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Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Wilgar, William James

Lieutenant William James Wilgar 

was born at Ballylesson on 8th February 1892 and was the son of John Wilgar (Bank Clerk, Northern Bank and Farmer) and Jane Wilgar nee Clarke.  

In 1901, William is living in house 52, Ballylesson, Breda Ward, Belfast with his parents and 4 sisters; Eveline, Rosanne, Jane Clark & Marion Elizabeth. An aunt, Jane Wilgar and 2 servants; Martha Millar and Ellen White are also present.
On 14th July 1908 William joined Northern Bank at Head Office. Transfers followed to Donegall Square (1909) and Head Office – Relief (1911). 

Northern Banking Company, Donegall Square branch

In 1911 William is living an house 11, Ballylesson, Breda, Belfast with his parents and 2 sisters; Marion Elizabeth and Eveline.  An aunt, Jane Wilgar is also in the house.

On ‘Ulster Day’, Saturday, 28th September 1912, Wilgar signed the Ulster Covenant at Drumbo. 
On 25th February 1915, whilst on Relief Staff, William volunteered and enlisted into the 11th Bn. Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at the age of 23.  

He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and transferred into the Machine-Gun Corps.  Promotion to Lieutenant followed.  His first theatre of war is recorded as France from 12th March 1916.

Medal Index Card - W J Wilgar

William received one injury, a gunshot wound.  The Belfast News Letter dated 30th August 1916 reported:

His address was reported as 'Fernlea', Lisburn Road, Belfast.

On 3rd September 1916 the Casualty List announced:

"Listed as "Wounded" on the Casualty List issued by the War Office. This man was entitled to wear a "Wound Stripe" as authorised under Army Order 204 of the 6th July 1916. The terms of this award being met by their naming in this list."

William saw service at the Somme 1916, Messines 1917, Ypres 1917 (Passchendaele), Cambrai 1917, Allied Retreat 1918 and the Allied Advance 1918.  

Demobilisation came in July 1919. He was awarded the British Victory Medal and the British War Medal. 

Medal Roll - W J Wilgar

On 2nd September 1919 the London Gazette announced the awarding of the Belgian Croix de Guerre to Temp Lt Wm J Wilgar:

"Gazette No. 31537. Croix de Guerre. The following are among the Decorations and Medals awarded by the Allied Powers and various dates to the British Forces for distinguished services rendered during the course of the campaign. His Majesty the King has given unrestricted permission in all cases to wear the Decorations and Medals in question. Decorations Conferred by, His Majesty the King of the Belgians."

Following his demobilisation, William re-joined the Northern Bank on 16th July 1919 at Grafton Street, Dublin.

Northern Bank, Grafton Street branch, Dublin

Further transfers followed to Antrim (1929), Milford, Letterkenny (1937) and Ballycastle (1943). 

Northern Bank, Antrim branch

In 1929 William was elected as Treasurer of Antrim Royal British Legion.

Northern Bank, Ballycastle branch

William Wilgar retired on 31st December 1953.  He was a member of Lisnagarvey Hockey Club.
W J Wilgar of Northern Bank, Antrim is reported as being the Secretary of Masserene Golf Club in 1935 (The Ulster Tourist Development Association Ltd). 
The family were members of Malone Presbyterian Church. His name is recorded on the church Roll of Honour. 

He died on 13th October 1968 leaving a widow Ann Isobel Wilgar (nee Miller).
W J Wilgar is buried in Ballylesson Graveyard.

Headstone on the grave of W J Wilgar at Ballylesson Graveyard

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Hill, Arthur Forde Trevor Darley

Arthur Forde Trevor Darley Hill

was born at 'Rathmore Temple Villas', Rathmines, Dublin on 5th March 1900 to Edwin Darley Hill, Bank Manager and Deborah Hill nee Overend.

Trevor Darley Hill - Birth Registration 1

Arthur Forde Trevor Darley Hill - Birth Registration 2

One of the properties (14) in 
Temple Villas, Rathmines, Dublin 
described as 'largely unchanged since 1895'

In 1901 Arthur (1) lived in house 675, Palmerston Road, Rathmines and Rathgar East, Dublin with his parents and 3 siblings; Georgina Darley (7), Doris Audrey Darley (5) and Adam Cyril Darley (3). 2 servants also lived in the property, Anni J Gilbert and Sarah McKeever.

