31 January 2016

Roll of Honour of Members in Service in the Great War

2nd Lieu. Claud Arthur Leonard Walker, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Killed in Action 11 July 1916, Battle of the Somme, aged 21.


In conducting research into the activities of the Lodge and it's members during the First World War, it became clear that there had been, at one time, a 'roll of honour' of members who had gone into service. This roll has been lost, and any printed versions also appear to have been lost in time. However the minutes of the meetings throughout the war still exist, and therefore, through research into those minutes we present a reconstructed 'Roll of Honour'. There are almost certainly names missing from this list, as it only pertains the named individuals in the minutes and references to total numbers in active service, far exceed the number of names to account for them.

Roll of Honour 1914 - 1919

John Andrews
Engine Room Artificer, HMS Tyne

William Cavan

Ernest Chambers
1633, Lance Corporal, D Coy, 14th Batt, Royal Irish Rifles, 36th Ulster Div.

Robert F Colville

John Corken
CQMS, B Coy, 18th Batt, Royal Irish Rifles

George Dawson

Robert Dickson

William Dickson

James Forbes
8998, Private, Irish Guards, 3rd Coy, 3rd Reserves

Andrew Garner
14/19498, Private, No 10 Section, 7 Platoon, B Coy, 14th Batt, Royal Irish Rifles (YCV)

James Gregg
Captain, Army Veterinary Corps

William A Hamilton
14759, Corporal, No 1 Coy, No 3 Platoon, 16th Royal Irish Rifles

James Hanna
Sergeant, 3rd Batt. Royal Irish Rifles

George Harris
1704, Trooper, North Irish Horse, D Squadron, No 13 Sandhill Camp

William Jordan
15/12932, QM Sergeant, 107/1 Trench Mortar Battery, 1 Coy, 15th Royal Irish Rifles

Samuel Jordan
Sergeant, 15th Batt, Royal Irish Rifles

William McClure
Royal Navy

Samuel McCollum

Leonard B Mills
17646, Private, B Coy, 8th Batt, Royal Irish Rifles (MM, Aug 1917)

Victor Morgan
CQMS, 122nd Field Coy, Royal Engineers

Alfred Morgan
14/15630, Sergeant, No 2 Platoon, D Coy, 14th Royal Irish Rifles (YCV)

Rowland Alexander Francis Naye
2601, Captain, Royal Highlanders, RIF, Royal Artillery, 95th Infantry, Indian Army

Alfred S Roper
1835, Private, Army Pay Corps, No 8 General Hospital, BEF, France

Thomas Russell

William Small

John T Storey

James Thornton
54/092954, Private, Army Service Corps, BEF, Salonica, Greece

George D Uprichard
QM Sergeant, B coy, 14th Batt. Royal Irish Rifles, BEF, France

John F Walker
1315, Private, 8th Batt. Royal Irish Rifles, 18 Camp, 36th (Ulster) Division

James B Wilson
Naval Reserve

And these brethren made the ultimate sacrifice.

Edward Brown
Lieutenant, Royal Irish Rifles
KIA 7 August 1917

Robert Crawford
14/6100, Lance Corporal, B Coy, 7th Platoon, 14th Batt, Royal Irish Rifles (YCV)
KIA 10 April 1918

James Alexander Donnelly
Second Lieutenant, 59th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps
KIA 31 March 1918

William Harper
57709, Sapper, No 7 Coy, Royal Engineers
Died of Effects of Gas Poisoning 25 July 1919

Henry Norman MacBride
285575, Gunner, Royal Garrison Artillery
Died 28 December 1917

David McKeown
14440, Private, No 3 Section, 9 Platoon, C Coy, 2nd Batt, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, BEF
KIA 27 September 1916

James Scott
14/15892, CSM, No 2 Coy, 14th Batt, Royal Irish Rifles (YCV) BEF, France
KIA 22 January 1917

Claud Arthur Leonard Walker
Second Lieutenant, 2nd Batt. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
KIA 11 July 1916


A Brief History of Royal York LOL 145 in the Great War

2nd Lieu. James Alexander Donnelly, 59th Squadron R.F.C.


The life of the soldier is a well known one to many within the ranks of “York”, the Lodge having been formed within the York Fencible Regiment in 1796.

