Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Rifleman Neason Henry Hale



Neason Henry Hale was born on 31 October 1894 at Ballytun, Dirraw, near Ballymoney, County Antrim, son of groom William John Hale and his wife Annie Rose (nee Speers). The family later lived at nearby Finvoy Lodge.

From 1912 to 1916 Hale was employed by the Ulster Bank.

In late January or early February 1916 he enlisted in the North Irish Horse (No.2096).

In November that year Hale, together with around 100 other North Irish Horsemen, volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles (No.40841). They embarked for France on 7 December, where they joined the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, on the Somme front.

In May 1917 Hale was hospitalised due to illness contracted on active service.

On 16 August 1917 the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles took part in the Battle of Langemarck, part of the Third Ypres offensive. The battalion war diary for the day listed 27 other ranks killed, 7 wounded and missing, 170 wounded, and 63 missing.

Hale was one of the missing. He was later officially presumed dead 'on or since' 16 August.

Much sympathy is felt in Ballymoney and the neighbourhood for Mr. and Mrs. W.T. Hale, of Finvoy Lodge, who are widely known and respected, in the news which they have received to the effect that their eldest son, Rfman. Nason H. Hale, is reported missing since 16th August. Rfman. Nason Hale was for four years in the service of the Ulster Bank, and in January, 1916, joined the North Irish Horse, in which he was promoted corporal. He went to France last December, when he was transferred to the Royal Irish Rifles.
(Belfast News-Letter, 19 September 1917)

According to family recollections, "until her dying day his mother always believed that one day he would come home. ... When the family headstone was erected in the grounds of Finvoy Parish Church, Neason's mother would not allow his name to be inscribed on it and it was only put there after her death, so strong was her conviction that he would turn up. For over thirty years every knock at her door was answered with a glow of hope that it would be her long lost son."

As Hale has no known grave, he is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlanderen, Belgium, Panel 139.


Note: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Roll gives his date of death as 11 August. This however appears to be a simple mis-transcription. A request has been made to the Commission for an amendment.



Ulster Bank Memorial


Hale family headstone, Finvoy Church of Ireland


Images 1 and 2 Copyright © Phillip Tardif with all rights reserved as set out in this Use of Material policy. Images 3 and 4 kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (image 4 courtesy of Ricky Cole).