Jamison, William John (No. 42558)

Jamison, William John (Willie)

Served as Armour, William John


No. 42558, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Died as a result of enemy action on Tuesday 26 October 1920 (aged 21)


Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq (Grave XIV. J. 14)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Newtownards and District War Memorial


William John Jamison’s great-niece contributed some of the family details that follow and she has asked for them to be included in his biography.

William John Armour was born on 3 May 1899 in Thomas’s Street, Newtownards and he was a son of Sarah Jane Armour and William Jamison who at that time were not married. In 1901 Willie Armour and three siblings were living in the Newtownards workhouse with their mother Sarah Jane Armour.  Sarah Jane worked as a farm servant and she stated that she belonged to the Irish Church.

Willie Armour’s father, William Jamison, (spelt Jameson in the 1901 census) worked as a weaver and he lived with his widowed mother, Margaret Jamison, at 1 Movilla Street, Newtownards.  Margaret stated that her religious denomination was Roman Catholic and William stated that his was Church of England.  There was family opposition to William Jamison and Sarah Jane Armour getting married.

In 1911 Sarah Jane Armour and her seven children (Maggie, Willie, James, Mary Katherine, Louisa, Jennie and Elizabeth) were living at 78 Movilla Street while their father William Jamison was still living at 1 Movilla Street with his widowed mother Margaret.

William Jamison (aged 48), a bachelor, and Sarah Jane Armour (aged 47), a spinster, were married on 21 November 1914 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).  William Jamison was a son of James Jamison, a weaver, and Sarah Jane Armour was a daughter of William Armour, a farm labourer.

William Jamison worked as a labourer, Sarah Jane worked as an embroiderer and they had at least eleven children including:

Susanna (born 28 September 1891 in Upper Movilla Street, Newtownards)

Margaret (born 8 February 1894 in George’s Street, Newtownards)

Margaret Jamison (born 20 December 1896 in Russell Place, George’s Street, Newtownards)

William John (born 3 May 1899 in Thomas’s Street, Newtownards)

James Jamison (born 15 February 1902 in East Street, Newtownards)

Mary Catherine (born 5 March 1904 in Movilla Street, Newtownards)

Louisa Jamison (born 20 July 1907 in George’s Street, Newtownards)

Jane Jamison (Jennie born 22 January 1909 in Movilla Street, Newtownards)

Elizabeth McRoberts (born 24 March 1911 in Movilla Street, Newtownards)

William John (Willie) Armour was just 15 years old when he enlisted soon after the outbreak of the Great War and he was sent home again when his mother showed his birth certificate to the Army authorities.

A few weeks later Willie Armour enlisted again and his Medal Index Card shows that he served with the 8th and 1st Battalions Royal Irish Rifles (No. 564) and the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers (No. 42558).  There is another regimental number associated with his name:  19/46093.

William John (Willie) Armour was 17 when he and Elizabeth McBlain were married on 16 September 1916 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).  He declared that he was 19 and a Rifleman (No. 564) with the 19th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.  Elizabeth McBlain (stated age 18) was a daughter of Stewart McBlain, a labourer.

Elizabeth McBlain was born on 20 October 1899 and she was a daughter of Stewart and Margaret McBlain (nee Shields).  Thus, Elizabeth was in fact 16 when she got married.

Elizabeth McBlain’s uncle, Private James McBlain, had been killed in action on 15 November 1914.

It was while Willie Armour was serving with the Royal Irish Fusiliers that his son William John was born on 6 November 1918.  Six weeks later, on 19 December 1918, baby William John Armour died of acute bronchitis.  His grandmother Sarah Jane Jamison (nee Armour) was present when he died and she registered his death.  At the time of his son’s death Willie Armour was on active service with the Royal Irish Rifles.

In the autumn of 1920 William John Armour was serving with the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in Mesopotamia and it was there that he died on 26 October 1920.  After Rifleman Willie Armour died, his family was informed that he had been shot by a sniper whilst swimming.

Rifleman Willie Armour was buried in Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq and he is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial.

The War Memorial in Newtownards was unveiled and dedicated on 26 May 1934 and, during the deliberations that took place in the lead-up to the ceremony, Willie Armour’s family made representation to the Organising Committee for Willie’s surname to be inscribed on the memorial as ‘Jamison’ rather than ‘Armour’.

The Organising Committee agreed and so, Rifleman Willie Armour is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial as ‘Jamison, W.J.’ whilst in the booklet produced for the unveiling and dedication ceremony he is listed as Rifleman William J. Armour Royal Irish Rifles.