Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Private Frederick McConnell

 

 

 

Frederick McConnell was born on 5 February 1895 at Big Isle, Manorcunningham, County Donegal, the tenth of eleven children of farm labourer, later caretaker, James McConnell and his wife Margaret Ann (nee Moss). By 1911 he was living with his family at Big Isle and working as an agricultural labourer.

McConnell enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Letterkenny on 8 March 1913 (No.806). He embarked for France on 21 August with C Squadron, seeing action in the retreat from Mons. (Some records state that he went to France on 17 August with A Squadron.)

However before the month was out McConnell became ill. He was evacuated to England, where he was admitted to a London hospital. The Belfast Evening Telegraph reported that:

The wounded horseman, who was struck with a shell in one of the earlier engagements of the war concealed in his home letters the fact that he had been wounded, lest the alarm and anxiety of his relatives would be too great. He is in splendid spirits and describes his hospital experiences as the time of his life. McConnell has a brother who is also in the North Irish Horse, and has relatives in Belfast.

It was not, however, enemy fire that brought McConnell to London, but tuberculosis. A medical board on 2 October 1914 found that the disease had originated in civilian life. According to the Board report, McConnell told them:

I was not wounded but while serving with the Exped. Force in France I contracted a very bad cold. Since I came home I am unable to do any work, but before mobilization I was at work regularly & never suffered from any illness.

The Board concluded that he "be given benefit of doubt & his present condition regarded for pension purposes as due to active service with the Expeditionary Force."

On 20 October McConnell was discharged under paragraph 154 of Special Reserve Regulations as medically unfit for service. His character was recorded as 'very good'.

McConnell was granted a partial pension on 7 January 1914. Over the years his condition deteriorated until on 15 October 1918 he was rated for pension purposes as 100 per cent incapacitated. He died at Errity, Manorcunningham, on 19 February 1919. He is believed to be buried in the Manorcunningham (Errity) Presbyterian churchyard, but this is not certain. The image below is the Church's war memorial plaque.

On 5 March 2015 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission accepted a claim through the In From The Cold Project that Private McConnell qualified for commemoration as a casualty of the war. He is now commemorated on the Brookwood 1914-1918 Memorial, Panel 8.

 

Private McConnell's older brother Alexander Robert McConnell also served in the North Irish Horse, but did not see overseas service, being discharged as medically unfit on 17 October 1914.

 

 

 

Image of Private McConnell from the Belfast Evening Telegraph kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com). Image from the Brookwood Memorial provided by 8055Bell at the Great War Forum. Image of the Manorcunningham churchyard from Kenneth Allen via Wikimedia Commons.