A CASTLEDERG man who uncovered the forgotten story of a relative killed on the battlefields of the First World War has spoken of his family’s “immense pride” at seeing the soldier’s name finally added to the town’s war memorial.
Charlie Goan, who works as a freelance genealogist, said his family would be “eternally grateful” after the name of his great-great-great uncle James Goan was inscribed on a newly-added plaque, along with three other soldiers from the Castlederg area previously omitted from the memorial, James Floyd, Richard McHugh and James Moss.
Mr Goan only discovered his relative’s fascinating story about six years ago when he was researching his family tree.
He said, “My grandfather and his siblings had never heard of this connection and it had seemingly been forgotten over the course of the 20th century.
“James was born in 1897 in Listymore, Spamount, Castlederg to Thomas Goan and Margaret Anne Montgomery (believed to be a distant relation of the famous British World War II commander, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery). He signed up to the war effort with his two brothers, John and Joseph.”
But the signaller in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers would not see the end of the war. He died on September 30, 1918 and is buried in Haringhe Military Cemetery, Belgium.
Mr Goan added, “Although James signed on in Castlederg, his family later moved to Caledon. His two brothers came back from the war and started a three-day riot in Caledon over the rights of returning soldiers. They were later run out of town and had to go to Scotland due to the trouble they had caused.”
Reflecting on how it felt to finally see his great-great-great uncle’s name on the war memorial, the genealogist said, “It is an immense pride for myself and my family to see James’s name where it rightfully belongs. His sacrifice had been forgotten by all but a few. After 102 years, his name and his memory has been returned to his native Castlederg, and for this we are eternally grateful.”
The names of James Goan and the three other soldiers are now on display thanks to the painstaking research of local historian – and former councillor – Jim Emery, who uncovered their details during the course of his many trips to the First World War battlefields.
Welcoming the addition of the new plaque, returning UUP councillor for the area, Derek Hussey, said, “Thanks to all involved in ensuring that these men have not been forgotten and their names proudly added to Castlederg’s War Memorial. The names of these men were not known and had been omitted from their local war memorial and this has now been corrected.
“Dessie Thompson, on behalf of Derry City and Strabane District Council, has been most helpful liaising with Jim, Castlederg Royal British Legion and myself to procure and mount the newly-added plaque.”
Mr Hussey added, “Unfortunately an official dedication of the plaque is not yet feasible with Covid restrictions, but it is intended to be undertaken at the earliest opportunity.”