his wife, Maggie, dau. of Francis Brown; b. Belfast, 2 Oct. 1886; educ. Methodist College there; was associated with his father in business; appointed Sub-Lieut. Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve 31 May, 1918; served on H.M.S. Hermione and M.L. 403, and was killed when M.L. 403 was torpedoed in the North Sea 22 Aug, 1918. Buried at sea. He was an enthusiastic and skilful yachtsman; unm.
Du Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, vol. 4


SUB-LIEUTENANT NORMAN G. PATON, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, killed on the 22nd August, was the eldest son of Mr. John Paton, Ardmore, Bangor. Deceased, who was educated at the Methodist College, Belfast, was in the linen business with his father in Linenhall Street until he obtained his commission about three months ago. His brother,
    Mr. Frank Paton, was invalided out of the Army after three year' service with the Royal Irish Rifles.
Belfast Newsletter, 24th August 1918


ML 403 was stationed at Whitby, and was called upon to recover and defuse a German torpedo that had been fired at a northbound steamer on 21st August 1918. The steamer's crew watched the torpedo miss, and run into the rocks on the western side of the bay without exploding.

On 22nd August, it was decided to recover the torpedo, and ML 403, commandered by Lieutenant Arthur Whiting, RNVR was tasked with the recovery. ML 403 sailed out of Whitby with a crew of ten, plus two torpedo experts. A large crowd of locals gathered on the cliff above to witness the recovery.

The torpedo was safely lifted out of the water, but it would seem that around 14:00, while the torpedo experts attempted to defuse it, it exploded, setting off the depth charges and the petrol tank aboard ML 403. The explosions broke windows, brought down ceilings, and damaged roof tiles in the village of Runswick. The bow of ML 403 was blown close to the shore.

Miraculously, the coxswain, who had been feeling unwell, and who was lying in the crew fo'c's'le, survived.
Information found on the Great War Forum.


His Majesty's Motor Launch (HMML) 403 was destroyed by explosion whilst trying to salve a German torpedo in Runswick Bay 22nd August 1918.

These launches were extremely dangerous and some were lost by fire before the fuel for their petrol engines was reduced to 1 part petrol to 2 parts parrafin. Forty of these boats were delivered to the French. They were mostly built in Canada and were 46 tons gross, 75 x 12 x 4 feet, petrol engined 440 bhp giving 19.5 knots. Most of the crews were ex Motor Boat section. MBs were used in all theatres.
Information from Dittmar and Colledge.

Portrait photo from A History of Methodist College Belfast by J.E. Henderson, courtesy of Nigel Henderson.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

CORRY, George Stanley

Flying Officer (Pilot), 225 Sqdn., Royal Air Force 
Service No: 49879
Died: 26/07/1944
Age: 23

Interred in Florence War Cemetery
Recorded on family memorial in Bangor Cemetery

Born in 1921, George Stanley Corry was the eldest son of Herbert F. Corry and his wife Isobella (nee Kirklands).

Educated at Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Stanley was also was a member of the Queen’s O.T.C. While at Inst. he played rugby and won several prizes for swimming and life-saving.

He enlisted with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 1940 and received a cadetship to Sandhurst in April, 1941. Later that year he was commissioned in the North Irish Horse, and transferred to the R.A.F. in 1942. After receiving his wings he was promoted Flying Officer in mid 1943.

On the morning of 29th July 1944 his parents received an airgraph from him only to recieve a telegram that evening to inform them that their son had been killed on active service in Italy.

At the evening service in Trinity Presbyterian Church on Sunday, 30th July, the minister Rev. W.G. Wimperis said:— “Flying Officer Corry... was a fine, intelligent and handsome youth. He was destined for a useful career and had an aptitude for languages. A sincere Christian lad, he would doubtless have lived a useful life and filled an honourable place in a needy world. But the need of his country was paramount; he responded to the call and has laid down his life for us at the early age of 23."

