Diamond War Memorial Project

Lance Corporal William James Kane

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (City of Derry U.V.F.) Ulster Division. Regimental Number 15650
Born: ---- Died: 1916-05-02 Aged: 18 Enlisted: Londonderry.

Interred in Forceville Communal Cemetery, France. Name recorded on St Augustine's Church (Church of Ireland), Londonderry, First World War Memorial. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Son of Alexander and Margaret Kane, and brother of Alexander Kane, 44, Ferguson Street, Londonderry.

William James Kane, who was only seventeen years of age the day he volunteered, was formerly a collar cutter in the factory of Messrs. Leinster Brothers & Staveacre, and was the first in that establishment to answer the call of King and country. His younger brother was only fifteen years of age when he joined the Derry Regiment, and both went out to France with the Ulster Division, but when the younger brother was out for a period he was sent back to Enniskillen to be attached to the 12th Battalion owing to his being too young for active service. Deceased was an enthusiastic Ulster Volunteer before the war, a member of the Browning Club of Apprentice Boys of Derry, and of Churchhill Loyal Orange Lodge 871, whose role of honour at the time was the largest in the City Grand Lodge, ninety members serving with the colours. Many had been wounded and three had already been killed before Lance Corporal Kane became the first member of the Lodge belonging to the Derry Regiment to fall.

Deceased's father, Mr Alexander Kane, who served with the Royal Engineers for eighteen years and received four bullet wounds during the South African campaign, and held the King's and Queen's medals, received a letter from the Reverend R. F. M. Clifford, Church of Ireland chaplain, in the course of which he stated ? 'Lance Corporal Kane died of wounds on May 2 [1916]. You have reason to be proud of one who offered himself to the sacred cause in which our troops are engaged, and who belonged to a battalion which was specially mentioned for its magnificent conduct during the exceptionally severe bombardment last March. Lance Corporal Kane received a bullet wound in the head. I don't expect he was conscious from the time that he received it, and his spirit had passed away before he was brought to hospital. But what we have got to remember is that this life is not the whole of life, and that what we call death is but the passage to a larger, fuller, more glorious life, in which we will know and understand more about that infinite love of God which passes all understanding. I conducted the funeral service yesterday. The mortal remains were laid to rest in the prettiest and best-kept of our military cemeteries that I have as yet seen out here. May the good God comfort all those who grieve, and help them to realise that He knows and feels their sorrows, and will not leave unnoticed all the sacrifices so nobly made.'

Lieutenant J. M. Wilton, writing to Mr Kane, said ? 'Your son's name has been added to the list of gallant Derrymen who have died for their country. From the formation of the regiment up till six weeks ago I was almost in daily contact with him, and so had an opportunity of knowing his good qualities. He was one of the most promising soldiers in his company, keen, smart, and always anxious to do his duty, however hard. Indeed, he was getting immediate promotion in recognition of his work during the trying times through which the battalion has passed.'

The name of William Kane was read out at a memorial service held, in St Columb's (Church of Ireland) Cathedral, Londonderry, on Sunday, July 30, 1916, to pay homage to the memory of the men of the city of Derry, who died during the second year of the Great War. His name was also read out at a memorial service, held in St Augustine's (Church of Ireland) Church at the end of December 1917, in remembrance of ten members of the congregation who had fallen in the Great War and others who had officially been reported as missing.

On the second anniversary of the death of Lance Corporal William Kane, members of his family placed the following tribute to his memory in a Londonderry newspaper:

'Friends may forget him, but mother will never,

He will dwell in my heart till life's journey is done;

Lord, teach us to live that when our days are ended

We'll be met at the gates by our dear hero son.'

William Kane's father, Alexander, died two years after the demise of his son, at the age of fifty-five. Military honours were accorded the funeral, held on Wednesday, July 3, 1918, to Londonderry City Cemetery. The remains were conveyed on a gun carriage, behind which walked a detachment and firing party of the Dorsets. Representatives from the Apprentice Boys (Browning Club), Maiden City Royal Black Preceptory 113, and Churchhill Loyal Orange Lodge and Royal Arch Purple Chapter 871, of which Alexander Kane was a member, also attended. After the service at the graveside the 'Last Post' was sounded and the firing party discharged three volleys.

Alexander, Maggie and W. J. Kane, 25, Ivy Terrace, signed the 1912 Ulster Covenant pledging resistance to Home Rule for Ireland.