No. 44222, 270th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery
Killed in action on Sunday 1 July 1917 (aged 25)
Ferme-Olivier Cemetery, Belgium (Grave Plot 3. Row C. Grave 7)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
In some records his surname is spelt Steenson and in others Stenson.
Hugh Stevenson was born on 24 January 1894 in Church Street, Newtownards and he was a son of James and Catherine (Kate) Stevenson (nee Harvey) who were married on 23 September 1887 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church. James Stevenson from Ballysallagh was a son of John Stevenson, a labourer. Catherine Harvey from Ballysallagh was a daughter of Robert Harvey, a labourer.
The Stevenson family lived at 17 Frederick Street, Newtownards.
They had at least twelve children including:
John (born 16 February 1888 in Ballysallagh)
Catherine (born 24 December 1889 in Wallace’s Street, Newtownards)
Elizabeth (Jessie, born 20 December 1891 in Mill Street, Newtownards)
Hugh (born 24 January 1894 in Church Street, Newtownards)
Maggie (born 17 January 1896 in Church Street, Newtownards)
Sarah Jane (born 26 April 1898 in William Street, Newtownards; married Alexander Cash on 14 May 1919 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church)
Catherine Elizabeth (born 9 March 1900 in Frederick Street, Newtownards)
Martha Martin (born 21 November 1901 in Frederick Street, Newtownards)
William James (born 24 December 1903 in Frederick Street, Newtownards; died of tubercular meningitis 27 July 1906)
Both Hugh and his father worked as labourers.
Hugh Stevenson enlisted in Newtownards at the outbreak of the Great War and, for a time, he served with his unit in Malta. Hugh wrote letters home regularly to his mother Catherine and some of his letters arrived after she died of apoplexy on 22 June 1917 (aged 50). Just eight days after his mother died, Hugh was killed.
Major H.D. Coleman who commanded the 270th Siege Battery didn’t know that Catherine was dead when he wrote to her after Hugh’s death to express his sympathy and, in the letter, he outlined the circumstances of Hugh’s death.
Major Coleman said that Gunner Hugh Stevenson was killed instantly at his post ‘serving the gun which was just about to be fired and he suffered no pain’.
The Rev H.A. Norton, Chaplain to the Forces attached to the 2nd Anzac Corps of Heavy Artillery, also wrote to Catherine Stevenson, ‘On Sunday morning last his battery position was very heavily shelled by the enemy. All the men took cover but, despite this, as the result of a shell’s explosion, your son, together with two other gunners were killed’.
Gunner Hugh Stevenson was buried in Ferme-Olivier Cemetery, Belgium and there is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:
TO DUTY STERN
HE DID RESPOND
HIS YOUTHFUL LIFE HE GAVE FOR KING AND COUNTRY
In CWGC records his next-of-kin is Mrs S.J. Cash of 17 Frederick Street, Newtownards. His widowed father, James Stevenson, died of bronchitis on 28 April 1919 (aged 54) in Frederick Street, Newtownards.
After Gunner Hugh Stevenson was killed in action his father, sister, aunts and cousins on active service placed a For King and Country notice in the 28 July 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
A face still loved, so sadly missed,
His smile that was so bright;
He was so thoughtful, good and kind,
Time cannot blot him from my mind.
The hardest part is yet to come,
When the heroes do return;
And I miss among the cheering crowd
The face of my dear loved son.
Gunner Hugh Stevenson (No. 44222) is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial.