It was a humbling weekend past in the Netherlands on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Walcheren, which involved 4 Special Service Brigade ferried in by the Royal Navy. 41, 47 and 48 Commandos were part of a daring assault against multiple, heavily defended batteries. Today marks the anniversary of the death of the first MP in WW1, Captain O’Neill of the Life Guards, father of Terence O’Neill, PM of Northern Ireland. Two other sons were to die in WW2. In 1940 JK Haire, an RAF pilot from Belfast, died saving a village school.
Representing their comrades who died on this day
Irish Guards. 1st Bn. Private. 1200. Died 06/11/1914. Aged 29. Thomas Armstrong moved to Scotland. He joined the Glasgow Police. He enlisted with 1st battalion of the Irish Guards. Son of Thomas Galbraith Armstrong and Sarah Jane Armstrong, of Benburb, Moyard, Co. Tyrone; husband to the late Isabella Armstrong, of 1616, Maryhill Rd., Maryhill, Glasgow. Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
+O’NEILL, Arthur Edward Bruce
Captain, 2nd Life Guards, was killed in action at Klein Zillebekeridge. on 06/11/1914. Aged 38. He was the Member of Parliament for Mid-Antrim and the first MP of 22 to be killed during the First World War. He was elected to the House of Commons for Mid-Antrim in 1910, succeeding his uncle Robert Torrens O’Neill. His brother Hugh succeeded him as MP for Mid-Antrim.
O’Neill joined the Army in 1897. He saw active service in South Africa between 1899 and 1900, during the Second Boer War. He was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with three clasps. In January 1902, he was temporary appointed Adjutant to the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards.
Born on 09/09/1876, O’Neill was the second but eldest surviving son of Edward O’Neill, 2nd Baron O’Neill, and his wife Lady Louisa Katherine Emma (née Cochrane), of Shane’s Castle, Randalstown Hugh O’Neill, later Baron Rathcavan, was his younger brother.
O’Neill married, at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, on 21/01/1902, Lady Annabel Crewe-Milnes, daughter of the Marquess of Crewe. The Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, performed the ceremony. Lady Annabel O’Neill later remarried and died in 1948.
O’Neill and his wife had five children; three boys and two girls. Their youngest child, Terence, was less than two months old at the time of his father’s death.Their eldest son Shane succeeded his grandfather in the barony in 1928, while their third son Terence Marne O’Neill was Prime Minister of Northern Ireland between 1963 and 1969.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate), Belgium. He is also commemorated on Panel 8 of the Parliamentary War Memorial in Westminster Hall. O’Neill is one of 19 MPs who fell in the war who are commemorated by heraldic shields in the Commons Chamber. A further act of commemoration came with the unveiling in 1932 of a manuscript-style illuminated book of remembrance for the House of Commons, which includes a short biographical account of the life and death of O’Neill.
O’Neill’s sons, Brian and Shane, were killed in action during the Second World War.
6th Inniskilling Dragoons. Private. 21205. Died 06/11/1914. Aged 27. Son of Robert Sloan, of Donaghmore, Co. Tyrone, and the late Mary Sloan. Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Dungannon WM
Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), 95th Bn. Serjeant. 7730. MM, MiD. Died 06/11/1917, at Passchendaele in the attack on the Polderhoek Chateau. Born in Carnteel, County Tyrone. In 1914 he was living in Hamilton, Scotland and joined the Army at Holytown, Lanarkshire. His first regiment was the Gordon Highlanders. He then transferred to the Machine Gun Corps In May 1917 he was mentioned in dispatches. In July 1917 Sergeant Coleman was awarded the Military Medal. Tyne Cot Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
+HERRIOT, George Hodges
RNAS. Flight Sub Lieutenant. Died 06/11/1917. Age 20. Air crash off Westgate-on-sea whilst test-flying. Son of John Scott Herriot and Jane Herriot, Belfast. Faculty of Medicine QUB 1914 – 1916. Campbell College. Minster cemetery, Kent. QUB WM. IMR
+HAIRE, John Keatinge
