“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old…”

From Duke Street to Kammel, Belgium and Back…

Born on 18 Mar 1895 he was the fourth son and seventh child of nine born to Samuel Starrett and Ellen Neely Beattie.  William, most commonly known as Willie; is my 1st cousin 2x removed.  His mother, Ellen, is my great grand aunt and sister to my great grandmother Charlotte.

Willie was born, and spent the first years of his life; at 1 Derry View Terrace where the family resided.  Sometime between Dec 1898, the birth of his brother Edward; and the 1901 Census being recorded the family had moved to 25 Spencer Road; where they still lived in 1911.  On 28 Sep 1912, and the signing of the Ulster Covenant, I discovered Willie, a printer; had noted his address as 34 Spencer Road.  This little tidbit of information I found quite interesting; and upon researching the 1911 Census Record for 34 Spencer Road found a Hunter family!  It would seem I had discovered another Twisted Limb of my Hunter/Wilson family line!

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old…”

After unearthing a Military Record, entitled “Proceedings on Discharge”, I discovered Willie, at the young age of nineteen; had enlisted with the 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on 8 Sep 1914.  These records confirmed that he was a printer by trade and once again showed his home address as 25 Duke Street.

An article published in the Londonderry Journal on 22 Sep 1916 stated: “Mr. Samuel Starritt, 25, Duke Street, has been notified that his son, Private William Starritt, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, has arrived at an English hospital from France.  Private Starritt enlisted shortly after the outbreak of the war.”

A “Medical Report on an Invalid”, from the Ontario Military Hospital, Kent, England; dated 3 Aug 1917 revealed that on 29 Apr 1917 in Kammel, Belgium Willie was injured.  “Patient stated that a piece of shrapnel struck his left hand, causing much damage to his ring and little fingers.  At the same time he received a GSW to his upper lip which is now healed completely.  He was taken at once to the 53rd Field Ambulance where his wounds were dressed and the ring and little fingers amputated above the metacarpo-phalanged joint.”  The noted “opinion as to the causation of the disability” indicated “G.S.W. Left Hand” caused by “active service in presence of the enemy”.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old…”

The record also revealed that Willie had several ailments.  His respiratory system and expansion of his lungs was somewhat “deficient”; he also suffered from chronic bronchitis.  The record goes on to state: “Ring and middle fingers of left hand missing.  Middle finger partially flexed and bound down by contracted scar tissue.  Wound on ulna border of hand almost healed. Slight discharge from small area on surface.  Patients condition not likely to improve appreciably”.

Accounts show that Willie was of “Very Good Military Character – A very good man who served his country well and was wounded in its defenses”.  He was of “fresh complexion”, 5’ 10 ½” tall with grey eyes and light brown hair.  On 22 Aug 1917 and only 21 years of age Willie received a medical discharge.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old…”

Willie’s life, like many of his siblings; was not to be a long one.  At 25 Duke Street on 3 Mar 1919 and in the presence of his brother Samuel, Willie passed away.  His Death Record revealed that he suffered from chronic pleurisy for two years and six months and septic pneumonia for nine days.

Private William Starrett of the 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers is interred at the Glendermott Church of Ireland Graveyard.  He is Remembered with Honour and Commemorated in Perpetuity by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission.  He is also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial located in the Diamond in Londonderry.

A Memorial published by his family on the first anniversary of his death read:

“One year ago to-day the voice we loved was stilled
And in our hearts remain a place
That never can be filled
Someday we’ll hear that voice again
Someday we’ll see his smile
If only we wait in patience here
For just a little while”

Willie is another member of my family whom I have never met – one I will never forget – one who has stolen a little piece of my heart.

About CJ Murdoch

Looking For "Dead People"! My Journey Back In Time - Tracing my ancestors and researching the counties, cities and towns where they resided. Taking a “Glimpse” into their lives and stories and the times in which they lived; all in an effort to learn about their “Dash”! “I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of his friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning – to the end. He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the second with tears, but he said that what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.” I have always been interested in researching my family tree and “hanging out” in cemeteries. Like most of us... I didn't ask enough questions when elderly family were still living. Oh, what I would give for 24 hours and a camera with my ancestors… just to sit and listen! I'm researching many family lines, including: Murdoch, Wilson, Berry, Love, Scott, Beattie/Beatty, Hendren, Sweeney, Robinson and Elvin; just to name a few. My families are predominantly from counties Antrim, Donegal and Londonderry. However, it seems that many of them, both maternal and paternal lines, originally hailed from Co. Donegal. I was born and raised in Northern Ireland and now live in Ottawa, Canada, making frequent trips back home to visit with my family. Of course those visits also include treks to the many burial grounds of my ancestors. My most recent trip back home was during the summer of 2019! Looking forward to August of 2020 when I will return. If you are interested in help tracing your ancestors I’d love to hear from you!
This entry was posted in Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old…”

  1. William Houston says:

    I’m wondering were you Starritt or Starrett connections related to songwriter Sam Starritt from Drumahoe, who co-wrote the song, ‘John Condon’. Sam wrote a play about his family member who fought in WW 1. The name ‘Sammy’ was also the first name of Sammy Starrett, who once had a Butcher’s shop in Clooney Terrace and lived in Rossdowney Park, the large red-brick houses opposite the Irish Street Estate in Londonderry’s Waterside. Sammy, later moved to Drumneechy, Dungiven where he ran a Grocer’s shop and he died in 1998. Once of Sammy’s three sons was the late Belfast Newsletter Journalist Ian Starrett, while the two surviving sons Ivan, lives in Limavady and Raymond in Portstewart. Just wondering is there a connection?

    Liked by 1 person

    • CJ Murdoch says:

      Hi William, thanks for getting in touch. It certainly sounds like there may be a connection. If you could send me an email I can provide you with as much information as I have. My email: twistedlimbsandcrookedbranches@gmail.com . Looking forward to hearing from you. Colleen


    • Jimmy jones says:

      Not Sam Starritt from Drumahoe father. He lived in Faughan Cresant Drumahoe but if there is a connection this girl will find. Love reading when I know the homes and streets are still here. Coleen think I told you before about Sam Starritt I lived beside him for about ten years No longer with us RIP

      Liked by 1 person

  2. KTC says:

    I love how Willie “comes to life” in this piece. Thanks for sharing his story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • CJ Murdoch says:

      Thanks KTC; glad you enjoyed it. In my search for family, I believe it’s important to “keep them alive”. One of my favourite quotes is: “The Dead are only Dead when we no longer speak of them”. Colleen


  3. Amy says:

    What a sad short life. As always, I am impressed with your research and what you find!

    Liked by 1 person

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