In The Masonic Province Of Antrim
James Chambers Masonic Lodge 318
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16th March 2018

Bro. James Beatson

Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of the 13th, Battalion, The Royal Irish Rifles 36TH (ULSTER) DIVISION

In all the circumstances it must be said that the total casualties for the month of June 1916, approximately seven hundred and fifty, were not heavy. They included the results of a veritable calamity that befell the 13th Rifles.

On the evening of the 28th June, "Y" day; the battalion was relieving the 11th Rifles in Thiepval Wood, and marching out of Martinsart by platoons at two hundred yards' interval. As number 11 Platoon and Battalion Headquarters were about to march out together, a shell fell right in the midst of the party. Fourteen were killed on the spot, and ten more died later. Almost all the rest were wounded, including the second-in-command, Major R. P. Maxwell, and the adjutant, Captain Wright.

The confusion in the pitch darkness, with scarce a man on his feet, was appalling, Fortunately a platoon of the 11th Rifles, just relieved from the trenches, appeared on the scene, and the street was speedily cleared."

The 13th Royal Irish Rifles War Diary entry for 28th June states:- "The Battalion left MARTINSART by half platoons at about 10pm. in the following order D, A, and C Coy's.

On arrival A Coy took over the front line from the 11th Royal Irish Rifles and remained in the assembly trenches, D Coy went into the left of the line and C Coy into ANTRIM VILLAS. Just as the last platoon of C Coy was fallen in and going to march off, a large shell struck their faces, and there were 14 Rank and file killed on the spot, 7 died of wounds later and 32 were wounded amongst them Major R.D.P. Maxwell and the Adjutant Lieut. W. M Wright.

Those killed were Regimental Sergeant Major Beatson, Coy Sergeant Major McCoy, 17379, Rifleman Crawly R. 17856, W Heenang. 16841, Mercer, T. 17492, Crangle, A. 16230, Bell, T. 16867, Martin, J. 2370, Hamilton, S. 16425, Thompson, J. 16567, Hamilton, S. 16425, Darragh, W. 16641, Jones A. 87, Carson J. 137, Dale D. Capt A. T. Bell was wounded."

Casualty Details
Initials: J
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: WO1 Regimental Sergeant Major
Regiment/Service: Royal Irish Rifles
Unit Text: 13th Bn.
Date of Death: 28/06/1916
Service No: 1469
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: I. A. 1.

Cemetery Details
Country: France
Locality: Somme
Visiting Information: The location or design of this site makes wheelchair access impossible. For further information regarding wheelchair access, please contact our Enquiries Section on 01628 507200.

Location Information: Martinsart is a small village 4 kilometres north of Albert. The cemetery is on the south side of the village on the road (D129) to Aveluy. The cemetery is signposted in the centre of Martinsart.

Historical Information: Martinsart was close to the Allied front line until September 1916, and again from March to August 1918. Martinsart British Cemetery was begun at the end of June 1916, when 14 men of the 13th Royal Irish Rifles, killed by a shell, were buried in what is now Plot I, Row A.

It was used as a front-line cemetery until October 1916 and again in September 1918, when bodies were brought in from the battlefields for burial by V Corps. After the Armistice, the cemetery was enlarged when more graves were brought in from the area north, east and south of the village.

There are now 488 First World War servicemen buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 155 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate six casualties believed to be buried among them. The cemetery is unusual in that the graves are marked by stones made from red Corsehill or Locharbriggs sandstone, rather than the more usual Portland stone.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

No. of Identified Casualties: 333