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Sunday 12 May 2024

Knox, Samuel Wright

Captain Samuel (Sam) Wright Knox
Knox was born at Mount Sandel Cottage, Coleraine on 21st February 1869 to Robert Kyle Knox, Solicitor and Sara Knox nee Twigg. They had married at St George's Parish Church, Dublin on 17th January 1866.
Knox joined Northern Bank in 1885.
By 1901, Knox has married Lucy Grace O'Brien and they are living in house 11, Clifton Street, Belfast with Lucy's brother, Brian. Knox's children are Robert Kyle (2) and Lucy (0). A visitor, Mary McCoach and 2 servants, Isabella Bond and Ellen Ken are also in the house. Sam's occupation is recorded as a Bank Clerk.  
By 1911, Knox was living in house 9, Somerton Road, Duncairn Ward, Belfast with his wife and 3 of his children; Dorothy Ann (10), Brian (6) and Mary Elizabeth (2). His mother-in-law and sister-in-law, Mary Dickson and Hilda Eveline Dickson were also in the house along with a governess, Annie Jane Ferguson Sproule and 2 servants, Sarah Jane McWilliam and Catherine Pidd. His occupation is described as a Bank Director. 
Robert and William were boarding at a school in house 61.2, Ulverton Road, Dalkey, Dublin.

  • Dorothy Ann Knox was born on 16th August 1900 at 11 C1 Clifton Street, Belfast. Her birth was registered on 12th February 1917 with the authority of the Register General. Sam's occupation is recorded as a Captain in the 16th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. 

  • William O'Brien Knox was born on 9th November 1901 at 11 Clifton Street, Belfast. His birth was registered on 12th February 1917 with the authority of the Register General. Sam's occupation is recorded as a Captain in the 16th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. 

  • Robert Kyle Knox was born on 19th July 1898 at 74 Antrim Road, Belfast. Sam's occupation is recorded as an Accountant. Robert would later join the Northern Bank and serve with distinction in the Great War.

  • Brian Knox was born on 14th May 1904 at 'Avondale', Fortwilliam Park, Belfast. Sam's occupation is recorded as a Bank Clerk.

  • Mary Elizabeth Knox was born on 8th February 1909. Sam's occupation is recorded as a Banker.

Knox was based in Head Office when he volunteered and enlisted into the 16th
 Bn. Royal Irish Rifles.

Northern Bank, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast

He was then attached to Royal Artillery at Flamertigue (Ypres) 1917 and is recorded as seeing action at the Somme 1916 (Thiepval), Messines 1917 and Ypres 1917 (Passchendaele). 
Knox was wounded twice and then invalided out of the service in February 1918. 
He resigned his commission to resume civic duties and was granted the honorary rank of Captain on 14th March 1918. 

The Belfast News Letter of 14th March 1918 reports:

In 1921 he was serving as a Director of Northern Bank.
When the Ulster Tower was opened in 1921 at Thiepval, France, trees were planted in memory of the officers and men who died there.  Tree markers were made and erected with the trees. At a later date, after the trees had died out, the markers were disposed of in a skip. Some were rescued and are now in the Albert Museum, France. This marker records a tree planted on behalf of the 'British Legion' by Capt S W Knox.

Picture courtesy of Valerie Quinn & John McCormick

The 1925 published 'Northern Banking Company Limited, 1824-1924 Centenary Volume has this photo of S W Knox in it.

Belfast Boat Club - Roll of Honour

The Northern Whig of 24th August 1929 reported the death of Captain S W Knox on 23rd August 1929:

Knox was a keen sportsman involved in rowing for Trinity College, cricket, football and was a member of Royal Belfast, Royal Portrush, Royal County Down and Malone Golf Clubs.

Lyness, William James

An article based on this biography appeared in the History Hub Ulster website
Captain William James Lyness MC and 2 Bars, Croix de Guerre
Lyness was born at Tullyard, Moira on 22nd July 1895 to William John Lyness, Farmer and Frances Mary Lyness nee Logan. They had married on 26th November 1884 at St John's, Moira.

