Thursday, 27 October 2016

Remembering Riflemen John Butler & James O'Neill - 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles

Carrickfergus remembers today:  Riflemen John Butler - 9064 & James O'Neill  - 9183 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.  Both lived in Carrickfergus prior to enlisting, they were both members of the Roman Catholic church in the town and were already serving in the British Army when war broke out in 1914.  They were posted to France with the 2nd Battalion in August 1914 and following heavy were killed in action on 27th October 1914 during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle.  Their bodies were never recovered and they are forever remember on Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais France.  

Le Touret Memorial 

John Butler was born in Whitehouse the son of John and Jane Butler (nee Gormley) and lived in Fairymount Carrickfergus.  A Pre-War Regular serving with the Royal Irish Rifles he was posted to France in August 1914 with the 2nd Battalion.  He was killed in action on 27 October 1914 during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, his body was never recovered and he is forever remembered on Le Touret Memorial Panel 42 and 43.  His two brothers William and Martin also killed in action.

James O'Neill  was born in the Shankill area of Belfast in 1878 the son of James and Lizzie O'Neill.  He grew up in the Minorca area of Carrickfergus and by 1911 was working as a chimney sweep and living in Davy’s Street with his wife Margaret O'Neill and their children Nicholas and Margaret. It is not clear when James joined the army, he was either a pre-war regular or a territorial and as such was one of the first to be sent into action in 1914.  He served in France from 11 September 1914 with the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and died in fighting during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle 27 October 1914 aged 36.   James body was never recovered and he is forever remembered on Le Touret Memorial in Pas de Calais France.

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