No. 20/292, 14th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Thursday 16 August 1917 (aged 23)
No known grave
Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium (Panel 138 to 140 & 162 to 162 A & 163 A)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Ballyblack Presbyterian Church
Samuel Murray was born on 24 August 1893 in the townland of Drumawhey and he was the fourth son of James and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Murray (nee Cameron) who were married on 28 April 1879 in Ballyblack Presbyterian Church. James Murray from Drumawhey was a son of John Murray, a labourer. Elizabeth Cameron, a minor from Ballyblack, was a daughter of William Cameron, a labourer.
The Murray family lived in the townlands of Drumawhey and Ballyblack, Newtownards.
James Murray worked as a road contractor and farmer and he and Elizabeth had twelve children:
William Hugh (born 23 March 1880)
James (born 15 December 1882 in Drumawhey)
John (born 6 November 1885)
Susanna (born 10 February 1888 in Drumawhey)
Margaret Elizabeth (Maggie, born 1892)
Samuel (born 24 August 1893 in Drumawhey)
Isabella Boyd (Bella, born 5 December 1895 in Drumawhey)
David Sydney (born 14 February 1898 in Ballyblack)
Frederick Cameron Corbett (born 14 December 1900 in Ballyblack)
Lizzie (Lily, born 3 October 1903 in Ballyblack)
Cecil (born 11 January 1906 in Ballyblack)
Henry Campbell Bannerman (Harry, born 23 February 1908 in Ballyblack)
These children were all baptised in Ballyblack Presbyterian Church.
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War Samuel Murray lived with two of his sisters, Maggie and Bella, at 99 Greenwell Street in Newtownards.
Samuel’s father, James Murray, died on 24 February 1929 (aged 74).
After the outbreak of the Great War Samuel Murray was engaged in munitions work and he joined the Army in May 1917. After three months training he was drafted to France in August 1917 and after two weeks at the Base he was sent up to the Front Line. It was reported in the Press that he went over the top at Langemarck on his 23rd birthday and that Rifleman Samuel Murray (No. 20/292) was killed in action that day. In fact, he was killed in action some eight days before his 24th birthday.
Initially Rifleman Samuel Murray (No. 20/292) was posted as missing in action and in November 1917 it was officially confirmed that he must be presumed to have been killed in action. At that time his brother Sydney was also on active service with the Royal Irish Rifles. Sydney Murray was shot in the eye, the bullet coming out through the back of his head. He survived the Great War but spent the remainder of his life in hospital at Downpatrick.
Samuel Murray’s father, mother, sisters and brothers placed a For King and Country notice in the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
What’er we fondly call our own
Belongs to Heaven’s Great Lord;
The blessings lent us for a day
Are soon to be restored
At a morning service in Ballyblack Presbyterian Church the Rev R. Graham conveyed sympathy to the Murray family on behalf of the congregation. He based his words on the text, ‘Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13). Speaking about Samuel, the Rev Graham said, ‘like all good soldiers he hated war and loathed the very thought of having to kill a fellow-man yet he saw there was no other way of saving the world from the brutality and fiendishness of militarism and he went to do his duty like a man’.
In August 1918 Samuel’s family placed an In Memoriam notice in the Newtownards Chronicle, as did Annie Bell from Kilmarnock. Annie Bell’s notice contained the verse:
In dreams I see his dear sweet face
And kiss his wounded brow,
And whisper as I loved him then
I love his memory now.
The Murray family produced a memorial card in affectionate memory of Samuel Murray and it contained the verse:
Whate’er we fondly call our own
Belongs to heaven’s great Lord;
The blessings lent us for a day
Are soon to be restored.
Tis God who lifts our comforts high,
Or sinks them in the grave;
He gives; and, when He takes away,
He takes but what He gave.
Rifleman Samuel Murray (No. 20/292) has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium; on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Ballyblack Presbyterian Church.