IDENTIFIED: Francis McCann, his brother James McCann and James Magill.
Francis Ernest and James McCann‘s parents were William McCann and Mary Bunting who were married on 10 March 1877 at Shore Street Presbyterian Church, Donaghadee. Francis was born in 1891 and James in 1895.
In 1901 William and Mary were living in Seaview Street with their 7 children: Andrew, Jane, William, Annie, Francis, James and Elizabeth. William McCann’s occupation is listed as a seaman.
By 1911 the family had moved to Glasgow Street. There were now only 5 children in the household, two of which were Francis and James. Francis is listed in the 1911 census as a Platers helper while James, aged 16 was a Rivetters boy.
Francis served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and James served in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. On 1st July 1916 (known as The Somme), Lance Corporal James McCann was killed.
James is commemorated at Thiepval Memorial and his photo was listed in the Belfast Telegraph when he died. This enabled the identification of James as Slide Number 58.
David Morrow, a reader of the blog got in touch to tell us that these men were his relatives and was able to identify Francis Earnest McCann as Slide Number 5 and provide a great photo to confirm.
Francis was married in 1916 to Sarah Baird Crossan, survived the war and went on to have children. He died in 1937 of cardiac failure having suffered from bronchial problems as a result of being gassed in the trenches. During the Belfast Blitz of April 1941, Francis’ wife Sarah and two of their daughters were sadly killed in Glasgow Street. One daughter survives today.
David was also able to confirm that Slide Number 58 was James McCann as suggested, evidenced by his treasured family photos.
David supplied a letter written by James’ friend James Magill who wrote to his mother Mary to tell her how her son had died and how he had received a proper burial.
Another Royal Innskilling Fusilier, the letter writer James Magill had been wounded in France and the Belfast Telegraph had printed his photograph. We were then able to identify the man who wrote the letter James Magill, as Slide Number 73. James Magill survived the war.
These three men and all the Castleton Lanterns men were closley connected, brothers, best friends, pals and colleagues. It’s important to find their stories and tell them, to understand their lives and remember them. It is sad to hear the stories of those who were lost or wounded beside those who lived and flourished and I’m sure the families who gathered to watch the lantern slide show in 1918 must have felt something similar.