Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
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17827   Private Samuel Spiers
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 01/05/2020
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 9th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army)
Died: 07/11/1916 (Killed in Action)
Age: 33
Summary      
Samuel Spiers was a son of Robert and Ellen Spiers of Gortalowry, Cookstown. Prior to the war he lived in Church Street and was employed in Greenvale Mill (Adair’s) He was a member of Tullyhogue L.O.L. He married circa 1912 Samuel Spiers was killed action on 7th November 1916 by a trench mortar and was the only fatal casualty. Two others were wounded in the same incident.
Private Samuel Spiers
Further Information
Samuel Speirs was a son of Robert and Ellen Spiers. He was born in Cookstown.
His year of birth varies considerably. Calculating from the CWGC, his birth would be around 1883. However, census results suggest he was born much earlier, around 1874.
Samuel Speirs married Annie Donaldson on 20th July 1912 in Cookstown.
Greenvale Mill, Cookstown
Prior to the war Samuel lived with his wife in Church Street and was employed as a band tier at Greenvale Mill.
Samuel was a member of Tullyhogue L.O.L. and an enthusiastic member of Cookstown U.V.F.
He was also connected with First Cookstown Presbyterian Church.
1914
Samuel Speirs enlisted in Cookstown and joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on 12th November 1914.
Medal card
1915
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 29th May 1915: Deserters Arrested in Cookstown
Three privates of the 9th Battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers, encamped at Randalstown, who had absentees for the previous ten days, were on Saturday arrested in Cookstown. Head Constable O’Neill arrested one – Samuel Spiers, and Sergeant Hayes the others – W Harvey and J Watters. They are all natives of the town. They were brought before Mr H Alfred Mann, J.P., and charged with being absentees. They were remanded in custody for a week or pending the arrival of an escort. The escort arrived on Monday, in charge of Sergeant Reid (formerly on the compositing staff of the Mid Ulster Mail), and conveyed the accused to Randalstown.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 12th June 1915: Deserters Charged
Samuel Speer and Robert Little, privates in the 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, wee on Thursday evening brought before Mr H Alfred Mann, J.P., and charged by Sergeant Hayes, R.I.C., with being deserters. They were remanded to Armagh jail for a week or pending the arrival of an escort from Randalstown.
1916
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 12th August 1916: Letters to Mrs Annie Speers, Church Street, Cookstown.
Mrs Annie Speers, Church Street, Cookstown, has received a letter from her husband, dated 24th July, in which he says he has been ill but is now recovered. The big push on the 1st in which he took part, was he says, a bit hot. His battalion had a few days’ rest, but were going out again. He is longing to see his wife and other relatives. Mrs Speers has also received a letter from her brother, Private George Donaldson, saying he is well. He believes Jimmie Smith is killed, but is not certain if it is true. Willie Taylor, Paddy Barton, and McAtackney are out with him and are all right. J McGarvey was slightly wounded a good while ago but is not now at the front. He is in England.
Private Speirs had been at the front for about a year, taking part in many engagements, and having many narrow escapes.
The 9th Battalion were in the front line trenches having arrived there on the 5th November 1916 and were not due to be relieved again until the 11th.
Private Samuel Spiers was serving with the 9th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he was killed action on 7th November 1916 by a trench mortar and was the only fatal casualty. Two others were wounded in the same incident.
His wife at this time was residing with relatives at Ardtrea where she received a letter from Rev J G Paton who was at that time a Chaplain to the Forces.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 25 November 1916: Private Samuel Speers
Private Samuel Speers, Church Street, Cookstown, who was killed in action on 7th November. He volunteered and joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on 12th November 1914. He has been at the front for about a year, taking part in many engagements, and having many narrow escapes. Prior to joining he was a band tier in Greenvale Spinning Mill. He was a member of Tullyhogue L.O.L. and a n enthusiastic member of Cookstown U.V.F. He was connected with First Cookstown Presbyterian Church. He was married about four years ago. His wife, with whom the greatest sympathy is felt, at present resides with a relative at Ardtrea. She has received the following letter from Rev J G Paton, of Third Coleraine, who is at present acting as a Presbyterian Chaplain in France:-
‘Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 8th November 1916. Dear Mrs Spiers, I am sorry to have to tell you that your husband, 17827 Private Samuel Spiers, of 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed yesterday by a rifle grenade. He lived for a few hours afterwards but so far as I know was unconscious, and so did not suffer. I conducted the funeral service today in a little cemetery which is very carefully kept, just behind the lines. Your husband was a good soldier and did his duty like a man, and died like a hero, so you may well be proud of him. The officers and men of the regiment send you their warm sympathy in your sad loss. Rev R. Hyndman of Cookstown is near here. I will ask him to visit the grave so that he can tell you about it when he returns. I pray that Almighty God will comfort and sustain you and yours with the thought of meeting again where there will be no sorrow. Yours, with sincere sympathy.’
In his Will, Samuel left all to his wife, Annie Speirs.
Last Will and Testament of Private William Speirs dated 21st September 1915:
In the event of my death I give the whole of my property to my wife Mrs Annie Speirs. Private Samuel Speirs, 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Private Samuel Spiers was buried in Pond Farm Cemetery, Belgium.
Private Spiers is commemorated on Cookstown Cenotaph and First Presbyterian Roll of Honour Cookstown.
The CWGC record Private Samuel Spiers as the son of Robert and Ellen Spiers, of Cookstown and also as the husband of Annie Spiers, of Coagh St., Cookstown, Co. Tyrone
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Relevant Cookstown Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Church Street, Cookstown Cookstown South Census listing in Church Street, Cookstown 54.637944 -6.743498
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 1901 Census lists Spiers family 1901 census lists Samuel as age 27, a labourer at Bleach Green, at house 96 in Church Street, Cookstown
2 1911 Census lists Spiers family 1911 census lists Samuel as age 40, a labourer, at house 110 in Church Street, Cookstown
3 FindAGrave.com Photo of Private Samuel Spiers's grave
4 National Archives of Ireland Last Will and Testament of Private Samuel Spiers
5 National Archives UK Medal card can be purchased here
6 War Graves Photographic Project Photo of Private Samuel Spiers's grave can be purchased here
Cookstown District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2010-2021