Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch
Coagh - Those That Served
3035   Private Francis O'Neill
Dated added: 30/12/2015
Last updated: 29/04/2019
Personal Details
Regiment/Service:
2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army)
Date Of Birth:
20/06/1884
Died:
29/03/1915 (Killed in Action)
Age:
30
Summary
Francis O’Neill was the eldest son of Joseph and Lizzie O’Neill. He was born on 20th June 1884 in the Magherafelt area. He was one of at least twelve children. Francis lived in the Coagh – Moneymore area. He married Annie Devlin on 26th November 1908. Francis O’Neill enlisted in Omagh. Private Francis O’Neill was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in trenches at Festubert when he was killed in action on Monday 29th March 1915. Read more on Private Francis O'Neill.
Further Information
Francis O’Neill was the eldest son of Joseph and Lizzie O’Neill. Joseph O’Neill married Elizabeth Hunter on 23rd January 1876 in the district of Magherafelt.
Francis O’Neill born was born on 20th June 1884 in the Magherafelt area. He was one of at least twelve children.
Family: Joseph O’Neill, Lizzie O'Neill, Mary Jane O’Neill (born 30th July 1878), Thomas O’Neill (born 13th September 1880), Francis (Frank) O’Neill (born 15th January 1883), Francis (Frank) O’Neill (born 20th June 1884), Elizabeth O’Neill (born 23rd December 1886), Susan O’Neill (born 28th July 1889 in Workhouse), Peter O’Neill (born about 1890), Felix O’Neill (born 19th December 1891), Patrick O’Neill (born 10th July 1894), Joseph O’Neill (born 16th March 1895), Alice Trea O’Neill (born 16th August 1896), Margaret Jane O’Neill (born a 30th July 1898).
The 1901 census does not list Francis as living with the family at house 9 in Ballygillen More. Salterstown, County Londonderry. His father was a labourer.
The 1901 census lists Francis as age 18, a servant for the Brysons at house 15 in Ballynewy, Springhill, County Londonderry.
It is believed Francis O’Neill married Annie Devlin on 26th November 1908 in the district of Cookstown (GRONI Ref. M/1908/L1/2531/5/187).
The 1911 census does not list Francis as living with the family at house 8 in Ballynewy, Springhill, Moneymore. His father had re-married.
There is a possible 1911 census listing of Francis, age 25, a married farm servant at house 6 in Curr, Desertmartin, County Londonderry.
Francis O’Neill enlisted in Omagh. This may explain why some records suggest he was born in Omagh.
1915
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 3rd April 1915: Coagh
Private Frank O’Neill, of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, whose father resides at Ruskey, Coagh, has been wounded in action at the front, and was some time in hospital on the continent. Private O’Neill, who is a reserve man, was called out soon after the war started, and has had some narrow escapes. The first intimation of his being wounded was sent home by the War Office., but in a later letter from himself, he said he was all right again, and expected soon to be back in the theatre of war again.
Private Francis O’Neill was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in trenches at Festubert when he was killed in action on Monday 29th March 1915.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 7th April 1915: A County Derry Victim
Mr Patrick O’Neill, Carmean, Magherafelt, has received intimation from the officer commanding 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers that his brother, Private Francis O’Neill, was killed in action on the 29th March, and has been buried near the village of Festubert. Private O’Neill was well known in the Moneymore district, where he was a steady, reliable worker for several years.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 10th April 1915: Moneymore Soldier Killed
Mr Patrick O’Neill, Carmean, Magherafelt, has received intimation that his brother, No 3085, Private Francis O’Neill, was killed in action on the 29th March. Private O’Neill, who belonged to Moneymore, where he had been working for many years, was on the Special Reserve, and was called up at the commencement of the war, and was wounded some time ago. He had only just recovered from his wounds and had written to his relatives before going back to the trenches that he was better again; but he had just got back when he was killed. The following are letters received by his brother:-
‘Dear Sir, I much regret to have to report that your brother, No 3035, Private Francis O’Neill, was killed in action on 29th March 1915, and has been buried near the village of Festubert. His little personal belongings have been forwarded to you today under separate cover. Yours faithfully, Captain J R Stewart, for Lieutenant Colonel commanding 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 30th March 1915.’
