Weir, John (No. 18/663)

Weir, John

Rifleman

No. 18/663, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, previously

No. 19248, ‘B’ Company, 13th (S) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged 26)

No known grave

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)

BIOGRAPHY

In the Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919 database, it is recorded that Rifleman John Weir (No. 18/663) was born in Newtownards.

In the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects, the legatee of Rifleman John Weir (No. 18/663) was his widow, Mary Ann.

In the CWGC Debt of Honour website, it is recorded that Rifleman John Weir (No. 18/663) was a son of James and Elizabeth Weir and the husband of Mary Ann Weir of 90 Mill Street, Newtownards.

In the 1911 Census, John Weir was 21 so he must have been born around 1889/1890.  His parents, James and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Weir had been married for 22 years so they must have been married around 1888/1889.

The Weir family lived in Castle Street, Bangor and then in Newtownards, in Church Terrace, George’s Street, Mill Street and Movilla Street.

James Weir worked as a general labourer and he and Lizzie Weir (nee Clarke) had at least eight children including:

John (born around 1889/1890)

Mary (born 17 March 1895 in Castle Street, Bangor)

Elizabeth Kerr (born 22 December 1897 in Church Terrace, Newtownards)

Isabella Watson (born 25 July 1900 in George’s Street, Newtownards)

Ellen (born 28 October 1902 in George’s Street, Newtownards)

Thomas (born 22 April 1905 in George’s Street, Newtownards)

David James (born 9 October 1907 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War, John Weir worked as a general labourer, he was a member of the local contingent of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and he and his wife Mary Ann lived in Mill Street, Newtownards.

John Weir (aged 24) and Mary Ann Lowry (aged 22) were married on 15 May 1914 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).  Mary Ann Lowry of Mill Street, Newtownards was a daughter of John Lowry, a labourer.

John and Mary Ann Weir (nee Lowry) had two children:

Mary Elizabeth (born 12 June 1914 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

John (born 22 July 1916 in Mill Street, Newtownards, three weeks after his father was killed in action)

Rifleman John Weir (No. 18/663) enlisted in Newtownards in November 1915, served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division and was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Rifleman John Weir (No. 18/663) has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).

Rifleman John Weir (No. 18/663) had previous service before he enlisted in November 1915.

John Weir, a labourer from Mill Street, Newtownards, enlisted on 17 September 1914 (aged 23 years 240 days).  It was noted in his attestation papers that he was 5 feet 10 inches tall with a sallow complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.  He was posted to Clandeboye Camp and served with ‘B’ Company 13th (S) Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (No. 19248) for 181 days before being discharged on 16 March 2015 at Clandeboye Camp because he was ‘not likely to become an efficient soldier’ due to a ‘congenital specific disease and pains in head’.

Rifleman John Weir (No. 19248) and his wife, Mary Ann Weir, lived at 65 Mill Street, Newtownards and then at 90 Mill Street.  It was from there that Mary Ann wrote to the Army in March 1918 seeking a copy of her husband’s discharge papers – because Rifleman John Weir’s 181 days of service in 1914/15 (No. 19248) would increase the amount of pension she was entitled to – over and above her entitlement following the death of her husband when he served as Rifleman John Weir (No. 18/663).