Formed in the City of York in 1792, and sent to Ulster to counter the possibility of French invasion, the Regiment found it was to be another threat, that of revolution, that would have its members fight and die in Saintfield, Co. Down, after an ambush of United Irishmen during the 1798 rebellion.

In that battle, which pitched the mainly Anglican soldiers against mainly Presbyterian rebels, both sides fought for their ideals, seeking freedom, prosperity and justice.

Over a hundred years later in 1914, the Lodge formed from that Regiment thrived in Belfast. Its members now came from all Protestant denominations, having been reconciled that their dreams of a better Ulster and Ireland were fulfilled by Union and Empire, and many had still come through the ranks of His Majesty’s armed forces and fought in conflicts across the globe.

Filled with that martial spirit, and with loyalty to their King, Country and Constitution, they had signed the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant, and pledged their lives to defend their land from “Home Rule” which many of their ancestral Brethren had fought both for and against a century before. But it was not to be on an Ulster battlefield, but far off France and Belgium that would see “York” men fight again.

On the declaration of war, many members of the Lodge were already in the armed forces and found themselves on the way to France. Many more volunteered, but these men were not naive, and neither were those members of the Lodge who were left behind. In the Christmas 1914 minutes the Worshipful Master, Bro Edward Leathem, referred to “the sorrow in many homes caused by the present disastrous war”, and the Deputy Master, Bro Joseph Davison (future Sir Joseph, Grand Master of Ireland and NI Senator) wished to honour “the members of our institution who had so nobly responded to the Call of Empire”.

By August of the next year, since the departure of the 36th Ulster Division from Belfast in July, over 20 members of the Lodge were on active service. The range of those members in service was broad and represented all manner of life in Belfast.

Claude Arthur Leonard Walker, who joined the Public School Corps in September 1914, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Batt. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers after a cadetship in Sandhurst, was just 21 when he died at the Somme. He was the son of the Lodge Chaplain, Bro Rev Dr Walker of St. Matthew’s, Shankill.

50 year old, Captain James Gregg O.B.E., was a Army Veterinary Surgeon, who spent much of his war service in the United States of America, acquiring “War Horses” and Mules for use at the front.

25 year old Edward Brown, was a Lieutenant in the Royal Irish Rifles, having being a member of the South Antrim Regiment U.V.F. In peacetime, he played Hockey for Lisnagarvey and formed 11th Belfast (later 1st Derriaghy) Scout Group. He took command of his company when his Captain was incapacitated on 7 June 1917. He was killed in action at Westhoek, near Ypres on 7 August 1917.

Well before the slaughter of the Somme, brethren of “York” were well aware of the horrors of this war as the following extract from the minutes in September 1915 shows:
“Bro Edward Bradshaw mentioned that he had a Candidate to propose on Certificate, but as there were some difficulties to overcome and as the Brother was the only known surviving member of his Lodge (a Military Lodge) and being also the secretary [of that Lodge] it would be necessary to make some enquiries as to the proper course to take.”

With the treasonous “Easter Rising” still in the memory and the country being under “Martial Law” due to ongoing disturbances, the decision was already made that the “Twelfth” in 1916 in Belfast would not take place, and members still at home were being urged to sign up as Special Constables for the preservation of public order. This cancellation of the “Twelfth”, (made really on practical grounds), took on a far greater significance when news of the true scale of the calamity that had befallen Ulstermen on the 1st July 1916 became apparent. Many businesses and places of worship had acts of remembrance, in the form of moments of silence for fallen soldiers, called for by Bro Sir Crawford McCullagh, the Lord Mayor; the first such acts that had been recorded for such a purpose.

The threat posed by the possibility of Home Rule was a betrayal of the fallen which would be met by “the binding of the Ulster Covenanters more closely together” stated Bro Leathem in an address at Clifton Street Orange Hall, Belfast, in July 1916, recorded in the Newsletter. However this threat did not deter more Lodge members from joining their fellows to face the immediate threat at hand. The Lodge supported the war effort in other ways as well: contributing to the U.V.F. Patriotic Fund, which supported soldiers at home and in France; sending Christmas gifts to serving members; supporting Lodge brethren who were prisoners of war; and investing substantial Lodge funds in War Bonds.

