Collier, Reginald John (Jack)
Royal Flying Corps
Killed in a flying accident on Tuesday 12 February 1918 (aged 19)
Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor, Co. Down (Wall 170)
Bangor and District War Memorial
Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque
Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum
Bangor Grammar School
Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour
Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) War Memorial
Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) Book of Remembrance
Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s)
Reginald John Collier, known as Jack, was born on 15 October 1898 at 21 Stranmillis Gardens, Belfast and he was the only surviving son of William Francis Collier and Marion Frances Collier (nee Townsend) who were married on 28 April 1896 in Innishannon Parish Church of Ireland Church, Bandon, Co Cork. William Francis Collier who was born in Scotland and who was from 18 Lonsdale Street, Belfast was a son of William Francis Collier, a solicitor. Marion Frances Townsend who was born in County Cork and who was from Innishannon was a daughter of Dr Richard Townsend.
The Collier family lived in Evelyn Gardens, Belfast.
William Collier was an accountant and clerk cashier in the Northern Linen Company Belfast and he and Marion had four children:
Richard Newman Townsend (born 19 May 1897 at 21 Stranmillis Gardens, Belfast; died of meningitis 6 November 1897 at 21 Stranmillis Gardens, Belfast)
Reginald John (born 15 October 1898 at 21 Stranmillis Gardens, Belfast)
Marion Ella Kathleen (born 10 September 1900 at 2 Eveline Gardens, Belfast)
Constance Kathleen Frances (born 30 December 1906 at 6 Hamilton Road, Bangor)
After the Collier family moved from Belfast to Bangor they lived at Windsor Villas, 125 Hamilton Road.
Jack Collier attended Bangor Grammar School from 1908 until 1910 and then King’s Hospital School, Blackhall Place, Dublin. Before the outbreak of the Great War he worked in Belfast in the Cromac Street Branch of the Belfast Banking Company. He was a keen sportsman and excelled at rugby, hockey and tennis.
Jack Collier was a member of the Officers’ Training Corps at Queen’s University Belfast from 1916 until 1917. In August 1917 he was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps and was killed in a flying accident at Yatesbury, Wiltshire on 12 February 1918. His death came less than four months after that of Second Lieutenant Henry Irwin Mahaffy who had died in similar circumstances.
When flying at high altitude the engine of Second Lieutenant Collier’s aeroplane failed and, although he managed to right the machine and restart the engine, the momentum of falling was so great that the aeroplane crashed to the ground. Earlier on the day that he died Jack Collier had been trying to organise a hockey team from amongst the members of his corps.
Captain Grenfell (his flying instructor) and Lieutenant Elsworthy escorted his remains to Bangor but, because of shipping delays, his funeral in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s) had to be postponed by a day (until Saturday 16 February 1918).
Second Lieutenant Mahaffy’s father was one of the pall bearers and at Bangor Cemetery forty soldiers formed the firing party.
Second Lieutenant Jack Collier’s headstone bears the inscription:
Per ardua ad astra
Second Lieutenant Jack Collier is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial; on the Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque; in the Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum; in Bangor Grammar School; in the Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour; on the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) War Memorial; in the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) Book of Remembrance and in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s).
William Francis Collier died on 25 July 1922 (aged 63), Marion Frances Collier died on 7 December 1951 (aged 88) and they were buried in Bangor Cemetery alongside their son Jack.