William F McFadzean V.C.

Vol. Vol. 5 No. 2 - 1986

William F McFadzean V.C.

by Kieran Clendinning

William McFadzean was a Private in the 14th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles in the First World War He was born in Lurgan on 9th October 1895 and was baptised in First Lurgan Presbyterian Church. Despite considerable research it has not been possible to locate where in Lurgan he was born.

The baptismal record gives his father's name William McFadzean and the mother was a member of the Pedlow, Bowen families. (There is still a Bowen's home on the outskirts of Lurgan).

From school records it is known that he entered Mountpottinger School in Belfast on 13 April 1904, was enrolled in the Third Class and left the School on 12 August 1908. He resided at 9 Jocelyn Gardens, Belfast.

He became an apprentice in the firm of Spence Bryson & Co Ltd, 41 Great Victoria Street, Belfast. Standing six feet high and weighing 13 stones he was an enthusiastic player with Collegians Rugby Football Club before enlisting in the R.I.R. He was killed in action on 1 July 1916 and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery.

While in a trench and opening a box of bombs for distribution prior to an attack, the box slipped into the trench which was crowded with men and two of the safety pins fell out.

He sacrificed his life for his comrades

Private McFadzean instantly realizing the danger to his comrades, with heroic courage threw himself on the top of the bombs. He was blown to pieces, but only one other man was injured. The V.C. was presented to his father on 28th February 1917.

It would seem appropriate, if the birth place was located locally, that some symbol of recognition for such conspicuous bravery should be recorded there.

Post script: In 2018 a fine bronze memorial has been erected in High Street, Lurgan by the Ancre Somme Association to the memory of Private William McFadzean V.C.. It was dedicated by Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant for County Armagh, The Earl of Caledon KCVO, JP, on 13 October 2018.