Historian appeals to Leader readers for help with research

Historian Dr Fiona Mckelvey has been busy researching the history of Banbridge Methodist Church and she is hoping Leader readers might be able to help with her work.

“I am completing a research project for Banbridge Methodist Church,” explained Fiona. “I am writing biographies for each soldier and volunteer listed on our WW1 and WW2 memorial.

“I have exhausted the archives, newspapers and genealogy sites and am now hoping to appeal to the readers of the Leader for any information they may have.

“This is part of a wider project I am completing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the church. Along with the WW1/WW2 soldiers and volunteers, I have researched each minister who has served our congregation.”

The war memorial at Banbridge Methodist Church lists the men and woman who served and survived WW1, except for Edward Earnest Graham whom Fiona discovered died at the Somme.

“I have been unable to identify any personal or service records for Arthur G. Moore, Edward J. Moore, William Moore, George Moran and David McDowell,” Fiona continued.

“I do not have any service records for William Darragh, Thomas Currie, Joseph Patterson, William Pentland, John Rice, Samuel and William Richardson. Tommy McClimonds has assisted me with the records of our fallen soldiers, however, neither of us have been able to locate a photograph of Corporal Campbell Burnett, who died in Palestine on November 21, 1918. Similarly, I could not find a photograph of Edward Earnest Graham who died on July 1, 1916.

“We read out the names of the fallen on Remembrance Sunday and it would be wonderful to add photographs of all of our soldiers to our service.”

One of the soldiers Fiona has researched is John Gillmour Ballam, Captain, 6th Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. “The eldest son of George and Anna Ballam, John was born January 2, 1893,” explained Fiona. “According to the 1911 Census, the family lived in Ballyfarnan, Roscommon before moving to Manorhamilton in Leitrim. George Snr ran a grocer’s business and had two live-in servants. John studied at Sligo Grammar School and entered Queen’s University Belfast to study Medicine. At the outbreak of WW1, John left Queen’s to join the Officer’s Training Corps. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment and eventually became Captain. He served in Gallipoli and Mesopotamia. He was discharged from service in 1920. John also emigrated to the USA in 1928 where he married Eva S. Shepard on May 8, 1937. During WW2, he worked for Pratt and Witney Aircraft. He died in Hartford, Connecticut in 1978.”

If a Leader reader recognises a name on the memorial and has any information on their WW1 experience, their life before or after the War, or a photograph they would be comfortable with sharing for the book, Fiona would love to hear from you. If you can provide any information contact the Leader by emailing [email protected] before October 22.