McGaffin, Robert Sloane (No. 136090)

McGaffin, Robert Sloane (Robert)


No. 136090, 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion

Killed in action on Friday 15 September 1916 (aged 26)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Vimy Memorial, France

Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM)

Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance

Donaghadee and District War Memorial

Shore Street Presbyterian Church Donaghadee

Brother of Private James McGaffin (No. 136088)


In some records his surname is spelt Gaffin, in others McGoffin and in others McGuffin.

Robert Sloane McGaffin was born on 7 June 1890 in Annaghbane, Newry and he was a son of James and Ellen McGaffin (nee Sloane, sometimes Sloan) who were married on 25 April 1877 in Warrenpoint Presbyterian Church.  James McGaffin from Sheeptown was a son of James McGaffin, a farmer.  Ellen Sloane from Crieve was a daughter of Thomas Sloan, a farmer.

The McGaffin family lived in the townlands of Crieve, Sheeptown and Annaghbane, Newry.

James McGaffin Senior was a farmer and he also worked as a labourer.

James and Ellen McGaffin (nee Sloane) had ten children:

Matilda (Tillie, born 18 December 1879 in Crieve; died of phthisis 14 August 1900 aged 20)

George (born 11 December 1881 in Sheeptown)

James (born 7 July 1883 in Sheeptown)

Thomas (born 15 July 1885 in Crieve)

Ellen (born 16 August 1886 in Crieve)

William Henry (born 12 October 1887 in Annaghbane)

Joseph (born 5 January 1889 in Annaghbane)

Robert Sloane (born 7 June 1890 in Annaghbane)

Isabella (born 25 November 1892 in Annaghbane)

Maggie (born 15 March 1896 in Annaghbane)

Their mother Ellen died of hip disease on 21 September 1901 (aged 46).

James McGaffin Senior and Sarah Hendry (nee Martin) were married on 4 February 1902 in Warrenpoint Presbyterian Church.  Sarah Hendry from Baskhill was a daughter of William Martin, a farmer.

James and Sarah McGaffin (formerly Hendry, nee Martin) had at least two children:

Tillie (born 29 November 1902 in Annaghbane)

Hugh (born 1904; baptised in Shore Street Presbyterian Church Donaghadee)

James and Sarah McGaffin moved to Camlough, Newry and then to Belfast where they lived at 131 Matilda Street and then to Donaghadee.

Brothers James and Robert McGaffin both lived in Donaghadee where they worked for a time before moving to Canada.  They lived in Toronto and both worked as labourers.

Robert Sloane McGaffin enlisted in Toronto on 26 July 1915 and it was noted in his attestation papers that he was 5 feet 7 inches tall with a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair.  He served with the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion and was 26 when he was killed in action on 15 September 1916 – the same day as his brother James.

Robert McGaffin had been a member of No Surrender LOL No. 241 in Donaghadee and the officers and members placed a For King and Country notice in the 16 June 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle.  They expressed ‘their deep regret at the loss of their highly respected brethren’.  The notice commemorated the deaths of Robert McGaffin (surname spelt Gaffin) Ballyhay; William Patton Ballyfotherly and Samuel Strain Donaghadee.  It was signed by William Robert McCauley and Robert John Rea.

Private Robert McGaffin has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial in France; on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM); in the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; on Donaghadee and District War Memorial and in Shore Street Presbyterian Church Donaghadee.

James and Robert McGaffin both enlisted in Toronto on 26 July 1915, along with their brother Joseph who worked as a brass finisher.  The three brothers were allocated consecutive service numbers – James 136088, Joseph 136089 and Robert 136090 – and they all served with the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion.  Joseph survived the war but James and Robert were both killed in action on the same day – 15 September 1916.