Saturday, 20 February 2010

Boar War, A Professional and a Bracelet

I have assumed for a long time that the earliest conflict in which a clan member was involved was the First World War. But not so! I have come across an Australian internet site which names John McIlhagga among the 'Soldiers of the Queen in the Second Anglo-Boar War 1899 - 1902'. He was in the 134th Company, the 29th Battalion, The Imperial Yeomanry. Incidentally another John for whom we have a WW1 Medal Card served in the Royal Artillery 1914 - 1920. Unfortunately at present I do not know where either John fits into a Clan Family Tree.

The Great War medal list also includes W.B. McIlhagger who was in France with the Royal Irish Rifles and then with the Royal Engineers. This was probably William Boyd McIlhagger, born 8 December 1880 in Shankill, Belfast, who is in the 1901 Census in Hampshire, England, with the Sapper 60th Company, Royal Engineers. This surely means that he was a professional soldier, and another pre-World War One serviceman. We do know which Family Tree he belongs to. He was the second son of George McIlhagger and Mary Ann Boyd, and on 6th May 1908 married Eleanor McArthur in Lynn Memorial Methodist Church, Belfast. They were to have three daughters and a son William who in turn had two sons, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, including one boy to continue the name line.

Another Military Matter has arisen. The organiser of Donal Buckley Military Tours in Ireland has passed on to me a request from a gentleman in County Mayo. Apparently he has a bracelet made up of coins and a miniature medal which was given to Mary Ellen the widow of John Hutchinson McIlhagga after he was killed at Passchendale in 1917. He would like the medal to go to someone in John's family as an 'heirloom' if possible. I don't think John and Mary had any children. I have however identified two nephews and two great-nieces. It may be right for one of them to inherit this item. On the other hand someone else may make themselves known who has a better claim. The miniature medal is perhaps a Canadian 'Widow's Penny' or 'Death Penny', so-called, issued after the First World War. Interestingly the bracelet found its way from Canada on to a Yorkshire, England bric-a-brac stall over thirty years ago where I presume its present owner found it. He is to be highly commended for wishing to pass it back to a McIlhagga family.

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