March 17 – Roll of Honour

St Patrick’s Day 1945. Brigadier Scott: “We were in the line on St Patrick’s Day. ‘Jon’ produced an excellent ‘Two Types’ cartoon in the ‘8th Army News’ depicting an officer wearing a caubeen and hackle cutting shamrocks out of a billiard tablecloth – presumably to make ‘flashes’ for the Irish Brigade.” Caption stated – “It may be St Patrick’s Day, but I think that’s going a bit too far”. A Veteran’s story of service with North Irish Horse in WW1 makes for a good read for St Patrick’s Day

Representing their comrades who died on this day


+BERRY, Christopher Barnett
RN. Artificer. M/11326. HMS Indus. Died:17/03/1915 of cerebral spinal meningitis in RN Hospital, Plymouth Aged 16. Boy service to 21/02/1915. Born Banbridge 30/01/1899. Son of Robert and Arabella Berry, Springfield Rd., Belfast. Ford Park Cemetery (formerly Plymouth Old Cemetery). ADM 188/1040/11326

+BURKE, Patrick
Connaught Rangers. 1st Btn. Private. 441. Died 17/03/1915. From Dungannon. Cabaret – Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, Pas de Calais, France

+FERRIS, James
King’s Own Scottish Borderers Service, 2nd Btn. Private. Died 17/03/1915. Aged 34. He had enlisted in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers as little more than a boy but transferred to the 17th Lancers for South African service. He was said to have distinguished himself in the actions at Modder Reiver and Paardeberg amongst others. Son of Peter and Mashern Ferris, of Cushendall, Co. Antrim. Brother of Mrs. McAuley, Balliskey, Cushendall. Spoilbank Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium


+BURGESS, Robert King Holmes
East African Pioneers. Private. 3190. Died 17/03/1916. Aged 36. Royal School, Dungannon. Son of Robert and M. I. Burgess, of Coagh, Moneymore, Co. Londonderry. Taveta Military Cemetery, Kenya

+FOSTER, Allen
Royal Irish Rifles, 11th Btn. Rifleman. 11/3749. Died 17/03/1916. Born on 15/07/1889 at Andraid, a townland between Ahoghill and Randalstown. Son of John Foster and his wife Roseanna nee McBride. Allen enlisted in Randalstown. He had married before or during the Great War and was husband to M. Foster, Cloghogue/Caddy, Drummaul. 2nd Randalstown Presbyterian Church PCI RH.

+JOHNSTON, Edwin Charles
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 7th Btn. Private. 26383. Died 17/03/1916. Aged 17. Wounded by shrapnel in the trenches and died a week later in hospital. Son of David and Elizabeth Johnston, of Broomhill, Almavanog, Dungannon. Lillers Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. Dungannon WM


+ALLAN, Ernest
RN. ERA IV. M/18490. HMS Mignonette. Died 17/03/1917. Aged 25. Pembroke II and Wallington (Mignonette 06/09/1916 – 17/03/1917). Son of Henry and Rebecca Allan, Horwich, Bolton, Lancs. Chatham Naval Memorial, Panel 23. Arthur Square, Belfast Lodge 22, Masonic RH. ADM 188/1054/18490


Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 1st. Btn. Private. 28196. Died 25/03/1918. Aged 46. John enlisted in 11th Inniskillings (Donegal and Fermanagh Volunteers) late in 1915 and saw action at Messines, Langemarck, and Cambrai in 1917. Transferred to 1st Inniskillings on disbandment of 11th Bn. in Feb.1918 and was KIA during the German Spring Offensive, leaving a wife and three children. Pozieres Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France. Diamond War Memorial Londonderry. Londonderry Methodist City Mission RH.

RMLI. Private. PLY/16727. Plymouth Battalion, RND. Died 04/03/1915. Age 18. Killed in action at Kum Kale. Enlisted Belfast 19/06/191. RM Brigade 13/09/1914 – 04/03/1915. Plymouth Battalion at Dunkirk 1914. Plymouth Battalion No.3 Company MEF 06/02/1915 – 04/03/1915. A joiner. Born Belfast 05/12/1895. Son of Hugh and Margaret Warnock, Westcott St., Connswater, Belfast. Star issued to father 25/07/1919. Helles Memorial. ADM 159/159/16727


24502. 17/03/1941. No entry in CWGC


+COOK, Derek Alfred
RAFVR. Pilot Officer. 68173. Died 17/03/1942. Aged 21. 49 Squadron, Died on Active Service (Family Memorial). Son of Herbert John and Elsie May Cook of Bangor. Bangor Cemetery

+NESBITT, William David
RAFVR. Leading Aircraftman. 1062124. Died 17/03/1942. Aged 29. 250 Sqd. Son of James And Eleanor Nesbitt, of Belfast; Husband to Martha Ferguson Nesbitt, of Belfast. Port Said War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt


+CAMPBELL, David Mark
RAFVR. Flight-Lieutenant. 120419. 107 Sqdn. Died 17/03/1944. Aged 31. B Age 1935 QUB. Son of David and Elizabeth Campbell, of Kerrykeel. Clondevaddock (Christ the Redeemer C of I Churchyard), Co. Donegal. QUB RH

+DIGBY, Malachy
RAF. Leading Aircraftman. 619951. Died 17/03/1944. Aged 36. Son of Thomas and Susan Digby, of Armagh, Northern Ireland; husband to Mary Digby, of Armagh. El Alamein War Cemetery, Egypt


+McGEOWN, Frank
Royal Army Service Corps. Driver. T/6985220. Died 17/03/1945. Aged 21. Son of Bernard and Sarah McGeown He was born about 1924 in County Tyrone. The family lived at Loy Street, Cookstown. Prior to enlistment, Frank worked in Cookstown Pork Factory. He was serving with the RASC when he died as a result of a road accident. His motorcycle collided with a lorry in England while he was acting as a dispatch rider. Derryloran (Chapel Hill) Roman Catholic Churchyard, County Tyrone. Cookstown WM

RAFVR. Sergeant. 1306360. Died 07/03/1945. 614 Sqd. Son of James and Annie Elizabeth Nicholl; Husband to Annie Evelyn Nicholl, of Newtownhamilton. Malta Memorial, Panel 18, Malta


COWSER, Margaret Jane
WRNS. Second Officer 17/03/1943 (London Gazette 25/02/1944). Posted to HMS Pembroke I, 26/06/1940. WOPE, QUB 1927

McGEAGH, John Todd
RNVR. Lieutenant. 1939-45. Born 17/03/1919. Son of Rev. WJ McGeagh, The Manse, Strandtown, Belfast.Campbell College 2494

McGUIGAN, Michael John

Michael John (Jack) McGuigan was born on 17 December 1892 at 12 Queen Street, Newry, County Armagh, the eighth of nine children of postman James McGuigan and his wife Bridget (nee Grant). By 1911 he was living with his family at Dromalane Road, Newry, and working as a shopman in a hardware business.

McGuigan enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 13 October 1914 (No.1307) with his pal Frank McMahon. On 17 May 1915 at Antrim, he was confined to barracks for three days for being absent off pass from watchsetting on 15 May until 8.30 pm the following day. Soon after, McGuigan proceeded to England with F Squadron. On 30 July at Hemel Hempstead, he was again in trouble, this time for being drunk in town and improperly dressed, for which he was confined to camp for seven days.

On 17 November 1915 McGuigan embarked for France with F Squadron. There his disciplinary breaches continued. On 21 December he was awarded ten days’ Field Punishment No.2 for being absent from roll call from 8.30 pm to 10.30 pm the previous day. He repeated the offence at the end of April 1916 and was awarded 9 days’ Field Punishment No.2 and deprived of fifteen days’ pay.

In June 1916 F Squadron joined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until August 1917, when the regiment was dismounted and most of the men transferred to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion. After a brief period of infantry training at the 36th Division’s Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, the men were formally transferred to the 9th Battalion on 20 September, joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. McGuigan was issued regimental number 41237 and posted to D Company.

He saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917. However he contracted trench fever and on 8 December was evacuated to England for treatment, at the County of Middlesex War Hospital, St Albans.

McGuigan had recovered sufficiently for home service after four months, joining the 10th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, on 8 April 1918, then the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at Rugeley on 25 May. On 19 June he was posted to the 11th (Service) Battalion but prior to its departure for France the following month he was found to be still unfit for front-line service (B.3). He was therefore transferred to the Army Service Corps on 16 July (No.S/424911), working as a clerk at the Reserve Supply Personel Depot at Prees Heath, Salop, until 14 October when he was posted for duty as a clerk with the 6th Cyclist Brigade at the Curragh.
On 23 July 1919 McGuigan was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.
With the outbreak of war in September 1939 McGuigan sought to re-enlist, writing the following letter to the authorities from his home at Dromalane Road in Newry:

“I would be grateful if you would kindly forward me a record of my service in the great war & medals entitled to have received. I joined the North Irish Horse in the town of Antrim N. Ireland on Oct 10th, 1914 regtl number 1307, arrived in France early 1915 later transferred Royal Irish Fusiliers then invalided to England afterwards placed in R.A.S.C. demobbed in Dublin after the war receiving pension for some time. Thanking you in anticipation of a early return which I require for the present crisis.”

It is not known at present whether his application was successful, but it is unlikely that the 46-year-old would have seen active service.

Jack McGuigan died on 17 March 1954 at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

– Courtesy of The North Irish Horse in the Great War


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will not mark St Patrick’s Day publicly with a military engagement, as they have done in previous years. Prince William and Kate traditionally attend a parade on the Sunday before 17 March and hand out shamrocks to army personnel. The 1st Battalion Irish Guards are currently deployed in Iraq and South Sudan,

17/03/1945 – Italy – a tale of two Battalions
1 LIR: Major General Whitfield in a formal parade presented shamrock to the men of the 1st Battalion at Forli.

Senio floodbanks.
0430 Enemy attacked night platoon of 2 Innisks with bazookas.
2 LIR had a quiet night with light grenade duels & Spandau fire along bttn front.
St Patrick’s Day’s greetings were sent to all bttns and units and many greetings were received.

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  1. The London Irish officer in the cartoon with the Two Types was, allegedly, Bala Bredin, then commanding 2 LIR.
    Shamrock is one of those words, like sheep, that doesn’t take an ‘s’ in the plural.


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