Lisburn Lodge to remember heroes of the First World War

The members of Lisburn Mechanics LOL 557 are researching the members of their lodge that joined the armed services during the First World War.

Some information is found in the lodge minutes but the lodge are trying to find out any other members who served and if they were killed, wounded or survived the war.

In July 1916 the lodge held a social evening to raise funds for their members that were serving King and Country; this raised fourteen pounds and one shilling. Cigarettes and tobacco were bought and posted to the members in France.

In August 1916 it was reported to the lodge that none of the members serving in France had received their parcels sent by the lodge, it was left in the hands of the committee to look into this. At the September meeting Brother William Robinson reported that the lodge could have the money refunded. This was put to the meeting and it was decided to take the refund and divide the money among those members at the front. At the October 1916 meeting it was reported that the money had been refunded and a postal order for eight shilling ((40pence) had been sent to thirty one members at the front, the rest would be sent the same when addresses could be obtained for them. At the November meeting a number of letters were received from brethren in France thanking the lodge for the gift of eight shillings, it was agreed to publish this in the Lisburn Herald.

In the Lisburn Herald a piece was published, it was headed Lisburn Mechanics LOL 557: Soldiers Thanks. The piece in the paper explained more than the lodge minutes why the parcels of tobacco and cigarettes had not been received by the lodge members, it arose that before reaching their destination the question of excise duty was raised and the tariff levied being so high resulted in the parcels coming back again. Fortunately the lodge were able to exchange the contents for the money originally paid and decided to send the postal orders,

The names mentioned in the newspaper are 11th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles Sergeants Joseph C. Clarke, A. Mitchell, James Mearns, J Moore, Thomas Waring, William McMullen, George Clarke Lance Corporal A. Kerr Riflemen A Spence, Fred McWilliams, William Bingham, J Baxter, James McNeice, S Brown, William Higginson and J Beck. Army Service Corps Sergeant James Megran, Cycle Corps Private J L Kisack, Irish Guards Private Joseph Walker, 9th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles Rifleman James McClean, 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles Riflemen F McConnell and S McConnell and, 73rd Machine Gun Section Private A Keery

Other member’s names that have arose from the lodge minutes of the years of the war include Sergeant David Cathcart 11th RIR whose name appears on the Sloan Street Presbyterian Church memorial, was KIA on 1st September 1917 at Ypres; Rifleman William Leathem KIA on the Somme on the 24th June 1916, his death is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial; William Lamont 11th RIR was also killed in action on 1st September 1917 near Ypres. He was married and lived in Sloan Street.

A number of members emigrated to Canada about this time, James Getgoods transferred from LOL 557 to Cameron LOL 618 Toronto in July 1914 and James Hanna transferred to S. John’s LOL 1982 Winnipeg in March 1914 are both thought to have served with the Canadian forces.

Alex Cairns who enlisted at Valcartier Canada in the Canadian Expeditionary Force died of wound in April 1915 near Ypres. His mother still lived in Lisburn at this time.

Rifleman Alexander Kerr emigrated to Vancouver but returned before the war and signed up in the 12th Royal Irish Rifles, he was killed in action in Belgium on 16th October 1916 and is buried in Plus Douve Farm Cemetery, Belgium, his name is recorded in Canadian National Roll of Honour.

Lance Corporal Francis John Lennox was originally from Castledawson and worked in Duncan’s shop in market square he served in 11th RIR and was killed on the morning of the 1st of July 1916 at the Somme. The report on his company’s advance was that they were first out of the trenches and from “The very moment that our men slipped over the parapet they were met with a hail of machine-gun bullets and shrapnel….They advanced in waves 50 yards apart, and were mown down like hay. “A” Company was soon wiped out” Brother Lennox has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thievpal Memorial France. He was a member of Railway Street Presbyterian.

Rifleman William Bingham was wounded on the first day of the Battle of the Somme 1st July 1916, he appears to have recovered and returned to duty as he was one of those who received his postal order.

A roll of honour with the names of those serving was ordered in 1915, this was to be hung on the lodge room wall, there is no mention inthe lodge minutes of the roll ever being delivered.

The lodge would be very interested if anyone could give them any further names of members of LOL 557 that served and more information on those mentioned above, their Christian names in some cases, whether they were killed, wounded or survived the war, received any commendations or medals. Any photographs would be very much appreciated. If anyone would know of the whereabouts of the roll of honour the members would much appreciate if they could get a copy of it.

The Lodgecan be contacted via Facebook WW1 Lisburn Mechanics LOL 557 or by emailing [email protected]