Neill, Robert Larmour

Neill, Robert Larmour


5th Battalion attached 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Sunday 9 May 1915 (aged 21)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium (Panel 9)

Holywood and District War Memorial

Holywood Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church

Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour

Campbell College, Belfast

Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club

Family grave headstone in Holywood Priory Cemetery

First World War Roll of Honour of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland

Brother of Lieutenant James Dermot Neill


Robert Larmour Neill was born on 16 July 1893 at 62 Wellington Park, Belfast and he was a son of Sharman Dermot Neill and Anne Symonds Neill (nee Tomlin) who were married on 29 July 1885 in St Anne’s Church of Ireland Church Belfast.  Sharman Dermot Neill (aged 27) from Hillbrook, Holywood was a son of James Neill, a gentleman.  Anne Symonds Tomlin (aged 29) from Ulsterville Avenue, Belfast was a daughter of Robert Tomlin, a draper.

The Neill family lived in Martello Terrace, Holywood and then at Ardmoyle, Ballycultra

Sharman D. Neill was a diamond merchant and watchmaker with premises at 22 Donegall Place, Belfast.  His firm also produced cap badges for the Ulster Division.  Sharman and Anne Neill (nee Tomlin) had five children:

James Dermot (born 5 December 1886)

Moya Gillon (born 27 November 1887)

Katherine Tomlin (born 7 February 1890)

Robert Larmour (born 16 July 1893 at 62 Wellington Park, Belfast)

Anne Kingsley (born 24 May 1897)

Robert Larmour Neill attended Campbell College from September 1907 until July 1911.  His family name appears on the clock in Campbell College dining hall.  While at Campbell he was a member of the Officers’ Training Corps.  He completed his studies at Neuchatel in Switzerland and when he came home he joined the Holywood contingent of the 1st Battalion North Down Regiment Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and became a Company Commander.  Prior to the outbreak of the Great War he worked in auditing and accountancy with the firm of Messrs Smiley, Burns and Company.  He was a keen golfer and cricketer and a member of the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club.  He was Scoutmaster in Holywood.

Robert Larmour Neill obtained a commission in the 5th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (Royal South Downs) in August 1914 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in January 1915.  It was noted in his attestation papers that he was 5 feet 7 inches tall.  Lieutenant Robert Larmour Neill went to the Front on 22 March 1915 to join the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and he took out a draft of men from Princess Charlotte of Wales’s Royal Berkshire Regiment.

Lieutenant Robert Larmour Neill’s last letter home was dated 7 May 1915, two days before he was killed.  In the letter he told his parents that the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles was about to lead an attack on a German position and his company (‘D’ Company) was to lead the charge.

Lieutenant Robert Larmour Neill was 21 when he was killed in action on 9 May 1915.  He died at the head of his platoon during an advance at Fromelles, after they had reached the first German trench.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial in Belgium; on Holywood and District War Memorial; in Holywood Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church; in the Belfast Book of Honour (Page 502); in the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club and in Campbell College.