Killed in Action
CORRY – Killed in action in July 1944, Flying-Officer George Stanley Corry, R.A.F., elder son of Herbert F. Corry, 27, Bryansburn Road, Bangor. Very deeply regretted.
Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 8th August 1944

Monday, 1 May 2017

SLOSS, Francis Neville

Corporal, 83 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service No: 1544915
Died: 18/06/1943
Age: 19

Interred in Bangor Cemetery

Second World War memorial in
St. Comgall's Parish Church, Bangor
Francis Neville Sloss was born on 15th July 1923, the eldest son of Francis A. Sloss and Alice M. F. V. Sloss (nee Patchell). His father was a solicitor and the family were living in Central Avenue at the time of Francis' death.

Francis was educated at Sligo Grammar School and High School.

SLOSS – June 1943, Corporal Francis Neville Sloss, R.A.F.V.R., age 19 years, elder son of Francis A. Sloss, LL.B., Solicitor, Bangor, Co. Down, and grandson of the late Joseph Sloss, M.D., Staff Surgeon, Royal Navy, and of William A. Patchell, Belfast. Service in Abbey Church to-morrow (Wednesday), at 3 o'clock. After service, funeral to Bangor New Cemetery.
Northern Whig, 22nd June 1943.

Saturday, 25 March 2017


Pioneer, 22nd Company, Royal Engineers
Service No: 338725
Died: 08/09/1919
Age: 26

Interred in Bangor Cemetery

Robert Beattie was born in Maryport, Cumberland, in Sept 1893. He was the youngest son of John Beattie and his wife Ellen (nee Agnew).

John and Ellen where from Co. Down and moved to Cumberland shortly after their marriage in 1876. John was a labourer and was working in an ironworks in Maryport and the family lived there until the late 1890s when they moved to Bangor and were living in Castle Street in 1901 later moving to Bingham Street.

Robert started work as a greengrocer and when war broke out enlisted in the Royal Irish Rifles (SN:18179) but was transferred the the Royal Engineers with whom he went to France in October 1915.

Robert was admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital on 25th August 1919 were he died just over two weeks later on 9th September* from a haemorrhage on the brain.

* Although the headstone and CWGC recorded the date as 8th September the official death entry records the 9th.

Friday, 17 March 2017

PATCHELL, William Neville

Private, 20th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
Service No: 5435
Died: 16/07/1916
Age: 25

Remembered on Thiepval Memorial
Remembered on family memorial Bangor Cemetery

William Neville Patchell was born in Durgarven, Co. Waterford on the 11th August 1890. He was the son of William A. Patchell, a Bank Official, and his wife Alice L. Patchell (nee Neville).

William was educated in Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, and is recorded on the schools war memorial.

By 1911 the family had moved to Belfast, the census recording that his parents and sister where living in Malone Avenue but there is no sign of William at this point (yet).

He enlisted in the 20th (University and Public Schools) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers and went to France in November 1915.

William was reported as wounded in the casualty lists published in newspaper of 10th June 1916 but this must not have been too serious as he was soon to be back at the front only to be killed on the 16th July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.


PATCHELL, Pte. Wm. Neville, Royal Fusiliers (Public Schools Battalion), killed in action on 16th July, was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Patchell, Downshire Park, Bangor, and grandson of the late Mr. Robt. Neville, Johnston, County Kilkenny.
Belfast Newsletter, 5th August 1916

BELL, Charles

Served in Royal Engineers
Service No: 64178
Died: 4th July 1920

Interred in Bangor Cemetery

Charles Bell was born in London in 1863. A stonemason by trade he married Mary Aicken, a farmer's daughter from Bangor in 1893. According to his attestation papers the marriage took place at 42nd St. Presbyterian Church, New York – surely a story there.

The family lived in Belfast at various addresses – 1901: York Road; 1911: Broadway – and on his enlistment in 1915 were living at 345 Albertbridge Road.

