Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch
Coagh - Those That Served
602253   Private Robert Howe
Dated added: 30/12/2015
Last updated: 24/01/2019
Personal Details
13th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Canadian Army)
Date Of Birth:
03/06/1916 (Died of Wounds)
Robert Howe was born on 29th November 1889 and was the son of William and Mary Howe of Coagh and later of Belfast Before emigrating to Canada he served his time in the drapery business with Mr. Joseph Geddes, Cookstown and spent six years in the Royal Irish Constabulary. In May 1916 he was seriously wounded, and die in hospital on 3rd June 1916. Robert is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.
 Robert Howe
Further Information
Robert Howe was the son of William and Mary Howe (nee McKeown). Robert was born on 29th November 1889 in Coagh, County Tyrone.
The 1901 census records Robert as age 12 living with the family at house 6 in Hanover Street, in Coagh. He was still attending Tamlaght National School, in Coagh. His father was a Constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary (RI.C.).
Robert served his time in the drapery business with Mr Joseph Geddes of Cookstown.
Family: William Howe, Mary Jane Howe, William James Howe (born 3rd August 1885), Thomas John Howe (born 11th January 1887), Robert Howe (born 29th November 1888), Charles Howe (born 7th July 1891), Lily F Howe (born 24th February 1893), Ethel M Howe (born 16th March 1898), Clara Howe (born 7th July 1903).
Robert’s father, William Howe, died on 18th March 1909.
The 1911 census records that Robert no longer lived with the family.
Robert spent six years in the Royal Irish Constabulary, being stationed in Queen’s County and Lurgan, and also at Cullingtree Road Barracks, Belfast.
Robert Howe photo
While living in Belfast he was attached to Abercorn Memorial Masonic Lodge No 347.
Robert Howe emigrated to Canada.
Robert volunteered on 11 January 1915 at Guelph, Ontario, naming his mother as next of kin, and joining the 13th Battalion Canadian Infantry.
Canadian Attestion Papers - Robert Howe 1/2
Canadian Attestion Papers - Robert Howe 2/2
Much of his training took place at Shorncliffe and Bramshott Camps.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 11th December 1915: Coagh
Sergeant R Howe and Private J Shaw, both belonging to the 34th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, hailing from London, Ontario, Canada, and at present at training at Bramsholt Camp, near Liphook, Hants, England, paid a four day visit last week to Mrs Howe. They are both in the best of health and spirits and seem to enjoy a soldier’s life. He was in Canada at the beginning of hostilities, and very pluckily joined the colours, soon after which he became sergeant. His many friends in Coagh wish him success.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 11th March 1916: 100 R.I.C. Men as Army Sergeants
Newspaper Report
In response to the authorities’ appeal to constables of the R.I.C. to undergo a course training at Portobello Barracks, Dublin, the response has been good, and over one hundred have been selected. These men went up for training on Monday last. The arrangement is that if, after eight weeks instruction, they pass the necessary test, they rank immediately as sergeants in the Army, having the right to select the Irish regiment they wish to join. Of eight men selected from Tyrone, four are from the Cookstown district, namely Constable Ryan from Coagh, Constables Fox and Howe from Rock and Constable Loughlin from Broughderg. The latter has just been transferred from Broughderg to Dungannon on the day he got intimation of his selection. Constable Howe, whose mother (widow of an R.I.C. man) resides in Coagh, has a brother at present serving who is well known in Cookstown. He served his time to the drapery business with Mr Joseph Geddes, afterwards joining the R.I.C. After a short term of service however, he emigrated and was doing well in Canada when war broke out. He volunteered and is now a sergeant in a Canadian unit at the front.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 11th March 1916: Coagh
Newspaper Report
Constable Ryan has joined the army. He left for Dublin on Monday, where he will be in training for eight weeks, and if he succeeds in passing the necessary test, he will be promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the army, and getting selecting any regiment he wants to join. All his friends in Coagh wish him good luck. Another Coagh R.I.C. man, Constable Charles Howe (son of Mrs Howe, Coagh), has also joined. Previous to joining he was stationed at Rock.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 15th April 1916: Coagh Soldiers at the Front
Newspaper Report
Private Edward McGuckin, a native of Coagh, in a letter to the Mail dated 22nd March, says that all the Coagh boys are well and in good fighting form, although they have been constantly in the trenches for the past eight weeks. They are well accustomed to jack Johnstons, whizz bangs, trench mortars, and such other scrap as the ‘Germhuns’ treat them to. Private John McMullan is going strong, so strong in fact that he has been nicknamed the ‘whizz bang’. Other Coagh boys are known as ‘Rifle Grenade Sands’, ‘Trench Mortar Currie’ and ‘Barbed Wire Hudson’. Another chum from Aughnacloy, and well known in Coagh, is George Marshall. As the letter was been written he was singing mournfully in the dugout ‘I want to go home’, but his comrades know well that he does not want any such thing, at least until he sees the Huns in final retreat homewards. They had the din of guns instead of drums on Patrick’s Day. They were all glad to see that Constables Howe and Ryan had joined the colours, and wish them the best of luck. Sands and Hudson feel rather sore about some recent marriages, and fear there won’t be any Coagh girls (left) when they return victoriously home. The writer concludes by wishing the good old ‘Mid’ every success.
