Diamond War Memorial Project

Second Lieutenant Hugh (Hubert) Arbuckle

2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment Regimental Number 15295
Born: ---- Died: 1918-09-02 Aged: -- Enlisted: ------

Interred in Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy, Pas de Calais, France. Name inscribed on St Columb's Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Memorial to the men connected with that cathedral who died during the 1914-18 War. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Third son of Hugh and Annie (died on 1st February, 1942, aged 87) Arbuckle, 9, Abercorn Place/79, Foyle Road, Londonderry. Husband of Mary Helen Arbuckle, 131, Belmont Road, Belfast. Brother of Matilda (died April 1883); William (died April 1883); Mabel Wilson (who married Robert, son of Hamilton Boyd, Londonderry, on June 30, 1914, at Derry Cathedral); and Samuel (married Jennie Blanche Luxemburger, on August 28, 1914, at Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., and died 16th October, 1955, at Tunkhannock, U.S.A., aged 67).

Second Lieutenant Arbuckle was one of the first of the Derry men to answer the call to the colours on the outbreak of the Great War, joining the 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Derry Volunteers), Ulster Division. He early received promotion to the rank of sergeant, and went to France with the Division in September 1915. Between that date and the great Somme advance of July 1, 1916, he took an active part in trench fighting. Writing, shortly after the Somme advance, to his mother from hospital in Birmingham Hubert Arbuckle stated that he had been wounded in the left knee with shrapnel and was going on well. He was detained for six days in hospital at Rouen before being sent to England. He added, 'Our division did well, but suffered for it, as only about 300 men are left of the three brigades that took part in the attack. Our battalion, I hear, had only a small number left on the night of the 1st of July out of over 800 who went over the parapet in the morning. But there are large numbers of wounded, of course, and the majority of them will get better. Our battalion fairly pushed its way through. We led the division. The German infantry did not last long, but their artillery and machine guns gave it to us hard. They had plenty of men, but our fellows made short work of them.'

In September 1917 Hubert Arbuckle received his commission, and was posted to the Royal Irish Regiment. On May 30, 1918, at Newtownards Road Methodist Church, Belfast, he married Miss Mary Helen Cooke, second daughter of Mr Robert Cooke, 152, My Lady's Road, Belfast. He had only returned to France some three months when he was killed. Initial reports stated that on the morning of the attack, which was to claim his life, Second Lieutenant Arbuckle took over the command of a company, and while leading him into action was wounded. Several of his men on seeing him fall carried him to a shell hole, but he insisted on being removed from it again in order to accompany the attacking troops. While thus advancing he collapsed owing to the severity of his wounds, and died. Hubert Arbuckle's brother, Wesley, also joined the Ulster Division on the outbreak of the Great War, but was spared to come home. Another brother, Tommy, was fired at during the 1913 disturbances in the city of Londonderry, received a shot in the lungs, and narrowly escaped death.

Several of Second Lieutenant Hubert Arbuckle's cousins (sons of John and Annie Arbuckle) also served in the Great War. Richard Arbuckle served in the Royal Artillery in France, joining up in the first month of the war, and going out as a volunteer with the British Expeditionary Force, in January 1915, and again in the Second World War with the Pioneer Corps, until discharged on age grounds. Hugh Arbuckle served in the Merchant Navy, and later emigrated to Canada. Ernest Arbuckle, who was discharged from the Royal Navy just before the Great War as the result of a serious accident, volunteered as a munition worker in England. And David Arbuckle volunteered in April 1916, joining the Royal Artillery. He went overseas and served as a driver of a heavy battery of artillery in the Salonika area.

Second Lieutenant Croft, Royal Irish Regiment, writing regarding the death of Second Lieutenant Arbuckle, said ? 'Hubert got instructions to take a certain spot, which he did well, and, as far as we can gather, he wasn't satisfied with what he had done. He wanted to save his men from a Bosche machine gun which was playing very near him. So, like a hero, he tried to get near it, and had just got up from the shell hole where he was lying when the machine gun let loose on Hubert, and he got a bullet through the stomach. He fell, and never spoke another word. He lived for about ten minutes, when he passed away peacefully. Unfortunately his body wasn't got for two days, as the fighting was very severe. So on the third day the chaplain and myself and ten men went out and got the body and buried him. We laid him to rest underneath an apple tree. His brave action has been mentioned by the commanding officer, and we are all very sorry at losing him, for he proved himself a hero.'

