Thompson, David John (David)
No. 18831, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died of wounds on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged 19)
No known grave
Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
First Newtownards Presbyterian Church
First Cousin of Sergeant Samuel Scott (No. 42746)
David John Thompson was born on 15 September 1896 in Commons, Newtownards and he was a son of Robert and Agnes Thompson (nee Brown) who were married on 7 November 1889 in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church. Robert Thompson, a widower from Castleavery was a son of John Thompson, a labourer. Agnes Brown from Castleavery was a daughter of George Brown a labourer.
The Thompson family lived at 21 Hillview Terrace, John Street, Newtownards.
Robert Thompson worked as an agricultural labourer and he and Agnes had at least ten children including:
William Quinn (born 17 August 1890 in Demesne)
Eleanor Colville (Nellie, born 29 April 1892 in Commons, Newtownards)
Agnes Brown (born 13 June 1894 in Commons, Newtownards)
David John (born 15 September 1896 in Commons, Newtownards)
Samuel (born 30 January 1899 in Ballyharry, Newtownards)
Margaret Jane (Maggie, born 23 January 1901 in Ballyharry, Newtownards)
Henrietta Crawford Orr (Etta, born 12 December 1902 in Whitespots, Newtownards)
Robert (born 3 April 1905 in John Street, Newtownards; died)
Sarah Elizabeth (Sadie, born 16 March 1907 in John Street, Newtownards)
The children were baptised in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church.
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War David Thompson worked as a message-boy. He enlisted on 17 September 1914, served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division and died of wounds sustained in Thiepval Wood on 1 July 1916. He was hit by a sniper’s bullet and died four hours later from loss of blood. A fellow Ardsman named Eddie Crawford (No. 13/100) stayed with him to the end and, as David lay dying, they sang together the hymn Abide With Me. It was his sister Nellie, the eldest girl in the Thompson family, who had introduced David to the Christian Endeavour Group in Newtownards before the war.
Robert Doggart, another Ardsman, was one of the stretcher bearers and he reported afterwards that David had refused to drink any rum. In those days rum was the remedy given to wounded soldiers in an effort to numb their pain. It seems that David had a premonition that he was going to die. A few days before the battle, and knowing of its imminence, he wrote in a letter to his sister Nannie, ‘Tell my mother and my sister Nellie….that I died an honourable death and went straight to heaven…’
Two months to the day before his death, David Thompson and his friend William John Thompson (No. 18829) wrote a letter to the Rev William Wright of First Newtownards Presbyterian Church asking him to convey their thanks to the members of the congregation for ‘the splendid parcel which we received on Easter Monday’. They went on, ‘It is very encouraging to know we are still remembered by the kind people at home, as it helps us to perform our duties more cheerfully under the sometimes trying circumstances. We would especially thank you for the little text card which is very helpful to us out here and reminds us of the Sabbaths spent in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church. We will now draw to a close, trusting this will find everyone in good health as it leaves us at present…’
William John Thompson and Matthew Wright, one of the Rev William Wright’s sons, were also killed in action on 1 July 1916 at the Battle of the Somme.
After David Thompson died, his family placed a For King and Country notice in the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the line:
For ever with the Lord
So did one of his friends from Newtownards, Lance Corporal Jim Kelly who was serving with the Army Service Corps in France and it contained the line:
Asleep in Jesus
In July 1917 there were three Our Heroes – In Memoriam notices in the Newtownards Chronicle. The first was from his father, mother, sisters and brothers and it contained the line:
They miss him most who loved him best.
The second was from his uncle and aunt William and Maggie Quinn and the third was from his uncle, aunt and cousins (three of the latter on active service – Sam, Bob and John Scott) of 150 Mill Street, Newtownards. Sam Scott served with the Canadians and he died on 20 October 1918. Their notice contained the verse:
Duty called, and he was there,
To do his bit and take his share;
His heart was good, his spirit brave,
His resting place a soldier’s grave.
In July 1918 his father, mother, sisters and brothers placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
We know he is safe in that beautiful land,
And, Father, we bow to Thy will;
But, oh! For the touch of a vanished hand
And the sound of a voice that is still.
There was also a notice from Lance Corporal Jim Kelly and it contained the verse:
For honour, liberty and truth,
He sacrificed his glorious youth,
He died – if it were death – to give
His life, that all he loved might live.
Lance Corporal David John Thompson has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church.
David John Thompson’s mother, Agnes Thompson (nee Brown), and Samuel Scott’s mother, Jane Scott (nee Brown), were sisters.