Skillen, Alexander (No. 12425)

Skillen, Alexander

Rifleman

No. 12425, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Thursday 21 March 1918 (aged 35)

Buried:

Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery, France (Grave II. F. 17)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Comber and District War Memorial

Harland & Wolff (Queen’s Island) War Memorial

Megain Memorial Presbyterian Church

BIOGRAPHY

Alexander Skillen was born on 28 July 1882 in Ballykeel, Comber and he was a son of William James and Margaret Skillen (nee Reid).

The Skillen family lived in the townland of Ballykeel; in Ballyhackamore, Belfast and in High Street, Comber.

William James Skillen worked as a farmer and blacksmith’s helper and he and Margaret had at least thirteen children including:

David (born 24 March 1873 in Ballykeel, Comber)

Elizabeth (born 19 January 1877 in Ballykeel, Comber)

Ann Jane McMillan (born 4.00 am 16 January 1880 in Ballykeel, Comber)

Matthew (born 4.30 am 16 January 1880 in Ballykeel, Comber)

Alexander (born 28 July 1882 in Ballykeel, Comber)

Alice (born 28 June 1884 in Ballykeel, Comber)

Sarah (born 21 July 1886 in Ballykeel, Comber)

Martha (born around 1887/1888)

Grace (born 2 October 1890 in Ballyhackamore, Belfast)

Alexander Skillen worked as a labourer and he and Rachel Moore were married on 31 March 1902 in Belmont Presbyterian Church Belfast.  Rachel Moore of 3 Hemp Street, Belfast was a daughter of James Moore, a labourer.

Alexander and Rachel Skillen (nee Moore) had at least six children:

David James (born 21 January 1903 at 3 Hemp Street, Belfast)

Alexander Moore (born 18 February 1904 at 19 Hunt Street, Belfast)

Mary (born 27 September 1905 at 31 Carew Street, Belfast)

Margaret (born 21 February 1908 at 20 Carew Street, Belfast)

William James (born 17 September 1910 at 30 Carew Street, Belfast)

William James (born 29 April 1915 at 15 Chater Street, Belfast)

The Skillen family lived in Belfast in Hemp Street, Hunt Street, Carew Street, and at 15 Chater Street.

Alexander Skillen worked as a labourer in an engineering works before he got a job as a shipyard labourer on the Queen’s Island in Belfast.

Alexander Skillen enlisted in Belfast and he served with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.  Rifleman Alexander Skillen was 35 when he was killed on 21 March 1918 during an intense enemy bombardment at the start of the German Spring Offensive and at that time two of his brothers were also on active service.

Rifleman Alexander Skillen (No. 12425) was buried in Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery, France and he is commemorated on Comber and District War Memorial; on the Harland & Wolff (Queen’s Island) War Memorial and in Megain Memorial Presbyterian Church.