Bruce, William (No. 17204)

Bruce, William


No. 17204, 11th & 12th Battalions, Royal Irish Rifles

Died of wounds on Wednesday 23 October 1918 (aged 24)


Harlebeke New British Cemetery, Belgium (Grave II. C. 3)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour


In the Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919 database it is recorded that Rifleman William Bruce (No. 17204) resided in Cultra.  It was in fact his wife who lived in Cultra before they were married.

William Bruce was born in Dunmurry, Drumbeg and he was a son of John and Frances Cosby (Fanny) Bruce (nee Roy) who were married on 12 July 1890 in Railway Street Presbyterian Church, Lisburn.  Fanny Roy (aged 19) was born in County Down and she was a daughter of William Roy, a labourer.

The Bruce family lived in Dunmurry and at 31 Kilmakee, Derriaghy.

John Bruce worked as a general labourer and he and Fanny had five children:

William (born 5 February 1894 in Dunmurry, Drumbeg)

Margaret (born 1 June 1896 in Dunmurry, Drumbeg)

Mary Jane (born 25 April 1898 in Dunmurry, Drumbeg)

Catherine (born 14 July 1901 in Dunmurry, Drumbeg)

Thomas (born 24 December 1903 in Dunmurry, Drumbeg)

William Bruce worked as a general labourer before he enlisted in Lisburn.  For a time, he was stationed at Holywood.

Rifleman William Bruce (aged 24) was stationed on Salisbury Plain in England when he and Mary Jane McKenna (aged 24) were married in Holywood Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Philip and St James).  Mary Jane McKenna from Cultra Lodge, Cultra was a daughter of Patrick James McKenna, a gardener.

Rifleman William Bruce served with the 11th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles before being transferred to the 12th Battalion in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division.

Rifleman William Bruce (No. 17204) was 24 when he died of wounds on 23 October 1918 during the Allied offensive against all sections of the German line and at the time of his death his wife Mary Jane was living at Edgebank, Deramore Park South, Belfast.  They had been married for just two months.

Rifleman William Bruce (No. 17204) was buried in Harlebeke New British Cemetery, Belgium and he is commemorated in the Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour (Page 71).

There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone: