2nd Battalion, Royal Field Artillery (British Army)
Date Of Birth:
Patrick Hamill was the eldest son of George and Rose Hamill of Roan, Eglish. Patrick was born about 1887 in County Tyrone. George Hamill was a blacksmith. Gunner Patrick Hamill was serving with the 2nd Battery, 13th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery when he died on 26 March 1915. He was 28 years old.
Patrick Hamill was the eldest son of George and Rose Hamill Rose (nee Mullan). George and Hamill were married on 30th November, 1885
Patrick 'Paddy' Hamill was born 13th March 1887 in County Tyrone.
The 1901 census records Patrick as 14 years old. Patrick at school was living with the family in Roan, Benburb, County Tyrone. George Hamill was a blacksmith.
Family : George Hamill, Rose Hamill, Patrick Hamill (born about 1887), Mary Hamill (born about 1888), Margaret Hamill (born about 1890), George Hamill (born about 1891), James Hamill (born about 1892), Kate Hamill (born about 1893), Michael Hamill (born about 1898), Joseph Hamill (born about 1900), Rose Ellen Hamill (born about 1902).
The two oldest children of the family, Paddy and Minnie, were particularly gifted and beautiful. George boasted that Paddy had “brains and hands”.
Paddy served an apprenticeship with his father at the forge and became an accomplished blacksmith.
On 1st July 1907, at the age of 20, he joined the Royal Irish Constabulary (R.I.C.).
After training at headquarters in Phoenix Park, Dublin was posted to Castledawson in Co. Derry, taking up duty on Christmas Eve 1907.
The rules of the RIC were detailed and specified that altercations of all kinds were to be avoided. The officer's legal power to arrest an assailant was to be used rather than entering into arguments. Paddy had been a favoured child, perhaps he was lacking in discipline having inherited his mother's impetuous nature. He hit somebody in the course of his duties – a single, unpremeditated and foolish act. Paddy was subject to disciplinary proceedings: it was put to him that it would be in his interests to resign from the force rather than be dismissed and it was agreed that he should leave Ireland. He resigned on 5th December 1910.
By 1911, Patrick no longer lived with the family. The family still lived in Roan, Benburb, County Tyrone.
Unable to return to Eglish, Patrick Hamill enlisted in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England and was posted to India, initially to Kirkee (now Khadki, south east of Bombay) and, from 15th March 1911 to Bangalore. Paddy was a regular correspondent home – the family were entranced with details of his life, working with the artillery horses, racing them across rivers, being waited on by servants, experiencing the exotic life of the bazaars. In replying, his mother gave her letters to the postman rather than posting them at Forsythes' Post Office. In her shame, she hid from the neighbours the fact that her son was in the British Army.
In India on 31st August 1914, Paddy's Brigade, the 13th of the Royal Field Artillery, was ordered to mobilise, horses were examined, passed fit for service and re-shod and the various columns were paraded in field-service marching order and honed to fitness by route marches each lasting three hours. Paddy made his personal preparations before leaving and dispatched to Eglish a large trunk full of beautiful saris, silks and other materials that he had purchased at the bazaars in Bangalore. On 14 September his Battery, including 5 officers, 179 men and 181 horses sailed from Bombay under sealed orders.
They disembarked at Marseilles in the south of France on 14th October and continued north by train across France to Thiennes and Lilliers. On 31st October marched to the front at Gorée where they were to relieve the XVth Brigade.
A routine of sorts was re-established with the Brigade alternating between action, giving cover for infantry with the Battery's 6 big guns, and rest days when the commanding officer, Major P.J. Paterson, spent his leisure hours inventing bits of equipment such as “bomb guns”. Reference is made in the regimental diary to his fitter who assisted him in the work. This was probably Paddy, as he was a skilled worker with metal and, when most of the Brigade was sent to Robecq at the end of November, he was retained with 10 officers and 7 other ranks at Gorée.
The Brigade Diary recorded:
Only one casualty received during December – 1 December 1914: No. 61732 – Gunner Patrick Hamill, 2nd Battery, R.F.A. wounded in billet at Gorée.
Paddy had been wounded in the head, probably while working on one of Major Paterson's inventions. The full story was never relayed to Eglish, where the family believed he had been injured manning one of the field guns.
After receiving first aid at the front, he was evacuated to Fazakerley Hospital, Liverpool where he was operated on and a metal plate inserted in place of the damaged bone. There he made steady progress, his sister Minnie was able to visit him regularly from Blackburn and preparations were being made in Eglish to welcome him home.
The picture is of Paddy lying wounded in hospital in Liverpool with his sister, Minnie.
But as he was about to be discharged, Paddy was struck down with septicaemia, the disease progressed rapidly and he died on 26th March 1915. The last words he said before he died were 'I'm coming', as if someone were calling him.
Gunner Patrick Hamill was serving with the 2nd Battery, 13th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery when he died on 26 March 1915. He was 28 years old.
He was buried in Liverpool before word of his death reached Eglish, as the telegram bearing the news went astray.
Gunner Hamill is commemorated on a Screen Wall in Liverpool (Kirkdale) Cemetery. The cemetery lies north of Liverpool, England near Aintree racecourse.
The CWGC records Patrick Hamill as the son of George and Rose Hamill, of Eglish, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone.
'The First World War caused an upheaval in my mother's family. When Paddy was injured, my grandmother sent the next son to California as she was afraid that Conscription would arrive in Ireland and when Paddy died, she sent the next one. Both had jobs in Ireland – George as a blacksmith with his father and Jimmy had a clerical job with the railways in Portadown. They were subsequently conscripted into the American army – both were in France. Jimmy lost an eye, George was uninjured (he was General Pershing's blacksmith). They stayed in America after the war. The fourth son, Mick, joined the IRA and fought in the War of Independence – life must have become difficult for him and he left the North in 1924 and became a Guard in Donegal. When my grandfather died in 1934, my grandmother sold the home and moved to The Moy to my aunt. So the War had all sorts of implications for the Hamills.'