Hubert Arbuckle was a member of both the Royal Black Preceptory 113 and Churchhill Loyal Orange Lodge 871, and acknowledged the delivery of a parcel from that Lodge, when writing home from 'somewhere in Flanders,' in November 1915. He said ? 'Last week I got a parcel from L.O.L. 871, with two pairs hand-knit socks, pair warm gloves, alma helmet (which completely covers the head except the face), 1lb. Lifebuoy soap, 1 tin Oxo tablets, a package of chocolate, and a card with the best wishes of the members of the lodge for our safe return. It is very thoughtful of them, and the articles are very useful.'

Second Lieutenant Arbuckle's father, Hugh (senior), whose brother, John, was a former editor of the Derry Standard, and father a head of one of the Londonderry Corporation departments, spent forty-four years in the employment of the Londonderry Sentinel. Having served his apprenticeship in the old Londonderry Guardian, he came to the Londonderry Sentinel in 1878. After six years in the jobbing room he was promoted to be overseer in the news department, the position in which he was best known to the advertising public having business with the paper. Skilful and expeditious in getting out the newspaper, he was able to put to his credit many notable examples of his gift of organisation and his readiness in adapting himself rapidly to suddenly arising situations. On the occasion of Gladstone's death, for instance, he so managed that the Londonderry Sentinel was the only paper in Ireland to have the announcement (the news of which arrived shortly before five in the morning) in the ordinary city edition, a fact which drew from the Derry Journal next day an expression of congratulation. Again, when, during the Boer War, Ladysmith was relieved, Hugh Arbuckle (senior), with remarkable speed, got out a special edition describing the achievement. And, when the Titanic disaster took place, the earliest cablegrams recorded that the passengers and crew were saved by the lifeboats and were being landed at Halifax. On the strength of this intelligence a leading article was written expressing the relief which the community would experience that the catastrophe did not involve loss of life. Far on in the morning, when the paper was about to go to press, a cablegram revealed the appalling character of the disaster, and shattered the earlier confident belief. Hugh (senior) recast the editorial in the few minutes available, so that it dealt adequately with the awful features revealed.

Hugh Arbuckle (senior) was a staunch Unionist and took part in many of the city of Londonderry's political struggles. In particular, he used to enjoy telling of having helped to defeat the attempt of the authorities, one December, to prevent the burning of the effigy of Lundy. He was then a young apprentice in the Londonderry Guardian Office, into which the effigy had been smuggled overnight, and, with others, at a given signal, hoisted the figure out of an upper window and watched it set ablaze, to the discomfiture of a Resident Magistrate and the police officers acting under him.

Hugh Arbuckle (senior) was a football enthusiast, and was one of the founders of the North West of Ireland Football Association. Until two to three years before his death he was a regular attender of the principal football matches in the city of Londonderry, and it was a wonder, even to many experienced sporting journalists, how he contrived to write long reports of the play, giving accurate details, and describing individual incidents without requiring the assistance of a note. Another of his hobbies was church bell ringing. He was captain of the Honorary Bell Ringers' Association of St Columb's (Church of Ireland) Cathedral, took teams to Coleraine and Enniskillen to encourage the ringers in those towns, and devoted time to the instruction of learners in this work. His son, Second Lieutenant Hugh Arbuckle, inherited his father's passion for this activity, and was the second member of St Columb's Cathedral bell ringers to be killed in the Great War. When the general vestry of St Columb's Cathedral met, on Wednesday, April 23, 1919, they recorded their sympathy with the captain of the bell ringers, Mr Hugh Arbuckle (senior), in the loss sustained in the death of his son.

Hugh Arbuckle (senior) was, for many years, a member of the select vestry of St Columb's Cathedral. As far back as the year 1875, he became a member of the Typographical Association, of which, on the retirement from the Londonderry Sentinel Office, he became a superannuitant. He was also one of the original members of the Londonderry branch of the Rechabites. Hugh Arbuckle (senior) passed away on Sunday, April 23, 1922.