Somme Stories - Belfast County
Captain J T O’Neill
John Teskey O’Neil was the son of Arthur and Catherine O’Neil and husband of Mary Ann O’Neil. Born in Limerick his last place of residence was My Lady’s Road in Belfast.
O’Neill joined the army in 1881, serving in India, and Burma. On the outbreak of war in 1914 he joined the Royal Irish Rifles. He was appointed officer to the 107th Belfast Brigade, and promoted to Captain in the 17th Royal Irish Rifles in 1915.
He was Worshipful Master of LOL No. 862, a military lodge formed in the 36th (Ulster) Division training camp at Seaford, and was also Worshipful Master of LOL No. 1079, which was formed at Ballykinlar training camp.
He was at Ballykinlar Training Camp when he contracted pneumonia. He died at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, on 10 October 1916 and is buried at Dundonald Cemetery.
Second Lieutenant Claud Walker
Claud Arthur Leonard Walker was the son of Rev. Dr. Robert Walker, Rector of St. Matthew's, Shankill, Belfast. He was a member of LOL No. 145 Royal York.
Walker joined the Public Schools Corps in August 1914, was nominated to Sandhurst in December 1914, and was commissioned in May 1915.
He served as a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Claud was killed in action on 10th July 1916, at the age of 21.
Private Hugh Tanner
Hugh Tanner was from Donaghadee and was born in 1875. He was Secretary of LOL No. 693 in Belfast, and in 1909 was presented with a pocket watch. He carried this watch with him when he fought with the 109th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division at the Somme.
Hugh Tanner went on to become manager of Distillery Football Club and manager/trainer of the Northern Ireland squad in the 1920s. He was also a Managing Director of Cairnes Ltd. Brewery, which had warehouses at Oxford Street in Belfast.