Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
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17808   Private John McMullan
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Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 9th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army)
Date Of Birth: 16/03/1889
Died: 08/05/1916 (Killed in Action)
Age: 27
Summary      
John McMullan was the son of James and Eliza McMullan. He was born in Ruskey, Coagh on 16th March 1889. He was one of eight children. They lived in Ruskey. His father was a farm labourer. John became an agricultural labourer. Private John McMullan was serving with the 9th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he was killed in action on Monday 8th May 1916. He was killed in a heavy bombardment by the Germans after the Inniskillings had carried out a successful night raid on the German lines on 7th/8th May 1916.
Private John McMullan
Further Information
John McMullan was the second youngest son of James and Eliza McMullan. James McMullan married Eliza Paul on 17th June 1874 in the district of Cookstown.
John McMullan was born on Ruskey, Coagh on 16th March 1889. He was one of eight children, six surviving.
Known family: James McMullan, Eliza McMullan, Matilda McMullan (born 25th October 1879), Mary McMullan (born 21st April 1882), Mary McMullan (born 17th November 1884), Alexander McMullan (born 12th January 1887), John McMullan (born 16th March 1889), James McMullan (born 14th November 1891), Martha McMullan (born 2nd January 1895).
The 1901 census lists John as age 8, living with the family at house 3 in Rooskey Lower, Springhill, County Londonderry. His father was a farm labourer.
John was educated at Tamlaght National School, Coagh.
The 1911 census does not list John as living with his parents at house 8 in Ruskey Upper, Springhill. There is however a possible listing of John working as an agricultural labourer elsewhere in the Springhill area.
John McMullan was a member of Coagh Company U.V.F, a member of L.O.L. 188, and a member of R.B.P. 243.
John McMullan photo
John McMullan was one of the first in that loyal district to join the Ulster Division, enlisting in Cookstown.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 5th February 1916: for the Glory of Coagh
Newspaper Report
Private E McGuckin, No 3 Company, 9th Inniskillings, writes from the Front:-
‘Just a few lines from a few of the Knuts from Coagh, serving abroad with the 9th Inniskillings. There are a good number of us here, and we are all in the best of form. We are at present behind the firing line resting, wearing away the effects of our Christmas dinner, which upset the whole Battalion for quite a long time. We expect to get back to the trenches again shortly, and I can tell you we will show the Huns what Coagh can do. Our section is in charge of Corporal Mitchell, and it includes such well known local men as Johnny McMullan, Robert Sands and James Hudson, and they are all waiting for the day to charge the Hun trenches and bring glory to Coagh. James Hudson is complaining to the billet right now, in very strong language, about those who still refuse to do their duty. We hope when they se this in the paper, and see how happy we are, they will at once dawn the khaki. I will close now, wishing every success to the good old ‘Mid’, which is eagerly looked for here every week.
In a letter dated 22nd March 1916, Private Edward McGuckin from Coagh wrote home to say:
“All the Coagh boys at the front are doing well and in good fighting form, although they have been constantly in the trenches for the past eight weeks. They are well accustomed to Jack Johnstons, whizz-bangs, trench mortars and other such scrap as the Germans treat them to. John McMullan is going strong, so strong in fact that he has now been nick-named ‘whizz-bang’. We have nicknamed the other Coagh lads as well, ‘rifle-grenade’ Sands, ‘trench-mortar’ Currie, and ‘barbed-wire’ Hudson. Sands and Hudson are a bit sore at the some recent marriages in Coagh and are afraid that there won’t be any Coagh girls when they return victoriously home.”
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 15th April 1916: Coagh Soldiers at the Front
Newspaper Report
Private Edward McGuckin, a native of Coagh, in a letter to the Mail dated 22nd March, says that all the Coagh boys are well and in good fighting form, although they have been constantly in the trenches for the past eight weeks. They are well accustomed to jack Johnstons, whizz bangs, trench mortars, and such other scrap as the ‘Germhuns’ treat them to. Private John McMullan is going strong, so strong in fact that he has been nicknamed the ‘whizz bang’. Other Coagh boys are known as ‘Rifle Grenade Sands’, ‘Trench Mortar Currie’ and ‘Barbed Wire Hudson’. Another chum from Aughnacloy, and well known in Coagh, is George Marshall. As the letter was been written he was singing mournfully in the dugout ‘I want to go home’, but his comrades know well that he does not want any such thing, at least until he sees the Huns in final retreat homewards. They had the din of guns instead of drums on Patrick’s Day. They were all glad to see that Constables Howe and Ryan had joined the colours, and wish them the best of luck. Sands and Hudson feel rather sore about some recent marriages, and fear there won’t be any Coagh girls (left) when they return victoriously home. The writer concludes by wishing the good old ‘Mid’ every success.