In January 1917 James Alexander Donnelly, Lay Chaplain of the Lodge, left a comfortable life and family to become Sergeant Instructor in the Royal Flying Corps. He received his commission in August 1917, becoming a 2nd Lieutenant. He died of wounds received 31 March 1918, at the Somme. He was the last member of the RFC to die as it became the Royal Air Force the very next day. His death was a large blow to the Lodge, and a service was held the next Sunday at St Barnabas Church in his memory.

For “York” in was the final years of the War that would take the greatest toll. In addition to those already mentioned, the following also made the supreme sacrifice:

CSM James Scott, promoted for bravery with British Expeditionary Force in France, September 1916, killed in action, 22 January 1917, at Messines.
Henry Norman MacBride, Royal Garrison Artillery, died of illness while serving, 28 December 1917
Lance Corporal Robert Crawford, Royal Irish Rifles, killed in action 10 April 1918, aged 24.
William Harper, in action in October 1916, returned from service in February 1919, and died later that year from the complications of Gas poisoning at war.

Others lucky enough to survive came home to a changed Ulster and a changed World. The General Election of 1918 with an enlarged franchise, which included Women for the first time, and lead eventually to partition in Ireland, brought new challenges and opportunities, none of which would have been possible without their service.

Many of their sons and brothers, went on to serve in the Second World War, Korea, and other conflicts around the world, and at home in the B-Specials, RUC and UDR, defending their homeland and way of life, and preserving freedom for others.

In their memory, in this the centenary year of the Battle of the Somme, Royal York L.O.L. 145 hosts reenactors dressed as soldiers of that time, including Lodge members and members of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry Association.

York Fencible Regiment of Infantry

The Battle of Saintfield

Fencible Regiments were raised in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s to provide defence of the United Kingdom. They could only serve outside the British Isles if all members of the Regiment agreed [some Regiments did serve abroad]. Unlike the militia the Fencible Regiments were full time members of the British Army and were fully recognised as such. Many Fencible Regiments served in Ireland, initially to protect against invasion by the “Old Enemy” France. These Regiments also served in the 1798 Uprising.
The York Fencible Regiment was raised in the City of York on 30 Oct. 1794 by Col. Granville Anson Chetwynd Stapylton .The Regiment was formed at the request of the York City Council. Soon after it’s formation the regiment was posted to Belfast. Up until 1701 the Regiment was based in Belfast with a section stationed in Comber.
The United Irishmen uprising started in May 1798 in Wexford and spread to Ulster in June. The initial stages of the struggle in Ulster commenced in Co. Antrim on 6th Jun.
On Friday 8th Jun the McKee family were burned alive in their farmhouse outside Saintfield. The next day 270 York Fencibles led by Col Stapylton and accompanied by the Newtownards Yeoman Cavalary set off from Comber to march to Saintfield. They were ambushed by a large body on United Irishmen hidden in the Price estate on the Comber Road outside Saintfield [where the Secondary School now stands]. A very bloody battle ensued. The Belfast Newsletter of 10th Jun gave a very one-sided account of the battle. The paper claimed that 6000 to 7000 rebels attacked the York Fencibles and were soundly beaten. The Newsletter claimed that the York Fencibles lost 29 men killed, 3 missing and 22 wounded. The truth was quite different. The Regiment fought against a concealed foe who had organised well. Only with great difficulty could the Regiment gain enough space and time to withdraw to Comber. The York Fencibles lost 3 officers, five sergeants, 2 drummers and 45 other ranks. Among the dead was the nephew of Col Stapylton – Cap. William Chetwynd. The three officers are buried in Comber Parish Church. The United Irishmen buried the other Regimental dead close to the scene of the battle. When the Secondary School was being built York Regimental badges and other remnants were unearthed.
The Battle was so fierce that one of the soldiers [a member of York] who later joined the Rifle Brigade and fought with Wellington from Salamanca to Waterloo described Saintfield as the worst battle he was ever involved in.
In  1801 the Regiment returned home to the City of York. The soldiers were offered the chance to enlist in other Regiments and at least some were chosen for the then very new and experimental Rifle Brigade. This Brigade served with great distinction throughout the Napoleonic Wars and can truly claim to have changed the way battles were fought.
The exact date when the York Fencibles were disbanded is not recorded but was probably in 1801 and certainly before the Treaty of Amiens in 1802.