No. 18403, ‘A’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Saturday 15 July 1916 (aged 33)
St. Souplet British Cemetery, France (Grave III. AA. 29)
Bangor and District War Memorial
Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque (Subsidiary)
Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum (No. 18403)
Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s)
First Bangor Presbyterian Church
Thomas Miskelly was born on 13 October 1882 in the townland of Cottown, Bangor and he was baptised in First Bangor Presbyterian Church. He was a son of David and Maggie Miskelly (nee Major) who were married on 20 February 1879 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). David Miskelly from Cronstown, Newtownards was a son of John Miskelly, a labourer. Margaret Major from Cottown, Bangor was a daughter of Matthew Major, a labourer.
The Miskelly family lived in the townland of Cottown and then in Bangor, at 23 Castle Street and later at 26 Castle Square.
David Miskelly worked as a general labourer and he and Maggie had at least twelve children including:
David (born 24 August 1879 in Cottown)
Thomas (born 13 October 1882 in Cottown)
James (born 23 November 1884 in Cottown)
Mary Ellen (born 22 November 1886 in Cottown)
Isabella (born 21 October 1888 in Cottown; died of measles 23 June 1892)
Agnes Jane (twin, born 10.00 pm 24 October 1891 in Cottown)
George (twin, born 1.30 am 25 October 1891 in Cottown)
Isabella (born 8 January 1894 in Cottown)
Robert (born 31 December 1895 in Cottown)
Eliza (Lizzie, born 4 April 1898 in Castle Street, Bangor)
Etta (born 7 December 1900 in Castle Street, Bangor)
In 1901 the family stated their religious denomination to be Church of Ireland and in 1911 Presbyterian – in part explaining the fact that Thomas Miskelly is commemorated in two churches.
Thomas Miskelly worked as a carter and general labourer and on 7 September 1904 he and Matilda McCready were married in Bangor Abbey Church of Ireland Church. Matilda McCready was a daughter of James McCready, a labourer.
Thomas and Matilda Miskelly (nee McCready) had at least three children:
Edward James (born 22 November 1905 in Castle Square, Bangor)
George (born 1 May 1911 at 25 King Street, Bangor)
William Davidson (born 17 April 1913 in King Street, Bangor)
Thomas Miskelly’s sister, Mary Ellen Miskelly, married Andrew McCready (his wife’s brother) on 25 October 1905 and Andrew McCready was killed in action on 1 July 1916.
Thomas Miskelly enlisted in Bangor. He served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division and there was confusion about how and when he died. It was reported in the 27 October 1916 edition of the County Down Spectator under the headline Good News that his wife, who lived in King Street, had received notification from the War Office that Thomas was being held as a Prisoner-of-War. Previously she had been notified that he had died in German hands from wounds received in action.
Then, in the 11 May 1917 edition of the County Down Spectator a letter from the War Office dated 4 May 1917 was published and in it all doubts as to his fate were dispelled. The letter was addressed to the Rev J.R. McDonald MA, Curate in Bangor Parish Church, because he had been seeking information on Mrs Miskelly’s behalf. The letter-writer said, ‘I am directed to inform you that a reply has now been received from the German government which leaves no doubt as to the death of No.18403 Private T. Miskelly, 13th Royal Irish Rifles, in the Kriegs Lazarett at St. Quentin and his burial in the cemetery at that place.’
The letter writer pointed out that there was still some ambiguity as to the precise date of his death – ‘on or about 15 July 1916’. In the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Debt of Honour Website his number is recorded as 1843.
Rifleman Thomas Miskelly was 33 when he died and he is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial; on the Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque (Subsidiary Plaque); in the Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum (No. 18403) and in both Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s) and First Bangor Presbyterian Church.
Matilda Miskelly (nee McCready) and John McCready were married on 24 February 1920 in Bangor Abbey Church of Ireland Church. John McCready, a labourer from 37 Beatrice Road, Bangor was a son of John McCready, a labourer. Matilda Miskelly, a widow from 43 King Street, Bangor was a daughter of James McCready, a gardener.