No. 19951, ‘C’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged 20)
Serre Road Cemetery No.1, France (Grave II. BB. 14)
Killinchy Parish Church of Ireland Church
Killinchy Presbyterian Church
Family grave headstone in Killinchy Presbyterian Church Graveyard
James Tate was born on 28 June 1896 in the townland of Dunbeg and he was the eldest son of Joseph and Sarah Tate (nee Craig) who were married on 13 March 1896 in Second Ballynahinch Presbyterian Church, Magheradroll. Joseph Tate from Dunbeg was a son of Robert Tate, a farmer. Sarah Craig from Dunbeg was a daughter of John Craig, a farmer.
The Tate family lived in the townland of Ballyminstra, Killinchy.
Joseph Tate was a farmer and he and Sarah had at least five children:
James (born 28 June 1896 in Dunbeg)
John (born 18 November 1898 in Ballyminstra; died 6 August 1974)
Joseph (born 24 June 1901 in Ballyminstra; died 5 October 1956)
Margaret Jane (Maggie, born 7 November 1904 in Ballyminstra)
Sarah (born 15 November 1907 in Ballyminstra)
The three youngest of these children were baptised in Killinchy Presbyterian Church.
James Tate received a gold medal from Killinchy Sabbath School for six years of unbroken attendance.
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War James Tate worked as a farmer and he was a member of the Killinchy contingent of the Ulster Volunteer Force.
James Tate enlisted in Downpatrick and trained at Clandeboye Camp before going to Seaford in Sussex and then to the Front in October 1915.
James Tate and Grace Brown (aged 17) were married on 26 August 1915 in Belmont Presbyterian Church. James Tate was a soldier stationed in Seaford, Sussex. Grace Brown from 92 East Bread Street, Belfast was a daughter of James Brown, a labourer.
James and Grace Tate had one child, a son named Joseph, who was born on 3 March 1916.
James Tate served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th Ulster Division and when he was home for a short period of leave in May 1916 he saw his son.
Less than two months later, Sergeant James Tate was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and he was buried in Serre Road Cemetery No.1, France.
James’s parents placed a For King and Country notice in the 5 August 1916 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
The Lord breathed on the slain and led them home
The newspaper report of his death focused on ‘glory’ rather than the horrors of that day: ‘Great sympathy is felt with his father and mother, wife and child in his early death for King and country, but as his death was instantaneous a measure of consolation is afforded, as sudden death is sudden glory’.
James’s parents placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the 30 June 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
Sleep on; there is nought now on earth that can wake thee,
No cruel guns’ roar can disturb thy repose
Nor bursting of shells can now overtake thee
Save the call of the Trumpet when night draws to a close
Until that morn dawns we are patiently waiting,
While the past happy memories ever green shall remain;
And as years grow in number the anchor holds firmer,
Till hand shall clasp hand for to part ne’er again.
In 1917, James’s wife Grace placed an In Memoriam notice in a Belfast newspaper (she was living at 30 Solway Street) and it contained the verses:
Sleep on beloved, sleep, and take thy rest;
Lay down thy head upon thy Saviour’s breast;
We loved thee well, but Jesus loved thee best –
Not dead to us, we loved him dear,
Not lost, but gone before;
He lives with us in memory still,
And will for ever more.
Only good-night, beloved, and not farewell,
A little while and all His saints shall dwell
In hallowed union indivisible –
James’s parents, sisters and brothers placed an In Memoriam notice in the same newspaper and it contained the verses:
One year today has passed away,
Yet our aching hearts are bleeding still;
We find it very hard to say,
Oh, heavenly Father, ’tis Thy will.
Though sleeping under a foreign sky,
When dawn shall break and shadows flee;
Our loving links will all be joined,
And never more shall severed be.
Sergeant James Tate is commemorated in Killinchy Parish Church of Ireland Church; in Killinchy Presbyterian Church and on the family grave headstone in Killinchy Presbyterian Church Graveyard.
Sergeant James Tate’s mother Sarah died on 23 May 1927 and his father Joseph died on 31 January 1933.