Second Lieutenant Harold Lyness - died 2/9/16

9th Royal Irish Fusiliers


Harold was born on 17th May 1896, the son of Joseph and Jane Lyness (daughter of Thomas Clarke of Lurgan, County Armagh), Oakbank, Rosetta Park, Belfast and later of 88 Fitzroy Avenue, Belfast.

After attending St Jude's School, Belfast and Inst, he was apprenticed to the Linen Warehouse of William Liddell and Company, Queen Street, Belfast. He enlisted in the 2/5th (Angus and Dundee) The Black Watch at Forfar on 30th December 1914, was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers on 27th August 1915 and joined the 9th Battalion on 20th June 1916. He took part in the Battle of the Somme throughout July and August 1916.

He suffered gunshot wounds to the back on 1st September 1916, when bringing a wiring party home along Spring Street Trench to Red Lodge and died of wounds in Number 2 Casualty Clearing Station at Bailleul in the early hours of 2 September 1916, aged 20.

His commanding officer, Lt Col Blacker, wrote:

"He had gone out in charge of a party wiring in front of our line, and was bringing his men back at the conclusion of a night's good work when he was hit by a chance shot, while in the communication trench. The bullet entered his left side and passed through his body. I sympathize most deeply with you in your sorrow. He had only been a few months with us, and had already made his mark in the battalion. Keen, always ready for any job, absolutely reliable and cheery. I knew that any work given to your son would be well and thoroughly carried out. the battalion can ill afford to lose such an officer. I realised that in your son I had the very stamp of officer I wanted; now he has gone and we are left to mourn the loss of another gallant comrade".

Harold is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (ref II. F. 66), Nord, France

Major George Edwardes MacColl - died 5/8/1917

8th Royal Irish Rifles

George was born on 29th October 1884, the son on Hector and Mary MacColl, of Belfast, and husband of Margaret P MacColl (nee Wallace), of "Towerdene", Bearsden, Glasgow, whom he married in early 1916.

He was working on the railways in Belfast when he was gazetted Lieutenant, on 6th August 1914. At the time he was living at 25 Stranmillis Road, Belfast.

He was killed in action on 5th August 1917, at the age of 44. The battalion had been moved into the front line, at Wieltje, east of Ypres, that day, and suffered heavy hostile shelling in which 8 men, including George, were killed. 

George is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial (panel 40), Flanders, Belgium.

Surgeon John Sides Davies MacCormac - died 31/5/1916

Royal Navy HMS Black Prince

John, the son of William and Mary Edmunds MacCormac of The Old House, Banbridge, County Down, and husband of Genevieve Muriel MacCormac, of St Ives, Cornwall died at the age of 44. He was a surgeon aboard the HMS Black Price, an armoured cruiser, which was sunk in the Battle of Jutland, with 857 men lost. The ship had become separated from the rest of the British fleet and it was reported that:

"As Black Prince now suddenly found herself close abreast of the German centre. In a moment she was in a glare of searchlights, a tornado of shell at point blank-range rent her from stem to stern, and in two minutes she was a mass of flames. For a while she was seen as a floating furnace, and then, with an appalling explosion, sank with all hands".

John is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (panel 11).

He is also commemorated on the Banbridge War Memorial.

Captain Julian Mackay MacIlwaine - died 22/3/1918

12 Squadron Royal Flying Corps, Secondary Regiment 5th Royal Irish Rifles

Julian was born on 30th September 1888 in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, the son of Edward Nangle MacIlwaine and Julia Alma Gaussen MacIlwaine later of 67, Eglantine Avenue, Belfast.

After attending Inst, Julian was working as a stockbroking manager when he applied for a commission with the Royal Irish Rifles. In early 1915, he qualified as an instructor at the School of Musketry in Dublin and after proceeding to the Western Front, suffered an abdominal wound caused by a rifle bullet when in action at Fromelles, on 26th April 1915. He returned to action with the Royal Flying Corps.

Julian was examined by a medical board on 8th June 1917 at the Waldorf Hotel in London, the report stating "he has thickened arteries - cardiac hypertrophy - gives a history of being run over by a motor lorry - may have one more try at flying."

He was flying in RE8 B4040, with Second Lieutenant William Magnus Irvine, on the IV Corps front, when they were reported as missing on 22nd March 1918.

Julian is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial, Pas de Calais, France. His three brothers also served in the war, all surviving.

Lieutenant James Mackay - died 25/9/1915

3rd Gordon Highlanders attached 1st Battalion


James, the son of W.M. and Jessie  Mackay of 63 Castlereagh Road, Belfast, was born at Keiss, Caithness. After Inst, he graduated from St Andrew's University and was awarded the Carnegie Research Fellowship.

He died at the age of 23 and is buried in Sanctuary Wood Cemetery (Special Memorial), Flanders, Belgium.