William Henry “Harry" Sloan (1900–1915)

William Henry Sloan, known familiarly as Henry or Harry, was born 18th October 1900 in Corbrackey townland in the rural district of the parish of Drumcree, county Armagh. He was the fifth, and youngest, child of William John Sloan (1866–1949), a farmer of Balnagone [1] townland and Mary Flavell (1860–1901) of Corbrackey. [2] 

His mother died suddenly (probably of heart disease) in January 1901, aged just forty years, when Henry was an infant of fourteen months. [3]

The family went to live with Henry’s paternal grandparents in Balnagone. A contemporary snapshot of the household is provided by the 1911 census:

  • John Sloan, head, religious profession: Church of Ireland, cannot read, age 72, farmer, married, born in co. Armagh
  • Mary, wife, religion do., cannot read, age 71; married 51 years, 10 children born, 6 still living; born do.
  • William J., son, religion do., education: reads and writes, age 45, farmer, widower, born do.
  • Jane, daughter, religion do., education do., age 38, housekeeper, single, born do.
  • Lizzie, grand daughter, religion do., education do., age 17, hem stitcher, single, born do.
  • John George, grand son, religion do., education do., age 15, farm labourer, single, born do.
  • James, grand son, [as above], age 14, farm labourer, single, born do.
  • Hettie, grand daughter, [as above], age 12, scholar, born do.
  • Henery, grand son, [as above], age 10, [as above]
  • Samuel J., grand son, [as above], age 14, [as above]
  • census place: Ballynagowan, parish of Drumcree, county Armagh [4]

When, in 1914, the drums beat for men and youth to join in the war effort, Henry’s brother, George, joined up. [5] Henry signed up with the 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, in Belfast. [6] In the early months of 1915, he was training to get into the thick of the fray when he fell ill at the barracks in Carrickfergus, county Antrim. Young Private Henry Sloan died of cerebro-spinal fever (meningococcal meningitis) [7] in Purdysburn hospital, near Belfast, on the 16th May 1915, five months shy of his fifteenth birthday. [8] 

wm-hy-sloan-news-photo-ed


William Henry Sloan was the youngest casualty of war to be buried in Drumcree churchyard.
[9]
The inscription on the gravestone reads:

             3426 Private
         H. Sloan
   Royal Irish Fusiliers
   16th May 1915 Age 16.

… though the lad was considerably younger, just fourteen-and-a-half years.

The name of Private William H. Sloan, Royal Irish Rifles, Ballinagone, is memorialized on the Portadown War Memorial, which stands in Market Street near St Mark’s church. [10]

… news clipping  courtesy of Richard Edgar, author of:
    A Call to Arms, Portadown and the Great War.
 
 (Portadown, Northern Ireland: Richard Edgar, 2014).

Sources and notes:

1.

Balnagone and Ballinagone were variant spellings for Ballynagowan townland.

2.

General Register Office, Ireland. Civil Registration of a Birth. William Henry Sloan, male, born 18th October 1900 in Corbrackey townland; son of William John Sloan, farmer, of Corbrackey, and Mary Sloan formerly Flavell; informant: William [his X mark] John Sloan, father, Corbrackey, 10th November 1900; George Dougan, Registrar. Superintendent Registrar’s District: Lurgan; Registrar’s District: Tartaraghan, in the Union of Lurgan in the county of Armagh. Archival refs. No. 260, pg 638/01762316. Digital image online at Irish Genealogy, hosted by the Department of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, www.civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie (accessed by Alison Kilpatrick, 2019-03-11).

3.

General Register Office, Ireland. Civil Registration of a Death. Mary Sloan, female, married, aged 38 years, wife of a farmer; died 11th January 1901 in Corbrackey townland; cause of death: died suddenly, probably disease of the heart, no medical attendant; informant: William John Sloan, husband, present at death, of Corbrackey, 11th January 1901; George Dougan, Registrar. Superintendent Registrar’s District: Lurgan; Registrar’s District: Tartaraghan, in the Union of Lurgan in the county of Armagh. Archival refs. No. 9, pg 615/-4620711. Digital image online at Irish Genealogy, hosted by the Department of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, www.civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie (accessed by Alison Kilpatrick, 2019-03-11

4.

