No. 3/7446, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died of disease on Saturday 14 December 1918 (aged 29)
Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor, Co. Down (Grave 3L. 56)
Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church Bangor
The death of John Murphy was reported in the 21 December 1918 edition of the County Down Spectator under the headline Mons Hero Dies at Bangor – a Sad Case. Rifleman John Murphy (No. 3/7446) died on 14 December 1918 in West Place, Bangor ‘at the residence of his brother-in-law Robert Murphy’. The report pointed out that John Murphy was one of French’s original ‘Old Contemptibles’ and that he had fought through a long series of campaigns from Mons onwards (‘Old Contemptibles’ was a name self-adopted by British troops belonging to the regular army in 1914 and supposedly derived from a comment made by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II in which he referred to Sir John French’s contemptible little army). John Murphy had enlisted on 28 June 1908 and been discharged in 1913 after five years. He re-joined the colours in 1914 and went to France on 19 September 1914.
John Murphy was wounded on several occasions and he was discharged from the Army on 16 April 1915 because he was no longer physically fit for active service. This was due in part to lung complications that had arisen because of gas poisoning. In the newspaper report deep sympathy was expressed for his young English wife of five months and it was pointed out that there would be no Government provision for his widow because they were married after he was discharged in 1915.
The report went on say that John Murphy’s brother who was also a Mons hero had died in Belfast ten days previously. He too had been discharged from the Army having lost an arm in service and he succumbed to the influenza epidemic. He left a widow and baby.
Rifleman John Murphy’s funeral with full military honours was to Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor. The coffin was wrapped in a Union Jack supplied by the local Coastguards and the Rev W.A. Hill officiated at the graveside. The firing party comprised men from the Somerset Regiment stationed in Belfast.
Rifleman John Murphy is commemorated in Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church Bangor and in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Debt of Honour Website it is recorded that John Murphy was the ‘husband of the late Margaret Potter (formerly Murphy) of 25 Edward Street, Stockport’.
John Murphy was born on 23 January 1889 at 22 College Street West, Belfast and he was a son of James and Sarah Murphy (nee Simpson).
James Murphy worked as a labourer and he and Sarah had at least four children:
James (born around 1883/1884 in Glasgow)
Mary (born around 1886/1887 in Belfast)
John (born 23 January 1889 at 22 College Street West, Belfast)
Eliza Jane (Lizabeth, born 9 August 1891 at 14 Maxwell Court, Belfast)
Their mother, Sarah Murphy, died of bronchitis at 110 Bentham Street, Belfast on 7 April 1904 (aged 38).
Eliza Jane Murphy was living in Bangor when she and Robert Murphy were married on 18 November 1912 in Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church. Robert Murphy, a printer from Bangor, was a son of Robert Murphy, a labourer. Robert and Eliza Jane Murphy (nee Murphy) lived in West Place, Bangor and it was there that John Murphy died of pulmonary tuberculosis on 14 December 1918. John Murphy had been married for just over five weeks. John Murphy from 90 Conway Street, Belfast and Margaret Foley from 56 Fox Street, Belfast were married on 7 November 1918 in St Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church, Ballymacarrett, Belfast. Margaret Foley was a daughter of John Foley, a labourer.
Ten days before John Murphy died, his elder brother James died. James Murphy (aged 34), an Army Pensioner from 64 Conway Street, Belfast died of influenza on 4 December 1918 in the Belfast Union Workhouse and Hospital, 51 Lisburn Road, Belfast. James Murphy and Sarah McCullough were married on 7 October 1915 in St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Belfast. James Murphy was a soldier from 90 Conway Street, Belfast. Sarah McCullough, a mill worker from 72 Conway Street, Belfast was a daughter of James McCullough, a labourer. James Murphy was working as a hall porter and they were living in Greencastle when their son, James Joseph Murphy, was born on 18 November 1917.