Forbes, John Donald

Forbes, John Donald (John)

Second Lieutenant

10th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers

Died of wounds on Wednesday 29 September 1915 (aged 19)


Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium (Grave I. A. 26)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) War Memorial

Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) Book of Remembrance

Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club Memorial Plaque

Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour


John Donald Forbes was born on 2 July 1896 at 39 Stranmillis Road, Belfast and he was the youngest son of John and Annie Caldwell Forbes (nee Hogg) who lived in Belfast at 39 Stranmillis Road, then 72 Eglantine Avenue and then Sunbury, 32 Cadogan Park.  John Forbes (born in County Armagh) was a handkerchief manufacturer and he and Annie Caldwell Hogg (born in USA) were married around 1888 in the USA.  They had five children, the first of whom was born in USA and the rest in Belfast:

Helen Ritchie (born around 1888/1889 in USA)

Murray (born 2 August 1891 at 39 Stranmillis Road, Belfast)

Robert Hogg (born 3 March 1894 at 39 Stranmillis Road, Belfast)

John Donald (born 2 July 1896 at 39 Stranmillis Road, Belfast)

Kathleen (born 13 October 1899 at 39 Stranmillis Road, Belfast)

After they left school, both Murray and Robert worked as apprentices in the linen business. During the war both Murray and Robert served as officers with the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.

John Donald Forbes attended Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI) and he, along with brothers Murray and Robert, were members of the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club at Holywood.  On 27 November 1914 John joined the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) Officers’ Training Corps (OTC) and a month later, on 28 December 1914, he obtained his commission.  Second Lieutenant John Donald Forbes served with the 10th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers and went to France on 16 July 1915.  On 29 September 1915 the Battalion was at Vierstraat, south-west of Ypres in Belgium and John was injured in N3 trench as a result of an accident with a West spring gun (designed by Captain Allen West in 1915, a bomb-throwing catapult used to fling bombs and hand grenades in a high trajectory into enemy trenches; it required five men to operate it – three to compress the springs, one to load the bomb and one to fire as soon as the fuse was lit or the pin was pulled).  He was taken to No. 10 Casualty Clearing Station but died as a result of his wounds.  He was 19 when he died and he was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Second Lieutenant John Donald Forbes is commemorated on the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club Memorial Plaque; on the QUB War Memorial; in the QUB Book of Remembrance (Page 21) and in the Belfast Book of Honour (Page 196).