Wright, Robert Ebenezer (Robert)
Civilian War Dead
Died as the result of enemy action on Thursday 17 April 1941 (aged 41)
Bangor Cemetery, Co. Down (Section 1. C. Grave 11)
Between 10.45 pm on Easter Tuesday 15 April and 4.30 am on Wednesday 16 April 1941 there was a large-scale German Luftwaffe air raid on the City of Belfast. Other nearby towns and villages, including Bangor and Newtownards, were also attacked. Areas of Bangor where bombs were reported to have fallen, included Ashley Gardens, Bangor Golf Clubhouse, Baylands, Farnham Road, Hazeldene Gardens and Ranfurly Avenue. Fires blazed on Scrabo Hill, Newtownards and bombs fell on Green Road, Conlig and Comber Road, Newtownards. At least 30 people with North Down and Ards connections were killed, including the following 16 civilians.
- Matilda Grattan together with her daughters Angeline Grattan and Shelagh Grattan who died at 40 Ashley Gardens in Bangor.
- Margaret Byers Watt who died at 5 Hazeldene Gardens in Bangor.
- Robert Wright of 32 Baylands, Bangor (CWGC records) who died of his injuries in Bangor Hospital.
- Edith, Henry, Isabella, and William Dunwoody; Nancy Simms Gribbin; Thomas Morton; William Henry Taggart; Bessie, Ellen Ogle, and Evelyn Tate; James Thompson who all died in Belfast.
That night the aerodrome at Newtownards, which was the Headquarters of 231 Squadron, Royal Air Force was attacked. The aerodrome was guarded by soldiers of the 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, some of whom were too young for front line service and were deployed instead on the home front. Newtownards aerodrome was attacked with a considerable number of incendiary bombs and some high explosive bombs. One high explosive bomb that fell on the hutments of ‘A’ Company Headquarters killed 13 men, all of whom served with the 70th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Most were killed instantly, and the remainder died the following day as the result of their injuries:
- Fusilier William Bellamy (aged 28)
- Fusilier Samuel Burke (aged 18)
- Lance Corporal Alexander Carlisle
- Fusilier Andrew Copling (aged 16)
- Fusilier Hugh Fulton (aged 17)
- Fusilier George Graham
- Fusilier Daniel Higgins
- Fusilier Leslie Love (aged 34)
- Fusilier Samuel McFarland (aged 19)
- Company Quartermaster Sergeant William McMurray (aged 27)
- Fusilier Ernest McNeill (aged 17)
- Warrant Officer Class II Alfred Penfold (aged 36)
- Fusilier Matthew Wright (aged 18)
The casualties were all taken to Ards District Hospital in Newtownards.
There was another casualty with an Ards connection who died during the night of 15/16 April 1941. Flight Lieutenant Wilfrid Mark Hamilton Brookes (aged 23) of 231 Squadron who was in Belfast at the time was killed during the air raid.
Robert Ebenezer Wright was born on 22 June 1900 in the townland of Drumgath, Newry, and he was a son of Robert and Jane Wright (nee Cairns) of Drumgath, Newry, Co. Down. Jane was a daughter of Ebenezer Cairns. Robert Wright was a farmer and he and Jane Cairns were married on 14 August 1899 in Newry Registrar’s Office. They had at least three children:
Robert Ebenezer (born 22 June 1900 in Drumgath)
Samuel Joseph (born 3 August 1901 in Drumgath)
John (born 17 February 1903 in Drumgath)
Robert Ebenezer Wright and Louisa (sometimes Louise) Maxwell were married on 25 June 1929 in Lisburn Registrar’s Office. Robert Ebenezer Wright, a farmer from Ballysallagh, Newtownards was a son of Robert Wright, a farmer. Louisa Maxwell from Ashvale House, Carryduff, was a daughter of Thomas Robert Maxwell, a farmer. Louisa was born on 18 June 1898 in the townland of Clontonakelly and her mother was Margaret Ellen Hughes Maxwell (nee Murdoch). Louisa’s father died at Ashvale House on 11 December 1928, and Louisa’s mother died at Ashvale House on 28 June 1929, three days after Louisa’s wedding.
Robert and Louise Wright had at least one child, a son named Max.
There is no substantive evidence as to where Robert Ebenezer Wright was when he was fatally injured (he died in Bangor Hospital). His death certificate describes him as ‘late of 2nd Avenue, Baylands, Bangor’ and notes as the cause of death, ‘shock and haemorrhage due to perforating wound of abdomen due to enemy action’. It was the Matron who registered his death.
According to his will abstract, ‘Robert Ebenezer Wright of Ashvale House, Carryduff and 9 Hazeldene Gardens, Bangor worked as an estate agent and his effects amounted to some £1,665’. Probate was granted to his widow Louise.
Robert Ebenezer Wright’s funeral was reported in the 26 April 1941 edition of the County Down Spectator. Prior to the interment in Bangor Cemetery on 20 April ‘an impressive service was held in connection with the Plymouth Brethren congregation of which Mr Wright was a member’.
Of the many civilians of the Commonwealth whose deaths were due to enemy action in the Second World War, the names of some 67,092 are commemorated in the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour, located near St. George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey, London.
Robert Wright is commemorated on the family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery as is his wife Louise who died on 8 December 1969. There is an inscription on the headstone:
I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVETH