No. 19197, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged 28)
No known grave
Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Regent Street Methodist Church Newtownards
Newtownards True Blues Loyal Orange Lodge (LOL) No.1055
John Shannon was born on 20 August 1887 in William Street, Newtownards and he was the only surviving child of Joseph and Jane Shannon (nee Thompson) who were married on 30 October 1886 in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards. Joseph Shannon from Ballyskeagh was a son of William Shannon, a labourer. Jane Thompson from Newtownards was a daughter of William Thompson, a labourer.
Joseph and Jane Shannon (nee Thompson) had at least five children:
John (born 20 August 1887 in William Street, Newtownards)
Unnamed male child (William Thomas, born 27 September 1889 in Greenwell Street, Newtownards; died of mesenteric disease 5 April 1890 in South Street, Newtownards)
Flora (born 31 December 1890 in South Street, Newtownards; died of bronchitis 1 March 1891 in South Street, Newtownards)
Unnamed male child (born prematurely on 15 May 1894 in South Street, Newtownards; the child only lived for one minute)
Mary (born 9 March 1896 in South Street, Newtownards; died of debility from birth 22 March 1896)
The Shannon family moved from South Street to 23 East Street, Newtownards. Father and son both worked as agricultural labourers and carters.
John Shannon (aged 19) and Anna Johnston were married on 17 April 1907 in Newtownards Zion Methodist Church. Anna Johnston from Mill Street, Newtownards was a daughter of Thomas Johnston, a dealer.
Anna Shannon (nee Johnston) worked as a hem stitcher in a factory and she and John had at least one child – a son named Joseph who was born on 7 April 1908 in Upper Court Street, Newtownards.
The Shannon family lived in Upper Court Street and later at 99 South Street, Newtownards.
John Shannon enlisted in Belfast in September 1914, he served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division and he was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Initially he was reported as missing in action and then in June 1917 it was officially confirmed that he must be presumed to have been killed in action.
John Shannon and his father, Joseph, were members of True Blues LOL No.1055 in Newtownards and after John died, James Beale, who was secretary of the Lodge, sent a letter of sympathy to his parents. Joseph and Jane Shannon placed a For King and Country notice in the 16 June 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and the following week John’s widow Anna and their son Joseph did the same. The one from John’s parents contained the verse:
Short was his life, our darling son,
But peaceful is his rest;
Mother misses you most of all,
Because she loves you best.
The news was sad, the blow was hard,
God’s will, it shall be done;
With a manly heart he did his part,
Our dear beloved son.
A year later his parents placed an Our Heroes – in Memoriam notice and it contained the verse:
When alone in my sorrow, and bitter tears flow,
There stealeth a dream of the sweet long ago,
Unknown to the world John stands by my side,
And whispers, Dear Mother, death cannot divide.
Rifleman John Shannon (No. 19197) has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Newtownards and District War Memorial; in Regent Street Methodist Church Newtownards and in Newtownards True Blues Loyal Orange Lodge (LOL) No.1055.