Charles enlisted in the Royal Engineers (121st Field Co.) on 30th January 1915 and was sent to France in October 1915.

He did not serve long and was discharged as no longer fit for service in June 1916 – the family now living in Grays Hill in Bangor. Although the few remaning records do not enlighten as to the cause of illness, his death certificate records that he had suffered for nephritis for the previous four years indicating that this was the probable cause.

He suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and died on 4th July 1920 at the family home Prospect Park, Bangor.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

CAMPBELL, Ian Gordon

Flight Sergeant, 619 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service No: 1489683
Died: 24/03/1944

Interred in Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery
This family headstone is in Bangor Cemetery

Ian is commemorated
on the memorial in Trinity
Presbyterian Church, Bangor
John (Ian) Gordon Campbell was born in Bangor on the 7th September 1913. He was the second son of Samuel Campbell and Jane M. Campbell (nee Armstrong). His father was a draper and the family lived on Main Street in Bangor.

He attended Bangor Grammar school along with his brother William. His headmaster Mr. Maurice Wilkins in writing an obituary for Ian records that "I well remember the morning in November, 1923, when his mother brought him, a small boy of ten years, with his elder brother Billy, to join Bangor Grammar School. Billy, quickly catching sight of faces of friends he knew, pushed in through the open door, eager for new experiences, but the little fair-haired brother was shy, ran back, and would not leave his mother's side. A bargain had to be made that he should have his freedom for the day and come to-morrow. So to-morrow he came and from that day never looked back till he fell fighting in the cause of justice and the freedom of mankind. He was a bright and apt pupil, and in 1929 he passed Northern Ireland Junior Certificate with three credits. After that, to our regret, he left us."

Saturday, 4 March 2017

MILEY, Frederick James

Leading Aircraftman, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service No: 1056802
Died: 26/01/1942
Age: 28

Interred in Bangor Cemetery

Frederick James Miley was born in Duke Street, Athy, on 29th August 1913. He was the son of Robert Miley, a grocer, and his wife Margaret Miley (nee Mansfield).

Fred Miley is recorded on the
Bangor Parish War Memorial
in St. Comgall's Church 
The family moved to Bangor and Fred was educated at Main Street school. Both he and his younger brother William (who also served in the RAF) attended Bangor Grammar School having both won Entrance Scholarships in 1926 – "probably the only case of two brothers winning scholarships together at the same examination" according to their headmaster Maurice Wilkins.

In a biography written by Mr. Wilkins on the death of Fred he said, "They were not boys one could forget — quiet, modest and industrious, of attractive bearing and manners, quick intelligence and brilliant promise. They excelled in all subjects — boys whom it was a real pleasure to have in a class, for the sake of the example they set of good conduct and splendid proficiency."

He enlisted in the RAF shortly after the outbreak of the war and served some time in the Middle East where he contracted an illness. He returned home where he died several weeks later.

WRIGHT, Robert

Civilian Casualty
Died: 17/04/1941
Age: 41

Interred in Bangor Cemetery

Robert lived at Hazeldene Gardens, Bangor with his wife Louisa ( give the address as 32 Avenue Baylands). On the night of 15th April 1941 the German Luftwaffe carried out the second of three air raids on Belfast. Some of the bombers missed their targets and several outlying areas where hit– one being Bangor. Robert was injured in the raid and died in Bangor Hospital two days later.

WRIGHT — April 17, 1941, at Hospital, Robert E., dearly-beloved husband of Louisa Wright, Hazeldene Gardens, Bangor. Funeral from Central Hall, Bangor, to-morrow (Sunday), 20th inst., at 4 p.m., to New Cemetery, Bangor. At Home with the Lord. Deeply regretted.
Northern Whig, 19th May 1941

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

CUMMING, Richard Percy

Private, First Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade
Service No: 14555
Died: 01/09/1917
Age: 30

Interred in Bangor Old Abbey Churchyard (In South-East part)
Recorded on family memorial in Bangor Cemetery

Richard was born in Lisburn, Co Antrim, on the 26th May 1884, the son of Alexander Cumming and Marianne Macartney.  The family moved to Bangor and lived in Ballymagee Street (later to became part of High Street) where his father Alexander was a grocer and car driver.

