Donnan, William (No. 911995)

Donnan, William (Willie)

Private

No. 911995, 46th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan Regiment)

Killed in action on Thursday 3 May 1917 (aged 44)

Buried:

Villers Station Cemetery, France (Grave V. G. 9)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM)

Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance

Kircubbin Presbyterian Church

Family grave headstone in the adjoining graveyard

BIOGRAPHY

William Donnan was born on 28 July 1872 (attestation papers) and he was the only son of Robert and Margaret Donnan (nee Boyd) who were married on 28 December 1869 in Innishargie Church of Ireland Church (St Andrew’s) Balligan.

The Donnan family lived in the townland of Ballycran, Kircubbin.

Robert Donnan JP (born 10 September 1832) was a farmer and he and Margaret (born 14 September 1832) had five children:

Mary Elizabeth (born 7 February 1871 in Ballycranbeg; married John Lowry Maxwell; died 29 December 1957)

William (born 28 July 1872, attestation papers)

Margaret Robina (born 26 December 1873 in Ballycran)

Jane Boyd (born 17 December 1874)

Annie Helena (born 13 September 1876 in Ballycranbeg; married Matthew McAuley MD; died 17 June 1942)

The four girls were baptised in Kircubbin Presbyterian Church.

William Donnan moved to Canada where he worked as a teacher before he enlisted on 20 May 1916 in Nanairns, British Columbia.  In his attestation papers, it was noted that he was unmarried, he was 5 feet 9 inches tall with a sallow complexion, dark blue eyes and dark brown hair.  He had a large brown mole on the back of his neck.

Private William Donnan died on 3 May 1917 (aged 44) when ‘he was killed instantly while at his post of duty’.  These were the words used by the Rev Charles B. Cumming, the Chaplain who buried him and who then wrote to William’s parents to express his sympathy.  There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:

ONLY SON OF ROBERT DONNAN

BALLYCRAN, CO DOWN, IRELAND

KILLED NEAR LENS

IN HIS FIRST ENGAGEMENT

Private William Donnan (No. 911995) is commemorated in Kircubbin Presbyterian Church and on the family grave headstone in the adjoining graveyard.

William Donnan’s mother Margaret died on 16 June 1919 (aged 86) and his father Robert died on 7 January 1920 (aged 87).