In 1911 Arthur is living in house 22, Deramore Drive, Cromac Ward, Belfast, Co. Antrim (amended to Deramore Park) with his 3 siblings, Doris A (15), Adam C D (13) and Eric D H P (6). 3 servants also live in the property, Sarah Hughes, Sarah Ross and Agnes Cummins. I cannot trace Arthur's sister Georgina D Hill.

On 1st February 1917 Arthur joined Northern Bank at Head Office.

Northern Banking Company, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast

Arthur volunteered in February 1918 was accepted by the Board of Officers of Queen's University Officers' Training Corps (OTC).

The 1924 Northern banking Company Centenary volume written by his father, Edwin D Hill states that Arthur was rejected for active service on account of him having defective vision.

A transfer to Ballynafeigh followed in 1923 and then back to Head Office in 1924.

Arthur Hill resigned from the bank on 3rd July 1925.

He died at The Gables Nursing Home, c/o Dr Risk Cartnel, The Esplanade, Pine Tree Glen, Canford Cliffs, Bournemouth on 7th March 1938 and in buried in the City Cemetery with his father, Edwin Darley Hill and mother, Deborah Hill.

PRONI Wills database records "Hill Arthur Forde Trevor Darley of No. 5 Flat Thornhill Malone Road Belfast retired bank official died 7 March 1938 at 3 Pine Tree Glen Bournemouth England Probate Belfast 18 May to Eric Desmond Hume Darley Hill bank official. Effects £3626 13s. 4d."

He was a brother of Adam C D Hill deceased who was reported missing on 16th August 1917 aged 19.

Excerpts from Documents

25th September 1945

Temporary Lady Clerks
As the members of the permanent staff in the Forces will soon be returning to take up duty again, the Temporary Lady Clerks will, as a matter of course and in keeping with the terms of employment, be released from duty as the men return.
We are sending this notice now so that those ladies may have an opportunity of securing positions elsewhere and we shall be prepared to release them on short notice, if they are successful.
We wish to express to the Lady Clerks, our appreciation of the help that they have given in carrying on the services of the Bank to the Public during the War period.


19th March 1946

In order to avoid redundancy of staff by the return of Officials from Active Service, we have, as far as possible, restricted new entrants to our Service, and, therefore, decided not to hold an examination for Clerkships this year.  As the rate of demobilisation is somewhat slower than we expected in the case of younger men we now find that our Staff will be somewhat short during the Summer months when we are providing for holiday and sick relief.
We do not wish in any way to curtail or upset the usual holiday arrangements, and we appeal, therefore, to our Managers and Staffs, to examine the situation at their respective Branches and see if it would be at all possible to help us out of this temporary difficulty by lending us a hand for the current leave season, or by dispensing with relief.
Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated and materially help us to tide over a very difficult period.

Kerr, Walter Craig

Lieutenant Walter Craig Kerr
was born on 31st January 1943 in Lurgan, Co. Armagh.
Walter joined Northern Bank on 1st November 1960. Transfers followed to Carrickfergus (1960), Fivemiletown (1963), 10 High Street (1965) and Carrickfergus (1967 - Pro Manager from 1972) and Magherafelt (1976 - Sub Manager).

Northern Bank, Fivemiletown branch

Northern Bank, 10 High Street, Belfast branch

In his spare time, Walter volunteered for service in the locally recruited Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) as a private and was soon promoted to Lance Corporal. Promotion to 2nd Lieutenant came on 29th October 1973 and as Lieutenant on 29th October 1975. His Officer Service Number was 497010.

Walter was serving with the 9th Bn. Ulster Defence Regiment when he died on 2nd November 1977 aged 34. This was following an incident a few days earlier.

Details of the incident are recorded at the end of this article. GRAPHIC.

He is buried in the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Magherafelt, Co. Londonderry.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website advises that his name will be included on the Armed Forces Memorial in Staffordshire and on the Rolls of Honour that will be kept on public display in the Chapel of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London.

Walter would have been awarded the (1962) General Service Medal with Northern Ireland clasp and his next of kin would have been eligible to apply for the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll.

At the time of writing (2012 & updated 2021) there is no memorial to Walter Kerr in Northern Bank.

The '1962 General Service Medal' (pictured below) is the actual medal awarded to the late Lieutenant Robin G Smyrl UDR who was killed on 13th September 1977. A member of his family used to work for Northern Bank. His medal on display at the Somme Heritage Centre, Conlig, Newtownards.


