No. 19157, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged 25)
No known grave
Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)
Ballywalter and District War Memorial
Ballywalter Presbyterian Church
Family grave headstone in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter
John O’Neill was born on 1 August 1890 in Ballywalter and he was a son of James and Eliza O’Neill (nee Bell) who were married on 17 January 1881 in Ballywalter Presbyterian Church. James O’Neill from Ballywalter was a son of James O’Neill, a labourer. Eliza Bell from Ballywalter was a daughter of Thomas Bell, a labourer.
James O’Neill was a seaman who then worked as an agricultural labourer and he and Eliza had at least nine children, all of whom were baptised in Ballywalter Presbyterian Church:
Mary Jane (born 27 October 1881 in Ballywalter)
James (born 16 September 1883 in Ballywalter; died of tuberculosis 16 February 1903 aged 19)
Sarah (born 7 July 1885 in Ballywalter)
Eliza (born 30 November 1887 in Ballywalter)
John (born 1 August 1890 in Ballywalter)
Samuel (born 24 September 1892 in Ballywalter)
Margaret (Maggie, born 30 January 1895 in Ballywalter)
Ann (Annie, born 11 April 1897 in Ballywalter)
William (born 16 August 1899 in Ballywalter)
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War, John O’Neill worked as a general labourer. He enlisted in Ballywalter and served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division.
John O’Neill (aged 21) and Zillah Gunning (aged 20) were married on 19 June 1911 in Holy Trinity Parish Church of Ireland Church Ballywalter. John O’Neill from Whitechurch was a son of James O’Neill, a farm labourer. Zillah Gunning from Dunleath Terrace, Ballywalter was a daughter of James Gunning, a seaman.
John and Zillah O’Neill (nee Gunning) had two children:
Mary Jane (Molly, born 23 October 1911 in Ballywalter)
Johnina (Joan, born 17 October 1915 in Whitechurch, Ballywalter)
Rifleman John O’Neill (No. 19157) was 25 when he was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Ballywalter and District War Memorial and in Ballywalter Presbyterian Church. He is also commemorated on the family grave headstone in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter.
John’s mother Eliza died of hemiplegia just four weeks after her son died, on 29 July 1916 (aged 58).
Zillah O’Neill (nee Gunning) worked as a District Nurse and she and Hugh Conway Campbell, a Master Mariner, were married on 23 June 1923 in Christ Church, Carrowdore. They had two daughters:
Dorothy (born 9 June 1925)
Rhoda (born 21 August 1926; died 8 May 2004)
Molly O’Neill died of pulmonary infection and heart failure on 31 December 1930 (aged 19); Zillah Campbell (formerly O’Neill, nee Gunning) died of influenza on 13 May 1931 (aged 40) and Joan O’Neill, died of pulmonary tuberculosis on 18 September 1931 (aged 15).
Master Hugh Conway Campbell died aboard the SS Miriam Thomas during the Second World War on Sunday 15 March 1942.