McBride, William Wilson (Wilson)
229th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery
Died of wounds on Wednesday 5 December 1917 (aged 20)
Giavera British Cemetery, Italy (Plot 2 Row A Grave 9)
Rockport School Craigavad
Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour
William Wilson McBride was born on 30 April 1897 at 12 University Square, Belfast and he was a son of William Durham McBride and Elizabeth Wallace McBride (nee Steen) who were married on 11 September 1894 in Fitzroy Presbyterian Church Belfast. William Durham McBride from Belfast was a son of Robert McBride, a merchant. Elizabeth Wallace Steen from Belfast was a daughter of John Steen, an auctioneer.
The McBride family lived in University Square, Adelaide Park, North Gretton Street and Bladon Park, Belfast.
William Durham McBride was a linen merchant and he was a Director of Robert McBride & Co Ltd in Belfast. He and Elizabeth had two children:
William Wilson (born 30 April 1897 in University Square, Belfast)
Elizabeth Bennett (born 19 August 1899 in University Square, Belfast)
Their mother Elizabeth died of a cerebral haemorrhage on 17 May 1917 (aged 56) and she was buried in Belfast City Cemetery (Grave C2 275).
William Wilson McBride attended Rockport School from 1909 to 1912. He boarded at the school and excelled in music and drama, often playing piano solos, singing in the school choir and taking the lead in Rockport Amateur Dramatic Society (RADS) productions. He gained colours for cricket, hockey and shooting. From 1912 he attended the Tonbridge School in Kent where he was a member of the Officers’ Training Corps (OTC) and when war was declared the McBride family was holidaying in Switzerland. After a short course in the Belfast Technical Institute Wilson took up a position in the family business and in addition to manufacturing linen their factory made hand grenades. Wilson enlisted in Carrickfergus and joined the Royal Garrison Artillery in July 1916. He was sent to a Cadet School and after five months of training he was gazetted to his commission and attached to a Siege Battery as Signalling Officer. He went to the Western Front and in spring 1917 took part in the fighting at Ypres. He was wounded once in the arm and also required treatment for the effects of poison gas.
In December 1917 Wilson McBride went to Treviso on the Italian Front and he was badly wounded by an enemy shell when he was visiting his men in the forward positions. He was taken to a field hospital but died a short time after being admitted. Known to his comrades as ‘Mac’, he was commended for his bravery on more than one occasion. It is recorded in the CWGC Debt of Honour that ‘he was in command of the signallers of the battery and, shortly before his death, owing to his ability and attention to duty, his Commanding Officer recommended him for promotion in order to qualify him to take position as Second in Command’.
After Second Lieutenant William Wilson McBride died, his father paid for the appointment of the ‘McBride Memorial Room’ at Rockport Preparatory School (described at the time as a museum and classroom for nature study) which is dedicated to Wilson’s memory and also to the memory of all the Rockportians who served and fell in the Great War. A bed in the UVF Hospital was also endowed in Wilson McBride’s name.
William Durham McBride re-married and he died on 31 January 1928 (aged 72). His second wife, Mary Alice McBride, died on 28 February 1942 (aged 72). Both were buried in the same grave as William’s first wife, Elizabeth Wallace McBride.