Royal Air Force
Died of disease on Friday 6 August 1943 (aged 24)
Newtownards (Movilla) Cemetery, Co. Down (Section 24 Grave 46)
Family grave headstone in Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards
Sydney Murray was born on 26 January 1919 in Queen Street, Newtownards and he was a son of Thomas and Mary Ann Murray (nee Graham) who were married on 16 October 1915 in St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland Church, Ballymacarrett, Belfast.
In civil marriage registration records it is recorded that Thomas Murray (aged 27), a soldier from 13 The Mount, Belfast was a son of Thomas Murray, a labourer, and that, Mary Ann Graham (aged 26), a servant from 13 The Mount, Belfast was a daughter of William Graham, a businessman.
1911 census records note that Mary Ann’s father, William Graham, was a general dealer and that he and his wife Agnes had eight children, including Mary Ann, whose age was recorded as 27. Mary Ann was 16 in the 1901 census when the Graham family lived in Wallace’s Street No. 1, Newtownards). In 1911 the Graham family lived at 8 Canal Row, Newtownards.
Mary Ann Graham was in fact born on 28 September 1884 in Zion Place, Newtownards, so she was 31 (and not 26) when she and Thomas Murray were married on 16 October 1915.
In civil birth registration records it is recorded that Mary Ann Graham had two children before she and Thomas Murray were married:
John Graham, known as Jacky, was born on 16 February 1910 in Canal Row, Newtownards and he used crutches throughout his life because of a spinal disability. Jacky Graham died on 26 May 1971 and was buried in Movilla Cemetery in the same grave as his half-sister Mina Wilson (nee Murray) and her husband James.
Mary Graham was born on 3 March 1913 in Canal Row, Newtownards and she died of tubercular meningitis on 30 December 1914. Mary was buried in the Graham family grave in Movilla Cemetery (Section 2 Grave 147 & 148), but she was not named on the headstone.
In civilian life Thomas Murray worked as a plumber’s helper and during the Great War he served as a Private with the 9th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 109th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division. He enlisted on 24 September 1915, lost an arm in the Battle of Cambrai, and was discharged from the Army on 2 October 1919. Known in his family as ‘Old Tam’, he suffered from shell shock (the term coined in the First World War to describe the type of post traumatic stress disorder many soldiers were afflicted with.
Thomas and Mary Ann Murray (nee Graham) had at least six children:
Robert (born 21 September 1917 in Canal Row, Newtownards when his father was on active service in France; died 21 October 1917 as the result of ‘opium poisoning inadvertently administered’)
Sydney (born 26 January 1919 in Queen Street, Newtownards)
Agnes (born 5 July 1920 in Brown’s Lane, Newtownards; married Sam Hiller; died 11 March 1994 in Australia)
Wilhelmina (Mina, born around 1921/1922; married James Wilson)
Mary (Molly, born around 1923/1924; unmarried)
During the Second World War Sydney Murray served with the Royal Air Force before being discharged on medical grounds.
In civilian life Sydney Murray lived at 25 Bangor Road, Newtownards and he worked as a fitter. He was 24 when he died of tuberculosis on 6 August 1943.
Ex-Air Gunner Sydney Murray is commemorated on the Murray family grave headstone in Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards:
ERECTED BY THOMAS AND MARY A. MURRAY
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
THEIR SON SYDNEY MURRAY AIR GUNNER R.A.F.
DIED 6TH AUGUST 1943
ALSO THEIR SON ANGUS, DIED IN INFANCY
ALSO THE ABOVE MARY A. DIED 14TH APRIL 1963
ALSO HER HUSBAND THOMAS
DIED 30TH JANUARY 1978
And on a Brass Plaque:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
AGNES HILLER (NEE MURRAY)
5-7-20 – 11-3-94
LOVING MOTHER OF
SYDNEY AND JACQUELINE
AND THEIR FAMILIES
HOME AT LAST
A family source has confirmed that the child who died in infancy was always referred to as Angus – the name inscribed on the headstone. Only one child dying in infancy was ever mentioned by family members. In civil registration records the child who died in infancy was named as Robert. It is possible that Angus and Robert are one and the same person.
Agnes Hiller (nee Murray) named her son Sydney after her brother who died.
During the Second World War, Agnes Hiller worked in a Munitions Factory (a reserved industry) and then, when war ended and she was able to do so, served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) from August 1945 until 1949.
Agnes Hiller’s husband Sam was one of six brothers who served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Sam joined the Navy in 1937 and was invalided out in May 1948 as the result of a knee injury. Sam served aboard several vessels but, for the longest time, aboard the aircraft carrier, HMS Victorious, from her commissioning in May 1941 until October 1946.
One of the six Hiller brothers was killed in action. Able Seaman Benjamin Arthur Hiller (No. D/SSX 27599) served aboard HMS Edinburgh and died when this ship was torpedoed and sunk on 2 May 1942. HMS Edinburgh was carrying gold bullion from Murmansk to the UK.