McDonnell, David John (No. 18/1191)

McDonnell, David John (David)


No. 18/1191, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, then 11th/13th Battalion, then 22nd Entrenching Battalion

Killed in action on Thursday 28 March 1918 (aged 22)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Pozieres Memorial, France (Panel 74 to 76)

Portaferry Presbyterian Church

Family grave headstone in Ballymanish Cemetery Portaferry


David John McDonnell was born on 15 April 1895 in Portaferry and he was the eldest son of David John and Mary McDonnell (nee Bailie) who were married on 12 June 1894 in Glastry Presbyterian Church.  David John McDonnell from Ballygalget was a son of David McDonnell, a farmer.  Mary Bailie from Kirkistown was a daughter of John Bailie, a farmer.

The McDonnell family lived in the townlands of Ballyfinragh and Ballygalget, Portaferry.

David John McDonnell Senior was a farmer and he and Mary had at least five children:

David John (born 15 April 1895)

Martha (born 25 July 1896 in Ballygalget)

Isabella Jane (Ginnie, born 15 February 1899)

Thomas James (born 11 December 1902 in Ballygalget)

Mary (born 10 March 1908 in Ballygalget)

These children were baptised in Portaferry Presbyterian Church.

Their father, David John McDonnell, died of gastritis on 29 November 1916 (aged 60) and their mother, Mary, died on 7 August 1946 (aged 75).

The following details were provided by David John McDonnell’s great-niece:

David John McDonnell worked with his father on the family farm and after a disagreement with his father about a horse he left home and enlisted.  A short time later he asked his father to buy him out of the Army, which his father did.  There still were tensions in the relationship and one day David left the farm in his working clothes and never returned.  He borrowed a suit from a neighbour, enlisted in Newtownards and served with the Royal Irish Rifles.

David John McDonnell enlisted in December 1915 in Newtownards and joined the 18th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.  He was posted to the 13th Battalion in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division and in November 1917 the 11th and 13th Battalions were amalgamated.  When they were disbanded in February 1918 David was transferred to the 22nd Entrenching Battalion and he was 22 when he was killed by shellfire on 28 March 1918 during the German Spring Offensive.

Rifleman David McDonnell (No. 18/1191) has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial in France; on the Memorial Window in Portaferry Presbyterian Church and on the family grave headstone in Ballymanish Cemetery Portaferry.