13th Battalion, Australian Infantry (Australian Army)
Date Of Birth:
20/08/1915 (Died of Wounds)
Private Samuel James MacFarlane was born at Doons, Orritor, Cookstown on 17th March 1894. On leaving school he served his apprenticeship with the Henderson Line of Steamers, trading between Glasgow and Rangoon. He later went to work in Australia. On arrival in Sydney he found that war had broken out in Europe and immediately volunteered his services. He took part in the New Guinea Campaign and was offered a commission to assist in training other volunteers. He preferred to volunteer for active service in Europe and was at first posted to Cairo and then Gallipoli. He was fatally wounded at Gallipoli and died a short time later on an Australian Hospital Ship, having been recommended for a medal.
Samuel James MacFarlane was the youngest son of James and Sarah McFarlane. James McFarlane and Sarah Dickson were married on 24th March 1885 in the district of Cookstown.
Samuel MacFarlane was born at Doons, Orritor, Cookstown on 17th March 1894. He was the youngest of six children, five surviving.
Family: James MacFarlane, Sarah MacFarlane, Andrew Dickson MacFarlane (born 3rd February 1886), Letitia Jane MacFarlane (born 13th June 1887), Charles John MacFarlane (born 4th October 1888), Margaretta Sinclair MacFarlane (born 16th December 1889), Sarah MacFarlane (born 22nd June 1892, died 21st June 1893, age 1), Samuel James MacFarlane (born 17th March 1894).
The 1901 census lists Samuel as 7 years old living with the family at house 4 in Doons, Orritor, Cookstown. His father was a farmer and mill owner.
Samuel received his education at the Royal Academical Institution, Belfast and then at Coleraine Academy.
The 1911 census does not list Samuel as living with the family at house 3 in Lansdowne Crescent, Portrush Town, County Antrim. All members of the family were described as hotel owners.
The family owned the Skerry Bhan Hotel in Portrush.
On leaving school he served his apprenticeship as a mid-shipman with the Henderson Line of Steamers, trading between Glasgow and Rangoon.
Samuel was a lifelong abstainer and an ardent unionist. In 1912 he signed the Ulster Covenant in Portrush along with this brother Charles John.
On a visit home in 1913 he assisted in the training of the Signalling Corps of the Ulster Volunteers at Portrush.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 7th November 1914:
Mr Samuel MacFarlane, youngest son of Mr James MacFarlane, Skerry Bhan Hotel, Portrush, was born at Doons, Cookstown, about twenty years ago. He was on his way to Australia when the war broke out and on landing at Sydney he at once volunteered and was accepted as a member of the Australian Expeditionary Force. Mr MacFarlane entered the mercantile marine as a midshipman on the Henderson line trading between this country and Rangoon (Burmah). He had recently joined another line of steamers trading on the Australian Coast, and was on his way to join the work there when he volunteered. He has managed to see a good deal of the world in his twenty years. Sometime ago the Turks purchased a vessel from Lord Leitrim line and Mr MacFarlane was one of the officers who delivered the vessel at Constantinople. Before leaving there Mr MacFarlane took the part of some British sailors who had got into trouble and narrowly escaped imprisonment for his interference. He returned from Constantinople overland, passing through what is now the war zone. When at home for some weeks at Portrush, he took great interest in the U.V.F. (of which his father is a regular member) and especially in the signalling and when on his way to Australia he devoted his spare time to training the signalling corps. While he was at home last, the mobilisation of the Portrush U.CV.F. took place, and Mr MacFarlane was one of the most enthusiastic members on that memorable occasion. In a recent letter home, he was only permitted to say that the expedition was on duty in the Pacific Ocean. Regarding the life on board, he added that the men were well treated and lacked noting but tobacco and matches. Many of his companions had given up good positions in Australia on joining the expedition
Samuel MacFarlane initially enlisted in Sydney on the outbreak of war on 16th August 1914. He gave his next of kin as his mother, and her address as Skerry Bhan, Portrush.
Private MacFarlane took part in the New Guinea Campaign.
