#OnThisDay 1916 At the Battle of the Somme, the three Donaldson brothers from Comber, Co. Down, went over the top. Serving with B Company 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, all three brothers, John, James & Samuel were killed in action. They have no known grave.
“Prior to the outbreak of the Great War John and James Donaldson both worked in the shipyard at Queen’s Island Belfast. Samuel Donaldson worked in Andrew’s Mill in Comber. They were all members of the Ulster Volunteer Force and the three brothers enlisted together in Comber where they were allocated consecutive battalion numbers. They served in ‘B’ Company 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (1st County Down Volunteers) in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division and the three brothers fought and died side by side on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Initially there was uncertainty about the fate of the three brothers and they were posted as missing in action.
At home the Donaldson family feared the worst and this accentuated a decline in the health of John Donaldson Senior who died of heart failure on Sunday 1 October 1916 (aged 56).
In the 7 October 1916 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle it was reported that James Donaldson was being held as a Prisoner-of-War and that John and Samuel had been killed.
In August 1917 the widowed Mary Donaldson was officially informed that her three sons, Riflemen James, John and Samuel Donaldson, had all been killed in action on 1 July 1916 and she placed a For King and Country notice in the 25 August 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle.”