Private Robert Howe was serving with the 13th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry when he was seriously wounded in May 1916.
Private Robert Howe died in hospital of his wounds on 3rd June 1916.
The Canadian Circumstances of Death Register records that Private Howe died of wounds at No 10 Casualty Clearing Station, the result of shrapnel wounds to the abdomen.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 17th June 1916:
Newspaper Report
HOWE – June 3, died of wounds received in action, Sergeant R Howe. 13th Battalion, 1st Canadian Division, son of Mrs Howe, Main Street, Coagh, aged 27 years.
‘He has died for his country, what more could he do?’
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 17th June 1916: Sergeant Robert Howe
Newspaper Report
Newspaper Report
On Monday last the sad intimation was received by Mrs Howe, Coagh, that her son, Sergeant Robert Howe, had died of wounds received in action by the following letter from the Rev A D Brooke, chaplain:-
“I am very sorry indeed to tell you that your son, Sergeant Robert Howe, died in hospital on 3rd June. He was admitted just a few hours before with serious wounds in the abdomen and thigh and was conscious only a short time, during which I was with him and prayed with him and did all I could to help to comfort him. I told him I would write to you and he sent you his dearest love. That was his only message. He soon became unconscious and later, in spite of all the doctor’s efforts, he passed quietly away without feeling any pain. He was buried with Church services in the Military Cemetery on the Poperinghe-Baeschepe Road. His grave will be marked with a cross bearing his name. Please accept my deepest sympathy and I hope you will feel he was not alone but with friends who did their very best for him. His personal effects will all be sent to you later by the authorities.”
The late sergeant Howe, who was only 27 years of age, volunteered in January 1915 from Guelph, Ontario, Canada, where he had been for about a year. Before going out, he was six years on the R.I.C., been stationed in Queen’s County and Lurgan and also Cullingtree Road Barracks, Belfast, from where he resigned. When in Belfast he was attached to Abercorn Memorial Masonic Lodge No 347, and in Belfast, as well as other places he had been, he made a wide circle of friends. He received his training at Shorncliffe and Bramshott Camps and in May last he was sent to the danger zone where, in his second engagement in the vicinity of Ypres, he got mortally wounded, dying on the evening he was admitted in the Field Hospital. Great sympathy is felt for his grief stricken mother, sisters and brothers, one of whom, Charles, is at present attached to the Royal Irish Rifles as drill instructor in Celley Park, Reading, having also formerly been a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary (R.I.C.)
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 2nd September 1916:
‘During my time of acquaintance with Bob I always found him the soul of kindness and sympathy, both in the Provincial Service and in the army. He was respected and beloved by all who knew him, both officers and men. He was an able and efficient soldier, and thoroughly patriotic, and gave his life in the cause of overthrowing the most tyrannical and cruel monster the world has ever known.’
Mrs Howe, Coagh, whose son, Sergeant Robert Howe, of the Canadians, died of wounds some weeks ago, as already reported, has received a letter from a chum of the late Sergeant (Private David Baxter), who joined with him in Canada on the same day, and who came with him to France. Both had been in the Provincial Government Service in Canada, and kept together up to the time Sergeant Howe was wounded: ‘Struck down by a shell splinter on his way up to the trenches.’ As a result of this wound he died later in hospital. The writer continues:-
The letter concludes with a kindly expression of sorrow and sympathy.
Robert’s brother, Charles Howe, was a Constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary (R.I.C.), stationed in Rock, County Tyrone. He too enlisted. At the time of Robert’s death, Charles was attached to the Royal Irish Rifles as a drill instructor in Celley Park, Reading.
The photo below shows Private John Shaw (603137) on the left. John Shaw hailed from London. Private Shaw died three weeks after Robert. Robert Howe is on the right. In handwriting, on the reverse of the photo it states:- ‘Loyal chums to the end - Pte Shaw, Sgt Howe’
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 8th June 1918:
HOWE – In affectionate remembrance and ever-loving memory of Sergeant Robert Howe, 34th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force, son of the late William and Mrs Howe, Coagh, killed in action in 3rd June 1916, aged 27 years.
'He was one of many, who with patriotic pride
Unto their country’s clarion call courageously replied
To duty stern he did respond, his youthful life he gave
He died a fearless death and fills an honoured grave
Although two years have passed away, and we still miss him day by day
His battles fought, his trials o’er, and he has gained the brighter shore.'
Inserted by his loving mother, brothers and sisters and brother-in-law.
Private Howe is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.
The CWGC record Private Howe as the son of William and Mary Jane Howe, of 22 St Ives Gardens, Stranmillis, Belfast, Ireland. He was a native of Coagh, Co. Tyrone, Ireland.
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Relevant Coagh Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Hanover Street Coagh Village Census listing in Hanover Street 54.648521 -6.620814
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 Brother - Charles Howe Also served in the the war
2 Cookstown War Dead Full details on Cookstown War Dead
Coagh & District in WW1