Major, Robert James (No. B/58784)

Major, Robert James


No. B/58784, Royal Regiment of Canada, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps

Murdered on Monday 19 June 1944 (aged 24)


Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey, England (Grave 54. G. 4)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Canadian Virtual War Memorial (Internet)

Canadian Second World War Book of Remembrance (Page 377)


Robert James Major was born on 16 April 1920 in Newtownards and he was the eldest son of David J. and Sarah (Sadie) Major (nee Hamilton).  David J. Major from 47 William Street, Newtownards worked as a barman and he and Sadie Hamilton were married on 23 September 1919 in Newtownards Roman Catholic Church.  David Major (aged 23) was a son of Robert Major, a tailor.  Sarah Hamilton (aged 22) from 84 William Street, Newtownards was a daughter of James Hamilton, a merchant.

In 1922 the Major family moved to Canada where David J. Major worked as a salesman.  After leaving school Robert James Major worked as a machinist and draftsman and during the Second World War both he and his father David served in the Royal Regiment of Canada.

Robert James Major enlisted in 1942 and was posted to England.  In September 1943 he was granted leave which he spent with his grandparents, Robert and Margaret Major of 47 William Street, Newtownards.  In 1940 Robert and Margaret had been officially informed that their son, Gunner William Joseph Major, (Robert James Major’s uncle) had been killed in action.  Sorrow Turned to Joy was the newspaper headline when it was later confirmed that Gunner William Joseph Major was alive and being held as a Prisoner-of-War in Germany.

The death of Private Robert James Major, Royal Regiment of Canada, was reported in the 19 August 1944 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle under the headline Ards Family Bereaved by Death of Canadian Soldier.  The report indicated that he had been accidentally killed in England.  On Private Robert James Major’s death certificate it is recorded that the cause of death was a perforated bullet wound in his heart; he was the victim of a homicide and the perpetrator was found to be guilty of murder but insane.  In the 23 June 1944 edition of the Dover Express a detailed account of the circumstances of his death was published, along with details concerning the charge of murder that was preferred against Private Robert Bell Dempster.

Private Robert James Major (No. B/58784) was 24 when he was murdered on 19 June 1944 and he was buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey.  There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:





Private Robert James Major (No. B/58784) is commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial (Internet) and on Page 377 in the Canadian Second World War Book of Remembrance.  His father David travelled to Newtownards in August 1951 and returned to Canada in May 1952.