In memoriam

Private John McClelland Cromie Darragh



John McClelland Cromie Darragh was born at Ballycraigy, Ballymena, County Antrim, around 1882, the fourth or fifth of eighth children of farmer Samuel Darragh and his wife Jane (née Starratt). He may have been the child originally named Matthew Darragh, born on 5 December 1882. A the time of the 1901 Census he was living at Ballycraigy with his parents and four of his siblings, and working on the family farm. At some point over the next decade he emigrated to Canada.

Darragh returned to Ireland on the outbreak of war, enlisting in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron at Belfast on 10 November 1914 (No. UD/128), together with his brother, Matthew Sloan Darragh.

The squadron, which had been formed as divisional cavalry for the 36th (Ulster) Division, embarked for France on 6 October 1915. A party of at least thirty men of the squadron, including Darragh, had embarked three days earlier, attached to 36th Division Headquarters – many if not all of them serving as batmen to senior officers.

During 1916 Private Darragh was posted to the regular regiment of the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons. On 24 December that year at Escarbotin he died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was aged 34.

Reports home stated that he had been killed in action. The Ballymena Observer of 12 January 1917, for example, reported:

Trooper John McClelland Cromie Darragh, Inniskilling Dragoons, who was killed in action on the 24th December last, was the third son of the late Samuel Darragh, Ballycraigy, Ballymena and Mrs. Darragh, Alma Terrace, Portadown. He came home from Canada at the beginning of the war to join this popular Irish Regiment, of which he always felt very proud.

Darragh was buried at Fressenville Military Cemetery, Abbeville. After the war his body was exhumed and reburied at St Riquier British Cemetery, Somme, France, grave C.8. The gravestone inscription reads:



Two of Darragh's brothers also served in the war. Second Lieutenant James Robinson Darragh, 1/6th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment, was wounded in the knee by a shell on the night of 24 June 1917. He died of wounds in a hospital in France on 5 July. Second Lieutenant Matthew Sloan Darragh (see above) was killed in action in France on 20 March 1917.

The three brothers are remembered on a family memorial at the Kirkhill Cemetery, Connor, Co. Antrim (below).The inscription reads in part as follows:

1914 - 1918 WAR





Image1 kindly provided by Simon Godly (see his First World War website at Images 2 and 3 kindly provided by Steve Rogers, Project Co-ordinator of the The War Graves Photographic Project, Newspaper extract from Des Blackadder's Ballymena 1914-1918: Carved in stone...but not forgotten.


This page last updated 28 March 2023.