No. 81186, 2nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regiment)
Killed in action on Wednesday 26 April 1916 (aged 24)
Woods Cemetery, Belgium (Grave II. E. 5)
Greyabbey and District War Memorial located on the outside wall of
Greyabbey Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Saviour’s)
Joseph Craig was born on 6 September 1891 at 19 Ribble Street, Belfast and he was the eldest son of Robert and Margaret Craig (nee Mason) who were married on 11 November 1890 in Ballymacarrett Parish Church of Ireland Church Belfast. Robert Craig (aged 30), an RIC Constable from the Newtownards Road, Ballymacarrett, Belfast, was a son of Joseph Craig, a farmer. Margaret Mason (aged 21) from 253 Hillman Street, Belfast was a daughter of Robert Mason, a farmer.
The Craig family lived in Belfast (1890); in Ferry Street, Portaferry (1901) and in Greyabbey (1911).
For some years Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) Sergeant Robert Craig was stationed in Greyabbey and he and Margaret, who was born in Co Longford, had six children:
Joseph (born 6 September 1891 at 19 Ribble Street, Belfast)
Mary Anne (born 3 December 1892 at 19 Ribble Street, Belfast)
Margaret Florence (born 22 March 1895 in Scotch Street, Downpatrick, Co Down)
Robert Francis (born 26 December 1896 in Co Down)
Albert Ernest (born 28 December 1900 in Portaferry)
James Alexander (born 6 August 1907 in Greyabbey)
In 1911 Joseph Craig was working as a National School Monitor and he and Mary Anne, who worked as a dressmaker, were living in Greyabbey, separately from the rest of the family.
Joseph Craig left Greyabbey in October 1912 and went to Toronto, Ontario where he remained until March 1913. From Toronto he went to Saskatchewan to take up a Government appointment as a school teacher. On 16 December 1914 he enlisted in Winnipeg, Manitoba and in his attestation papers it was noted that he was 5 feet 8½ inches tall with a medium complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. After a period of training in Winnipeg he was posted to the Western Front in May 1915.
Except for a one-week furlough in February 1916 which he spent in Greyabbey, Private Joseph Craig (No. 81186) served on the Western Front continuously until he met his death in a front trench. He was killed when an enemy mine exploded. During the morning of the day Joseph died he wrote a letter to his parents. He had returned at 4.00 am from a bombing expedition in a German trench and, in the letter, he told his parents that he had just heard the cuckoo for the first time that year. At foot of this letter Joseph’s Sergeant added a note stating that Joseph had been killed in action later that very day.
In an article in the Newtownards Chronicle Private Joseph Craig was described as a devoted son and brother and an ‘extremely fine specimen of youthful manhood – mentally, morally and physically’. He was 24 when he died, and he was buried in Woods Cemetery, Belgium. There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:
HE WAS DUTIFUL AND GAVE HIS LIFE FOR LIBERTY OF THE EMPIRE
Private Joseph Craig (No. 81186) is commemorated on Greyabbey and District War Memorial located on the outside wall of Greyabbey Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Saviour’s).