Nearly 40 men from Larne and District were killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916.
One of the first casualties from Larne was in the build up to the battle; he was 20-year-old Robert McFerran Adams from 4 Castle Terrace, Larne Harbour, the eldest son of Edward John and Ellen Jane.
Robert was shot through the head by a German sniper and died of his wounds. He is buried in Forceville Communal Cemetery and Extension.
Several officers from Larne were killed on the day, including John Griffiths (12th Btn R.I.R). Although a native of Chester, he had for six years been a science master at Larne Grammar School and then at Larne Technical College. He was also a rugby coach at the Grammar School and captain of Larne Rugby Club.
He was killed while leading his company into action and was mentioned in despatches for his bravery. He is buried in Ancre British Cemetery on the Somme.
Captain John Edward Jenks (12th Btn R.I.R) was badly wounded on July 1 and died of his wounds on July 4. He had been an employee of Shamrock Shipping Company at Larne Harbour, and was commander of the Larne Harbour Company of the UVF.
A member of Larne and Inver Parish church, he was also a very keen golfer at Larne Golf Club, Islandmagee and won the President’s prize three times, so he was allowed to keep the trophy.
John was married to Gladys Hayward, a sister of the famous actor and playwright Richard Hayward. He is buried in Puchevillers British Cemetery on the Somme.
Another officer from Larne killed in action on July 1 was Lieutenant William Mc Cluggage (12th Btn.R.I.R). Son of Thomas and Annie of Ballyboley, he attended Larne Grammar School and studied engineering at Queens University Belfast.
William played rugby for Queens and Larne and was a member of First Larne Presbyterian Church. He is buried in Serre Road Cemetery No.2, which is the largest military cemetery on the Somme.
Also buried in this cemetery is Samuel Mellin (12th btn. R.I.R), a member of Gardenmore Presbyterian Church. His wife Jeannie and Mother lived at 17 Point Street Larne.
Other Larne men buried in the Somme area include:
- William John Campbell (12th Btn. R.I.R). He was a well known shoemaker in Larne and had been a member of Gardenmore Presbyterian Church. His wife Margaret Jane, two daughters and three sons lived at 36 Waterloo Road, Larne. He is buried in Ancre British Cemetery Beaumont-Hamel, Somme.
-Richard Crawley (13th Btn R.I.R). He was one of 14 men killed by a single shell as they were preparing to go to the front line. All 14 are buried side by side. This cemetery is unusual in that all the headstones are made from red Corsehill stone instead of the usual Portland stone. His wife Edith lived at 74 Lennonville Glenarm Road, Larne. Richard is buried in Martinsart British Cemetery, Somme.
-Charles Norrell (12th R.I.R). Died of wounds received at the Somme, aged 26. His wife Mary and daughter lived at 31 Herbert Avenue and his mother, brother and sister at 67 Mill Street. His wife was a sister to Samuel Millar (12th Btn. R.I.R) who was killed in Belgium in August 1917, aged 24. The inscription on Charles’ headstone reads: “O for the touch of a vanished hand and the sound of a voice that is still”. He is buried in WarloyBaillon Communal Cemetery.
wounded Men from Larne who later died include:
-Archibald Mason Johnston (12th Btn RIR). Archibald was badly wounded on July 1. After intensive treatment at several places he was eventually brought home. He never fully recovered from his wounds and eventually died on February 11, 1919, age 44. His funeral took place with full military honours to Larne cemetery and many of his old comrades from the 12th Btn RIR formed a guard of honour at his grave.
He is buried in the family grave in Larne Cemetery and his name is commemorated on a large headstone. Archibald was a member of First Larne Presbyterian Church.
-Sgt James Mc Manus (12th Btn RIR). Son of Ellen and the late Alexander,Mount Pleasant Larne. He was severely wounded in the build up to the Somme and died in Rouen Military hospital on July 14, 1916.
He was a talented footballer and had played for Cliftonville FC. Buried in St Sever Military Cemetery, Rouen, France. James was a member of First Larne Presbyterian Church.