No. 1517, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regiment)
Died of wounds on Saturday 27 February 1915 (aged 25)
Voormezeele Enclosure No. 3, Belgium (Grave III. E. 4)
Bangor Rugby Club
Fitzroy Avenue Presbyterian Church Belfast
Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour
John McLaughlin was born on 3 November 1889 in Beechpark Street, Belfast (he declared 3 November 1883 at attestation) and he was a son of Hugh and Agnes McLaughlin (nee Carrick, born in Scotland) who were married on 1 January 1884 in Berry Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast.
The McLaughlin family lived at Ardvarra, Ballyholme Road, Bangor; in Fitzroy Avenue, Belfast and at 61 South Parade, Belfast.
Hugh McLaughlin worked as a lead manufacturer and he and Agnes had at least eight children:
William (born 2 March 1885 at 15 Beechpark Street, Belfast)
James (born 22 August 1886)
Agnes (born 15 October 1888)
John (born 3 November 1889 in Beechpark Street, Belfast)
Margaret (Maggie, born 29 July 1891)
Hugh Millen (born 21 July 1893 in Summer Street, Belfast)
Bessie (born 20 February 1895)
Robert (born 23 July 1896)
Janet (born 26 February 1899 at 123 Manor Street, Belfast; died 2 February 1901)
Their father Hugh died on 1 April 1909 (aged 63).
John McLaughlin worked as a fancy linens tradesman and he served for 2½ years in the Irish Yeomanry. In the summer of 1913 he moved to Los Angeles and from there he moved to Canada where he worked as an investigator for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
He enlisted on 21 August 1914 in Ottawa and in his attestation papers it was noted that he was 5 feet 9 inches tall with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. His date of birth is incorrectly recorded as 3 November 1883 as is his apparent age at enlistment (29 years 10 months).
Private John McLaughlin served with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and he died of wounds on 27 February 1915. His death was reported in the 19 March 1915 edition of the County Down Spectator and in the report his prowess as a rugby player was noted. He was described as ‘one of the sturdiest forwards that ever wore the colours of the Bangor club’. He was vice-captain of the Bangor First XV in 1907/08 and after leaving Bangor and moving to Belfast John played with the North of Ireland Club.
Shortly before his death John wrote a letter to a friend back home and in it he was distinctly upbeat. He said that he was ‘like Johnny Walker, going strong’. He described two narrow escapes, one where his rifle had been struck by a bullet and ‘rendered useless’ and another where shrapnel had entered a room where he was and killed a man beside him. ‘Escapes such as these’ he wrote ‘nearly scare the wits out of you but they make the time pass more quickly for a good while afterwards’. He said that he was pleased to have met Dickie Lloyd the Irish rugby international who was a lieutenant in the Liverpool Scottish. John McLaughlin’s brother Hugh was also on active service. Private John McLaughlin (No. 1517) was 25 when he died of wounds on 27 February 1915 and he is commemorated in the Belfast Book of Honour (Page 448).
Private John McLaughlin (No. 1517) is commemorated in Bangor Rugby Club and in Fitzroy Avenue Presbyterian Church Belfast.
His brother, Hugh Millen McLaughlin, served with the 12th Field Company, Royal Engineers, he was Mentioned in Despatches, wounded and discharged on 26 March 1919. His silver war badge number was 344700.