In memoriam

Second Lieutenant Matthew Sloan Darragh




Matthew Sloan Darragh was born at Ballycraigy, Ballymena, County Antrim, on 25 July 1892, the seventh or eighth child of farmer Samuel Darragh and his wife Jane (née Starratt). Educated at the Ballymena Grammar School, at the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Ballycraigy with his widowed mother and one of his six surviving siblings, and working as a grocer's assistant. Later documents give his occupation as 'surveyor' and 'civil engineer (unqualified)'. His mother and some of her children later moved to Portadown, County Armagh.

By 1914 Darragh had emigrated to Canada. He returned to Ireland on the outbreak of war, however, enlisting in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron at Belfast on 10 November 1914 (No. UD/129), together with his brother, John McClelland Cromie Darragh.

On 6 October 1915 the squadron embarked for France, serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division. Darragh, however, remained at the reserve depot at Enniskillen. On 31 December 1915 he applied for a commission. He was posted to No.4 Officer Cadet Battalion at Oxford on 24 February 1916 and on 14 July was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the 1/6th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment.

Darragh embarked for France later in 1916 or early 1917, where he was attached to the regiment's 1/5th Battalion. On the evening of 20 March 1917 he was given command of a patrol in no-man's-land near Richebourg l'Avoue, just south of Neuve Chapelle. According to the battalion diary:

A patrol consisting of 2/Lt. Darragh and 6 other ranks of No.3 Company went out from S. 16.a.2.5. to reconnoitre the German Wire on the Northern side of the Boars Head. S. 16.a.6.7. at They apparently lost their direction in the maze of shell holes and old trenches and stumbled into a German Post held by 6 or 8 men. They were fired on by rifles and bombs. 2/Lt Darragh was killed and 2 other ranks were missing believed killed. The bodies were not recovered although two search patrols were sent out during the night.

As he has no known grave, Darragh is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Panel 68.


Ballymena Weekly Telegraph, March 1917




Two of Darragh's brothers also served in the war. Private John McClelland Cromie Darragh (see above) died in France on 24 December 1916. 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.


Belfast News-Letter, 10 July 1917


Ballymena Observer, 10 August 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


Memorial images kindly provided by Steve Rogers, Project Co-ordinator of the The War Graves Photographic Project, Image of Darragh and Ballymena Weekly Telegraph clipping kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (


This page last updated 27 March 2023.