Lieutenant Robin G Smyrl UDR 

Obituary from ‘The Link’ (Northern Bank staff magazine)
It is with deep regret that we record the death of Walter Craig Kerr as a result of severe injuries received in a booby-trap explosion at his home in Magherafelt on 2nd November 1977.

Walter entered the service of the bank on 1st November 1960 and served in a number of Branches before being appointed Pro-Manager at Carrickfergus Branch on 1st June 1972 and Sub-Manager at Magherafelt Branch on 1st February 1976. He was a man who showed great dedication and determination in all things he undertook. Those people privileged to know and work with him will appreciate the sad loss to the Bank and the community.

Our deepest sympathy is extended to his sorrowing wife Rosemary and children Gillian and Bryan.

The East Antrim Gazette of 13th November 2012 records the 25th anniversary of Kerr's death with:

Service honours UDR man killed in booby trap bomb

Carrickfergus Memorial

A member of the Ulster Defence Regiment who was murdered by the IRA 25 years ago was honoured at a memorial service last week. Councillors and representatives from Carrickfergus UDR Regimental Association and former colleagues of Lieutenant Walter Kerr from the Northern Bank attended the service in the garden of remembrance last Tuesday. Mr Kerr, who had lived in the Downshire area, served with the UDR for six years and had worked for the Northern Bank in High Street.  On October 27, 1977 [date appears to be incorrect], the 34-year-old was killed by a booby trap device, which exploded under his car. Dr Sam Grant, Padre for the UDR Regimental Association in Carrickfergus, said, 'People still remember Walter's bravery and courage'  'He was a man who made himself available during turbulent times, especially when his country needed him'. A wreath was laid at the foot of the memorial by Sergeant Jacki-Kirkwood Hamil from the Royal Irish Regiment and Agnes Logan, Mr. Kerr's sister. The Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Eric Ferguson, said he was 'pleased to be part of the ceremony that honoured the life of Walter Kerr'. Mr Ferguson said: We are delighted that we are able as a council, to have this plaque made available to remember Walter Kerr. We are happy to re-dedicate this to him and host the proceedings". Mrs Rosemary Kerr, Mr. Kerr's widow, was unable to attend the ceremony, but is expected to visit the town later this year.

Incident Details - GRAPHIC

Walter Kerr, 34-year-old, married with 2 children, a bank official and a part time member of the UDR holding the rank of Lieutenant was killed by an IRA booby trap bomb that exploded under his car. As Lt. Kerr was leaving his home at Coolshinney Road, Magherafelt on 27 October, the bomb exploded. A few minutes later, his children and a neighbour's child would have been in the car on their way to school. Lt. Kerr died in hospital on 2nd November from the injuries he received. He was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital where doctors fought to save his life.  He suffered severe injuries and both legs had to be amputated. Twelve soldiers from the Royal Tank Regiment almost immediately donated blood to help the lieutenant while another 50 soldiers later were helicoptered to the Mid Ulster Hospital to donate more blood, many of them staying overnight at the hospital in case more blood was needed to be donated. Lt. Kerr's wife was at his side when he died.

Monday, 10 May 2021

O'Reilly, Patrick James

Bombardier Patrick John O’Reilly
was born to Francis O'Reilly and Mary (Minnie) Anne O'Reilly of Bowelk (Townland), Co. Monaghan. I can find no trace in the Irish Genealogy website of his birth registration as either 1888 (Irish Census) or 1895 (Staff Record card).

The bank Staff Record card states of 1911 states his date of birth as 24th March 1895 and his address as Bailieborough.

The 1901 Irish Census records Patrick J O'Reilly (13) living in house 2, Bowelk, Anny, Co. Monaghan with his parents Francis & Mary Anne and his 7 siblings; Edward, Catherine, Bridget, Francis, Timothy and Sarah. This would give his year of birth as 1888 and does not agree with his bank Staff Record card. The family name is recorded as REILLY.

The 1911 Irish Census records the family living in house 4, Bowelk, Anny, Co. Monaghan. Francis & Minnie and their 8 children; Edward, Catherine, Bridget, Francis, Timothy, Sarah and Laurence.

On 31st January 1912, Patrick joined Northern Bank at Oldcastle branch. A transfer to Head Office followed in 1914.

Northern Banking Company Limited, Oldcastle branch

Northern Banking Company, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast

In October 1914, John volunteered and enlisted at Manchester for the ‘duration of war’ into the 77th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery as a Bombardier with Service Number 63170. He may also have seen service in the Royal Irish Regiment.

