Tributes to those from Devenish Parish who made the Supreme Sacrifice in the First World War
JOHN HENRY LOFTUS READE (MID)
2nd (Volunteer) Battalion, Manchester Regiment
Killed in Action: 29th October 1914
Le Touret Memorial (Panels 34 & 35)
Festubert, Pas de Calais, France
John Henry Loftus Reade, known as Loftus, was born in Hampstead, London on 21st February 1881. His parents were John Henry and Annabella Sarah (nee Willans) Reade, who married in 1874. His grandfather was Rev. Loftus Reade who became Presbendary of Devenish Parish in 1830. He had two sisters, Elinor Brien (b. 1879, m. Rev William Steele 1919.) and Constance May (1884-1968).
Loftus’s father was Principal Law Clerk of the Local Government Board in London. Loftus attended Loudoun House School in Hampstead. When his father died in 1894, his mother brought the family to Bundoran and Loftus went to board at St. Columba’s College in Rathfarnham. In 1898 he entered Trinity College to study Classics and Mathematics.
In 1834, Rev. Read had married Rosanna Brien whose father owned Castletown Estate in Monea and, when Rosanna’s sister died in 1899, Loftus inherited the mansion and 5,000 acres including the ruined Monea Castle. Loftus’s mother and sisters came to live at Castletown but he chose abandon his studies in Trinity and applied for an army commission. He was gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Irish Rifles in June 1901 and sailed to South Africa the following month to join his Regiment in Kopjes Station in the Orange River Colonywhere he was appointed transport officer.
At the end of the Boer War in June 1902, Loftus was transferred to the Manchester Regiment and, joined the 4th Battalion in Cork Barracks. He remained in Cork until late 1905 when the Battalion transferred to Aldershot and the following year he moved to Alderney in the Channel Islands. In 1908, Loftus became Adjutant in the 2nd Battalion in Cambridge Barracks, Portsmouth. He failed his promotion examination to captain admitting, “I haven’t the brains of a fly”. The 2nd Manchesters moved to Mullingar in September 1909 and Loftus took part in the coronation of King George V in June 1911. Later that year the Battalion moved to Keane Barracks in the Curragh and Loftus served here until February 1913 when he was transferred to the Manchester’s Depot in Ashton-under-Lyne.
Loftus’s mother died from cancer at Castletown on 30th April 1914. She had been ill for some time but concealed her condition from Loftus.
Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, Loftus returned to the Curragh and, six days later the Battalion sailed to France. Their first encounter with the enemy was on 23rd August at Mons and three days later Loftus was in the fierce fighting at Le Cateau. He was Mentioned in Dispatches by his commanding officer for ‘his valour in battle’. A private in his company wrote, “All the men used to wonder at his courage. He went across a zone of fire to get orders and would let no one go but himself. When a bullet hit his cap, he got up and came back laughing and he used to wear the cap afterwards with the hole through the peak”. A colleague wrote that, “he was absolutely without any sort of fear in action”.
At 7 o’clock on the morning of 29th October, the enemy attacked the Manchester’s front trenches near Festubert. Loftus ran along the supporting trench, steadying his men. He must have exposed himself in his haste and a sniper shot him in the neck. He died instantly. When the Germans had been driven back, he was buried with others that night near a small farm.
In his sermon in Devenish Church, his brother-in law, Rev. Steele said that Loftus had led a blameless and upright life and had been a great supporter of the church.
Bronze Memorial Plaque sent to Elinor in 1920
11th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Killed in Action: 1st July 1916
Connaught Cemetery (I.E.24)
Thiepval, Somme, France
Hugh Eames was born at Dunbar, Enniskillen on 16th September 1897. His parents were Hugh and Sarah (nee Johnston from Tully) Eames who married in 1892. They both died in 1952
Hugh’s father (1854-1952) Hugh’s mother (1872-1952)
Hugh had ten brothers and sisters, Elizabeth Jane (1893-, m. Thomas Kenny), Margaret (1894-. m. Thomas Watson), William Henry (1896-1985), John Edward (1900-1984), Sarah Emily (1902-1996, m. Henry Richard Logan), Rosanna May (1904-1996), Thomas Alexander (1906-1970, m. Annie Thompson), Henrietta (1908-2005. m. Hugh Shaw 1941), George Loftus (1910-1988, m. Jessie Thompson) and James Robert (1912-2001) In 1900, the family moved to Upper Levally and Hugh’s father was employed as gardener and servant to Rev. Dr. William Steele, Church of Ireland Rector of Monea who lived at Levally Rectory. The gardens at the rectory were ‘renowned throughout Ireland’.
Hugh was a volunteer in No.4 Section (Holymount), ‘A’ Company (Maguiresbridge), 2nd Battalion, Ulster Volunteer Force. His service number was 126. On 25th November 1914, when he had just turned 17, he enlisted in the Inniskillings in Maguiresbridge and went to Finner Camp, Ballyshannon to commence his training. After further training in Randalstown and Seaford in Sussex, he embarked for France on 25th November 1915.
