Diamond War Memorial Project

Company Sergeant Major Robert Hamilton

10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Derry Volunteers). Regimental Number 15572
Born: ---- Died: 1918-03-23 Aged: 22 Enlisted: Londonderry.

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, and on Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France. Name also commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial.

Son of James (born 11th February, 1868, died 22nd April, 1957) and Ellen (died 6th March, 1950) Hamilton, 77, Fountain Street, Londonderry. Brother of Albert C. Hamilton, Royal Irish Rifles; Helen (born 1901, died 1913); Margaret Georgina (born 1910, died 1925); Catherine (born 1914, died 1932); Maria (born 1907, died 1940); and Lavina McC.B. (born October 1904, died June 1944). Brother and brother-in-law of Matilda and Arthur James Mitchell, U.S.A. (who were married by the Reverend W. A. Hayes, M.A., on May 25, 1918, at St Columb's Cathedral, Londonderry).

Robert Hamilton went to the Front with the Ulster Division in 1915, and was awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. His brother, Corporal James Hamilton, who served with the Canadians, was wounded on December 30, 1915. On that occasion his father received a letter from Lieutenant R. de W. Waller, 1st Canadian Division, describing the injuries: 'I am very sorry to have to inform you that your son, Corporal James Hamilton, was wounded on the 30th December, but I am very pleased to be able to add that his wound is not so serious as to be regarded as dangerous. He was hit in the arm and leg by shrapnel, from a rifle grenade, and has gone out to hospital, from whence he will in all probability be sent direct to England, where I hope you will soon have the pleasure of seeing him. He is a son of whom you may well be proud, and, though suffering quite a lot of pain, showed great pluck and endurance.'

At the occasion of a recruiting meeting, held in Londonderry Guildhall on Monday, September 16, 1918, a ceremony took place during which the Mayor, Alderman Sir Robert N. Anderson, presented to Mr James Hamilton, Fountain Street, Londonderry, the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Military Medal, and Ulster Division Certificate, won by his deceased son. Giving particulars of the dead hero, the Mayor said he was with the first party to leave Hawkin Street (the Ulster Volunteer Force headquarters) for Finner Camp on the outbreak of war. He was then nineteen years. From boyhood he was an active member of the Derry Cathedral Church Lads Brigade, a company which has trained so many lads who have fought and died for King and country. He was the first man in his company to be awarded the Military Medal, and the first Derry City man in his battalion to gain the D.C.M. When the battalion was attached to a service battalion he was selected as being worthy of the company flag, which is riddled with bullets, as a souvenir. He was killed in March, 1918. One man, describing his death, said he died doing a very gallant deed to stop the Huns' advance. It was a fact that he was actually down at the base on his way home to receive a commission when news came that the Germans had broken through. He immediately volunteered to go back, and along with others went to his comrades' assistance to meet a noble end.

The Military Medal and parchment certificate had been awarded 'for great gallantry in the attack on 1st July, 1916, in the Thiepval sector. At about seven p.m. the Germans counter attacked. His platoon officer being killed, he rallied the men around him, and broke up the counter attack. He led another counter attack later in the evening.'

The D.C.M. had been awarded 'for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During an attack he captured an enemy machine gun and three of its crew single-handed. While holding the line during the following days he rendered valuable assistance in reorganising the company and getting forward supplies of bombs and ammunition, on several occasions under fire. His example and cheerfulness throughout were magnificent.'

Robert Hamilton's name was read out during a memorial service held, in St Columb's (Church of Ireland) Cathedral, Londonderry, on Sunday, June 28, 1918, to commemorate the Derry soldiers, who had been killed over the past year. On the first anniversary of his death, his family had the following tribute to his memory placed in a Londonderry newspaper:

For king and country well he stood,

Unknown to cowards' fears;

In battle strife he shed his blood

With the Ulster Volunteers.

Now, this sad war is fought and won,

'Tis now we miss our dear loved one.

On the fifth anniversary of the death of Robert Hamilton, members of his family inserted the following in memoriam lines:

'To duty stern he did respond,

His youthful life he gave;

He died a fearless hero's death,

And fills an honoured grave.'