McKibbin, John Hill (John)
No. 6079, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Sunday 9 May 1915 (aged 23)
No known grave
Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium (Panel 9)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for
Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards
John Hill McKibbin was born on 14 October 1890 in William Street, Newtownards and he was the eldest son of James and Mary McKibbin (nee Scott) who were married on 26 December 1889 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). James McKibbin (aged 23) from Wallace’s Street, Newtownards was a son of William McKibbin, a weaver. Mary Scott (aged 22) from William Street, Newtownards was a daughter of John Scott, a labourer.
The McKibbin family lived in Newtownards, in Wallace’s Street; Movilla Street, Mark Street and Robert Street (47 Front Shuttlefield).
James McKibbin worked as a labourer and he and Mary had eight children:
John Hill (born 14 October 1890 in William Street, Newtownards)
Hamilton (born 16 February 1893 in Wallace’s Lane, Newtownards; died 22 April 1893)
Margaret Jane (born 21 July 1894 in Wallace’s Lane, Newtownards)
William James (born 2 November 1896 in Wallace’s Street, Newtownards)
Mary (born 28 July 1899 in Movilla Street, Newtownards)
Sarah (born 5 December 1901 in Mark Street, Newtownards)
Reubenia (born 11 March 1906 in Mark Street, Newtownards)
Elizabeth (born 1 May 1908 in Mark Street, Newtownards)
The children were baptised in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.
John Hill McKibbin worked as a labourer before joining the 4th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (Royal North Downs). He was called up on mobilisation and went to the Front in November 1914. He fell victim to the severe weather that prevailed in the fighting line during the month of December 1914 and he returned home suffering from frostbite to his feet.
He recovered and returned to the Front in March 1915 and was in the fighting line continuously until he was killed in action on 9 May 1915 at Rouge Bancs during the fighting near Fromelles. The first news of Corporal John McKibbin’s death reached Newtownards in a letter to David Cahoon from Rifleman Alfred McKimm (No. 7175 and one of John’s comrades). The news was soon confirmed in an official notice from the Infantry Record Office.
Alfred McKimm wrote, ‘I am very sorry to have to tell you that your old chum got killed on Sunday 9 May so I want you to tell his father. I would tell him myself only I don’t know his address. John was killed while he was going up to the German trenches. He had a letter in his pocket for his mother. I could not get near him owing to the heavy fire, so you can remember him to the rest of his chums, and don’t forget to tell his father.’
In May 1916 the McKibbin family placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
One long and dreary year has passed
Since this great sorrow fell;
The shock that we received that day
We still remember well.
His warfare o’er, his battles fought,
His victory won, though dearly bought,
His fresh young life could not be saved,
He slumbers now somewhere in a hero’s grave.
Corporal John Hill McKibbin (No. 6079) was 23 when he died, and he has no known grave.
Corporal John Hill McKibbin (No. 6079) is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium; on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.
His brother, Private William James McKibbin (No 857), served with the Royal Irish Rifles.