No. 16433, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
In the Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919 database it is recorded that Rifleman Robert Dempster (No. 16433) served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and that he was killed in action in France on Thursday 21 March 1918. It is also recorded there that he was born in Comber, lived in Comber and enlisted in Belfast.
It is recorded in Ireland’s Memorial Records 1914-1918 that Rifleman Robert Dempster (No. 16433) was killed in action in France on Thursday 21 March 1918.
Military records show that Rifleman Robert Dempster (No. 16433) enlisted at Clandeboye Camp on 21 September 1914 aged 23 years 2 months and he cited as his next-of-kin his widowed mother Elizabeth who was living at 32 High Street, Comber. He had been working as a machinist. In his attestation papers it was noted that he was 5 feet 6½ inches tall with a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair.
He was posted to 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and some records indicate that he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal on 5 December 1914.
Lance Corporal Robert Dempster (No. 16433) was wounded in the foot on 10 May 1916. He was posted to Depot, then to the 20th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, then back to the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. At the end of March 1918 Lance Corporal Robert Dempster (No. 16433) sustained a gunshot wound to his hand and had to have a finger amputated. He was posted to Depot and on 22 November 1918 was discharged from the Army when it was deemed that he was no longer physically fit for war service. His War Badge Number was 83/B46734. Lance Corporal Robert Dempster (No. 16433) qualified for an army pension.
In the 1911 census records Robert Dempster (a labourer aged 21) was living at 32 High Street, Comber with his widowed mother Elizabeth (aged 51), his sister Alice (aged 29) and his brother John (aged 26).
Robert Dempster was born on 18 July 1889 and he was a son of Colvin and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Dempster (nee Campbell) who were married on 26 February 1881 in Comber Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mary’s). Colvin Dempster (aged 21), a labourer from Comber, was a son of John Dempster, a labourer. Elizabeth Campbell (aged 22) from Carnasure was a daughter of Robert Campbell, a labourer.
Colvin Dempster worked as a labourer and he and Elizabeth had at least four children:
Alice (born 21 December 1881 in Comber)
John (born 26 April 1884 in Comber)
Thomas (born 15 May 1886 in High Street, Comber)
Robert (born 18 July 1889 in High Street, Comber)
Colvin Dempster died of pneumonia on 29 March 1907 (aged 43).