Hugh’s older brother, William, had enlisted in the Regiment on 5th October 1914 as Private 14246 and he had gone to France on 5th October 1915. He was appointed Lance Corporal and was a stretcher-bearer.
In the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916, William was working under an officer whose role was to decide the priority of the wounded. After repeated journeys, William came across his brother Hugh, who was badly injured. He and his companion went forward to put him on their stretcher but the officer instructed them to leave Hugh and move on. When William pointed out that Hugh was his brother, the officer drew his revolver and said he could either leave him or he would be staying with him. Hugh was left behind. After some more trips, William was stood down and, when he and his companion returned to Hugh, they found him dead in a large crater.
William was later awarded the Military Medal for his bravery that day. He later served as a Sergeant in the Ulster Special Constabulary.
15th (1st Glasgow) (Glasgow Tramways) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry
Killed in Action: 16th January 1917
Euston Road Cemetery (I.H.22)
Collingcamps, Somme, France
James Lucy was born in Markethill or Tullymargy, Springfield on 10th March 1889. He was the youngest son of John and Dinah Elizabeth (nee Elliott from Whitehill, Devenish) Lucy who married in Enniskillen on 22nd November 1878. His siblings were, Thomas (b.1879), Margaret Anne (b. 1882), William John (b. 1884) and Eliza Ellen (b. 1885).
About 1897, the Lucy family moved to lodgings in 129 Bellfield Street in Glasgow and James’s father found employment as a tramway driver with the Glasgow Corporation Tramways. By 1901, John was working in Dennistoun Tram Depot as a stableman, Thomas was a housekeeper, William was a joiner’s apprentice, Eliza was a draper’s apprentice, James was at school and Margaret was a domestic servant living with her widowed grandmother, Margaret Elliott at Whitehill. James’s father died in 1907. By 1910, the family was living at 70 Fisher Street.
When he left school, James became a driver with the Corporation Tramways. He enlisted in 15th Glasgow Tramways Battalion following its formation on 2nd September 1914 and, after training at Gailes Camp in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire and Codford on the Salisbury Plain, he embarked for Boulogne-sur-Mer on 23rd November 1915.
In 1916, the 15th Battalion took part in the Battles of Albert, Bazentin and Ancre. James was killed in the offensive at Ancre which lasted from 11th January 1917 until 13th March 1917 and succeeded in driving the Germans back several miles along a four mile front. His mother received his medals with his outstanding pay and war gratuity.
War Diary of 15th Highland Light Infantry on 16th January 1917;
“Steady bombardment of enemy front and support trenches all day by our artillery at K.30 a 37 to K.30 c 6.3. Enemy retaliation slight, mostly 77mm’s near K.34 b 3.8. At K.27 d 7.5 LASIGNY FARM enemy directed a constant fire of 77mm’s between 10 and 11.30 am. causing four casualties* to one of our ration carrying parties.
Weather – freezing – dry.”
*James was one of these casualties.
James is commemorated on this war memorial plaque now in Parkhead Bus Depot, Glasgow
THOMAS DAVIS WILCOX
Private (Acting Lance Corporal) 13602
8th (Service) Battalion, York and Lancashire Regiment
Killed in Action: 7th June 1917
Menin Gate Memorial (Panel 36 & 55)
Thomas Davis Wilcox, known as Davis, was born on 29th March 1875 at Carrickreagh, Ely Lodge. He was the son of George and Anne (nee Ellis) Wilcox who married in 1860. They came from Thorpe Salvin. Worksop, Yorkshire to Fermanagh in 1861. Davis had seven brothers and a sister, William Joseph (1861-1939), George (1863-1923), John Ellis (1864-1927), Henry Loftus (1866-1866. Possibly named after Henry Loftus, 1st Earl of Ely), Sarah Jane (b. 1870. Married Robert Plant, Newtownbutler RIC in 1894), Albert (b. 1872), Frederick (b.1877) and Robert (b.1880, m. Jessie Finch 1904).
Davis’s father was a game keeper on the Ely Lodge Estate. He was deaf. When Davis’s mother died, aged 70, in 1907, his father moved to Thorpe Salvin to live with his married son Albert. He died in 1912. In 1901, Davis was living in Sheffield and was working as a barman and by 1911 he was boarding with James Forde, a game keeper in 14 Don View, Mexborough, Rotherham. He was an agent for the Refuge Assurance Co. Ltd. He then found employment with the Vickers Forgemasters manufacturing armaments.
On 5th September 1914, Davis enlisted in Sheffield in the York & Lancashire Regiment and, after training in Frensham in Surrey and Aldershot in Hampshire, he went to France with ‘B’ Company, 8th Battalion on 27th August 1915. On 25th September, he was appointed unpaid Lance Corporal.