His occupation as recorded in the 1911 census was a draper.

He appears to have emigrated to Canada sometime after this as that is where he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 24th September 1914

He contracted acute nephritis in July 1917 and was invalided to England on the 18th August. He was admitted to the Royal Herbert Hospital in Woolwich where he died on 1st September 1917.

IN his will he left property and $400 to his mother.

His brother William also served and fell on the 1st July 1916.

Postcard of Ballymagee Street, Bangor (later High Street) from

While Richard is commemorated on this family memorial in Bangor New Cemetery he is actually interred just a short distance away in the grounds of the Bangor Abbey. A little investigation would need to be done to but my suspicion would be that the headstone was erected when the father died and the mother took the opportunity to put both the sons names on it.

CUMMING, William Herbert

Company Sergeant Major, 13th Batt., Royal Irish Rifles
Service No: 17518
Died: 01/07/1916
Age: 31

Recorded on Thiepval Memorial
Recorded on family memorial in Bangor Cemetery

Herbert was born in Lisburn, Co Antrim, on the 25th May 1883, the eldest son of Alexander Cumming and Marianne Macartney.  The family moved to Bangor and lived in Ballymagee Street (later to became part of High Street) where his father Alexander was a grocer and car driver.  Herbert worked as a plumber.

Postcard of Ballymagee Street, Bangor (later High Street) from

His brother Richard also served and died the following year. Although Richard is recorded on the family memorial alongside Herbert he is actually interred in Bangor Abbey.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017


Henry (Harry) Stevenson was born in Ballyholme on 7 July 1893, the son of James Stevenson, a labourer and his wife Jemima (nee M'Gowan)

He enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in May 1915 (Service No 405119) although his Attestation papers recorded he had served 4 months with the 109th Regiment.

He listed his profession as tailor as was also recorded in the 1911 census.

Returning to Canada after the war the family memorial records he died on the 7th May 1947 "from wounds received in 1914-1918 war."

HANNAY, Herbert (Bertie)

Flight Sergeant (Pilot), 51 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service No: 754380
Died: 12/06/1941
Age: 21

Mentioned in Despatches

Interred in Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery
Recorded on family memorial in Bangor Cemetery

Herbert Hannay was born in Bangor around 1920. He was the son of Herbert Hannay, a farmer, and his wife Rosa Hannay (nee Curragh).

He attended Bangor Grammar School as a scholarship student and his headmaster, Maurice Wilkins said of him, "Bertie Hannay was... a boy of genial and attractive character, who took part with zest in every school activity and was universally beloved. I seem to remember his mother's interest and enthusiasm in all that concerned the school — a parent upon whose support we could count."

He is recorded on as having a spouse – Ena Hannay.

Monday, 27 February 2017

CROZIER, William

Rifleman, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Service No: 6025
Died: 19/05/1917
Age: 27

Interred in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery
Recorded on family memorial in Bangor Cemetery

William Crozier is recorded on the
Bangor Parish War Memorial
in St. Comgall's Church
William was born Frederick William Crozier on 11th March 1888 in Portadown the son of William J. Crozier, a coachman, and Henrietta Crozier (nee Neill).

The family moved to Bangor some time after the birth of the youngest daughter in 1895 and lived in Castle Street.

In the 1911 census William was recorded as working as a gardener.


Ship's Cook, S.S. Wileysike
Died: 09/05/1918
Age: 38

Interred Bangor Cemetery

Born in Bangor, son of Hugh and Jane Maginnis.

