Gorman, William John Robinson (No. 150090)

Gorman, William John Robinson (Willie)


No. 150090, 8th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment)

Accidentally killed on Wednesday 7 February 1917 (aged 24)


Fosse No. 10 Communal Cemetery Extension, France (Grave I. B. 38)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM)

Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance

Bangor and District War Memorial

Cookstown and District War Memorial

Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church Bangor

Bangor Grammar School

Cookstown Book of Honour Cookstown’s War Dead

Father’s headstone in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road

Grandfather’s headstone in Broomhedge Parish Church Graveyard, Co Antrim


William John Robinson Gorman was born on 23 December 1892 in Ballyholme, Bangor and he was a son of Thomas Balmer Gorman and Margaret (Maggie) Gorman (nee McDowell) who were married on 16 May 1883 in Queen’s Parade Methodist Church Bangor. Thomas Balmer Gorman from Bridge Street, Bangor was a son of Philip Gorman, a farmer.  Maggie McDowell from Ballyholme was a daughter of James McDowell, a ship’s captain.

Thomas Balmer Gorman worked as a druggist/chemist and he and Maggie had at least seven children:

Phoebe Matilda (born 20 February 1884 in Bridge Street, Bangor; died 7 December 1937)

Robert Alfred (born 30 May 1886 in Bridge Street, Bangor)

James McDowell (born 8 July 1888 in Bridge Street, Bangor)

Philip Thomas (born 29 May 1890 in Bridge Street, Bangor)

William John Robinson (born 23 December 1892 in Ballyholme, Bangor)

Francis Edward (born 13 April 1895 in Bridge Street, Bangor)

Noel Victor (born 25 December 1896 in Springfield, Bangor; died of diarrhoea and vomiting 22 August 1897)

The Gorman family lived at 19 Bridge Street, Bangor.

After their mother, Maggie, died their father, Thomas Balmer Gorman, and Matilda (Tillie) Hegan were married on 17 September 1901 in Second Dungannon Presbyterian Church, Drumglass, Dungannon, Co Tyrone.  Tillie Hegan from Annagh was a daughter of Joseph Hegan, a farmer.  In a double wedding ceremony, Tillie’s sister Margaret was married to Hugh McNeill, a National School Teacher from Escra.

Thomas and Matilda (Tillie) Gorman (nee Hegan) lived at 19 Bridge Street, Bangor.

William John Robinson Gorman attended Bangor Grammar School from 1905 to 1907.

William John Robinson Gorman was a grandson of Philip Gorman and he worked as a chemist’s assistant before he moved to Canada.  In Canada, William worked as a salesman before he enlisted in Winnipeg on 26 July 1915.  It was noted in his attestation papers that he was 5 feet 8½ inches tall with a dark complexion, grey eyes and dark hair.

Private William John Robinson Gorman (No 150090) served with the 8th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) and he was 24 when he was accidentally killed on 7 February 1917.

Below is a statement describing the circumstances of his accident taken verbatim from his casualty card:

A Court of Enquiry convened to inquire into the circumstances of the death of Private Gorman found that the accident was caused by the explosion of a No. 1 general service grenade in the hands of Private W.J.R. Gorman the instructor, while he was conducting a class at the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade Training Area on February 7th 1917.  The said explosion being caused by Private Gorman, who, to illustrate the working of the grenade, struck, with his hand the cap, thinking that the detonator which he had previously inserted was a ‘dummy’ whereas it was actually a ‘live’ one.

Private William John Robinson Gorman (No 150090) was buried in Fosse No. 10 Communal Cemetery Extension, France.

Private William John Robinson Gorman (No 150090) is commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM); in the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; on Bangor and District War Memorial; on Cookstown War Memorial; on the Memorial Plaques in Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church Bangor and in Bangor Grammar School; in Cookstown’s War Dead (page 304); on his father’s headstone in Bangor Cemetery (his father died on 16 April 1922) and on his grandfather’s headstone in Broomhedge Parish Church Graveyard Co Antrim.  In the Cookstown book it is recorded that William Gorman signed the Ulster Covenant in 1912 at Sandholes.