In a letter home he described the events of what is now known as the Siege of Toma. The events took place on the Papua New Guinea island of New England. Herbertshoe is located near Rabaul, on the north eastern tip New England.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 5th December 1914: The Fighting in New Guinea
Mr Samuel MacFarlane, youngest son of Mr James MacFarlane, Urban District Council (U.D.C.), Portrush, who is a volunteer with the Australian Expeditionary Force in New Guinea, writing to his mother on 1st October, says:-
‘I hope all are well at home. I am afraid I haven’t written for quite a long while, but I had absolutely no chance. We had some pretty stiff fighting and some lovely bayonet charges. I came out practically unscathed. A splinter came from the tree I was shooting behind and stuck in my left arm, but it isn’t much. We had a lot of native troops against us. I volunteered for everything that was going, so managed to get into the thick of it. The Governor has just surrendered and all the fighting here is over for the present (worse luck). H company was always put in the advance guard, so we were always first to rouse up the enemy. Sixty of us out of H volunteered after the surrender, to go 32 miles inland to dismantle a German wireless station and bring all the gear in. We thought at first it was only eighteen miles, and took three days provisions. It was a fortnight before we got all the stuff along, and we had to loot for food. We went two days on two pints of water, and started one morning at 5pm at night, covering 24 miles – a record march for New Guinea. When we reached the wireless, six of us were picked to go on to the Governor’s camp, another five miles in. There were six of us, a sergeant, and two officers. The Governor handed over all the German money, half a million marks, or 25,000 pounds. The six of us were sworn in not to reveal the contents of the boxes, and to be true to our trust and say they were boxes of ammunition. There were fifty cases, some four cwt. We rounded up 120 niggers, and the six of us, marching night and day, got it safely landed in Herbertshoe a week before the rest. The rest got thirty bullock wagons and about sixty bullocks, and got the rest of the stuff in about two days ago. The half of H who didn’t volunteer were drafted to Williams’ hones, and I expect we will join them in a week. There is a chance of us being sent to Germany yet. The Germans have used dum-dum bullets against us, fired on the Red Cross, and committed every crime in modern civilisation. They shot down one of our doctors who was attending the wounded. We have been living, since we came ashore, on tinned beef and hard biscuits, and are living now in a little tin hut by the sea shore. There is a coconut grove alongside us, and in the heat of the day we get a large pile of coconuts beside us and drink the milk until we can hold no more. The naval people are trying to take the credit of the Battle of Toma to themselves, because HMS Australia sent a few shells over our heads into the enemy’s trenches. The people of Sydney sent us free tobacco, but by some bad management we never got any yet. There is a steamer leaving for Sydney today. A wireless has just got in that the Germans have got the worst of it on the continent.’
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 2nd January 1915: From the Bismarck Archipelago
Mr Samuel MacFarlane, son of Mr and Mrs MacFarlane, Skerry Bhan Hotel, Portrush, and formerly of Doons, Cookstown, who joined the 1st Australian Naval and Military Expedition, writes his parents an interesting letter from the Bismarck Archipelago, under date 29th October. He says:-
‘We have settled the Germans out here but the natives are a little troublesome. We leave here for the Booker Islands in a week’s time to ‘question’ a few cannibals who have eaten someone. So far as I can tell, this part of the world is packed with man-eaters. The Germans have not handled their possessions well. We are camped on the sea front and in view of an active volcano standing above us, but not in the least dangerous. We have swimming parades every morning and afternoon, and in the heat of the day sleep or drink coconuts. We have been partially paid in German money which is no use out here, but enclosed is a five mark note (value 4s 2d) which you can keep as a curiosity. The people of Sydney sent us out new uniforms with a host of girls’ names and offers of marriage in the lining of the clothes! We expect soon to be sent to Africa or Europe. I trust it may be to the front in France. The Germans keep up a good fight but they do not play the game when they use, as they do, dum-dum bullets, barbed bayonets and fire on the Red Cross. One of our doctors was shot when they fired on the Red Cross in one of the engagements here.’
On his return to Australia he was offered a commission if he would return for a further three months to assist in training other volunteers. He preferred, however, to volunteer for active service in Europe
Samuel MacFarlane re-enlisted on the 2nd February 1915 in Liverpool, New South Wales.
Private MacFarlane was at first posted to Cairo and then Gallipoli.
Private Samuel James MacFarlane was wounded at Gallipoli on 15th August 1915. He received a gunshot wound to the head.
Private MacFarlane was evacuated to the Australian Hospital Ship ‘Valdivia’.
Private Samuel James MacFarlane was serving with the 13th Battalion of the Australian Infantry when he died of his wounds on the ship on 20th August 1915.
Private MacFarlane was buried at sea later that day.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 19th September 1915: Private Samuel MacFarlane
We regret to announce the death, from wounds received at the Dardanelles, of the youngest son of Mr and Mrs James MacFarlane was born on 17th March 1894, at Doons, Cookstown. He was educated at the Royal Academical Institute, Belfast, and Coleraine Academical Institute. On leaving school he served his apprenticeship as midshipman with the Henderson line of steamers trading between Glasgow and Rangoon. Afterwards he went out to the Coast trade in Australia. On his arrival at Sydney he found that war had been declared and immediately…..
In his Will, Samuel left all to his mother.
Private Samuel James MacFarlane is reported to have been recommended for a medal, although no record of this can be found.
Private Samuel James MacFarlane is commemorated on Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli in Turkey.
This inscription photo was taken by the Friends of the Somme Mid Ulster Branch on a visit to Gallipoli in September 2014.
Private Samuel MacFarlane is also commemorated locally on Portrush War Memorial.
Private Samuel MacFarlane is also commemorated in Portrush Presbyterian Church.
The book ‘Portrush Heroes 1914-18’ lists Samuel on pages 19 and 20.
The CWGC record Private Samuel James MacFarlane as the son of James and Sarah MacFarlane of Skerry-Bhan, Portrush, Ireland.