A Ballymoney Hero!

2nd Bn Highland Light Infantry – Sergeant Alexander Murdoch…

“Intimation has been received by Mr. Alexander Murdock, Union Street, Ballymoney, that his son, Private Alexander Murdock, Highland Light Infantry, was wounded in action in France, and is now in hospital in England, suffering from shrapnel wounds to the head, arm, and body.”  Belfast Newsletter – Tuesday, December 21, 1915.

Alexander was born on 18 May 1883 in Ballyboyland, Ballymoney, Co. Antrim.  He was the fifth child and fourth son of Alexander Murdock and Jane Holmes.  On 7 Jun 1877 his parents were United in Marriage in the Ballymoney Reformed Presbyterian Church by Rev. J. Brown and in the presence of William Wasson and Mary Biggart.   Alexander, known as Alex, is my 1st cousin 3x removed – his father is my 2nd great uncle and brother to my 2nd great grandfather, William. 

RocketLife doc 1

In the 1901 Scottish Census I discovered Alex living at 46 Hutcheson Street, Maryhill, Lanarkshire, Scotland and working as a general labourer.  He and his brother Archie were living with their aunt, Sarah Jayne Burkhill (nee Murdock), and family after having left their home town of Ballymoney.

Upon discovering a document entitled Attestation for the Militia or Reserve Division of the Militia, dated 23 Nov 1903, I learned that Alex was residing at 43 Burnhouse Street, Maryhill, Glasgow.  The documentation further disclosed that Alex was in the employ of Brown & Co. Shipbuilders, Clydebank, Glasgow.  He was a man of small stature – standing at 5 feet 5 3/4” tall, of fresh complexion, with blue eyes and brown hair.  Alex, a Presbyterian, had ‘no distinctive marks’.

I was unable to find any trace of Alex again until I came across the 1911 Census – Return of all Commissioned Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-Commission Officers, Trumpeters, Drummers and Rank, Alex was listed as a Lance Corporal with the Highland Light Infantry.  It seems while living in Glasgow he had enlisted at Hamilton, Lanarkshire.

RocketLife doc 2

An excerpt from “Ballymoney Heros” by Robert Thompson stated: “In January 1916 Alex was in hospital suffering from injuries but was improving and looking forward to ten days leave.  I have been unable to trace the family of Alex Murdock but he was with his battalion north of the River Ancre in October 1916.

The first week of November saw a change in the weather, with some prospects of a lasting improvement.  The weather had been very wet and the terrible condition of the water-logged trenches, many of which, including important communication ways, were little better than treacherous quagmires, while others were filled with water to a depth of three or four feet.  The attack, however, was set for the 13th, zero hour being 5:45 a.m.

On the 11th the battalion occupied their trenches for the last time and after the huge amount of repair work which had been done on them they were so deep that it was almost impossible to get out of them and a great number of ladders had to be used to overcome the difficulty.  So impetuous were the leading waves of the attack that they entered the enemy front line at the same time as the British barrage, and undoubtedly suffered many casualties from their own shell fire.  Within six minutes the line was captured and many German prisoners taken.  It was during this attack that Alex Murdock was killed…” 

RocketLife doc 3

9140 Serjeant Alexander Murdock, 2nd Bn Highland Light Infantry who was Killed in Action 13 Nov 1916 is remembered in “Ireland’s Memorial Records – Soldiers Who Died in the Great War” – he is Remembered with Honour and Commemorated in Perpetuity in Thiepval Memorial, Pier 15 C.

Like so many others, Alex did not come home!

We are the dead: Short days ago, We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved: and now we lie In Flanders fields!  Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

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. Antrim, Family History, Ireland, World War 1 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A Ballymoney Hero!

  1. Amy says:

    So very sad. War wastes so many good lives, good people. If only the war to end all wars had in fact lived up to its motto.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Colin Pollard says:

    Nice that Mr. CJ Murdock was able piece together a little history and tribute to his ancestor. Another young precious life wasted in a senseless war.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elaine Holmes says:

    Happy and peaceful new year to you Colleen.
    Once again your wonderful blog of our shared Murdoch family was insightful – thank you. As a child I used to go swimming in the public pool in Burnhouse Street, unaware that I was walking in my ancestors footsteps. Sincere thanks for sharing your findings, your hard work is much appreciated. Xx


    • CJ Murdoch says:

      Hi Elaine, Happy New Year to you and your family as well. I haven’t been as active in 2018 as I hope to be in 2019…. life just keeps getting in the way. I’ll send you an email and hopefully we can chat soon. xxx


  4. Peter M says:

    CJ My grandmother was living in GarryHarry as did my mother and her brother Alexander who is married to a Tillie Sweeney Grandfather was a Spratt and Grandmother was a Dobson (Robinson)

    Liked by 1 person

    • CJ Murdoch says:

      Hi Peter, great to hear from you. If I am correct, and based on your information, we are related by the marriage of Tillie Sweeney (who I met several years ago) and Alexander Spratt. Tillie is my 2nd cousin 1x removed; her grandfather and my great grandmother were siblings. I would love to exchange information and will send you an email. Thanks for getting in touch and Happy New Year!


  5. Joseph Black says:

    i traced my family back to my great grandmother and grandfather who had 6 children my grandmother left home in Donegal letterkenny to work in Glasgow age13got married age 16 and had 16 children reared me from the age of 1yr and i am now 85 yrs

    Liked by 1 person

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