Thursday, 27 February 2014

Company Sergeant Major McIlwaine 12th Batt Royal Irish Rifles. North Street Carrickfergus

Not all of our stories are of the men who were lost during the war and there are many detailed accounts of those who served and returned to normal life following the years of fighting. 

Company Sergeant Major James Coudy McIlwaine 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.  Born 30th July 1891, lived North Street Carrickfergus.  He enlisted in September 1914 and was demobilised today in 1918. 

James was the son of James Snr and Annie McIlwaine and brother to John and Gilbert who also served with the 12th Battalion.  In 1901 the family are recorded as living in house 123, West Division, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim.    On 5th December 1907 McIlwaine joined Northern Bank at Head Office and from then until 1913 he worked in various bank locations in Belfast and Coleraine.  By 1911, the family have moved to 8 North Street in Carrickfergus where James Snr ran a fruit shop and James Jnr is recorded as a Bank Official.  On ‘Ulster Day’, Saturday, 28th September 1912, McIlwaine signed the Ulster Covenant at Carrickfergus Court House.   Whilst working in Coleraine James volunteered and enlisted on 16th September 1914 with the 12th Battalion Rifles.  He joined the British Expeditionary Force and was promoted first to Lance Corporal and then to Corporal.  Service was seen in the Somme 1916 (where he was taken prisoner), Messines 1917, Ypres 1917 (Langemarck), St. Quentin 1918, Mesines 1918 (Kemmel) and then the Allied Advance 1918.   Demobilisation came in February 1918.  He was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British Victory Medal and the British War Medal.  After the war James went back to work with the Northern Bank for many years were he eventually reached the position of Assistant Chief Cashier in head office. 

(Thanks go to the Northern BankRoll of Honour for much of this detailed information)

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