‘Dear Sir, I thought it my duty, being the stretcher bearer of your brother’s company, to let you know your brother was killed on the 28th March 1915. He was a very nice man in my opinion, never caused any trouble in the company, and died very quietly. I hope this news will not be too much for you to bear – if you can let me know if this letter reaches you, including some letters I got off him when he was dying. So cheer up, and try to bear up; the sacrifice is great, but here will I hope be reward somewhere. I remain, your friend in need, 7991 Bandsman Devine, Stretcher Bearer.’
Stretcher Bearer Corporal Ernest Devine survived the war
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 8th May 1915: Coagh Soldier’s Message
Private P Walsh, of the Inniskillings, who has been some months in the firing line, in a letter to his wife, to resides at Coagh, says:-
'I am doing all right so far, but the war is not over yet. I think some of the Coagh boys ought to make fine soldiers, and they should join the colours. I saw Private O’Neill killed, being only fifty yards distant at the time. We are so near the German trenches at times, they shout over to us. There are a good many boys I know here, and we are in good spirits and doing our best to keep us the good name of Coagh. Please remember me to all.'
Frank O'Neill was the first of three brothers who died in the war in 1915. Private Peter O’Neill was killed in action on 30th May 1915, while his battalion was in Brigade reserve at White House, Gallipoli. Corporal Joseph O’Neill was killed in action in Salonika on 6th December 1915.
1916
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 29th January 1916:
Private James Devlin, at present a prisoner of war in Limburg, Germany, writes that he is quite well and received the parcels sent to him all right. His brother, John, also of the Inniskillings, has returned to his home at Ballinahone, Coagh, after having completed his term. Both brothers fought sided by side in some desperate engagements in the early days of the war and were both in the great struggle for Mons, when James was taken prisoner by the Germans. John afterwards took part in the battles of Messines, La Bassee, Pluggst Wood, etc, but he says the biggest fight was at Richburg, where he was wounded on 16th May in both hands very badly, one hand being almost blown off. He was two months in hospital in Rouen, from whence he was removed to Cardiff, and has now returned home. He still looks in the pink of condition after what he has come through. James’ brother-in-law, Private Peter O’Neill, who enlisted at the outbreak of war and fought with James at Mons, was afterwards shot at the Dardanelles, while his brother Joe has just been killed in action in France, making the third of the O’Neill family who has laid down his life for his country.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 1st April 1916:
Newspaper Report
O'NEILL – In affectionate remembrance of my dear brother, Frank O’Neill, who was killed in action March 20th 1915. ‘He died a soldier’s death, his life he gladly for his country gave’. Inserted by his loving sister, Maggie.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 10th June 1916: Tamlaght Church
On Sunday 28th May 1916, a memorial service was held in the above Church in honour of the heroic men who recently lost their lives on the field of battle. Hymns suitable to the occasion were used, as also additional authorised prayers. Before sermon, the rector, (Rev. J B Cooper, B.A.) read the names of the fallen:- Peter O’Neill, Joseph O’Neill, Frank O’Neill, Robert Burgess, Peter Little, John McMullen, Robert Sands. The text chosen was from Rev. 21-1, and parts of verses 4 and 5. Before closing, the preacher alluded to the many whose careers had been abruptly closed; of true self-sacrifice in this life has its reward. A portion of one of the Collects from the Burial Office was read after the sermon.
1918
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 30th March 1918:
O’NEILL – In fond remembrance of my brother, Frank O’Neill, Royal Inniskillings, killed in action at Festubert, 30th March1915.
'Sleep! Soldier! Sleep! Thy warfare o’er
Not thine own bugles loudest strain
Shall ever break thy slumbers more
With summons of the battle plain
A trumpet-note more loud and deep
Must rouse thee from that leaden sleep!'
Inserted by Maggie O’Neill
Memorials
Private Francis O’Neill is buried in Browns Road Cemetery, France.
The CWGC records Francis as the son of Joseph O'Neill of Ruskey, Coagh, County Tyrone. He is also recorded as the husband of Annie O'Neill, of Ballygruby, Moneymore, County Derry.
Read more
Relevant Coagh Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Ballynewy Rouskey Census listing in Ballynewy 54.667674 -6.626281
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 Cookstown War Dead Full details on Cookstown War Dead
Coagh & District in WW1
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