The 8th York & Lancs. saw action in the battles of Albert, Bazentin Ridge, Poziers, Flers-Courcelette, Morval and Le Transloy. In June 1917, the Battalion was camped near Vlamertinghe, about 3 miles west of Ypres and moved into the front line on 5th June.
The 8th Battalion War Diary for 7th June 1917 reads;
“We shared in the great victory by the 2nd Army. Zero hour. 3.10 am. The 9th Yorks took their objective in fine style, and at 6.50 am we left their new line to attack the final objective (ZILLEBEKE map – IMAGE CRESCENT I36.b.0.3 to I30d.5.1 approx). This we took, with a strong-point about 50 yards in advance of the right flank, also the KNOLL, and eminene in NO MAN’S LAND in front of our centre. Our officer casualties were CAPT. ANDREWS (killed) 2/Lt HARTE (believed killed) 2/LT LUCAS (believed killed) and 2/LTs ASTON, IMISON, VANSENDEN, LT. POPPLEWELL, CAPT. BELL, & 2LT. BILLINGTON wounded. Estimated O.R. casualties 300*. No counter-attacks after the position had once been consolidated.” *Davis was one of the 300 casualties.
Davis is commemorated on a memorial plaque at Vickers Forgemasters (now Sheffield Forgemasters)
Davis’s brother, Frederick Wilcox, joined the 7th York and Lancaster Regiment on 9th November 1915 (Private 31339). He was discharged on 30th May 1918 due to sickness and was awarded Silver War Badge no. 431791. Robert Wilcox enlisted in Woolwich on 31st March 1917 in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (Private 028994). He trained as a cook and went to Bosnia on 27th September 1918. He was demobbed in 1919.
Second Lieutenant (Temporary)
2nd Prince of Wales Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment)
Died of Wounds: 7th June 1918
Perreuse Chateau Franco- British National Cemetery (I.A 54)
Joseph Acheson, known as Joe, was born at Drumadillar, Derrygonnelly on 9th November 1889 His parents were John and Maria (nee McFarland from Tamlaght) Acheson who married in 1878. His siblings were William John (b. 1880, m. Lottie Wissett 1909, d. 1945), Robert (b. 1881), Emily Jane (b. 1883, m Thomas Bruce, Glasgow 1901, d. Glasgow), George Morris (b. 1888, d. 1918 Liverpool), Katie (b. 1892, m. Robert Dundas, Blaney 1927, d. 1945) and Anne Maria (b. 1895, m. Robert Wiggins, Carrybridge 1922, d. 1972). Joe’s father was a farmer. He died in 1913. His mother died in 1937.
Joe was educated at Derrygonnelly National School. By 1907, he was lodging with his brother, George, at 19 Penrhyn Avenue, Litherland, Lancashire. They were both tramway conductors with the Liverpool Corporation. He then joined his married brother William at 86 Kensington Street, Liverpool, where William had a grocery shop.
On 2nd April 1912, Joe enlisted in the 1/7th (Territorial) Battalion King’s Liverpool Regiment (Private 1307). In September 1914, he married Mary Evelyn Morrison in Derby. She came from Kinmore, Lisnaskea. They lived at 39 Windsor Road, Truebrook, Liverpool.
Joe was mobilised on 5th August 1914 and was appointed Lance Corporal. He landed in Le Havre with his battalion on 8th March 1915. On 23rd July 1915, he was promoted to Corporal and was made Sergeant on 22nd October. Joe took part in several engagements including the Somme in July 1916 and escaped without a scratch. After the Battle of the Somme he was transferred to the 5th King’s Liverpools. He was recommended in the field for a commission and, on 11th January 1917, he returned to Bristol for training. He was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in the South Lancashire Regiment on 18th July 1917 and immediately returned to the front.
Joe was wounded in action by a bullet in the arm on 29th May 1918 and was taken to No. 34 French Canadian Hospital in Troyes where, despite all medical attention, he died 19 days later. He was buried with full military honours in the town cemetery. The ceremony was attended by the French Commandant and staff. He was later re-interred in Perreuse Chateau Cemetery.
In his last letter to his wife Mary, Joe requested that a small Union Jack be placed above his photo for ‘the honour of old England’. In his will, Joe specifically requested that his wife, “shall under all circumstances be as cheery as possible and fully realise that my death has resulted whilst doing my duty and I die with one last wish that we both meet in a better land.”
Joe and his wife had a daughter, Violet Josephine who was born on 16th April 1918 while he was on active service. He never saw her. She married William E. Kennedy in Liverpool in 1950 and died in Wigan in 1987. Joe’s wife died in Liverpool in 1935. She never remarried.
Family headstone in Devenish Churchyard, Monea