McGimpsey, Robert (No. 18/1594)

McGimpsey, Robert (Bob)


No. 18/1594, 14th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Friday 3 August 1917 (aged 36)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium (Panel 40)

Donaghadee and District War Memorial

Millisle Presbyterian Church


Robert (Bob) McGimpsey was born in 1881 in the United States of America and he was a son of William and Annie McGimpsey (nee Mickel) who were married on 14 April 1881 in Chicago, Illinois.  William McGimpsey (born in 1853 in County Down) was a son of Robert McGimpsey, a farmer and carter from Ballybuttle.  Annie Mickel (born in 1858 in Illinois) was a daughter of Louis and Emilie Mickel (nee Sandauer), both of whom were born in Germany and owned a clothing/tailor shop in Chicago.  Louis, Emilie and their son Max, who died on 12 September 1922 (aged 62), were buried in the Jewish Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.

William and Annie McGimpsey (nee Mickel) had another son, Thomas McGimpsey, who was born in the USA before the family moved to Donaghadee – sometime after 1885.

Annie McGimpsey died of diabetes in Back Street, Donaghadee on 28 February 1888 (aged 30).

Thomas McGimpsey died as a result of an accident in Donaghadee on 5 August 1901 (aged 17).  He was working as a draper’s assistant (a dealer in fabrics & sewing needs) and was attempting to climb up onto the mail car that ran between Millisle and Donaghadee when he fell in front of the wheels which then passed over his neck.  He died at the scene as a result of his injuries.

William McGimpsey and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Muckle were married on 12 October 1889 in Belfast Registrar’s Office.  Elizabeth Muckle (born on 11 October 1867 in Ballycopeland) was a daughter of Thomas and Agnes Muckle (nee Magill).

William and Lizzie McGimpsey (nee Muckle) had two children:

Edward (born on 26 May 1890 in Back Street, Donaghadee; registered at birth as James Muckle McGimpsey; his name was legally changed to Edward McGimpsey on 13 September 1890; he moved to Omaha, Nebraska, USA on 28 October 1910; he fought in the US Army during the Great War; he married Pearl Inez Mead on 5 November 1929 in Freemont, Nebraska; he became a naturalised US citizen on 27 September 1937; he died on 6 August 1975 in Omaha, Nebraska)

Agnes (Aggie, born on 29 April 1893 in Mount Street, Donaghadee; married John Crawford on 5 May 1911 in Millisle Presbyterian Church)

William McGimpsey died of a brain haemorrhage in Millisle on 14 March 1927 (aged 73).

Lizzie McGimpsey died of cardiac failure in Millisle on 17 February 1951 (aged 84).

Before William McGimpsey went to the USA in the late 1870s, he has a son born out of wedlock with Rebecca Kane.  William Kane was born on 29 September 1874 in Killaughey and later, William Kane assumed his father’s surname, becoming William McGimpsey.  He married Jane Dunwoody (aged 19) on 15 November 1895 in Ballycopeland Presbyterian Church.  Jane died of tuberculosis on 21 May 1897 (aged 22).  He married Alice Louisa Reains on 21 October 1908 in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church and in 1921 they moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  Alice Louisa McGimpsey (nee Reains) had a brother, Chief Stoker William John Reains, who died in service on 12 January 1916.

Robert (Bob) McGimpsey and Annie (sometimes Anna) Agnew were married on 13 December 1905 in Ballyblack Presbyterian Church.  Robert McGimpsey, a labourer from Millisle, was a son of William McGimpsey, a car driver.  Annie Agnew from Ballycopeland was a daughter of Robert Agnew, a farmer.

Robert and Annie McGimpsey (nee Agnew) lived in Scotland for a time, where Robert worked as a general labourer and car driver, and it was in Scotland that Lillie, their first child, was born around 1905/1906.  The McGimpsey family moved to the townland of Ballycopeland, Millisle and they had two more children:

Robert McErlane (born 18 August 1907 in Ballyvester; in this record his mother’s maiden name is recorded as McKay)

Mary Ann McGilton (born 8 February 1910 in Millisle)

In 1911 the family was living in the townland of Ballymacruise, Millisle – Robert Senior (aged 30), Annie (aged 30), Lillie (aged 5), Robert Junior (aged 3) and Mary Ann (aged 1).

Robert McGimpsey enlisted in Newtownards and served with the 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 109th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division.  He was 36 when he was killed in action on 3 August 1917 while holding the line at the beginning of the Third Battle of Ypres.  At the time of his death his children were eleven, nine and seven years of age.  After Rifleman Robert McGimpsey (No. 18/1594) was killed in action, Anna McGimpsey placed a For King and Country notice in the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:

My home is so lonely, my heart is so sad,

My children are calling for their soldier dad.

I mourn for you, my husband dear,

Who for King and country fell;

With a manly heart you did your part,

And sent me your last farewell.

Rifleman Robert McGimpsey (No. 18/1594) has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium; on Donaghadee and District War Memorial (Millisle District) and in Millisle Presbyterian Church.