No. 18231, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died of disease on Sunday 22 October 1916 (aged 23)
Newtownards (Movilla) Cemetery, Co. Down (Grave I. 91)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)
Hugh McClure was born on 11 April 1892 in William Street, Newtownards and he was a son of Thomas and Margaret McClure (nee Campbell) who were married on 23 August 1886 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). Thomas McClure from William Street, Newtownards was a son of William McClure, a stone mason. Margaret Campbell from Circular Street, Newtownards was a daughter of Hugh Campbell, a labourer.
The McClure family lived in Newtownards, in Circular Street; in William Street; in Britannia Place and at 6 Talbot Street.
Thomas McClure worked as a stone mason and he and Margaret had at least eight children:
Elizabeth (Lizzy, born 24 September 1886 in Circular Street, Newtownards)
William (born 12 February 1888 in Circular Street, Newtownards)
Margaret (born around 1890)
Hugh (born 11 April 1892 in William Street, Newtownards)
James (born 12 March 1894 in William Street, Newtownards)
Agnes (born 9 May 1896 in William Street, Newtownards)
Mary (born 9 August 1899 in Britannia Place, Newtownards)
Annie (born 29 November 1901 in Talbot Street, Newtownards)
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War Hugh McClure worked as a cloth soaper. He was a member of the Newtownards contingent of the Ulster Volunteer Force and at the outbreak of hostilities he joined the Army. He served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (1st County Down Volunteers) in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division. He went to France in October 1915 and fought in the trenches through the winter months. On 7 February 1916 he narrowly escaped death when he was in the same dug-out as four Ardsmen who were killed by a German shell (James Calvert, David McConnell, Charlie Newell and Jack Tate). Trench warfare took its toll on his health and in June 1916 he was invalided home. He returned to 6 Talbot Street, Newtownards to live with his parents.
Rifleman Hugh McClure was 23 when he died of acute pulmonary tuberculosis on Monday 23 October 1916 (Sunday 22 October 1916 in CWGC records) and he was buried with full military honours the following Tuesday. The bands of the 20th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles under Bugle-Major Hammerton and the 10th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers under Bandmaster May played funeral marches on the way to Movilla Cemetery. The members of the firing party under Sergeant Brown wore stripes of gold lace on their sleeves signifying that they had been wounded in action. All had belonged to the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and were subsequently attached to the 20th Battalion.
A large contingent of soldiers under the command of Second Lieutenant J.K. Farrow followed the remains. Many soldiers who had fought alongside Hugh McClure on the battlefields in France and had been wounded in action turned out to pay their respects. At the request of his parents, Hugh’s coffin, enshrouded in the Union Jack, was borne through Newtownards on the shoulders of his brother, Rifleman James McClure (who had been wounded in action on 1 July 1916), and three of his comrades.
The service at the graveside was conducted by the Rev W.L.T. Whatham Rector of Newtownards and Chaplain to the local military forces. After the customary three volleys over the open grave the buglers sounded the Last Post.
Rifleman Hugh McClure’s parents, brothers and sisters placed Our Heroes – In Memoriam notices in the 27 October 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and they contained the verses:
At the river’s crystal brink,
Christ shall join each broken link.
Anchored by love, death cannot sever,
Sadly we miss him, and will for ever;
Some day, some time, we hope to see
The dear face we hold in memory;
Not gone from memory or from love,
But to our Father’s home above.
Rifleman Hugh McClure (No. 18231) is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).