No. 17394, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Monday 7 February 1916 (aged 19)
Mesnil Ridge Cemetery, France (Grave G. 5)
Killyleagh and District War Memorial
Killinchy Presbyterian Church
Killinchy Parish Church of Ireland Church
James Calvert was born on 19 September 1896 in the townland of Ballymacreelly, Killinchy and he was a son of James and Sarah Calvert (nee Morrison) who were married on 25 November 1892 in Raffrey Presbyterian Church. James Calvert from Ballymacreely was a son of Robert Calvert, a farmer. Sarah Morrison from Ballymacreely was a daughter of John Morrison, a labourer.
The Calvert family lived in the townland of Ballybredagh, Killinchy.
James Calvert Senior worked as an agricultural labourer and he and Sarah had at least nine children including:
Robert (born 22 April 1893 in Ballymacreely)
Elizabeth (Lizzie, born 8 September 1894 in Ballymacreely)
James (born 19 September 1896 in Ballymacreely)
William Kerr (born 14 March 1898 in Ballymacreely)
David John (born 10 February 1900 in Tullyvery)
Sarah (born 22 April 1903 in Ballybreda)
Hans (born 8 September 1906 in Ballybreda)
Mary Anne (born 30 December 1908 in Ballybreda)
Their father, James Calvert died of tuberculosis on 14 March 1914 (aged 43) in Ballybreda.
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War James Calvert worked for Joseph Gilmore of Toye, Killinchy and also for Mr J. Prentice of Beechbank, Killinchy. He was a member of the Killinchy Branch of the Ulster Volunteer Force and he enlisted in September 1914 in Downpatrick.
Rifleman James Calvert was one of four Ardsmen who were killed in action together on 7 February 1916. They were all members of the 13th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles (1st Co Down Volunteers) serving with 108th Brigade in the 36th (Ulster) Division. The others were Rifleman David McConnell of 22 Wallace’s Street No. 2, Newtownards, Bandsman Charlie Newell of South Street, Newtownards and Rifleman Jack Tate of Frances Street and North Street, Newtownards.
The officer in charge of the platoon was Lieutenant Elliott Johnston who was a son of Samuel Johnston JP Glen Printing and Finishing Works in Newtownards. Lieutenant Johnston described the circumstances of their deaths. During a heavy bombardment a shell from the German lines exploded in the midst of a party of men killing four and wounding three. James Calvert and Charlie Newell were killed outright; David McConnell and Jack Tate died later from their injuries. The four men were laid to rest together and the burial service was conducted by one of the brigade chaplains, the Rev Charles Campbell Manning, Rector of Comber. On that occasion Lieutenant Elliott Johnston escaped injury but he was killed in action five months later on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
The letter from Lieutenant Johnston to Sarah Calvert was delivered to her on the same day as the last letter James had written to her. In his letter James told her that he was in good form and looking forward to being home soon on leave. Sarah Calvert was a widow when James was killed, and the Calvert family lived in the townland of Tullycore, Killinchy. Sarah placed a For King and Country notice in the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the line:
He now seeth greater things.
James Calvert had been training to become a Signaller and when he died his brother William was with the 18th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles at Clandeboye.
A memorial service was held on 20 February 1916 in Killinchy Parish Church of Ireland Church.
Rifleman James Calvert (No. 17394) was buried in Mesnil Ridge Cemetery, Mesnil-Martinsart, France and he is commemorated on Killyleagh and District War Memorial; in Killinchy Presbyterian Church and in Killinchy Parish Church of Ireland Church.