Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
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Date Information
20/12/2018
20/12/2018 From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 20th November 1915: Private D McIlree in France (brother of Alexander McIlree)
20/12/2018 Private D McIlree, who is in France in the Ulster Division, writing to his sister at Drapersfield on 9th November, says he is well and is proud to once again have on the uniform, and to have so many brothers serving their country. Referring to his brother Alex, killed in action, he says it was in a good cause and he is himself prepared for a like fate on behalf of the cause should it be demanded of him. He says it is no picnic at the front at present, but all are cheerful. The writer is one of the six sons of Widow McIlree, all of whom are soldiers, the youngest having fallen.
24/11/2018 Information has been received by the relatives of Private Alexander McIlree, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, from soldiers at the front stating that he was killed in an engagement on 15th May. A private in the 1st Manchester Regiment wrote that he found him dead on the battlefield, and that he died a soldier’s death, fighting for his King and country. Another private in the same regiment, in forwarding the personal belongings, found at Private McIlree’s side, says he was in action close to him and thinks he must have been hit by a piece of shell, and hopes they have already received information about his death from the War Office before receipt of his letter. The late Private McIlree was only 23 years of age, and enlisted in the Inniskillings in November 1913. He has seven brothers serving in the army at the present time. Before the war broke out he was in the employment of Mr Alexander Barclay, Drapersfield. He was an enthusiastic member of Knockinroe L.O.L. No 194, and was a great favourite with everyone who knew him.
24/11/2018
24/11/2018 From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 10th July 1915: Roll of Honour - Private Alexander McIlree
25/10/2018 From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 26th June 1915: Gunner Samuel McIlree (brother of Alexander McIlree)
25/10/2018
25/10/2018 Gunner Samuel McIlree, Royal Field Artillery, writing to his wife, Mrs McIlree, Drapersfield says:-
25/10/2018 ‘We had a big day’s bombarding here on 16th June, and I am glad to say the victory was for us as we took three lines of trenches from the Germans, but we lost a good few of our men during the charge, and we are waiting on them making a counter attack. It was something terrible for twelve hours, but we got what we wanted, and are still holding it. We have got great praise from General French for our work in the charge. We want all the men we can get here at present as it is the stronghold of the fighting line. The Germans have done their best to break through but have still been beaten back. The Germans are a treacherous lot of baby killers and gas users, but thank God the gas sometimes goes back to their own trenches. The last bombardment here was simply awful with bursting shrapnel and gas shells, but we escaped with a few wounded. Some of our battery have won the V.C. for bravery on the field. My overcoat is like a lemon from the smoke of the gas shells, but I am thankful that I have such good luck so far.’
19/07/2018 Whilst some will grudge but one,
19/07/2018 For a record like the house of McIlree
19/07/2018 Amid the battle fray
19/07/2018 For you’ll search in vain today
19/07/2018 Await her and her valiant family;
19/07/2018 And may praises, long and loud,
19/07/2018 That mother may be proud,
19/07/2018
19/07/2018 And ‘frightful menace from our homes remove.
19/07/2018 To fight the cruel Hun,
19/07/2018
19/07/2018 Is it not the limit of a mother’s love?
19/07/2018 To face the foeman’s guns –
19/07/2018 Who else has given eight sons
19/07/2018
19/07/2018 Napoleon once replied,
19/07/2018 But the King upon his throne,
19/07/2018 Knows she given all her own,
19/07/2018 Who is living all alone,
19/07/2018 There is a widow in Tyrone,
19/07/2018
19/07/2018 From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 13th February 1915: The Fighting McIlrees
19/07/2018 To keep the country safe from war’s alarm.
19/07/2018 From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 13th February 1915: Eight Sons in the Army
19/07/2018 As the nations meet in deadly clash of arms;
19/07/2018 When asked, ‘Who best has tried,
19/07/2018 Privy Purse Office, Buckingham Palace, 1st February 1915. Madam, I have the honour to inform you that The King has heard with much interest that you have at the present moment, eight sons in the army. I am commanded to express to you The King’s congratulations, and to assure you that His Majesty much appreciates the spirit of patriotism which prompted this example, in one family, of loyalty and devotion to their Sovereign and Empire. I have the honour to be madam, your obedient servant. F PONSONBY, Keeper of the Privy Purse. Mrs McIlree.
19/07/2018 The rector of Ardtrea wrote to the King to inform him of his parishioner, Mrs McIlree, having eight sons in the army. He received a reply and an enclosed letter for her – a copy of which is as follows:-
19/07/2018
19/07/2018 That you’d been a son of Widow McIlree.
19/07/2018 Upon that dreadful day,
19/07/2018 Such slaughter that you’ll pray,
19/07/2018 ‘Twill be too late to crush him, and there’ll be
19/07/2018 Upon you native land,
19/07/2018 Once let the tyrant stand
19/07/2018 Amongst women, to do service to your realm?’
19/07/2018
19/07/2018 The most sons sent her by Heaven,
19/07/2018 To gird the sword and don the battle helm.’
19/07/2018
19/07/2018 Oh gallant Brothers Eight
19/07/2018 May ‘peace, with honour’ wait,
19/07/2018 Upon your splendid fight for Britain’s sake;
19/07/2018 And may all those who falter
19/07/2018 To enlist, know that’s a halter,
19/07/2018 Hangs above the head of all that’s now at stake.
