Help has been sought in the quest to trace the final resting places of three ‘forgotten’ soldiers from the Province who died as a result of their service during WWI but are not included in the official list of war casualties.
The In From the Cold Project was set up more than 10 years ago to research and identify service personnel whose names were omitted from the official Commonwealth War Graves Commission list of casualties, particularly from WWI.
A former Northern Ireland man who is now living in Yorkshire is involved with the project and has volunteered his time to help trace some of the Province’s soldiers worthy of posthumous recognition.
Hazlett Turner, 78, said: “Among these forgotten men and women were a significant number who died, after medical discharge, from wounds or illness arising from their time in service. Because they had already been discharged their burial places were not recorded as war graves. We consider that these men and women are entitled to the same recognition as those who died on the front line.”
He said: “It’s a bit sad in that these people have given their lives the same as the others but have had no military recognition.
“In From The Cold works hand in glove with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to try to identify these guys and find out where they are buried.
“When we can establish we’ve got the right person and the right grave that information is sent to the War Graves Commission and if they accept the information as being legit they add them to the casualty list and in some cases if appropriate they will get an official war grave headstone.”
Explaining how he got involved, Hazlett said: “A couple of years ago I saw an article about the In From The Cold project.
“I’m interested in family history and genealogy. I got in contact with the co-ordinator and offered my services to do research either here in Yorkshire or in NI.
“So far I’ve found over 20 cases, mainly in Northern Ireland and a few over here (in Yorkshire) as well.
“I’ve got about nine or ten hard cases who keep dodging me. I’m having difficulty finding their graves.
“There are three in particular in Belfast. I am trying to identify the graves of three men from the Belfast area who died as a result of their war service.”
Hazlett, who is originally from Omagh, said: “The usual searches of the Belfast municipal cemeteries – plus Milltown – have produced no results in any of these three cases. Maybe there are descendants of one or more of these families still in the area, ideally with an interest in family history.
“Anyone who can offer any help can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I would be grateful for any snippets of information and will respond to all messages.”
Details of the three soldiers:
• Samuel Boyle died on November 6, 1918 after service with the Royal Irish Rifles. He was 21 years old when he died in hospital at 51 Lisburn Road, now City Hospital. Cause of death was recorded as Phthisis.
Samuel was born on August 18, 1897 to Samuel and Martha (Weir) Boyle at 5 Springfield Row. His parents had married in St Stephen’s Free Church; the Weir family were Congregational.
Samuel was orphaned at an early age – his mother died when he was three and his father when he was eight.
In 1911 he was living with an uncle and aunt (Joseph and Margaret Weir) along with his brother William and nine cousins aged from three to 23.
• James Huston Brooks died on August 21, 1915, after serving with the Royal Irish Fusiliers. He was 36 years old when he died at 53 Hooker Street. Cause of death was recorded as Phthisis. His death was registered by his sister, Jessie Dugan.
James was born at Broughshane on December 17, 1878. He was the son of John and Margaret (Spence) Brooks.
He had two brothers Andrew and Robert and sisters Jemima and Jessie.
The family seem to have fluctuated between Church of Ireland and Presbyterianism.
• Samuel Carlisle died on July 3, 1918 after serving with the Royal Irish Rifles. He was aged 24 when he died at 51 Lisburn Road. Cause of death was recorded as Pneumonia.
Samuel was born on March 14, 1894 at 84 Sandy Row. He was the son of John and Annie (possibly McErlean) Carlisle.
In 1911 the family were recorded at Alaska Street in the Shankill area. Samuel was there with siblings Wm John, Jane, Martha, Arrabella and David. The Carlisle family were Methodist.