Dorrian, James O’Neill (No. 291603)

Dorrian, James O’Neill (Jim)


No. 291603, 44th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (New Brunswick Regiment)

Killed in action on Sunday 17 February 1918 (aged 29)


Sucrerie Cemetery, France (Grave II. D. 4)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM)

Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance

Ballywalter and District War Memorial

Family grave headstone in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter

Ballywalter Presbyterian Church


James O’Neill Dorrian was born on 30 January 1889 (he declared 19 January 1892 at attestation) in Ballywalter and he was a son of William and Lizzie Dorrian (nee O’Neill) who were married on 11 May 1880 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).  William Dorrian (aged 21) from Glastry, Ballyhalbert was a son of George Dorrian, a farmer.  Lizzie O’Neill (aged 21) from Comber Street, Newtownards was a daughter of James O’Neill, a labourer.

The Dorrian family lived in Main Street Ballywalter.

William Dorrian worked as an agricultural labourer and he and Lizzie had at least eleven children:

Mary Ann (born 18 December 1881 in Ballywalter; died of bronchitis 21 March 1884 aged 2)

George (born 30 May 1884 in Ballywalter; died of tuberculosis in Ballyobegan 12 March 1905 aged 20)

Agnes McCance (born 7 October 1886 in Ballywalter)

James O’Neill (born 30 January 1889 in Ballywalter)

Mary Ann (Minnie, born 20 June 1891 in Glastry)

John (born 6 February 1894)

William (born 22 August 1896 in Ballyobegan)

Lizzie (born 17 September 1899 in Ballyobegan)

Samuel (born 26 August 1901 in Springvale; died of influenza 18 July 1918 aged 16)

Essie (born 12 October 1903 in Springvale; died 10 November 1940 aged 37)

George (born 27 November 1905 in Ballyobegan)

All the children were baptised in Ballywalter Presbyterian Church.

James (Jim) Dorrian moved to Canada where he worked as a teamster.  He and his wife and two children lived in Suite 12, Wallar Block, Norwood, Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Jim enlisted in Winnipeg on 8 February 1916 and in his attestation papers it was noted that he was 5 feet 6¾ inches tall with a medium complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.  He declared his date of birth to be 19 January 1892.

Jim’s brother John also enlisted in Winnipeg and he too joined the 44th Battalion (No. 291602).  John lived with Jim and his family and he also worked as a teamster prior to the outbreak of the Great War.  John Dorrian saw continuous service on the Western Front and was awarded the Military Medal for ‘bravery in the field and devotion to duty’.

Private Jim Dorrian fought on the Western Front and on 10 April 1916 he was wounded in the chest.  He was transported to hospital in England where he remained until September 1916.  He returned to the Front and was 29 when he was killed in action on 17 February 1918.  He was buried in Sucerie Cemetery in France.

In February 1919 Jim’s father, mother, sisters and brothers placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:

Taken away in his early youth,

Taken from those he loved;

From serving his King on earth below

To serve his great King above.

It was reported in the Press that ‘he left a widow and two children in Canada to mourn his loss’.

Private Jim Dorrian is commemorated on Ballywalter and District War Memorial; on the family grave headstone in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter (where the date of death is inscribed as 1 July 1916) and in Ballywalter Presbyterian Church.