19/07/2018 ‘Tis she, who has gladly given,
25/03/2018 Alexander Sandy McIlree (Private, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died)
25/03/2018 William McIlree (Welsh Mountain Artillery)
25/03/2018 Herbert McIlree (North Irish Horse)
25/03/2018 Andrew McIlree (1st Royal Irish Fusiliers / North Irish Horse)
25/03/2018 John McIlree (Private, 6th Royal Irish Fusiliers)
25/03/2018 Robert McIlree
25/03/2018 David McIlree (Corporal, 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers)
25/03/2018 Leslie McIlree (Private, 6th Royal Irish Fusiliers / Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers)
25/03/2018 All seven other sons survived the war
25/03/2018 Samuel McIlree (Royal Field Artillery)
19/09/2016
17/09/2016 Alexander McIlree was the son of John and Eliza Martha McIlree (nee McGee). Alexander was born was born in Annahavil near Cookstown on 29th September 1890.
17/09/2016 After leaving school, Sandy McIlree worked for Alexander Barclay at Drapersfield.
17/09/2016 Known family: John McIlree, Eliza Martha McIlree, Herbert McIlree, Andrew McIlree, Elizabeth McIlree (born 14th February 1871), John McIlree (16th October 1872), William McIlree (born 21st January 1875), Robert McIlree (born 28th May 1877), David McIlree (born 27th September 1879), Hessie McIlree (born 26th May 1882), Samuel McIlree (18th July 1884), Leslie McIlree (born 27th May 1886), Mary Martha McIlree (born about 1889), Alexander Sandy McIlree (born 29th September 1890), Maggie Agnes McIlree (born 3rd June 1893).
17/09/2016 The 1901 census lists ‘Sandy’ as 10 years old at house 6 in Duffless in Tullaghoge, County Tyrone. John McIlree was an agricultural labourer.
17/09/2016 Alexander McIlree enlisted in Cookstown in November 1913, joining the Inniskillings.
17/09/2016 Private Alex McIlree is also commemorated on Cookstown Cenotaph and St Andrew’s Ardtrea Church of Ireland Roll of Honour.
17/09/2016 The 1911 census lists Sandy as 19 living with the family at house 23 in Tullyveagh Red Row Village, Coagh, County Tyrone.
17/09/2016 He was one of eight boys from the same family to join up for service during the First World War.
30/12/2015
30/12/2015 Inserted by his sorrowing mother.
30/12/2015 Mother misses you most of all, because she loved you the best’
30/12/2015 ‘Short was thy life, my darling son, but peaceful was thy rest,
30/12/2015 McILREE – In loving memory of 4304 Private Alexander McIlree, killed in action in France on 16th May 1915.
30/12/2015
30/12/2015 Cookstown Family Record : Mrs McIlree of Draperstown, Cookstown, has eight sons serving in the army at present, which probably constitutes a record for Tyrone. John and David are at present at Randalstown, in the 9th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; Herbert and Andrew are in the North Irish Horse; Leslie is in the 6th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; which has gone to the front lately; William is in the Welsh Mountain Artillery; Sandy is in the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Samuel is in the Field Artillery at the front.
30/12/2015 McILREE – In loving remembrance of Private Alexander McIlree (4304), who was killed in France on May 16 1915.
30/12/2015 From the Tyrone Courier dated 21 January 1915:
30/12/2015 Alexander McIlree has no known grave and is commemorated on panel 16-17 on Le Touret Memorial, France.
30/12/2015 Private McIlree’s body was discovered on the battlefield by two soldiers from the 1st Manchester Regiment. In forwarding home his personal belongings they sent a letter saying that he had fallen in action near them, being struck by shell shrapnel.
30/12/2015 Private Alex McIlree was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he was killed in action during a night attack on enemy positions on the eve of the Battle of Festubert on Sunday 16th May 1915.
30/12/2015 Early in 1915 his mother received a letter from Buckingham Palace after the Rector of Ardtrea, the Reverend W.E.R. Scott, wrote and told the King about Mrs McIlree having 8 sons serving in the army.
30/12/2015 From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 13th May 1916:
30/12/2015
30/12/2015 ‘We often think of days gone by, when we were all together,
30/12/2015 A shadow over our life is cast, a brother gone forever’
30/12/2015 Inserted by his sorrowing brothers and sisters
30/12/2015
30/12/2015 From the Belfast Newsletter dated 21st January 1915: Cookstown Family’s Record
30/12/2015
30/12/2015 Mrs McIlree of Drapersfield, Cookstown, has eight sons serving in the army at present, which probably constitutes a record for County Tyrone. John and David are at present at Randalstown, in the 9th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; Herbert and Andrew are in the North Irish Horse; Leslie is in the 6th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; which has gone to the front lately; William is in the Welsh Mountain Artillery; Sandy is in the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Samuel is in the Field Artillery at the front. Three of them (John, David and Andrew) have South African war medals. John and Andrew were also in the Indian frontier war, 1897-98.
30/12/2015 From the Belfast Newsletter dated 9th February 1915: Eight Sons on the Army – Tyrone Mother congratulated by the King
30/12/2015
30/12/2015 The rector of Ardtrea having written to the King to inform his Majesty of the fact that his parishioner, Mrs McIlree, has eight sons in the army, the following letter has been received for transmission to Mrs McIlree:-
30/12/2015 Privy Purse Office, Buckingham Palace, 1st February 1915. Madam, I have the honour to inform you that the King has heard with much interest that you have at the present eight sons in the army. I am commanded to express to you the King’s congratulations, and to assure you that his Majesty much appreciates the spirit of patriotism which prompted this example, in one family, of loyalty and devotion to their Sovereign and Empire. I have the honour to be Madam, your obedient servant. F Ponsonby, Keeper of the Privy Purse.
30/12/2015 He was a member of Knockinroe LOL. 194.
30/12/2015 From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 13th May 1916:
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