Mourne World War One Heroes

Local War Heroes

Below is some information on a few of the men from Kilkeel who served in the Great War. Two of these men were awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry against the enemy.

Private Robert Scott VC

Robert Scott was born in Lancashire. His parents were from Kilkeel and he returned to live here. He served with the Manchester Regiment and is buried in Kilkeel. He got his VC in the Boer War, but also fought in the Great War. On 5 January 1900 he was one of 16 soldiers who took up defensive positions at Caesar’s Camp. Private Scott and one other survivor held off the enemy for 15 hours and both were awarded VC’s for their actions. He is buried in the Church of Ireland Graveyard, Kilkeel.

Robert Scott VC cigarette cardGrave of Robert Scott in Church of Ireland, Kilkeel

Company Sergeant Major Hanna VC

Robert Hill Hanna, born in Aughnahoory near Hanna’s Close was a Company Sergeant Major (later Lieutenant) of the 29th Vancouver Battalion. In 1917, during the Battle of Hill 70 at LensĀ  in France. Hanna took charge after his officers were killed or injured and led a successful attack on a German machine gun position. For his tremendous bravery Hanna was awarded a VC. He returned to Kilkeel on 2 March 1918 to a hero’s welcome.

Robert Hanna VC Robert Hanna VC grave

Major Joseph H. Thompson

‘Colonel Joe’ was a highly decorated war hero, born in Kilkeel. After moving to America in 1898 he joined the US Army 110th Infantry, 28th Division in 1917. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Croix de Guerre and the Purple Heart but it was due to his actions in Apremont France on 1 October 1918 that he was awarded the Medal of Honour. During a counterattack by two regiments of the enemy, ‘Major Thompson encouraged his battalion in the front line of constantly braving the hazardous fire of machine guns and artillery. His courage was mainly responsible for the heavy repulse of the enemy. Later in the action, when the advance of his assaulting companies was held up by fire from a hostile machinegun nest and all but one of the six assaulting tanks were disabled, Major Thompson, with great gallantry and coolness, rushed forward on foot three separate times…under heavy machinegun and antitank-gun fire, and led the one remaining tank to within a few yards of the enemy machine gun nest which succeeded in reducing it, thereby making it possible for the infantry to advance’.

Major Joseph H. Thompson The Medal of Honor