Cairns, Archibald (No. 7565)

Cairns, Archibald (Archie)


No. 7565, 3rd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Died of disease on Tuesday 31 August 1926 (aged 41)


Newtownards (Movilla) Cemetery, Co. Down (Grave 13. 145)


Newtownards and District War Memorial

Brother of Rifleman William John Cairns

First Cousin of Private James Young Boal (No. 202862)


The name Archie Cairns is listed on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in the booklet produced for the Unveiling and Dedication Ceremony held on Saturday 26 May 1934 he is described as a Private in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  The organising committee of the day decided to include the names of ex-servicemen who died up to that date from what they considered to be war related causes, whether as a result of wounds or disease.

Archibald (Archie) Cairns was born 21 April 1885 in Corry Street, Newtownards and he was a son of John and Anna (Annie) Cairns (nee McKee) who were married on 13 August 1864 in Hillsborough Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Malachy’s).  John Cairns (aged 18) from Newtownards was a son of Archibald Cairns, a weaver.  Annie McKee (aged 17) from Hillsborough was a daughter of George McKee, a labourer.

The Cairns family lived at 9 Ford Street, Newtownards and later at 39 James Street, Newtownards.

John Cairns worked as a linen weaver, Anna worked as a seamstress and they had at least nine children:

Eleanor Jane (Ellen, born 1 July 1866 in Greenwell Street, Newtownards)

Archibald (born 4 November 1869 in Greenwell Street, Newtownards)

George (born 9 May 1872 in Ford Street, Newtownards; in civil birth registration records his name is registered as Archibald)

Anna (Annie, born 16 September 1874 in Corry Street, Newtownards)

William John (born 28 September 1877 in Ford Street, Newtownards)

Alexander (born 20 September 1879 in Ford Street, Newtownards)

Samuel (born 12 September 1882 in Ford Street, Newtownards)

Archibald (born 21 April 1885 in Corry Street, Newtownards)

David (born 7 April 1887 in Darragh’s Lane, Newtownards)

After leaving school Archie Cairns worked as a Nursery Hand in Newtownards and later in the nursery of Messrs W. & T. Samson in Kilmarnock, Scotland.

Archie Cairns and Margaret (Maggie) Clotworthy were married on 24 December 1906 in Regent Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.  Maggie Clotworthy (aged 20) from Darragh’s Lane, Newtownards was a daughter of David Clotworthy, a tram conductor.

Archie and Maggie Cairns (nee Clotworthy) had at least eight children including:

Emily (born 26 February 1908 in Half Acre Lane, Newtownards)

As an Army Reservist, Archie Cairns was called up at the commencement of the First World War and he went to France on 4 September 1914 with the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

In the 23 January 1915 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle there was a report under the headline Newtownards Soldier in English Hospital.  The report stated that Private A. Cairns (No. 7565) 3rd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers whose wife lived at 43 James Street, Newtownards had been wounded in the head and left unattended in the trenches during the fighting at Ypres in October 1914 – because initially he was presumed to be dead.

While Archie was in a convalescent hospital in England (it had been the home of ‘Mr H. Illingworth brother of late Chief Liberal Whip’) at Wydale Hall, Wydale, Bromley near Scarborough in Yorkshire he wrote a letter to Mr R.K. Sillars, foreman of the Greenhouse Department in Samson’s Nursery, and outlined some of his experiences.   He said that while he was in the trenches at Ypres he was struck on the head and he lay all night wounded and unable to help himself.  His comrades thought that he was dead, and he lost a lot of blood.  In the morning when he was found to be still alive he was picked up and taken to hospital in Boulogne where he underwent an operation.  From there he was transferred to England to convalesce and his head wound was kept open by the doctors in charge in order to extract a piece of broken bone.  As a result of his injuries Archie Cairns was no longer fit for war service and was discharged from the Army in 1915.

Archie returned to Newtownards and in the 1920s he worked as weigh-master at the Ards Urban Council weigh-bridge.  It was reported that he and his wife and eight children lived in William Street.  Archie Cairns was 41 when he died of blood poisoning on 31 August 1926 and he was buried in grave 13.145 in Movilla New Cemetery.  The name Cairns is inscribed on the grave-surround but there is no headstone.  There is also an inscription:

In memory of Baby Emma

Archie’s brother, George Cairns, married Agnes Keenan on 24 July 1895 in Newtownards Methodist Church and they had four children – John, Ellen, Annie and Samuel.  John Cairns was born on 5 February 1896 in Train View Cottage, Newtownards and he served with the 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade during the First World War.  Corporal John Cairns was wounded twice, the first time when he sustained a bullet wound to the hand and the second time when he sustained a bullet wound to his chest and lung.  He worked as a foreman designer for the Ulster Print Works and was well-known in musical circles.  He sang in the choir of Newtownards Methodist Church and was a member of the Orpheus Male Quartet.  John Cairns died on Sunday 8 January 1939, due in part some said, to his war wounds.  He was buried in Movilla Cemetery and missed being commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial by five years.

[The Unveiling and Dedication Ceremony was held on Saturday 26 May 1934 and the organising committee of the day decided to include the names of ex-servicemen who died up to that date from what they considered to be war related causes, whether as a result of wounds or disease.]

Two of the chief mourners at John’s funeral were his father, George Cairns, and his son, David Wilson Cairns, who was born on 28 December 1921.  David Wilson Cairns was educated at Regent House School and he enlisted in 1940.  During the Second World War Pilot-Officer David Wilson Cairns served as a fighter pilot with 250 Squadron and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.  He was married to Jean Sayers and died in 2014.

Archie’s aunt, Eliza Ann Cairns, married John Martin on 21 August 1863 in Fourth Newtownards Presbyterian Church.  Eliza Ann Cairns from Newtownards was a daughter of Archibald Cairns.  John Martin, a widower and a weaver, was a son of George Martin, a confectioner.  Their daughter Agnes was born in Greenwell Street on 1 June 1864.  Agnes Martin and Martin Perry, a weaver, were married on 24 April 1886 in Fourth Newtownards Presbyterian Church.  Their son, Robert Perry, was born on 15 April 1890 in Mark Street, Newtownards and he worked as a house painter before moving to the United States of America and then Canada.  There he met and married Jenny Hyde from New York State.  Robert and Jenny Perry (nee Hyde) had a son, Martin Alexander Perry, who was born on 2 January 1913.  Robert Perry enlisted in Winnipeg, Canada on 28 October 1914 and his wife Jenny died on 21 December 1914.  Throughout the war, Martin Alexander Perry lived with his guardians, Samuel and Sarah Henderson in Chateaugay, New York State.  Private Robert Perry (No. 71725) served in Belgium and France and he described conditions in the trenches as almost unbelievable, with soldiers at times standing up to their waists in mud.  At one point he sustained a gunshot wound to his left arm resulting in a compound fracture and him being hospitalised.  In December 1919, eight months after Private Robert Perry (No. 71725) was discharged, he brought his son home to Newtownards.  Martin stayed with his paternal grandmother, Agnes Perry, at 46 William Street until she moved to the USA in 1921 and brought him with her.  Robert Perry died in hospital in Woodstock, Ontario on 24 November 1958.