No. 18286, ‘A’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
8th/9th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, then 21st Entrenching Battalion
Killed in action on Saturday 23 March 1918 (aged 21)
No known grave
Pozieres Memorial, France (Panel 74 to 76)
Bangor and District War Memorial
Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque
Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum
First Bangor Presbyterian Church
Family grave headstone in Bangor Abbey Graveyard
In some records his surname is spelt McGiltin and in others Magilton.
James McGilton was born on 23 May 1896 in Abbey Street, Bangor and baptised in First Bangor Presbyterian Church. He was a son of John and Sarah McGilton (nee Green) who were married on 13 October 1887 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church. John McGilton from Ballymoney was a son of James McGilton, a labourer. Sarah Green from Ballygilbert was a daughter of James Green, a labourer
The McGilton family lived at 15 Abbey Street, Bangor and then at 71 Emerald Terrace, Railwayview Street, Bangor.
John and Sarah McGilton had seven children:
Rebecca (born 13 July 1888 in Craigantlet)
Mary Jane (born 14 August 1889 in Ballymoney)
William John (born 1 September 1890 in Abbey Street, Bangor; died of tubercular meningitis 23 May 1892)
Sarah Ann (born 19 February 1893 in Abbey Street, Bangor)
David John (born 19 October 1894 in Abbey Street, Bangor)
James (born 23 May 1896 in Abbey Street, Bangor)
Henry (born 7 October 1897 in Abbey Street, Bangor)
John McGilton died of phthisis on 3 January 1899 (aged 32) and Sarah worked as a general servant. Sarah McGilton died on 18 April 1927 (aged 59).
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War James worked as a grocer’s apprentice and he was employed by J.A. Nelson of Gray’s Hill in Bangor. He enlisted in September 1915 and went to France with 108th Brigade in the 36th (Ulster) Division. He was wounded on 1 July 1916 and on 30 October 1917 he was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the 8th/9th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.
Second Lieutenant James McGilton was killed in action on 23 March 1918 with the 21st Entrenching Battalion Royal Irish Rifles near Aubigny and his death was reported in the 20 April 1918 edition of the County Down Spectator. At the time it was noted that his brother, Second Lieutenant David McGilton, who served with the Royal Irish Rifles, was being held as a Prisoner of War.
The following week the County Down Spectator carried a further article under the headline Glad News for a Bangor Family. The report stated, ‘Mrs McGilton of Railway View Street has received official news that her son, Second Lieutenant James McGilton, is not killed as erroneously reported but instead is a prisoner of war in Germany’.
Initially reported by the War Office as dead, then reported as not dead, finally it was officially confirmed that James McGilton had been killed in action.
Second Lieutenant James McGilton was 21 when he died, and he has no known grave.
Second Lieutenant James McGilton is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial, France; on Bangor and District War Memorial; on the Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque; in the Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum; in First Bangor Presbyterian Church and on the family grave headstone in Bangor Abbey Graveyard.