In 1901 Lyness (6, as he was known) was living in house 15, Tullyard, Moira with his parents and 6 siblings; Thomas (14), Lizzie (11), Henrietta (10), Isaac (7), Richard (3) and Frances (1). An uncle, Robert Lyness and 2 servants, Sandy Kirkwood and Hessie Murphy were also living in the house.

In 1911 the family were living in house 1, Tullyard, Moira. The parents and 5 children; Eveline (22), Anna Elizabeth (21), Richard (13), Frances (12) and Ida (9). A servant, Margaret Burns was also living in the house.

Lyness was at school at house 7.2, Derry, Lurgan, Co. Armagh. This was the boarding department of Lurgan College.

On 'Ulster Day', 28th September 1912, members of the Lyness' family, Isaac, James and Thomas signed the Ulster Covenant at the Moira Demesne and Market House.

1913 brought Jimmy Lyness success in obtaining a pass in his bank examinations.

Mid Ulster Mail - 7th June 1913

Lyness joined the Belfast Bank and is recorded as working in College Green, Dublin branch. His father signed the Bankers Guarantee.

Belfast Bank - Bankers Guarantee ledger sheet

Belfast Bank, College Green branch

Lyness  served with the Royal Irish Rifles and attained the rank of Temporary Lieutenant (1916), Captain and Adjutant (1918). The bank photograph at the top of this page records him as being in the Royal Irish Fusiliers. His Medal Index Card records Royal Irish Rifles.

W J Lyness - Medal Index Card

The Belfast News Letter of 20th January 1917 reports:

Lyness embarked for France on 19th March 1917 saw action at Messines, Langemark, Cambrai and the Somme (1918).

The Belfast Banking Company 'Roll of Honour' booklet details Lyness as serving with the Royal Irish Rifles and that he had been awarded 'military honours' with his last known address as 'in France'.

The Belfast News Letter of 1st August 1917 reports:

The Belfast News Letter of 19th August 1917 reports:

The London Gazette of 17th September 1917 records his 1st citation as:

T./2nd Lt. William James Lyness, K. Ir. Rif.

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when clearing a wood with his platoon.  In spite of the! very strong resistance which he met, his dispositions and leadership were excellent, and after heavy fighting at various points he captured a large number of prisoners and guns of various calibre. His splendid gallantry and coolness proved invaluable as an example to his men."

The London Gazette of 18th October 1917 records Jimmy as being awarded a bar to his Military Cross with the citation to this 2nd award being published on 7th March 1919:

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When visiting his outpost line he was fired on by the enemy at forty yards range, whereupon he obtained a Lewis gun, stood up in full view of the enemy and fired it from his shoulder until it jammed. He then rushed the enemy post with two bombers, and cleared them out.  He had already led a successful attack on the two preceding nights, and it was entirely due to his initiative and personal courage, in spite of three days without sleep, that his posts were established and our position made secure.”

The Belfast News Letter of 19th October 1917 reports:

The Belfast News Letter of 9th March 1918 reports:

The Belfast News Letter of 13th September 1918 reports:

The Belfast News Letter of 8th October 1918 reports:

The London Gazette of 10th January 1919 records a 3rd citation as:

T./Lt. (A./Capt.) William James Lyness, M.C.; 12th Bn., R. Ir. Rif.

"When the right flank of the brigade war held up he went forward to reconnoitre and unexpectedly met with a nest of machine guns and about fifty of the enemy, who opened very heavy fire. With great difficulty he made his way back, got a Lewis gun and a man with a supply of magazines and went

forward again, engaged the strong point, firing eleven magazines, killing the majority of the enemy, and capturing a machine gun.  He then led the flank forward about 500 yards and straightened out the line.  The man with him was killed and he was wounded.  He showed great gallantry and determination.

(M.C. gazetted 17th September, 1917.)  (1st Bar -gazetted 18th October, 1917.)

The Belfast News Letter of 31st January 1919 reports:

The London Gazette of 19th June 1919 records Lyness as being awarded the French Croix de Guerre.

