Torrens, James Claude

Torrens, James Claude (James)

Lance Corporal

No. 16022, 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, transferred to

No. 18706 Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)

Second Lieutenant

‘B’ Company, 19th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)                     

Killed in action on Thursday 30 May 1918 (aged 27)          

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Soissons Memorial, France

Ballygrainey Presbyterian Church

Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church

Annals of Helen’s Bay Presbyterian Church (as Torrance)

Ormiston Presbyterian Church Belfast

Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour

Family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor  

Family grave headstone in Killymurris Presbyterian Church Graveyard, Ballymena

Workman Clark Memorial Plaque


In some records his surname is spelt Torrans and in others Torrance.

James Claude Torrens was born around 1891/1892 in New Zealand and he was a son of James and Matilda Torrens (nee Bradshaw) both of whom came from County Antrim.  They were married on 16 February 1888 in Killymurris First Presbyterian Church Ballymena.  James Torrens from Kildowney was a farmer and he was a son of William Torrens, a farmer.  Matilda Bradshaw from Ballywatermoy was a daughter of William James Bradshaw, a farmer.

James and Matilda Torrens had at least two children in New Zealand before they returned home to Ireland:  William Bradford and James Claude.  The Torrens family farmed in North Down in the townlands of Ballygrainey (in Grayville) and Ballymullen.

James’s mother Matilda died of cancer on 4 July 1906 at Ballymullen and his father James re-married on 30 September 1913.  James Torrens and Jane Steele (nee Norwood) were married by special licence from the Presbyterian Church in the bride’s home, 91 Ormeau Road, Belfast.  Jane Steele (nee Norwood) was a daughter of William Johnston Norwood, a farmer.

James Claude Torrens was educated at the Technical Institute in Belfast.

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War James Claude Torrens was employed by Messrs Workman, Clark & Co in Belfast as a shipyard draughtsman.  He enlisted and served as a Lance Corporal in the 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (No. 16022) then as an acting Quartermaster Sergeant in the ranks of the Machine Gun Corps (No. 18706).  He went to France on 3 October 1915 with 109th Brigade in the 36th (Ulster) Division and fought at the Battle of the Somme.

On 25 June 1917, he was commissioned Second Lieutenant in ‘B’ Company 19th Battalion Machine Gun Corps (Infantry).

Second Lieutenant James Claude Torrens was killed in action on 30 May 1918 and, at that time, his brother William B. Torrens was serving as an officer in the US Army.

Second Lieutenant James Claude Torrens is commemorated in Ballygrainey Presbyterian Church; in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church; in the annals of Helen’s Bay Presbyterian Church (as Torrance); in Ormiston Presbyterian Church Belfast; in the Belfast Book of Honour (Page 631) and on the Torrens family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor.

James’s father, James, died on 22 January 1933 and his stepmother, Jane, died on 20 July 1936.