Donnan, William James (No. G/61958)

Donnan, William James (William)


No. 23726, 5th Royal Irish Lancers, transferred to

No. G/61958, 23rd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)

Killed in action on Saturday 1 December 1917 (aged 19)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Cambrai Memorial, France (Panel 3 and 4)

Ballyphilip Parish Church of Ireland Church (St James) Portaferry

Family grave headstone in the adjoining graveyard


William James Donnan was born on 27 March 1898 in the townland of Kearney, Portaferry and he was a son of Hugh and Jane Donnan (nee Chermside) who were married on 16 August 1895 in Ballyphilip Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. James) Portaferry.  Hugh Donnan from Kearney was a full-age bachelor; a fisherman and a son of Alexander Donnan, a sailor.  Jane Chermside from Dooey, Portaferry was a minor and a daughter of Thomas Chermside, a labourer.

Hugh and Jane Donnan (nee Chermside) lived in the townland of Kearney, Quintin, Portaferry and they had three children:

William James (born 27 March 1898 at Kearney, Portaferry)

Victoria Sarah Elizabeth (born 3 January 1900 at Kearney, Portaferry)

Hugh Charles (born 25 November 1901 at Kearney, Portaferry)

Their mother, Jane Donnan, was 21 when she died of a brain tumour on 7 October 1902.

Their father, Hugh Donnan, and Annie Watterson (sometimes Waterson) were married on 27 June 1904 in Ardquin Parish Church of Ireland Church Portaferry.  Annie Watterson from Thomastown, Portaferry was a daughter of William Watterson, a pilot.

Hugh Donnan and Annie Donnan (nee Watterson) lived in Shore Street, Portaferry before moving to Kearney, Portaferry and they had at least four children:

John (born 11 June 1905 at Shore Street, Portaferry; died of whooping cough aged 11 months on 10 May 1906)

Robert Joseph (born 27 January 1910 at Shore Street, Portaferry)

Andrew (born 6 September 1911 at Kearney, Portaferry)

Henry Alexander (born 16 February 1913 at Kearney, Portaferry)

Hugh Donnan was a seaman and during the Great War he served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR).

William James Donnan enlisted in Dublin and he served with the 5th Royal Irish Lancers (No. 23726) before being transferred to the 23rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment).

Private William James Donnan was 19 when he was killed in action at Cambrai on 1 December 1917 and he has no known grave.

Private William James Donnan is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial in France; in Ballyphilip Parish Church of Ireland Church Portaferry (St James) and on the family grave headstone in the adjoining graveyard.

William James Donnan’s step-mother, Annie Donnan, died on 9 July 1952 (aged 68) and his father, Hugh Donnan, died on 6 March 1953 (aged 78).