McCulloch, John (No. 1378)

McCulloch, John


No. 1378, 8th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Sunday 2 July 1916 (aged 18)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)

Comber and District War Memorial

First Comber Presbyterian Church

Family grave headstone in Granshaw Presbyterian Graveyard


In some records his surname is spelt McCullough.

John McCulloch was born on 30 October 1897 in Gransha, Moneyreagh and he was the only child of James McCulloch JP and Mary Leathem McCulloch (nee Orr) who were married on 13 January 1897 in Gilnahirk Presbyterian Church.  James McCulloch from Gransha was a son of John McCulloch, a farmer.  Mary Orr from Ballykeel was a daughter of William Orr, a farmer.

James McCulloch was a farmer and the McCulloch family lived in the townland of Gransha, Moneyreagh.

John McCulloch enlisted in Belfast and he served with the 8th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.  On 2 July 1916 he was posted as missing in action and in April 1917 it was officially confirmed that he must be presumed to have been killed in action on that date or since.  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 John McCulloch was 18 when he died.

John’s father placed a For King and Country notice in the 21 April 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle.  John had been a member of the Central Presbyterian Association in Belfast and at the May 1917 meeting of its Governing Body reference was made to the fact that Rifleman John McCulloch had ‘died a hero’s death’ and sympathy was extended to his parents.

Rifleman John McCulloch is commemorated on Comber and District War Memorial and in First Comber Presbyterian Church.  John’s parents paid for the erection of a memorial pulpit ‘to the glory of God and in memory of their only son, John McCulloch, and 22 other members of First Comber Presbyterian Church who died in the Great War 1914 – 1919’.  The pulpit design incorporates a memorial plaque listing the names and it has twenty three arched sections, one for each life lost.  A story handed down by word of mouth is that the central section of the pulpit was transported by train to Comber station in a large crate and it was taken from there to the church by horse-drawn cart.  While the driver was waiting for help to lift the crate off the back of the cart, the horse suddenly shunted backwards, the front of the cart lifted and the crate slid off the back of the cart and landed upright and undamaged on the ground.

John McCulloch’s mother, Mary, died on 31 March 1925 (aged 66) and his father, James, died on 17 February 1928 (aged 76).

Rifleman John McCulloch (No. 1378) was a great grandson of the Rev James McCulloch, one time Minister in Granshaw Presbyterian Church.  The Rev McCulloch was buried in the graveyard of that church and Rifleman John McCulloch (No. 1378) is commemorated on the headstone.