Hewitt, William Arthur (Willie)
9th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Killed in action on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged 23)
No known grave
Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 4 D and 5 B)
Bangor and District War Memorial
Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque
Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum
North of Ireland Cricket Club Memorial Plaque (includes those members of the Club who played Rugby Football)
Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s) War Memorial Plaque
Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s) Family Memorial Plaque
Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI)
Family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery
William Hewitt was born on 23 January 1893 in Princess Gardens, Bangor and he was a son of James Henry Hewitt (born 21 June 1850) and Jeannie Denby Hewitt (nee Marshall, born 26 August 1854) who were married on 25 June 1879 in St John’s Church of Ireland Church Laganbank, Belfast.
The Hewitt family lived in Belfast, in Eblana Street, South Parade and Rosetta Avenue. They also lived in Bangor, at Altamont, 27 Downshire Road and at 97 Mornington Park.
James Hewitt was the manager of the Workshops for the Industrious Blind, Royal Avenue, Belfast and he and Jeannie had five children:
James Marshall (born 8 September 1880 at 36 Cooke Street, Belfast; died 18 August 1967)
Edith Mary (born 3 June 1882 at 5 Eblana Street, Belfast; died 23 November 1966)
Ernest Henry (born 5 November 1885 at 60 South Parade, Belfast)
Holt Montgomery (born 11 June 1887 at 60 South Parade, Belfast)
William Arthur (born 23 January 1893 in Princess Gardens, Bangor)
Their father, James Henry Hewitt, died on 4 January 1928 (aged 77) and their mother, Jeannie Denby Hewitt, died on 5 June 1935 (aged 81).
James and Jeannie’s only surviving son, James Marshall Hewitt, became a clergyman in the Church of England and served as Vicar of St Mark’s in Haydock, Lancashire. James Marshall Hewitt and Alice Evadne Louise (Evadne) Snell were married in 1919 in Birkenhead. Their son, Ernest Basil Snell (Basil) Hewitt, served during the Second World War as a Lieutenant (No. 180163) with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Basil Hewitt was awarded the Military Cross in August 1943 for gallantry in the Sicilian campaign and was subsequently killed in action on 3 November 1943.
Before the outbreak of the Great War, William Hewitt worked as a bank clerk and, along with his brothers, Ernest and Holt, he was a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force and played rugby for the North of Ireland [Rugby} Football Club. He obtained a commission with the 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, went to France on 25 March 1916 and, like his brother Holt, was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Sergeant Galbraith was reported as saying:
‘I know a young fellow in No. 3 Company called Private Cosnett and he saw this officer killed. He said he saw Mr Hewitt in the early morning of the 2nd coming back and crawling accompanied by another officer and then he saw a shell burst close beside them which killed them both. This was close to the wire in the Sunken Road near our first line. He was evidently making for the dressing station. He thinks he was wounded.’
Lt Col Ricardo also commented in a letter to William Hewitt’s parents: ‘Your little lad Willie led his platoon over the parapet and the last I saw of him was his happy smile as I wished him luck. They got across to the German trenches in front of which they came under an appalling machine-gun fire. Your lad was hit and Sergeant Lally who is now in hospital wounded was with him when he passed over’.
E.W. Crawford who was the Adjutant of the 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers wrote afterwards: ‘Willie led his platoon fearlessly over the top. One of his men told me that he was wounded but still carried on, but had to stop from loss of blood. He was a grand boy, one of the finest characters I have seen. He acted as assistant adjutant to me and no more conscientious and better boy ever lived’.
Second Lieutenant Willie Hewitt has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Bangor and District War Memorial; on the Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque; in the Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum (Page 12); on the North of Ireland Cricket Club Memorial Plaque and on the Memorial Plaques in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s) and RBAI.
[The North of Ireland Football Club (members played Rugby Football as opposed to Soccer) was founded by members of the North of Ireland Cricket Club and the North of Ireland Cricket Club Memorial Plaque commemorates members of both Clubs. Members of the Football Club were also members of the Cricket Club but not all members of the Cricket Club were members of the Football Club.]
The family memorial plaque in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s) was unveiled in August 1917.
William Arthur Hewitt is also commemorated on the family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor. It bears the inscription:
I am the resurrection and the life