Private John McMullan was serving with the 9th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he was killed in action on Monday 8th May 1916.
Private McMullan was killed in a heavy bombardment by the Germans after the Inniskillings had carried out a successful night raid on the German lines on 7th/8th May 1916.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 19th May 1916:
Private J McMullan, son of Mr James McMullen, Rousky, Coagh, Tyrone
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 20th May 1916: Coagh
Newspaper Report
At a special meeting of Coagh L.O.L. No 188 on Tuesday, the secretary reported the deaths in action of Privates John McMullan and Robert Sands. Private McMullan, who was a respected member of this lodge and also a member of R.B.P. 243, is one of the first members of the lodge to lay down his life for King and country. On the motion of Br. Thomas J McKeown, W.M., seconded by Br. S McCombs, D.M., the secretary was instructed to forward a letter of sympathy to the relatives of the deceased.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 3rd June 1916:
Newspaper Report
MCMULLAN – May 7, killed in action in France, Private John McMullan, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, beloved son of James and Mrs McMullan, Rusky, Coagh.
‘We mourn the loss of one so dear
So good, so kind, so brave:
He died on the battle field of France
And lies in a soldier’s grave.'
Deeply regretted by his parents and friends.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 17th June 1916:
Newspaper Report
Newspaper Report
Private John McMullan, 9th Inniskilling Fusiliers, killed in action on 7th May 1916. He was a son of Mr James and Mrs McMullan, Ruskey, Coagh, and was one of the first in that loyal district to join the Ulster Division. He was only 24 years of age, and prior to enlistment was an enthusiastic member of Coagh Company U.V.F.; also a member of L.O.L. 188, and R.B.P. 243. He was greatly respected by all who knew him and much sympathy is felt for his bereaved parents and other relatives. Rev Richard G S King, chaplain, writes to the parents as follows:–
‘I am very sorry for the great loss you have had by the death of your son – a brave and promising soldier. His battalion has earned great praise by its gallant bearing on the night of his death. It is only what we expected of a regiment of such fine fellows. They have fearlessly endured the heaviest bombardments, and those who have fallen have not only earned the high praise of Him who said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” but have also set a great example to inspire those that come after. Your son and those who die fearlessly and bravely show the same greatness of soul as their forefathers of 200 years since. This day last year my son laid down his life in the same way. We should feel that we have more treasure in heaven and less on earth, more to draw our hearts there and our thoughts. Thank God for this grand gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, which will bring us again to those we love, without fear of death or parting. Your son lies with many brave Ulstermen in a military cemetery at the back of our lines. It is beautifully placed on a bank sloping to a river and wooded valley. If you write to the OC Graves Registration Unit, GHO, BEF, they will after a little send you a photo of his grave.’
Last Will and Testament of Private John McMullan dated 4th October 1915
John McMullan : Handwritten Will
John McMullan : Will Information
In the event of my death on active service, I give my property, money and effects to my mother Liza McMullen, Ruskey, Coagh, County Tyrone, Ireland. Private 17808 John McMullen 3rd Company, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Witness Thomas Quinn.
Private John McMullan and Private Sands are buried in Authuile Military Cemetery, France.
When the Commonwealth War Graves Commission came to make the cemeteries which we visit today they discovered that a mistake had been made in the case of John McMullan. They knew that he had been interred in Authuille Cemetery, but could not determine where. The resulting row of headstones at the side of the cemetery is testimony to this. John McMullan is commemorated at Special Memorial A. 2.
The CWGC record Private John McMullan as the son of James and Eliza McMullan of Ruskey, Coagh, Moneymore, County Londonderry.
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Relevant Cookstown Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Rooskey Lower, Springhill Coagh Census listings in Ruskey Lower 54.676090 -6.603520
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 1901 Census lists 'Muckmullin' Family 1901 Census lists John as 8 living with the family at house 3 in Rooskey Lower, Springhill, Londonderry
2 1911 Census lists a John McMullan Possible listing of John, a farm worker at house 3 in Ballynewy, Springhill, Londonderry
3 1911 Census lists McMullan Family 1911 Census does not list John as living with his parents at house 8 in Rusky Upper, Springhill, Londonderry
4 Ardboe Heritage List information of John McMullan including photos
5 Frederick ""trench-mortar" Currie Mentioned in correspondence
6 National Archives of Ireland Last Will and Testament of John McMullen
7 National Archives UK Medal card can be purchased here
8 Robert "rifle-grenade" Sands Mentioned in correspondence
9 War Graves Photographic Project Photo of Private John McMullan's grave can be purchased here