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   2nd Lieutenant James McNeill McKinstry
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 01/05/2020
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army)
Date Of Birth: 09/05/1895
Died: 02/12/1916 (Died of Wounds)
Age: 21
Summary      
James McNeill McKinstry was the youngest son of Robert and Annie Roberts McKinstry. He was born in Cookstown on 9th May 1895. He was one of nine children, six surviving. His sister Annie was born in Belfast two years later. James studied at Inst. in Belfast and then at Queens University, from 1913-1914. He joined the Queens’ Officer Training Corps on 29th September 1914. Second Lieutenant McKinstry, serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was wounded and subsequently died of his wounds in Warloy Special Hospital on Saturday 2nd December 1916.
2nd Lieutenant James McNeill McKinstry
Further Information
James McNeill McKinstry was the youngest son of Robert and Annie Roberts McKinstry. Robert McKinstry and Annie Smith were married about 1886. Annie McKinstry was born in Cork. This may explain why a GRONI marriage record cannot be found.
James McNeill McKinstry was born in Cookstown on 9th May 1895. He was one of nine children, six surviving.
Family: Robert McKinstry, Annie Roberts McKinstry, William McKinstry (born 14th April 1887, Belfast), Thomas Stanley McKinstry (born 16th September 1888, Belfast), John McKinstry (born 20th October 1890, Tandragee), Robert Noel McKinstry (born 25th December 1892, Tandragee), James McNeill McKinstry (born 9th May 1895, Cookstown), Annie Roberts McKinstry (born 3rd October 1897, Belfast).
The family moved around a lot, and lived in Cookstown for only a short time. James was born in Cookstown in 1895 and Annie was born in Belfast two years later.
The 1901 census lists James McNeill as age 5, living with the family at house 28 in Drumnadrough, Whitehouse, County Antrim. Robert McKinstry was a Mill Manager.
It seems Robert McKinstry died on 22nd March 1911 in Newry, aged 63.
The 1911 census lists James McNeill as age 15, living with the family at house 6 in Clogharevan, Camlough, County Armagh. Camlough is just outside Newry. His mother was a widow. James was an apprentice to the linen trade.
James studied at Inst. in Belfast and then at Queens University, from 1913-1914
He joined the Queens' Officer Training Corps on 29th September 1914.
Medal card
Photo of James McNeill McKinstry, courtesy of Mr Robert Shields, great-nephew of James
Photo courtesy of Mr Robert Shields, great-nephew of James
James wrote this letter to his mother dated 19th June 1916:
'Dear Mother, I am going up to the trenches and what happens to me is in God's hands. If I am knocked out, do not mourn for me for this is the fire through which we must pass to a happier world. May God comfort and keep you from all harm and give you length of days to see your children's children. I want everything to go on as usual no matter what happens and I would rather nobody should go in black for me. I commit you to God who is a safe rock in time of storm and who guards and watches over us all. With deepest love and affection to yourself and the rest of the family. I remain, sweet Mother, your affectionate son, James. PS Do not have any regrets about me as you gave me everything a Mother can give and you were the one person I admired and loved most in this world.'
James' battalion were in the front line near Beaumont Hamel from 18th November 1916.
On 23rd November, a party of eight men of the battalion, in conjunction with three companies of the 16th Lancashire Fusiliers took part in an attack on Munich Trench. Their objective was to rescue a party of the 97th Infantry Brigade located in dugouts and to return them to their own lines. The attack commenced at 3.30pm and they succeeded in entering Munich Trench but were unable to rescue the missing men, and returned. One officer of the battalion was killed, three were wounded, and over sixty other ranks were also casualties.
Second Lieutenant McKinstry, serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was one of those wounded.
Second Lieutenant James McNeill McKinstry subsequently died of his wounds in Warloy Special Hospital on Saturday 2nd December 1916.
Second Lieutenant James McNeill McKinstry is buried in Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension at the Somme in France. The inscription on his grave reads: ‘For noble deeds as simple duty done we thank thee Lord’
The CWGC record Second Lieutenant McKinstry as the son of Annie R and the late Robert McKinstry, of 16 Rugby Road., Belfast. He is also recorded as being born at Cookstown, Co. Tyrone.
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References and Links
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1 1901 Census lists McKinstry family 1901 census lists James McNeill as age 5, living with the family at house 28 in Drumnadrough, Whitehouse, Antrim
2 1911 Census lists McKinstry family 1911 census lists James McNeill as age 15, living wcith the family at house 6 in Cloughurivan, Camlough, Armagh
3 Central Presbyterian Association - 1917 Some information on James McNeill McKinstry
4 FindAGrave.com Photo of 2nd Lieut James M McKinstry's grave
5 National Archives UK Medal card can be purchased here
6 Queen’s University War Memorial 'McKinstry, James McNeill, 2nd Lieutenant, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers'
7 Queens Univ. Book of Remembrance 1952 Page 38. Member of Training Corps 1913-1914
8 Royal Belfast Academical Institution Past pupil of Inst. Includes photo of grave and correspondence.
9 War Graves Photographic Project Photo of 2nd Lieut James M McKinstry's grave can be purchased here
Cookstown District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2010-2020