Search for grave of Ballyclare soldier

Rifleman Samuel Hill, RIR.
Rifleman Samuel Hill, RIR.
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A Ballyclare man who undertook a church history project last year to unearth information about parishioners who fought in the First World War is appealing for local people to help him find out where one of the men is buried.

Stephen Moore, whose great uncle died in the war, has already gathered a lot of information about the 11 men from St John’s Church of Ireland who gave their lives for king and country. But mystery surrounds the final resting place of one of the men, Rifleman Samuel Hill.

Samuel, who served with the 12th Royal Irish Rifles, died in 1917 of illness contracted on active service.

It is thought that he may have been buried in Ballycor Old Graveyard, but it’s not known exactly where he was laid to rest. And adding to the mystery is the fact that a memorial headstone carrying Rifleman Hill’s name stands in the City Cemetery, Belfast.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is now planning to move the headstone to Ballycor Old Graveyard, so Mr Moore is trying to identify where exactly he’s buried.

“There is no local record that Samuel is actually buried in Ballycor Old Graveyard and there is nothing in the graveyard to indicate where he might be buried,” Mr Moore explained.

“The CWGC records show that the Town Clerk (Mr E Hill) had agreed to maintain the grave for an annual fee of seven shillings and six pennies, but clearly this was never done, and because the grave was not being maintained, this appears to be why a proper headstone was never erected.”

Mr Moore is hopeful that relatives of Samuel Hill, whose brother John also died during the 1914 - 18 conflict, might be able to help him identify the grave site.

“I am still trying to find local records about the case, but I would also like to track down some family members to see if they can help,” he continued.

“At the very least, if I was one of Samuel’s relatives, I would like to know where he is buried and would like to know of the CWGC’s plans to move his commemorative headstone to the graveyard where he is buried.

“Samuel had a number of brothers (John and David) and sisters (Aggie, Maggie and Annie) and at least one of these, Maggie (Margaret), got married in Christ Church, Ballynure. Maggie married James Wilson of 2 Main Street, Ballyclare on 11 May 1928 and they eventually had three children, twin girls Annie and Jamesena, and a son, Kenneth. I suppose it is possible all three could still be alive today.”

Mr Moore is appealing for anyone with information about where Samuel Hill is buried to call him on 07813 935363 or to email stephenrmoore@btinternet.com