Ireland 1911 Census. John Sloan, age 72, with wife, Mary (71) son, William J. (45, widower), daughter, Jane (38), and several grandchildren; in Ballynagowan townland, parish of Drumcree, county Armagh. Archival ref. house no. 13, Drumcree D.E.D. Original records digitised by The National Archives of Ireland, in a joint venture with Library and Archives, Canada; online at www.census.nationalarchives.ie (accessed by Alison Kilpatrick, 2019-03-11).

5.

British Army. WWI Medal Rolls: Index Cars, 1914–1920. Extract: “Campaign: 1914-16. Name: Sloan, George. Corps: R. Ir: Rif. [Royal Irish Rifles]. Rank: Pte [Private]. Reg. No. 13/17004. Medals: Victory (B/104 B152176), British (do. do.), 15 Star (B74 B 665). [signed: P. Dear]. Theatre of War 1. France. Qualifying date: 5/[10?]/15.” Original record: Army Medal Office. WWI Medal Index Cards. In the care of The Western Front Association website. Digital image online at ancestry.ca (accessed by subscription, and transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick, 2019-05-09).
… Henry’s  brother, James, also probably attested to a regiment, but a record has not been found.

6.

United Kingdom. Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914–1919. Henry Sloane of Portadown, county Armagh; died 16th May 1915 at home; enlisted at Belfast; rank: Private; regiment: Princess Victoria’s (Royal Irish Fusiliers), battalion: 4th, regimental no. 3426; type of casualty: died; theatre of war: Home. Original record: British and Irish Military Databases. The Naval and Military Press Ltd. Index online at ancestry.ca (accessed by Alison Kilpatrick by subscription, 2019-04-06).

7.

Cerebro-spinal fever, or meningococcal meningitis, was a known and all-too-prevalent disease afflicting soldiers living in barracks. The combination of communal living, the stress of conversion from civilian to military life, overcrowding, and poor ventilation conspired against the men, often resulting in deaths outside the theatre of war. Source: Stout, T. Duncan M. War Surgery and Medicine. Ch. 10: "Cerebro-Spinal Fever and Meningitis." Wellington, New Zealand: War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1954. Online at nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2Surg-pt2-c10.html (accessed by Alison Kilpatrick, 2019-05-09).

8.

General Register Office, Ireland. Civil Registration of a Death. Henry Sloan, male, late of Carrickfergus Barracks, bachelor, aged 16 years; occupation: Private, R.I.F. [Royal Irish Fusiliers]; died 16th May 1915 in Purdysburn Hospital; cause of death: cerebro-spinal fever, certified; informant: A. Crossley, occupier in attendance, Purdysburn Hospital; registered 29th May 1915. Archival refs. No. 315, 04464986, Superintendent Registrar’s District: Lisburn, Registrar’s District: Lisburn, Registrar’s District: Ballylesson, Union of Lisburn, County of Down. Digital image online at Irish Genealogy, hosted by the Department of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, www.civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie (accessed by Alison Kilpatrick, 2019-04-06).

9.

Portadown Times, 13 November 2017. “Boy of 16 the youngest casualty of war to be buried at Drumcree.” Re: Private William Henry Sloan, son of William John Sloan of Portadown [sic], thought to have been younger than sixteen years at the time of his death. Digital version online at www.portadowntimes.co.uk/news/boy-of-16-the-youngest-casualty-of-war-to-be-buried-at-drumcree-1-8242718 (accessed by Alison Kilpatrick, 2019-03-11).

10.

(a) Portadown War Memorial (Market Street, Portadown). Extract: “Sloan William H., Private Royal Irish Fusiliers, Ballinagone.” Online at http://www.ulsterwarmemorials.net/html/portadown__county_armagh.html (accessed by Alison Kilpatrick, 2019-04-07).
(b) Portadown Times, 20 November 1925 (pp. 4–5). “The Glorious Dead. Portadown’s War Memorial Unveiled. Striking and Impressive Ceremony.” Extract: “Ballinagone. Private William H. Sloan, Royal Irish Fusiliers.” Digital image online at The British Newspaper Archive, www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk (accessed by Alison Kilpatrick by subscription, 2019-04-07).

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