Boy of 16 the youngest casualty of war to be buried at Drumcree

Pausing at the war graves in St John the Baptist cemetery.
Pausing at the war graves in St John the Baptist cemetery.

The oldest was 50 and the youngest just 16 but they are two of more than 30 war victims whose graves lie within the parish of Drumcree.

And just a few weeks ago, a tour of the graves was hosted by community group Regenerate, with the guide being author and historian Richard Edgar.

Seven of the graves, dating back to the First and Second World Wars, are in St John the Baptist’s cemetery (Roman Catholic) and a further 24 in Drumcree Parish cemetery (Church of Ireland).

Keith Thompson, who runs the war graves project, said, “Some of those who died have Commonwealth headstones and are buried there while others are commemorated on family headstones. “Of those mentioned on family headstones, some were lost in the war and their bodies never recovered and others are buried overseas.”

The young lad killed when he was 16, and it’s believed he may even have been younger, was Private William Henry Sloan, son of William John Sloan, Portadown, who died on May 16, 1915. He is buried in Drumcree graveyard.

And the only woman included on Portadown’s war memorial, Sister Irene Wright, a nurse, has no known grave but is mentioned on the family headstone at Drumcree.

The daughter of Albert Ernest and Eliza Jane Wright, she died on February 14, 1942 and is also remembered ‘with honour’ on Singapore Memorial.

Last year, Regenerate undertook a project to uncover all the war graves in the two Seagoe cemeteries - around 35 in all -and tidy up and maintain them.