No. 4770, 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged 20)
No known grave
Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)
Bangor and District War Memorial
Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque
Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum
Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s)
John O’Neill was born on 3 April 1896 in Castle Street, Bangor and he was a son of Joseph and Mary Anne O’Neill (nee Thompson) who were married on 25 December 1890 in St Anne’s Church of Ireland Church Belfast. Joseph O’Neill (aged 23) from the Cottown, Ballygrainey, was a son of Edward O’Neill, a labourer. Mary Anne Thompson (aged 24), a servant from 35 Thorndale Avenue, Belfast was a daughter of Alexander Thompson, a labourer.
The O’Neill family lived in the townland of Ballygrainey; in Ballymagee Street, Bangor (now High Street) and later at 10 Victoria Road, Bangor.
Joseph O’Neill worked as a general labourer and he and Mary Anne had at least six children:
Lizzie (born 20 June 1891 in Ballygrainey)
Jessie (born 13 November 1892 in Castle Street, Bangor)
Maria (born 17 March 1894 in Croft Street, Bangor)
John (born 3 April 1896 in Castle Street, Bangor)
Annie Matilda (born 21 December 1899 in Castle Mount, Bangor)
Sarah Corbett (born 26 November 1901 in New Street, Bangor)
Annie Matilda O’Neill was baptised in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church.
During the Great War Joseph O’Neill served with the Royal Army Medical Corps and he died on 8 March 1923 (aged 51). Mary Anne O’Neill died on 4 April 1933 (aged 63) and both of John’s parents were buried in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor.
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War John O’Neill worked as a message boy. He enlisted at Clandeboye and served with the 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division. Whilst his Medal Index Card shows a 13th Battalion prefix (13/4770) all his service was with the 12th Battalion.
Rifleman John O’Neill went to France on 26 November 1915 and he was 20 when he was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Rifleman John O’Neill has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Bangor and District War Memorial; on the Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque; in the Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum (Page 58) and on the Memorial Plaque in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s).