In memoriam

Private William McCormick

 

 

 

William McCormick was born on 10 December 1894 at 60 Bann Street, Belfast, the fourth or fifth child of tailor William McCormick and his wife Margaret (nee McAtackney). By 1911 he was living with his family at 49 Oregon Street, Belfast and working as a message boy. Soon after they moved to 77 Tennent Street; his father died there on 9 October 1913.

McCormick enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron at Belfast between 23 November 1914 and 9 February 1915 (No. UD/208). He embarked for France with his squadron on 6 October 1915. At the time they were serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division.

In June 1916 F Squadron came together with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps. In August 1917 orders came that the regiment would be dismounted and its men transferred to the infantry. McCormick was one of 70 men given the job of conducting the regiment's horses to Egypt. They embarked from Marseilles on board HMT Bohemian on 25 August. After a month at Alexandria they returned to France, via Italy. On 5 October 1917 they arrived at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur for infantry training. After just a few days they were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt on 12 October. McCormick was issued regimental number 41607.

McCormick probably saw action with the battalion during the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 and perhaps also during the German offensives of March and April 1918.

From August to November 1918 the 9th (NIH) Battalion saw much fighting in Belgium during the Advance to Victory offensive. During this time McCormick was wounded, most likely on 25 October near Ansegham, the last day's fighting seen by the battalion during the war. Its war diary for that day reads:

Weather fine but dull towards midday. Battalion in support to 12th Royal Irish Rifles in attack on line J.36.c.0.4 – J.36.a.3.2 through G. in BERGSTRAAT – through N. in ANSEGHAM to Northern boundary at J.24.c.0.0. Heavy Machine Gun opposition was encountered and an advance of about 1,000 yards was made. Strength of Battn. going into action 12 officers and 276 O.R's. Casualties Lieut. F.W. Vint and 2 Lieut. J. Darling, M.C. wounded, 7 O.R's killed and 37 O.R's wounded.

Private McCormick died of wounds on 3 November 1918. He was buried in the Kezelberg Military Cemetery, Wevelgem, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, grave II.A.14. The gravestone inscription reads:

41607 PRIVATE
W. MC CORMICK
ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS
3RD NOVEMBER 1918 AGE 24

ELDEST SON OF WILLIAM
& MARGARET MC CORMICK
BOTH OF BELFAST

 

Gravestone image kindly provided by Steve Rogers, Project Co-ordinator of the The War Graves Photographic Project, www.twgpp.org. Newspaper image from the Belfast Evening Telegraph kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com).