Jimmy Lyness was demobilised with effect from 28th March 1919. The London Gazette describes it as 'relinquishes the acting rank of Captain on ceasing to be employed'. A further entry in the London Gazette states 'Temp. Lt. W. J. Lyness, M.C. relinquishes his commission on completion of service, 6th November 1920, and is granted the rank of Captain.

There is a Pension Card in the name of Capt Wm J Lyness MC that records him being the Adjutant ./ Chaplain in the Royal Irish Fusiliers. This may link in with the Belfast Bank photograph above.

W J Lyness MC - Pension Record Card

The Lisburn Standard of 13th September 1918 records:

"Captain and Adjutant W. J. Lyness, M.C.. Royal Irish Rifles, wounded, is a son of Mr. W. J. Lyness, Tullyard House, Moira, and nephew of Mr. R. Logan, Belfast Bank, Bangor. Before the war Captain Lyness was on the Belfast Bank's Dublin staff. He was a cadet in Colonel Shannon-Crawford's battalion prior to receiving his commission. Captain Lyness, who has been adjutant of his battalion since 22nd March, has a fine record of service, having won both the Military Cross and a bar thereto.

His brother, Lieut. I. Lyness, of the Tank Corps, also holds the Military Cross. Captain Lyness has been wounded in the shoulder by a bullet, but his injury is not serious."


On 30th July 2014, I met with Richard Lyness of Messrs R & J Lyness. Richard is the nephew of Jimmy Lyness.  Richard told me that Jimmy returned to banking after the war but may have changed banks from the Belfast Banking Company to the Royal Bank of Ireland. This was probably as a result of the Belfast Bank selling its 'southern' branches to the Royal Bank of Ireland in 1923.

Jimmy Lyness retired as a bank inspector.

Richard Lyness also advised that the medal group and other military gear was presented to the Royal Ulster Rifles Museum. 

A visit to that location on the same date found the medal group to be displayed in a cabinet on their wall. My thanks go to them for allowing me to take the photograph of the medal group.

This museum has moved to Bryson House, Bedford Street, Belfast.

Collier, Reginald John C

2nd Lieutenant Reginald John C Collier

Collier was born at 21 Stranmillis Gardens, Belfast on 15th October 1898 to son of William Francis Collier, Accountant and Marion F Collier nee Townsend. They had married on 14th August 1896 at Carlisle Parish Church, Bandon, Co. Cork.

In 1901 Collier (2) was living in house 11, Evelyn Gardens, Clifton Ward, Belfast with his parents and  a sister, Katherine (0). A servant, Mary Colwell was also living in the house.

By 1911 the family have moved to house 140, Hamilton Road, Bangor, Co. Down. Parents and 2 daughters; Katherine (10) and Constance (4).

Collier was not present in the house on census day, but was recorded as being at school as a pupil in house 1.2, Blackhall Place, West Side, Aaron Quay, Dublin. He was then known as Reginald.

On 'Ulster Day', 28th September 1912, his parents signed the Ulster Covenant and Women's Declaration at Dufferin Memorial Hall, Bangor giving their address as 123 Hamilton Road, Bangor. 

Collier joined the Belfast Banking Company from where he enlisted. His father signed the Bankers Guarantee.

Belfast Bank - Bankers Guarantee

He is recorded as working Markets (Cromac Street, Belfast) branch at the time.

Belfast Bank, Markets branch

Collier volunteered and enlisted into the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).

R J Collier - Medal Index Card

Collier was serving with the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) as a 2nd Lieutenant when he was accidentally killed in action (while flying – crashed) on 12th February 1918 aged 19. His Service Record is transcribed with 'Killed as Result of Aero Accident'. The accident occurred at RAF Yatesbury.

The Belfast News Letter of 14th February 1918 reports:

Collier is buried in Bangor Cemetery and commemorated in St. Comgall’s Parish Church, Bangor. The memorial consists of a new organ that has been erected as a thanksgiving for victory and peace, and in proud and grateful memory of those members of the congregation who laid down their lives in the Great War.

Thanks to Nigel Henderson of Great War Ulster Newspaper Archive for this image.

