Harris, James (Served as McIlwrath, James)
No. 13153, 8th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Sunday 2 July 1916 (aged 22)
No known grave
Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)
Comber and District War Memorial
Comber Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mary’s)
James Harris, who served as James McIlwrath, was born on 16 May 1894 in Comber and he was a son of Robert and Susanna Harris (nee McIlwrath) who were married on 30 March 1891 in St Anne’s Church of Ireland Church Belfast. Robert Harris aged 23 from 13 Collier Street, Belfast was a son of Robert Harris, a labourer. Susanna McIlwrath, a mill-girl aged 22 from 26 Collier Street, Belfast was a daughter of William McIlwrath, a labourer.
Robert Harris worked as a general labourer and he and Susanna had at least three children:
William (born 5 November 1892 in Mill Street, Comber)
James (born 16 May 1894 in Comber)
Andrew Caughey (born 14 October 1896 at 44 Parker Street, Belfast)
Their mother, Susanna, died in Comber on 12 May 1899 (aged 27).
After their mother Susanna Harris died of haemoptysis and dropsy , William and James lived in Belfast with their maternal grandmother, Jane McIlwrath, and both worked as general labourers.
Their father, Robert Harris, and Margaret (Maggie) Jane McClure were married on 10 September 1900 in Comber Parish Church of Ireland Church. Maggie Jane McClure (aged 28) from Bridge Street, Comber was a daughter of William John McClure, a labourer. Robert Harris was working as a rougher.
Robert and Margaret Jane Harris had at least five children including:
Christina (born 27 February 1901 in Bridge Street, Comber)
Elizabeth McClure (Lizzie, born 2 June 1902 in Bridge Street, Comber)
Martha (born 29 April 1904 in Glen Road, Comber; died of tuberculosis 12 March 1907)
The Harris family lived in Bridge Street, Comber and later in Railway Street, Comber.
James McIlwrath enlisted in Belfast and served with the 8th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 107th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division.
In the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Debt of Honour Website it is recorded that Rifleman James McIlwrath died on the second day of the Battle of the Somme. In the heat of battle the 8th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles did not make a casualty return on 1 July 1916 and many military historians agree that those 8th Battalion casualties listed on the 2 July return were killed in action on 1 July.
Rifleman James Harris was 22 when he died, he has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Comber and District War Memorial and in Comber Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mary’s).