McAvoy, John Magilton (No. 18183)

McAvoy, John Magilton (John)


No. 18183, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged 19)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for

Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards

Brother of Rifleman Edward Ferguson McCalpin McAvoy No. 18125

Cousin of Private George Turner McAlpine (No. 2528)


John Magilton McAvoy was born on 8 March 1897 in Mill Street, Newtownards and he was a son of Daniel and Ellen Jane McAvoy (nee McAlpine, sometimes McAlpin, sometimes McCalpin) who were married on 31 October 1877 in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.  Daniel McAvoy from Cunningburn was a son of John McAvoy, a labourer.  Ellen Jane McAlpine (a minor) from Ballyrea was a daughter of William McAlpine, a weaver.

The McAvoy family lived in the townlands of Ballywatticock and Ballyrea and at 140 Mill Street, Newtownards.

Daniel McAvoy worked as a general labourer and flax scutcher and he and Ellen Jane had eight children:

Edward Ferguson (born prematurely 28 February 1881 in Ballywatticock; died of debility 27 March 1881 in Ballyrea)

William (born 9 June 1882 in Ballyrea)

Margaret (Maggie, born 19 November 1883 in Ballyrea)

Agnes Eliza (Lizzie, born 5 June 1886)

Edward Ferguson McCalpin (born 10 August 1888 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

Eleanor (Ellen, born 24 July 1891 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

Anna Isabella (born 17 February 1894 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

John Magilton (born 8 March 1897 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

The McAvoy children were all baptised in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War, John Magilton McAvoy worked as a garden labourer.

He enlisted in Newtownards, served with the 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (1st County Down Volunteers) in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division and went to France in October 1915.

Rifleman John McAvoy was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme but it was some time before this was officially confirmed.  Initially he was posted as missing in action and then in September 1916, two months after they were notified about Edward’s death, his family received news that John was being held as a prisoner of war in Dulmen Camp Germany.  Later it was officially confirmed that he must be presumed to have been killed in action on 1 July 1916.

John McAvoy was the first of the two brothers to die, 11 days before Edward died, but Edward’s death was the first to be officially confirmed:

Three Newtownards families related by marriage suffered bereavement during the first two weeks of the Battle of the Somme when four men who are being commemorated on this website died:

Three women living at 4 Talbot Street in 1916 were widowed – James Dorrian’s wife Jane (nee Oliver), Robert McCartney’s wife Susanna (nee Dorrian) and Edward McAvoy’s wife Jane (nee Dorrian).