Lieutenant James Dermot Neill - died 1/7/1916
108th Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
James was born on 5th December 1886, the son of Sharman D and Annie S Neill, of 22 Donegal Place, Belfast and later of Ardmoyle, Cultra, County Down. After Inst, he attended colleges in England, Switzerland and Germany, as well as Queen's University, Belfast, where he was a member of the Officer Training Corps.
He was also a director in his father’s firm, a member of the UVF, the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club and Hollywood Golf Club. James was commissioned on 26th January 1916.
His younger brother Robert Larmour Neill died at Fromelles in May 1915.
James was killed in action, aged 29, died on 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
In August 1932, a French woman, Madame le Bayon, was visiting the Thiepval Memorial and found a small silver medallion in the shape of a horse shoe, with a chain. The medallion was inscribed to "Lt J D Neill, 13th R.I.Rifles". They requested details of James's family so they could return the medallion. His father replied stating that he was most anxious to recover this memento of his son who he knew possessed and probably wore as an ID medal.
James is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (face 5C and 12C), Somme, France.
Captain Douglas Hill O'Flaherty - died 1/7/1916
15th Royal Irish Rifles
Douglas was born on 9th May 1880, the son of Mr and Mrs Francis Hill Hale O'Flaherty. He was the husband of Beatrice O'Flaherty (nee Erving) of 31 Myrtlefield Park, Belfast, later of Hampton Villa, Belmont Park, Strandtown, Belfast, who he had married on 4th June 1912, at the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, Belmont. They had one child Beatrice, from a previous marriage.
He was a member of the Ulster Centre of the Motor Cycle Union and played cricket for the North of Ireland club. He was also a member of the UVF for 14 months, 6 as company commander. He was working as a Head Clerk when he applied for a commission on 25th September 1914. He was promoted to Captain on 1st February 1915.
Douglas died on 1st July 1916, at the age of 36. The war diary of his battalion gives the following description of events that morning :
"8.15am - C and D Companies, captured A line on left. Casualties very heavy. Called for reinforcements but none available. About 10am large quantities of prisoners, maps, papers etc began to come in. Communication completely broke down owing to German barrage for five hours. One company alone sent 14 runners back only one of which got through. In the meantime, on the right, C line had been captured and D line penetrated. Captain Chiplin was severely wounded ditto Captain Tate and Captain O'Flaherty killed, also Lt Hind. The machine gun fire from both flanks (the 29th and 32nd Divisions having failed) caused very heavy casualties and bit by bit drove us back".
An informant reported that "Captain O'Flaherty of 'B' Company was struck by a shell and killed immediately". In all, the battalion suffered 318 casualties that day.
Douglas is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (face 15A and 15B), Somme, France.
Second Lieutenant Hugh Corry Osborne - died 23/7/1916
12th West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wale's Own)
Hugh was born on 20th May 1896, the son of Joseph Osborne, 4 Hopefield Terrace, Antrim Road, Belfast.
After attending Inst, he was a member of the Queen's University Officer Training Corps, and had worked as a chartered accountant in his father’s business, Osborne Cook and Company, in the Scottish Provident Buildings.
Hugh was killed on 23rd July 1916, aged 20, when he had only been at the front for two months. On that day, the battalion were sent from Montauban to Longueval, and formed up on the Sunken Road for an attack on Delville Wood.
The attack started at 3.45 but was unsuccessful, with the battalion retiring later and formed up again on the Sunken Road, which was heavily shelled all day. 3 officers were killed including Hugh, with 4 officers wounded, 1 missing, and 155 other ranks killed, wounded and missing.
A report from
Sgt O'Neill of the battalion stated
"The last I saw of him was at daybreak on the 23rd July in an attack at Delville Wood. We went over the top and in advancing he was not sure of the direction and went alone to find out the right directions. He has never been seen since."
Hugh is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (face 2A, 2C and 2D), Somme, France.
Private William John Osborne - died 8/10/1915
29th Canadian Infantry (British Columbia Regiment) - service number 75393
William was born on 21st June 1894, the son of Thomas Edens Osborne and Margaret Osborne of 11, Marine Parade, Hoywood, County Down. He was working as a labourer when he enlisted on 7th November 1914 in Vancouver.
William died at the age of 21 on 8th October 1915. His battalion were in trenches at a position called Tea Farm (later known as Pond Farm), near Wulverghem. The war diary reports "Quiet Day. About 6pm, enemy exploded mine in front of 28th Battalion on our left and considerable bombing and shelling too place. Our front remained quiet. Pte W J Osborne killed in mine explosion in front of 28th Battalion". As well as William, 21 men of the 28th died.
He is buried in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery (ref K 38), Flanders, Belgium.
Second Lieutenant Robert McCalmont Pettigrew - died 10/6/1916
8th Royal Irish Rifles (C Company)
Robert, the only son of John Graham and Mathilda Pettigrew of 19 Eglantine Avenue, Belfast. After Inst, he was an apprentice in the linen trade before enlisting with the 10th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles on 10th September 1914.
He transferred from the 10th to 8th battalion on 1st March 1915.
Robert died of wounds, at the age of 20, on 10th June 1916. His battalion were in trenches in Thiepval Wood that day, and subject to heavy shelling.
Robert is buried in Authuile Military Cemetery (ref B30), Somme, France.