The following information comes from the RAF Museum:

Collier is also remembered on the De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour:

Breene, Thomas Frederick

2nd Lieutenant Thomas Frederick Breene

Breene was born in Ballykett townland, Kilrush, Co. Clare, Ireland on 17th May 1888 to Thomas John Breene, Excise Officer and Mary Ann Breene nee McInerney. They had married on 16th August 1883 at St Michael's Church of Ireland, Limerick. Thomas is recorded as an Inland Revenue Officer on the marriage registration.

In 1901 Breene (12) was living at 99 Fitzroy Avenue, Belfast with his parents and 6 siblings; Walter (16), Richard (14), Harold (11), John George (10), Aileen Clare (8) and Nicholas (6). A servant, Bridget Tubridy was also living in the house. Breene's father's occupation is recorded as an Inland Revenue Officer, 1st Class, (Excise Department).

On 1st March 1906, Breene joined Northern Bank in Head Office. 

Northern Bank, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast

Transfers followed to Balbriggan (1908), Londonderry (1910) and Kingscourt (1911 - Cashier).

Northern Bank, Balbriggan branch

Northern Bank, Londonderry branch

Frederick Breene is recorded in the 1911 Irish Census as boarding with the Haslett family in house 2.1 Rosemount Avenue, Londonderry.
In 1911, the rest of the family were still living in house 99, Fitzroy Avenue, Belfast. Parents and 4 children; John George (20 - Bank Clerk), Aileen Clare (18), Nicholas (16) and Cyril (8). John was eventually to emigrate to USA where  he died in 1945. 
On ‘Ulster Day’, Saturday, 28th September 1912, Breene's sister, Aileen Claire Breene signed the Women’s Ulster Declaration (Covenant) at All Saints School, Belfast.
Further transfers followed to Cushendall (1912 - Cashier), Head Office (1912), Dungloe (1912 - Cashier) and Head Office (1914).

Northern Bank, Cushendall branch (1922 burning)

Northern Bank, Dungloe branch
Breene was a member of Queens’ University Officer Training Corps (OTC) in 1915. On 10th May 1915, Thomas volunteered and enlisted into the 1st Bn. Royal Warwickshire Machine-Gun Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant. 
His first theatre of war is recorded as M. E. F. from 20th November 1915. Later newspaper reports record him as dying in  France.

T F Breene - Medal Index Card

Breene was killed in action on 1st July 1916.
This website records a diary entry that mentions the death of T F Breene.

"... At 9:10 am the 1st Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which had already experienced the front-line horrors of gas attacks in the last week of June, received orders to move up from its reserve position and towards the battle zone. Just after 1:00pm, reports were received that British troops had been spotted in the German forward trenches, and a patrol belonging to the 1st RWR set off into No Man's Land under Lt R R Waters of 'A' Company. Pinned down by machine-gun fire from Beaumont Hamel, the sortie was forced to withdraw having suffered a number of casualties, including the death of Lt T F Breene. In the ranks, Gloucester born A/Cpl Albert Henry Boucher (No. 8609) had also fallen. ..."
The Belfast News Letter of 7th July 1916 reports:

The Belfast News Letter dated 19th July 1916 reports:

The Belfast News Letter of 8th January 1917 reports:

Administration (with the Will) was granted at Belfast to Mary Breene, Married Woman. His effects were £31 16s 0d.

Breene was awarded the 1915 Star, British Victory Medal and the British War Medal and is commemorated on the 'Royal Warwickshire Regiment' wall section of the Thiepval Memorial.

He is remembered on the Queen's University Officers' Training Corps War Memorial and in Ireland's Memorial Record:

A retired official of Northern Bank, Peter Breene (PTSB) has kindly let me use two photographs of brothers of T F Breene.
Richard Simmons Breene and Harold (Hal) Breene

Richard was to become Chancellor Breene, rector of St Peters parish, Antrim Road, Belfast.

Hal was also a member of the Warwickshire Regiment. He had been badly effected by gassing during the war and was never in good health afterwards. He died aged 72 on board a ship to Madeira and was buried at sea.