Wednesday, 12 November 2014

William Alexander Hunter, Royal Irish Rifles

NAME; Hunter, William Alexander 
RANK; Rifleman
SERV. NO;18/1559
UNIT/SERVICE;18th then 12th Battalion
REGIMENT; Royal Irish Rifles
BORN;Carrickfergus, 1898
LIVED; Ellis Street, Carrickfergus
ENLISTED; January to April 1916
FATE; Survived the war
CHURCH; Joymount Presbyterian and St Nicholas Church Of Ireland
REMARKS; William Alexander Hunter was born in Carrickfergus in 1898 the son of a baker, William Hunter and Mary Hunter.  By 1911 William was living with his parents and brothers Robert, Hugh, Harry, Thomas and Charles in Ellis Street.  When war broke out in 1914 William was only 16 and not eligible to enlist and had to wait until early 1916 when he was attested to the 18th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, a reserve and depot Battalion of the 11th and 12th R.I.R.  Following his training he was eventually transferred into the 12th Battalion in 1917.  At this stage we are not sure were he served but he survived the war and was awarded the British and Victory Medals.  

After the war he married Jane Simms and had two sons Williams and Samuel and two daughters Maureen and Jean.  He worked in the Ordinance Depot in the town as a tailor and became an active member member of LOL 787 and Masonic Lodge No 43.  By all accounts he was very well known around the town and keep in close contacts with the many Great War veterans around the area organising the 12th Battalion Comrades day each year.

William in his Royal Irish Rifles uniform 

William died on 22nd June 1948 aged only 50 and is buried in St Nicholas Church Yard.  A testament to his character the Carrickfergus Advertiser ran the following story of his funeral;

"The death of Mr William A Hunter, Ellis Street, Carrickfergus, which took place on Tuesday last after a short illness occasioned much sorrow in the town where he was a well known and much respected member of the community for many years, and sincere sympathy is expressed with his sorrowing wife and family.

The funeral took place on Thursday from his residence, where the service was conducted by the Rev. T. Carlisle, MA.  While the flag-draped casket was being borne from the house the Carrickfergus Flute Band played sacred music and then the long cortege which included representatives of all walks of life in the town and district moved to St Nicholas Cemetery to the solemn music of the Dead March in "Saul" played by the band.  Included in the cortege was a contingent of the 12th R.I.R Old Comrades Association (Carrickfergus Branch) in which were many many comrades he had served with in the First World War.  There were also representatives of Carrickfergus Masonic Lodge No 43 and of Woodburn Ebenezer L.O.L 787.  Chief mourners were William R and Samuel Simms Hunter, sons, James Hunter, brother, and G Hume, son in law.

Arriving at the cemetery his old comrades of the 12th R.I.R formed a cordon of honour from the hearse to the graveside and through this his coffins was carried while the Carrickfergus Flute Band, under Mr John Murdy, played "Abide With Me."  The graveside service was conducted by Rev T Carlisle.  
Floral tributes included wreaths from the family and relatives from Carrickfergus Amateur Flute Band, 1st Batt R.I.R Old Comrades Association, Masonic Lodge 43, Woodburn Ebenezer Lodge 787 and from the Commanding Officer, warrant officers and fellow workers of the Royal Ordinance.  

The passing of Mr Wm. A. Hunter is all the more poignant as he was up to the time of his death making preparations for the visit of General Steele to Carrickfergus on First of July.  He was in charge of the arrangements and looking forward to the day with great interest.  He was also in charge of the arrangements for the local branch of the 12th Old Comrades in connection with the annuall reunion of the R.I.R Old Comrades which will take place this year.  Unfortunately death cut short his activities and when his old comrades meet these functions thoughts will turn to their much valued and well-beloved comrade who has answered the last call of all".

St Nicholas Church Yard.  

William's British and Victory Medals

1 comment:

  1. Civil Marriage
    Date of Marriage 12 Feb 1897
    Groom Name William HUNTER
    Bride Name Mary CRAIG
    Church Magheramorne Presbyterian Church
    Parish Glynn
    Civil District Larne
    County Antrim

    U/1898/132/1016/21/340 William Hunter 2nd January 1898 Male Craig Larne(pre-1973 Q4)

    Civil Marriage
    Date of Marriage 8 Jul 1921
    Groom Name William Alexander HUNTER
    Bride Name Jane SIMMS
    Church Joymount Presbyterian Church
    Parish Carrickfergus
    Civil District Larne
    County Antrim