Diamond War Memorial Project

Lieutenant James Hamilton Barr

11/12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, attached to 7th/8th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers Regimental Number ----
Born: 1897-02-05 Died: 1918-09-01 Aged: 21 Enlisted: ------

Buried in Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery, Heuvelland, West Vlaanderen, Belgium. Name commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial. Name was also recorded on the City of Derry Presbyterian Working Men's Institute, Diamond, Londonderry, Great War Roll of Honour.

Son of William and Henrietta (nee Hamilton) Barr, 9, Aubrey Street, Londonderry. Brother of Robert John Barr (born January 26, 1901, and died July 21, 1919, at the age of 18); Henrietta Barr (born June 29, 1898, and died January 29, 1923, at the Bungalow, Downhill, aged 24 years); and William George Barr (born August 14, 1899).

James Hamilton Barr was a member of Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church, Londonderry, and was educated at Foyle College, Londonderry.

At the end of August 1916, it was reported in the Londonderry Press that Cadet James Hamilton Barr had been given a commission in the Royal Irish Rifles. Less than twelve months before, at an examination held in connection with Queen's University, Belfast, for twelve entrance scholarships, value £40, he secured second place. He had a distinguished career at Foyle College, gaining medals in intermediate, Latin and Greek in 1913, and exhibitions in junior, middle, and senior grades. On leaving Foyle College, he won the Irish Society's leaving scholarship of £120. The Governors of Foyle College and the Academic Council of Queen's reserved the scholarships until Lieutenant Barr was released from military service. On joining the colours, in October 1915, he was attached to the 18th Royal Irish Rifles as a cadet at Clandeboye, where he was stationed for three months. He then went to the Curragh, where he remained for five months. On receiving his commission he was again transferred to Clandeboye.

Lieutenant Barr's death was touchingly referred to on Sunday, September 15, 1918, at morning service in Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church by Reverend John Huey, who recalled the deceased's valuable services as a Sabbath School teacher, and spoke of his brilliancy as a scholar at Foyle College and student at Queen's University. He carried into his new sphere of activity, said the preacher, his devotion to duty and thoroughness in work. His physique seemed too highly tempered and his disposition too gentle for the rough and tumble of camp life, the fatigues and hardships and sufferings of fierce warfare, and the awful scene of the battle front. But we little knew the intense heat of the fire of noble patriotism that burned within, the strength of will, and courageous daring which dwelt behind that bright, placid, smiling face. And today we deeply grieve that we shall see it no more. Throughout his whole course he wore the white flower of a blameless life, and has left behind him a memory of sweet fragrance and tender affection.

At the annual distribution of prizes in connection with Foyle College, Londonderry, held on Thursday, December 19, 1918, the headmaster, Mr R.F. Dill, M.A., paid the following glowing tribute to James Hamilton Barr: 'Most of those who are here present do not need to be told that James Barr was one of the most brilliant pupils who passed through this school in recent years. (Applause.) It would be impossible to give in detail all his achievements. Suffice it to say that in one memorable year, 1913, he carried off the medal for both Latin and Greek. He became editor of the school magazine in 1914, and brought it up to a high standard of merit. He left us carrying with him the Irish Society's Leaving Scholarship to Belfast University, where he gained a scholarship at entrance. Immediately afterwards he volunteered for the Army, and in due course gained his commission in the Royal Irish Rifles. When he entered the Army he had only drawn one year of the Irish Society's Scholarship, and it was suggested by his mother, Mrs William Barr, of 9, Aubery Street, that the Irish Society should be petitioned to allow the amount of the three outstanding instalments, a sum of �90, to be devoted to the founding of a memorial prize in classics. (Applause.) The Irish Society has graciously assented to this proposal.

'Our gratitude should go out not only to the Irish Society for their great generosity, but also to Mrs Barr for making a suggestion which if I knew James Barr might have come straight from the true and loyal heart of her son.'

James Hamilton Barr's father, William Barr, was a devoted member of Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church, where he served as an elder for many years, and also taught in the Sabbath School. He was a member of the Presbyterian Working Men's Institute, on the committee of which he served for a number of years. At the time of his death, which occurred on February 13, 1938, in his seventieth year, he was chairman of the committee.

For almost half-a-century William Barr was a highly efficient and respected employee of the Derry Standard. His father was also employed by the Derry Standard, as was his son, William George Barr.

A tribute was paid to William Barr at the morning service in Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church on Sunday, February 13, 1938, by Reverend S. McVicker, B.A.

Reverend McVicker said Mr Barr was a faithful member of the church and had served for many years in the Sabbath School as a teacher until forced to give up the work through failing health. His work was greatly appreciated.

Mr Barr had set a fine example both in his Sunday school work and in his ordinary life. About eighteen years before, when the church was looking for elders, Mr Barr was chosen, and had since given faithful service in that capacity. He was always a very regular attender at the meetings of the session, and faithfully visited the members of the church in his district.

Mr Barr had had a long illness about five years previously and at that time was confined to bed for fifteen months. It was three months more before he was able to take part once again in the work of the church. Throughout his long illness he was wonderfully patient and calm. A few years before Mr Barr had taken on the work of secretary of the Presbyterian Health Insurance Society and did good work in that connection. Mr Barr had almost reached the allotted span of threescore years and ten, and his life would be an example of faithful service. He had done a noble work in his efforts to advance the Kingdom of Christ.

Their deepest sympathy would be extended to Mrs Barr and the members of her family. Mrs Barr was a great worker in the interests of the church, especially in the Women's Association. She did many good works throughout the district where she lived, and often extended her sympathy and support to those in trouble. That sympathy she so often extended to others would now be extended to her and the members of her family in their sad bereavement.

Every section of the community in Londonderry was represented at the funeral of William Barr, which took place on Tuesday, February 15, 1938, to the City Cemetery from his former residence, 9, Aubrey Street.

The large cortege indicated the high esteem and regard in which William Barr was held by all sections of the community. Members of the various clubs and associations with which he was connected were present in the funeral cortege to pay their last and sincere tribute to the memory of one who was admired by all.

The chief mourners at the funeral were Mr W. G. Barr (son); Messrs. Alexander and S.J. Torrens (cousins); Mr William Thomas (nephew); and Mr Samuel Livingstone (brother-in-law).

Prominent in the funeral cortege were many friends and former colleagues of Mr William Barr during his fifty years' service with the Derry Standard, Ltd. Mr R.M. Thompson represented the printing department and Mr T. Joyce, manager, was the news department's representative.

The Londonderry Branch of the Typographical Association, of which William Barr was a member, was represented by Mr Robert Graham (chairman) and Mr D.P. Thompson (secretary). The Kirk Session of Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church was represented by Mr James Hamilton, T.C. (clerk), and the Church Committee by Mr C. McIlwaine (clerk). Most of the church elders and members of the committee were in attendance. The Presbyterian Working Men's Institute was represented by Mr R. Logue (vice-president), Mr F. J. Simmons, T.C. (past-president), and Mr S. J. Torrens (hon. treasurer).

The service in the home was conducted by Reverend R. J. Barkley, B.D., minister of Claremont Presbyterian Church. Reverend S. McVicker, B.A., minister of Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church, assisted by Reverend Professor Farley, M.A., B.D., Magee University College, Londonderry, officiated at the graveside.

William and Henrietta Barr, 9, Aubrey Street, signed the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant (September 1912) pledging resistance to Home Rule for Ireland.