McDonald, Andrew (No. S/12900)

McDonald, Andrew


No. S/12900, 9th Battalion, Rifle Brigade

Killed in action on Thursday 6 January 1916 (aged 24)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium (Panel 46 – 48 and 50)

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Regent Street Methodist Church Newtownards


Andrew McDonald was born on 23 March 1891 in Newtownards and he was a son of John and Anna McDonald (nee Welsh, sometimes Walsh) who were married on 27 March 1889 in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church.  John McDonald from Newtownards was a son of Andrew McDonald, a weaver.  Anna Welsh (aged 17), a servant from Ballybarnes, was a daughter of David Welsh, a labourer.

The McDonald family lived at 4 Forde Street, Newtownards.

John McDonald worked as a tweed weaver and he and Anna had four children:

Andrew (born 30 December 1889 in Forde Street, Newtownards; died of debility 1 January 1890)

Andrew (born 23 March 1891 in Corry’s Quarter, Newtownards)

Hugh (born 12.15 pm 25 May 1895 in Corry’s Deed, Newtownards; died of gastritis 22 August 1895)

Martha (born 2.15 pm 25 May 1895 in Corry’s Deed, Newtownards)

Andrew McDonald was baptised in Regent Street Methodist Church Newtownards.

He was eight when his mother Anna died of tuberculosis on 8 May 1899 (aged 25).

In 1907, when Andrew was 16 years of age, he and his father John sailed to the USA to visit relatives in Philadelphia.

On 1 December 1908 John McDonald and Margaret (Maggie) Byers were married in Wesley Centenary Methodist Church Bangor.  John McDonald, a widower from Corry’s Quarter, Newtownards was a son of Andrew McDonald, a weaver.  Maggie Byers from Princetown Road, Bangor was a daughter of John Byers, a farmer.

John and Maggie McDonald (nee Byers) had eight children:

Dinah (born 25 January 1910 in Forde Street, Newtownards)

Marion (born 19 January 1912 in Forde Street, Newtownards; died 11 January 1992)

Charles Ingram (Charlie, born 26 April 1914 in Forde Street, Newtownards; killed 7 October 1932 aged 18 when his bicycle crashed into a horse on Bradshaw’s Brae, Newtownards)

Andrew (born 24 June 1916 in Forde Street, Newtownards, and named after his half-brother Andrew who had been killed in action five months earlier)

John (born 16 August 1918, died 3 February 2004, proprietor of McDonald’s Flower Shop in Newtownards)

Samuel (Sam, born 27 August 1920, died 18 February 2008; he continued to live in the family home in Forde Street until it was demolished in the early 1980s to provide additional car-parking space at Shorts)

Robert (Bob, born 27 July 1923, died 4 May 1969)

Neil (born 15 March 1928, moved to South Africa)

Andrew McDonald worked as a hand-loom weaver, as did his father John and his paternal grandfather Andrew after whom he was named.  Both Andrew’s paternal and maternal grandparents lived in Corry’s Street Newtownards (known locally as Corry’s Deed or Corry’s Quarter).

In 1912 Andrew signed the Ulster Covenant.  He enlisted in Newtownards on 7 June 1915 and went to France in November 1915 with the Rifle Brigade.  The last letter that Andrew’s family received from him was dated 27 December 1915 and in it he said that he was well.  He was 24 when he was killed in action ten days later on 6 January 1916.

Andrew McDonald died while endeavouring to save the life of a comrade.  In a letter to Andrew’s father Second Lieutenant A.F. Willmer, Officer Commanding ‘A’ Company, described the circumstances.  Andrew had gone out from the trenches under cover of darkness with a group of other men to bring in a wounded comrade.  While he was carrying the stretcher Andrew was shot and couldn’t walk.  Dawn was breaking and in the gathering light it was impossible to get him back to the trenches.  As Andrew lay wounded he was killed outright by a sniper’s bullet.  The following night his comrades buried him where he had died.

The McDonald family placed a Killed in Action notice in the 5 February 1916 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle.  In 1917 and in subsequent years they placed Our Heroes – In Memoriam notices.  The 1917 notices contained the verses:

One year has passed, but still we miss him,

Some may think the wound is healed;

But they little know the sorrow

That lies within our hearts concealed.


Sad thoughts do linger round our hearts,

While tears, they often flow;

And to that sad and lonely grave

Our thoughts do often go.

Rifleman Andrew McDonald (No. S/12900) has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium, on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Regent Street Methodist Church Newtownards.