RAFVR. Sergeant (Pilot). 748611. Died 06/11/1940. Aged 20. 145 Sqdn. Battle of Britain. John was born in Belfast on 25/09/1920, one of three children to Sidney and Nora Haire. Educated at RBAI. During the summer of 1939 he enlisted in the RAFVR and in December was sent initially to No 1 Elementary Flying Training School at Hatfield. He completed his operational training in early September 1940 and, in the rank of Sergeant, was posted to No 145 Squadron at Dyce, the squadron being transferred to Tangmere in early October. On 27 October, his Hurricane was damaged in combat with 109s over the Isle of Wight but he managed to ditch it off Bembridge and wade ashore, unhurt. Tragedy came during combat 10 days later when his Hurricane was shot down, on fire. He was seen to turn it away from the village of Arreton before baling out at too low an altitude for his parachute to fully open and he died where he had fallen, close to the village, beside his burning aircraft. His family presented the JK Haire Fighter Memorial Cup to RBAI scouts for yearly competition. Family memorial, Dundonald Cemetery
RN. AB. D/JX192729. Died 06/12/1941. Age 26. HMS President III. A brother, Trooper Walter Jefferson, was serving with the North Irish Horse. Son of Walter and Sarah Jefferson, Benson St., Lisburn. (Belfast Weekly Telegraph 27/03/1942). Plymouth Naval Memorial. Panel 38. Lisburn WM
+McCLOUD, Thomas James
RAFVR. Sergeant. 1066739. Died 06/11/1942. Aged 24. 18 Sqdn. He was flying in Bristol Blenheim V BA818 when it crashed with the loss of the Crew of three. Son of Samuel and Martha McCloud, Comber. Comber Cemetery
+ADAMS, Joseph Edward
RAFVR. Flying Officer (Pilot). 178513. Died 06/11/1944. Aged 29.207 Sqdn. He took off from R.A.F. Spilsby in Lancaster III ND555, EM-D on a Mission to Gravenhorst. He was lost with the rest of his Crew. Son of Joseph Edward and Margorie Adams, of Belfast, Northern Ireland; husband of Maude Adams, of Belfast. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
RAFVR. Sergeant (Air Gunner).1798065. Died 06/11/1944. Aged 20. 106 Sqdn. He was in Lancaster LL953 ZN-O which took off from R.A.F. Metheringham at 16.30 on 6th November 1944 on a mission to Gravenhorst. The aircraft was lost over Gravenhorst and is believed to have been shot down by Hauphtmann Modrow of 1 Nachtjagd Force at 1924 hours. Son of William and Frances Maud Clyde, of Bushmills, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
OLDHAM, Edward Garr Wesley
10th Royal Irish Rifles. Private 0/15717. His first theatre of war was recorded as France from 05/10/1915. He was later promoted to Lance Corporal. Promoted 2nd Lieutenant in August 1917. Born on 27/05/1887 at 43 Prospect Terrace, Belfast to Edward Garr Oldham (Clerk) and Agnes Rebecca Oldham nee Mulholland. Edward joined the Belfast Banking Company around 1905 and worked in Markets branch and Head Office. On 28/09/1912, Oldham’s father signed the Ulster Covenant at Fisherwick Presbyterian Church, Belfast giving his address as 184 Lisburn Road, Belfast. On 15/09/1917 Edward married Emily (Emmie) Victoria Nicol of Belfast at Duncairn Presbyterian Church. Edward is described as a military officer. Following his demobilisation after the Great War, Oldham returned to work. The Belfast Banking Company ‘Roll of Honour’ records Oldham as having been ‘previously wounded’ with his last known address as ‘in France’.
As an officer, Edward had to apply for his medal entitlement. He was awarded the 14/15 Star, the Victory medal and the British War Medal. The address recorded on his Medal Index card was 6 Chichester Avenue, Belfast. He is remembered on the Balmoral Golf Club Roll of Honour along with his brother John Byers Oldham. John served in the Army Service Corps (T4/149974); North Irish Horse (2665) and the North Irish Horse/Royal Irish Fusiliers (41346). Retirement came in 1948. Died on 06/11/1949, aged 63 in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. His last address was 19 Rosetta Avenue, Belfast.
RN. Chief Petty Officer. 209184. Enrolled 06/11/1901 for 12 years. Re-engaged 11/11/1913 to completion of hostilities. Served to 30/08/1927. War service in Pembroke, Shannon and Marshall Ney. Born Limavady 06/11/1883. Victoria Terrace, Coleraine. ADM 188/365/209184
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