2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army)
Date Of Birth:
16/11/1914 (Died of Wounds)
John Joseph McCaffery was the eldest son of John and Anne McCaffrey. He was born in Moyglass, County Fermanagh on 10th July 1895. He was second of six children, all born in the Ely area. By 1911, the family had moved to Portadown. The family then moved on to live in at 26 Blackhill, Cookstown. John worked at Adair’s Mill at Greenvale, Cookstown. Private John Joseph McCaffrey was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he died of wounds on Monday 16th November 1914.
John Joseph McCaffery was the eldest son of John and Anne McCaffrey. John McCaffery and Anne McGarvey were married on 10th November 1892 in Fermanagh.
John McCaffrey was born in Moyglass, County Fermanagh on 10th July 1895. He was second of six children, all born in the Ely area.
The 1901 census lists John as age 5 living with the family at house 1 in Clogheragh, Ely, Fermanagh. His father was a labourer. Clogheragh is in the census area of Ely in County Fermanagh. Moneyglass is also in Ely.
Family: John McCaffery, Anne McCaffery, Mary McCaffery (born 12th October 1893), John McCaffery (born 10th July 1895), Sarah Anne McCaffery (born 17th March 1897), Felix McCaffery (born 24th March 1899), Roselena McCaffery (born 29th June 1901), Patrick McCaffery (born 19th October 1905).
The 1911 census lists John Joseph as age 15 living with the family at house 4 in Wilson Street, Portadown, County Armagh. John was working as a flax machine boy. His father was a farm labourer.
The family then moved on to live at 26 Blackhill, Cookstown.
John worked at Adair’s Mill at Greenvale, Cookstown, and his father was a gardener on the Adair Estate. Two brothers of his Grandmother fell in action while storming the heights of Alma during the Crimean War (1854) and another grand-uncle on his father’s side was a veteran of the Indian Mutiny (1857-58).
John was a section leader with Cookstown Corps of the Irish Volunteers and regularly played football with the local Greenvale Swifts Football Club, which included many of the workers from the mill. Many of these lads eventually joined the Royal Inniskillings.
Greenvale Football Club - Middle Row : Left to Right : Michael Lawn, James King and John McCaffrey
Lads such as Paddy Corey, Michael Lawn, James King and Jacob Wilkinson (John McCaffrey’s friend), all lost their lives in the First World War.
John enlisted in Cookstown with the Inniskillings Fusiliers. He trained at Finner Camp and was posted to Malin Head and Magilligan. On 18th September 1914 he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and went to France.
Many of the letters written to his father still exist to this day. In these letters he would refer to his friends back home and those with whom he joined the army, but had been sent elsewhere. While on service John received the following letter from his father:
“Dear John, Just a few lines to let you know we received your kind and welcome letter this morning and glad to see by it that you are well as we are all well ourselves. Thank God. We are sending you some garters and we hope you get the medals and things we sent you, we sent cups and all in one box. Owen O’Lone was asking for you, the Blackhill team is starting up again and James Hamill says you will be back in time to play for them. Paddy Corey is at home yet and so is Johnnie Hampsey. We had a letter from the Maguires and Paddy is a prisoner of war in Germany. Francis Mullan was asking for you. Tell Robert Lawless we were asking for him and we were glad to hear he was well. Felix and Pat were asking for you and I heard that Jimmy McCaffrey and Pat were passed for the Police, so I think this is all at present. Goodbye from your loving father.
John McCaffrey. God Bless you, Write soon."
The above letter refers to names such as Paddy Corey, later killed at Bethune, Johnnie Hampsey who was wounded at Mons, and Robert Lawless, later killed in action at Festubert.
Private John Joseph McCaffrey was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he died of wounds on Monday 16th November 1914.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 12th December 1914:
McCAFFERY – 16th November, the result of wounds received at the front, John J McCaffery, Private 4065, 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, eldest son of John McCaffery, Blackhill, Cookstown, aged 19 years and four months. Interred in temporary cemetery at Armentieres, grave No. 52.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 19th December 1914: Private John J McCaffrey
Private John J McCaffrey of Blackhill, Cookstown, was killed in action on 16th November at Armentieres. He is a son of Mr John McCaffrey, and a native of Moyglass, near Enniskillen. Half a dozen years ago the family came to Cookstown for work in the mill, and the deceased was serving his time as a rougher. He had joined the Special Reserve (formerly known as the militia) of the Inniskilling Fusiliers, and was called up on 8th August for training at Magilligan. On 18th September he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion and went to the front. He sent home two or three post cards every week, and the cessation of these was the first intimation that he had fallen, but his death has been officially notified to his father. Private McCaffrey came from a fighting family. Two brothers of his grandmother fell storming the heights of Alma, in the Crimea, and another granduncle (on his father’s side), was Denis McCaffrey, who fought through the Indian Mutiny, and lived till a few years ago, when he was interred with full military honours in Enniskillen.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 19th December 1914:
At a meeting of Greenvale Swifts F.C., held on Wednesday, the following resolution was passed:-
‘That we, the members of Greenvale Swifts F.C., express our deepest sympathy with the relatives of Private John Joseph McCaffrey, who died from wounds received at the front on the 16th November 1914. The late John Joseph McCaffrey was a worthy member of the above club – his position in the club was ‘right half’. He was a real sportsman all through and took a real interest in the game. He was also a section leader in the Cookstown Corps of Irish Volunteers. He was also very generous to those in his Company. At an early age, he joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Signed – James Fields, Captain; John Cooney, Secretary.’
Private John McCaffrey is buried in Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres, France.
John McCaffrey is commemorated on Cookstown Cenotaph.
The CWGC record Private J McCaffrey as the son of John and Ann McCaffery of 26 Blackhill, Cookstown, County Tyrone. It also records that he was born at Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.