P J O'Reilly - Medal Index Card

Patrick wrote an informal 'Will' and signed it on 22nd March 1916. He left the 'whole of his property and effects' to his brother, Edward O'Reilly, Bowelk, Ballybay, Co. Monaghan, Ireland. This reference to his brother, Edward appears to reconcile the family with the Irish Census records of 1901 and 1911.

3 pages of the 'Informal Will' of P J O'Reilly

Patrick John O'Reilly was serving in 'France and Flanders' when he was Killed in Action on 19th/20th September 1916 aged 21. He is buried in the Couin British Cemetery, France.

CWGC Record for P J O'Reilly

This reference to his parents, Francis and Minnie appears to reconcile the family with the Irish Census records of 1901 and 1911.

Couin British Cemetery, France

CWGC headstone and grave of P J O'Reilly

He was awarded posthumously the British Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

He is commemorated on 'Ireland's Memorial Records:

Ireland's Memorial Records - J P O'Reilly

McCulloch, Charles Noel

Charles Noel McCulloch was working for Northern Bank in Banbridge branch.

On 20 April 1982, Noel was killed along with a friend in a ‘no warning’ car bomb in the centre of Magherafelt. An inadequate warning had been given. He was a civilian bank employee. A native of Magherafelt, Noel was educated at Rainey Endowed School, where he displayed his sporting talents by being a member of the 1st XI at cricket and the 2nd XV at rugby. He joined the Bank in 1968 and had served in Head Office, Falls, Willowfield, Newtownards and Magherafelt.

At the time of writing (2012 & updated in 2021), there is no memorial to McCulloch in Northern Bank.

Obituary from ‘The Link’ (Northern Bank staff magazine)

It is with deep regret, sorrow and shock that the many friends and indeed the whole community of Magherafelt, learned of the tragic death of Noel McCulloch in the early hours of Wednesday, 21 April [1982] following a car bomb explosion in his home town a few hours earlier.

Noel had just returned home from a rugby tour with Rainey O.B. in the Bahamas where he was one of the most popular tourists. Although unable to play because of injury, he contributed greatly by his assistance to the team and proved an excellent ambassador for the Club.

He entered the Bank’s service in 1968 and throughout his career Noel displayed the type of qualities that made him so popular throughout his short lifetime; enthusiasm and application always coupled with good humour and thoughtfulness. He won the friendship of so many people and the high esteem in which he was held was borne out by the massive attendance at his funeral by all sections of the community.

Noel will be sadly missed by all who knew him and we extend our deepest sympathy to his mother and to all his family circle.

Tuesday 20 April 1982

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of attacks in Northern Ireland.  Wilbert Kennedy (36) and Noel McCulloch (32), both Protestant civilians, were killed in a bomb blast at the Diamond, Magherafelt, County Derry. An inadequate warning had been given. A further 12 people were injured in the attacks. Bombs exploded in Armagh, Ballymena, Belfast, Bessbrook, Londonderry, and Magherafelt, and caused an estimated £1 million pounds in damage.

Nesbitt, John Gordon

John Gordon Nesbitt

was born at Knocknashane, Lurgan on 25th May 1894 to William Nesbitt, Weaver and Mary Ann Nesbitt nee Baxter. This date is verified against his Staff Record card.

In 1901 John (6) is living in house 6 Knocknashane, Lurgan with his parents and 6 siblings; Margaret (18), James (17), William (15), Mary (12), Sarah (9) and Annie (4).

On 9th May 1910 John joined Northern Bank at Head Office. His address is recorded as Randalstown. Transfers followed to Carrickfergus (1911), Head Office (1912) and Coleraine (1914 - Accountant & Cashier).

Northern Banking Company, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast

Northern Banking Company, Coleraine branch

The bank Staff Record card records John as taking sick leave between 6th January 1911 to 6th April 1911.

In the 2nd April 1911 Irish Census, John is living in house 6 Knocknashane, Lurgan with his parents and 5 siblings; Margaret, Mary, Sarah and Annie. Sarah Baxter is recorded as a visitor and Frances John McIlwaine is recorded as a grandson. John's occupation is recorded as a Linen Veiner Mechanic.

The 1924 Northern Bank Centenary Volume records John as applying for enlistment but was rejected on the grounds of him having defective vision.

In 1922 John married Nina Burrows, Cork.

