“The Golden Chain of Love is Unbroken.” The story of David James Sloan.
Picture of David Sloan in the Larne Times: 18th Nov 1916. Image (C) The British Library Board.

The final soldier we are covering in this research piece is David James Sloan. Born 17th March 1891 to John Sloan and Isabella Hunter, the family lived in Moscow Street on the Shankill Road. Isabella would pass away from acute phthisis (tuberculosis) in 1893, with John later remarrying in 1894 to Agnes Spence . David was the only child of the family, and lived with his Father and Step-Mother on Queensland Street from 1901 onwards.

In 1912, David married May Ethel Deeley, Originally from Birmingham. The marriage certificate lists both David and May as living in the family home at 9 Queensland Street. The house had taken in boarders according to the 1901 census, so it is plausible that David and May met when she boarded in the Sloan residence. Together, David and May would have two children, John Deeley Sloan (b. 1912) and Irene Beatrice Sloan (b.1915).

David would be attached with A company of the 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and would be stationed on the western front during the Battle of the Somme. The War Diaries indicate that on 23rd October 1916, the Battalion was stationed in an area known as Cooker Farm, near the France-Belgian border:

“Fine and warm. Enemy Trench Mortars very active in afternoon. We replied with our own light and medium Trench Mortars and Howitzers. Very little damage done to our trenches and only one casualty. Dangerously wounded.”

With the 14th being relieved the next day by the 10th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and no fighting reported, it is likely that the man injured during the mortar fire was David James Sloan, who subsequently succumbed to his wounds the next day, dying on 24th October 1916.

After the war, May relocated to her home in Birmingham with John and Irene. May would never remarry, and died in 1976, nearly 60 years after her husband. The message in memory of her husband recorded with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives a glimpse into the close bond between them:

“The golden chain of love is unbroken, never forgotten by his wife May.”

This research has helped humanise a few of the names on the war memorial plaque in the old Donegall Street Congregational Church. These men, who once walked the streets of north Belfast were unable to return home, but they left behind important stories, connections and memories, which loved ones carried with them. The intention of this research was not only to remember their sacrifice, but to acknowledge that they had lives before they became soldiers, and give a glimpse into the individuals who went to fight and would not return home.

Use of Image:

The image of David Sloan is Copyright of the British Library Board. All Rights Reserved. With thanks to the British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk). Used with permission from the archive.

About the archivist:

James Cromey is the Archive Coordinator for the North Belfast Heritage Cluster. He has a background in Victorian, Industrial and Medical History and has received degrees from the University of Glasgow and Queens University Belfast. All research has been conducted to a high academic standard and has been fully referenced. If you would like to know more about a story or piece of research, or if you wish to tell us about your own story, email us at: archiveproject@nbheritagecluster.org

Members Involved

YEAR: 1934

Location: Donegall Street