Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch
Coagh - Those That Served
Updates for Rifleman William John Greer
Date Information
27/12/2016 A death notice in a Belfast newspaper records that his wife, Sarah Elizabeth Greer, lived at 24 Majorca Street, Belfast with their ‘little children’.
27/12/2016 The 1901 census lists William J as age 17, working as a farm servant at house 1 in Ballynargan, Coagh for the Gray family. Ballynargan lies between Coagh and Stewartstown.
27/12/2016 William John Greer married Sarah Elizabeth Arbuthnot on 20th April 1908 at Great Victoria Street Presbyterian Church, Shankill, Belfast.
27/12/2016 The 1911 census lists William John as age 26, living with his family at house 11 in Tullyveagh, Coagh. William was an agricultural labourer. By this time he and Sarah have one child, James, born in Tyrone.
27/12/2016 Family (estimated): William John Greer, Sarah Elizabeth Greer, James Greer (born 5th March 1910, Stewartstown), Mary Greer (born 24th September 1911, Stewartstown), William Greer (born 24th December 1913, Belfast), Sarah Greer (born 22nd February 1916, Belfast).
27/12/2016 From the children’s birth locations, it seems that the family moved to Belfast in 1912-13.
27/12/2016 William Greer enlisted in Belfast.
27/12/2016 The 10th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles was raised in Belfast from the Belfast Volunteers and did much of their training at Newcastle, Ballykinlar and Seaford.
27/12/2016 They landed at Boulogne in October 1915. Their training continued until just prior to the start of the Somme Offensive.
27/12/2016 William John Greer was born at Mawillian, Cookstown about 1885.
27/12/2016 William’s wife Sarah received a letter from Captain Glendenning of the 10th Royal Irish Rifles dated 27 July 1916 offering his condolences. It states that he was 'one of the most reliable men in the Lewis Gun team' and was 'killed by machine gun fire when he was going over the top of our front line trench'.
27/12/2016 There is a possibility that in 1901 William and the family were living in Belfast (see references), but both William’s census age and birthplace contradict this.
27/12/2016 Rifleman W J Greer has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France.
27/12/2016 Rifleman William Greer is also commemorated on Coagh Presbyterian Roll of Honour.
27/12/2016 From the Belfast Telegraph dated 29th July 1916:-
27/12/2016 For King and Country. Greer – Killed in action on July 1, 1916, Rifleman Wm. John Greer, R. I. Rifles (South Belfast Volunteers).
27/12/2016 The midnight stars are shining, on a face I cannot see,
27/12/2016 Where sleeping without dreaming, lies the one so dear to me.
27/12/2016 A face still loved, though sadly missed, his smile that was so bright,
27/12/2016 he was so thoughtful, good, and kind, time slumbers now in a soldier’s grave.’
27/12/2016 Inserted by his sorrowing wife and little children. Sarah Elizabeth Greer, 24 Majorca Street.
27/12/2016 Rifleman William John Greer was serving with the 10th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles when he was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on Saturday 1st July 1916.
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Coagh & District in WW1
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