Photo of ss Wileysike (from Clive Ketley on
The ss Wileysike (Reg No: 95248) was an lightly-armed British cargo ship. On the 9th May 1918, while en route from Glasgow to France with a cargo of coal, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U54 when 8 miles SW of St Ann’s Head, Wales. She went down with the loss of 4 lives: Hugh, David Davies (Wales), George Pettinger (Yorkshire) and Rafael Diaz (Mexico).
    She was built in 1888 by the Tyne Iron Shipbuilding Company and, when sunk, was owned by the Wileysike Steamship Co Ltd (WS Miller & Co) of Glasgow.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

WILLIAMS, Thomas Warwick

Died: 2nd May 1931
Age: 58

Interred in Bangor Cemetery

Thomas Williams was born in Dublin c1873 the son of John Williams and Charlotte Akermann.

In 1896 he received a commission as Second Lieutenant in the 5th (Irish) Liverpool Regiment (formerly the Liverpool Irish).

While the regiment itself was not sent to South Africa on the outbreak of the Second Boer War, over 220 men volunteered to go – of these 100 formed a service company attached the the Royal Irish Regiment. This company served for ten months and returned to Britain in November 1900.

A report in the Liverpool Daily Post of 18th May 1901 on the return of the "Liverpool Volunteers" by a Captain Thomas states, "We arrived at Cape Town on 16th March [1900], and went into camp at Green Point... Whilst here we met the Service Company of the 5th Irish, under Captain Williams."

Thomas was wounded during the campaign and was awarded the South Africa Medal with clasps for Wittebergen, Cape Colony and Transvaal.

In the 1911 census he is recorded as living in Southwell Road, Bangor, with his mother and two sisters.

On the outbreak of the Great War he volunteered to serve again.

After the war Thomas took up a role with the Ministry of Pensions, becoming Chief Area Officer in 1923. Also that year, on 27th September 1923, he married Miss Edith Brice.

He had a keen interest in sport and was a member of the Bangor Recreation Club, Bangor Rugby Football Club, Ward Park Tennis Club and the Bangor and Kirkiston Castle Clubs.

He died on 2nd May 1931.

WILLIAMS – May 2, 1931, at his residence, Inishowen, Shandon Park E., Bangor, Thomas Warwick Williams, Captain, late The King's Liverpool Regiment, and Chief Area Officer, Ministry of Pensions, Belfast, the much-loved husband of Edith Williams. Funeral private. No flowers please.
Belfast News-Letter, 4th May 1931

Saturday, 25 February 2017

GRATTAN, Angeline

Civilian Casualty
Died: 16/04/1941
Age: 18

Interred in Bangor Cemetery

Angeline Grattan was the daughter of Andrew and Matilda Grattan and lived at 40 Ashley Gardens Bangor. On the night of 15th April 1941 the German Luftwaffe carried out the second of three air raids on Belfast. Some of the bombers missed their targets and several outlying areas where hit– one being Bangor. Angeline along with her mother Matilda and her sister Shelagh were killed in the raid.

Funeral of Raid Victims

The funeral took place yesterday to Bangor New Cemetery of Mrs. Matilda Grattan and her daughters, Shelagh (20) and Angeline (18), who lost their lives as the result of enemy action. A service was held in St. Comgall’s Catholic Church, Brunswick Road.
    The chief mourners were Mr. Andrew Grattan (husband and father), his married daughter, Mrs. G. O’Connell, of Galway, and her husband; another daughter, Miss Kathleen Grattan, and Mr. B. M’Kinney.
    Three sons, Messrs. Robert, George and Andrew, are abroad.
    The Mayor, Councillor W. M. M’Millan, and the Town Clerk, Mr. R. M. Moore, represented the Council and residents of the town. The services were conducted by the Rev. T. MacGowan, P.P., and the Rev. A. R. MacNabb, B.A., C.C.
    The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. Jacob O’Neill, undertaker, Dufferin Avenue, Bangor.
    Northern Whig, 19th May 1941