A Hero of The First of July Attack!

Diver, Thomas Wilson, M.M., L.-Corpl., 2nd Battn. (108th Foot) The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers…

Born on 7 Feb 1898 in 21 Lewis Street in the City of Londonderry, Thomas Wilson Diver was the second child and eldest son of eight born to George William Diver and my great grand aunt, Elizabeth Wilson.

I discovered Thomas after unearthing Short Service Record No. 8211 of Robert Norry Wilson, his uncle and my great grand uncle, which led me to Burt, Co. Donegal and another Crooked Branch of my family tree.

The 1901 census revealed that three year old Thomas was visiting his maternal great aunt, Eliza Jane Doherty (nee Wilson); in 28 Carrowreagh, Burt, Co. Donegal.  When the 1911 census was recorded Thomas was still living with the family who were then residing in 21 Carrowreagh.  At that point in time his name was recorded as Thomas Wilson – he was listed as a boarder and scholar.  In 1901 and 1911 his parents and siblings were living in Londonderry.  It is unclear why Thomas was living in Burt and not with the rest of his family.  I was driven to find out more …RocketLife doc 1In researching further I very quickly discovered much more than anticipated!

Derrymen’s Daring Deeds.  No Surrender Spirit at Thiepval.  Stories of Conspicuous Gallantry.  Heroes of the First of July Attack.”

 An article published in the Londonderry Sentinel on 10 May 1917 stated (in part):

“…There have just arrived in Londonderry from the front twenty-two of the Ulster Division certificates awarded to N.C.O.’s and men of the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Derry Volunteers) who belong to the Maiden City and district for conspicuous gallantry on the 1st July last year, when the Ulster Division won undying fame.  The Derry Volunteers had the honour of leading the attack on that glorious day, and they added fresh luster to the great history of the Maiden City.  In spite of the fiercest opposition of overwhelming numbers they proved a living manifestation of the No Surrender spirit which animated their ancestors in days gone by, and though they paid a heavy sacrifice in killed and wounded they maintained the splendid traditions of the grand old city.

Certificates have been awarded to the following: …”

“15459 Private Thomas Wilson Diver.  On the 1st July, 1916, in the Thiepval sector, he showed great courage and ability in handling his Lewis gun in the German ‘C’ line.

Private Diver resided with his aunt, Mrs. Wilson, 24, Creggan-road.  Although he escaped unscathed on the 1st July, he was later wounded and gassed, but is at present at the front.  He joined the Ulster Division on its formation although not sixteen years of age.  He is now a Lance-corporal.” RocketLife doc 2Not eighteen months later and once again, published in the Londonderry Sentinel on 17 Oct 1918, an article read:

“Mrs. Wilson, 24, Creggan-road, Londonderry, has received intimation that her nephew, L.-Corp. Thomas Wilson Diver, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Derry Volunteers), has been killed in action.  Deceased, who was only twenty years of age, was the holder of the Military Medal and Ulster Division Certificate for bravery in the field.  He joined up on the outbreak of the war.  Rev. J.G. Paton, writing to inform Mrs. Wilson, says – ‘I have known deceased for a long time, and can tell you he was a good boy and a keen soldier, who always did his duty cheerfully.  He never did better than on the day on which he was killed – it was in an attack on the enemy, and he did good work.”RocketLife doc 3The UK Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects confirmed that this was indeed my Thomas Wilson Diver.  George William Diver was listed as his father and a War Gratuity of £23 10 Shillings for his war service was paid.  The Grave Registration Report noted: “DIVER, Lce. Cpl. Thomas, 15459, M.M. “A” Coy. 2nd Bn.  Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 29th Sep 1918. Age 20, son of George William and Elizabeth Diver of 5 North Street, Rosemount, Londonderry.” 

The UK De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour (1914 -1919) read “Diver, Thomas Wilson, M.M., L.-Corpl., 2nd Battn. (108th Foot) The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; b. Londonderry, 10 March 1898; edu. Burt National School, Burt, co. Donegal; joined the 10th Inniskillings 12 Oct. 1914; served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders; was wounded and invalided home 28 Aug. 1916; returned to France in Jan. 1917; transferred to the 2nd Inniskillings in March, 1918; was present at the German offensive that month, and was killed in action 2 Oct. following.  He was awarded a Parchment Certificate after the fighting at Thiepval, on the Somme, 1 July, 1916, and the Military Medal for gallant and distinguished service in the field…”RocketLife doc 4Lance Corporal Thomas Wilson Diver’s name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West Vlaanderen, Belgium and Commemorated in Perpetuity by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  His name is also among those listed on the Diamond War Memorial in Londonderry.

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

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.”

My young Hero – Thomas Wilson Diver will always be remembered by me!  He has found a little place in my heart!

About CJ Murdoch

Genealogy: 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 my family, both maternal and paternal lines "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 the summer of 2014! If you are interested in help tracing your ancestors I’d love to hear from you!
This entry was posted in Co. Donegal, Co. Donegal, Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Hubei and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A Hero of The First of July Attack!

  1. Amy says:

    Such an awful war (as all wars are). To think he was not yet 16 when he enlisted and only 20 when he was killed. He never had a chance to live his life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gladys Baart says:

    Hi Colleen. The story about your young hero ThomasWilson moved me deeply. Thank you for sharing your profound discoveries. Gladys

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sean Boyle says:

    Looking for my great granny Anne Jane Fleming’s family. She was born 1855 circa, probably in Inch Island, Co. Donegal. Her father was William Fleming, don’t know her mother or any other relative. She married my great granda James Duffy from Inch Island in 1880 at Burt R.C. church. They lived at KERNAGHAN and BOHILLION, Inch Island and had 8 of a family. My granny was Annie Duffy, the eldest daughter and 3rd in the family. Any info or knowledge would be greatly appreciated please.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Elaine Holmes says:

    Hi Colleen
    Thomas was indeed a young hero. He’s in my thoughts today as we remember all who gave their lives for us.
    We didn’t get to Londonderry when we last visited Antrim but we hope to return in 2018.
    Thank you for sharing all your stories and research, I’m looking forward to the next already!
    Elaine x

    Liked by 1 person

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