Transfers continued to Crumlin Road (1922 - Cashier), Head Office (1923), Donegall Square (1923 - Cashier), Limavady (1931 - Cashier), Downpatrick (1933 - Sub Manager) and Boyle (1940 - Manager).

Northern Banking Company, Donegall Square

Northern Banking Company Limited, Downpatrick

Whilst in Limavady, John joined the Limavady Recreation Club and participated in their annual Whist Drive ('Belfast Telegraph', 29th October 1931).

The 'Londonderry Sentinel' of 30th September 1950 reported on the marriage of Charles Patrick Nesbitt, only son of Mr and Mrs John Nesbitt, Northern Bank House, Newcastle to Miss Audrey Kerr Davin SRN. Miss Wanda Nesbitt, sister of the groom was one of the bridesmaids in attendance.

The 'Northern Whig' of 30th March 1951 reported on the engagement of Miss Wanda Mora Cecilia Nesbitt to Mr Stanley Kenneth Lockhart of Lisburn.

John retired from the bank on pension on 31st March 1955.

PRONI records Nesbitt, John Gordon of 7 Shimna Road, Newcastle, County Down, retired bank manager as dying on 26th April 1961 at Downe Hospital, Downpatrick. Probate Belfast 16th June to Nina Nesbitt the widow. Effects £1953 14s.

The 'Belfast Telegraph'' of 26th August 1976 published an obituary of Major Stanley Kenneth Lockhart and mentioned his widow, Wanda and children, Gordon and Julie.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Mitchel, George Cuthbert

George C Mitchel (Ancestry - David Mitchel)

George Cuthbert Mitchel

was born at The Manse, Enniskillen on 12th October 1894 to Samuel Cuthbert Mitchel, Presbyterian Minister and Isabella Mitchel nee Gunning. 

In 1901 George (6) lived in house 6, Drumclay, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh with his parents and 5 siblings; Edgar Gunning (15), Winifred Isabella (13), Frederick David (11), Violet (8) and Victor (3). Two servants, Catherine McCabe and Mary Jane McLesher were also in the property.

George's mother, Isabella (50) died at Darling Street, Enniskillen on 11th September 1906.

In 1911 George lived in house 15, Drumclay, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh with his father and his wife, Marie Mitchel and his brother Victor. A servant, Katie Travers was also in the property.

On 10th May 1911 Mitchell joined Northern Bank at Head Office. Transfers followed to Ball’s Branch (1911) and then Newry (1911).

Northern Banking Company, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast

Cheque drawn on Ball & Company, Henry Street, Dublin

Northern Banking Company, Newry branch

George applied for and was successful in obtaining a position in the Canadian Bank of Commerce. He left Northern on 20th September 1913.
On 11th October 1913 George (18) departed Avonmouth, England on the 'Royal George' for Quebec, Canada. His brother, Victor (16) and a James Morris Mitchel (19) accompanied him to Canada.

'Royal George' passenger manifest - G C Mitchel

The 1924 Northern Bank Centenary volume published in 1925 records George as volunteering for service in the forces but was rejected as being medically unfit with defective vision. This most likely occurred in Canada.

In the 1916 Canadian census, George is living in house 37 Richill Avenue, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada with a bank colleague Alex Smyth.

1916 Canadian Census

On 13th March 1919 George arrived at Liverpool from New York on board the Cunard ship 'Aquitania'.

'Aquitania' passenger manifest - G C Mitchel

On 2nd July 1919 George re-joined Northern Bank at Head Office. Transfers followed to Drumshanbo (1920 - Cash), Head Office (1920) and Bailieborough (1921 - Cash). 

On 9th April 1923 George married Janet King at St. Mary the Virgin, Hunslet, Leeds.

Marriage Registration - G C Mitchel

Further transfers followed to Lurgan (1925 - Cash), Portaferry (1926), Lisburn (1934 - Teller), Ballybay (1936 - Manager) and Portglenone – Manager (1939 - Manager).

Northern Banking Company, Lurgan branch

Northern Banking Company, Portaferry
(photo acknowledged to J Miller Collection)

In 1929 he was an official at the Portaferry Lawn Tennis Club (Belfast News-Letter - Thursday 18 April 1929).

G C Mitchell (Ancestry - David Mitchel)

Northern Banking Company, Lisburn branch

Northern Banking Company, Portglenone branch

In 1940 he was elected as Honorary Treasure of Portglenone Parish Church.

George Mitchel retired on pension on 31st July 1956.