McKee, Frederick (Fred)
No. 18/1542, 14th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Thursday 7 June 1917 (aged 29)
Spanbroekmolen British Cemetery, Belgium (Grave D. 8)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for
Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards
Brother of Lance Corporal Robert McKee (No.6766)
Frederick McKee was born on 16 April 1888 in the townland of Drumfad, Carrowdore and he was baptised in Carrowdore Presbyterian Church. Frederick was a son of James and Mary Ann McKee (nee McCormick) who were married on 25 November 1876 in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards. James McKee from Drumfad was a son of James McKee, a labourer. Mary Ann McCormick (aged 19) from Drumfad was a daughter of James McCormick, a weaver.
The McKee family lived in the townland of Drumfad, Carrowdore; at 28 Court Street, Newtownards and at 77 Greenwell Street, Newtownards.
James McKee worked as a general labourer and he and Mary Ann had nine children:
William James (born 27 March 1877 in Drumfad; worked as a tailor; died of tuberculosis 3 January 1908 aged 30)
Elizabeth (Lizzie, born 29 November 1880 in Drumfad)
Robert (born 26 May 1883 in Drumfad)
Grace (born 8 April 1886 in Drumfad; died of whooping cough 10 December 1886 aged 8 months)
Frederick (born 16 April 1888 in Drumfad)
Margaret Jane (born 28 March 1890 in Canal Street, Newtownards; died of pneumonia 16 March 1894 aged 3)
David Henry Wilson (born 2 November 1892 in Canal Row, Newtownards)
Margaret Jane (born 19 November 1894 in Canal Row, Newtownards)
Alexander Fulton (born 3 April 1902 in South Street, Newtownards; died of marasmus 18 May 1902 aged 1 month)
William James was baptised in Carrowdore Parish Church of Ireland Church; Eliza, Robert, Grace and Frederick were baptised in Carrowdore Presbyterian Church and Margaret Jane, David Henry, Margaret Jane and Alexander Fulton were baptised in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.
Their father James worked as a carter and he died on 9 July 1911 as the result of an accident (aged 53). A cart passed over his body on 8 July 1911.
Frederick McKee enlisted on 29 August 1916, he trained with the 18th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and went to the Western Front. Some seven weeks before he was killed in action on 7 June 1917 he was attached to the 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 109th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division. In a letter of sympathy to Fred’s mother the Rev John Knowles, Presbyterian Chaplain, told her that Fred had been killed in action at Messines Ridge during the attack on 7 June. He said, ‘We found his body on the battlefield and buried him the next day.’ He told her that a service was held at the graveside and the spot was marked with a cross.
There were two For King and Country notices in the 23 June 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and the one from his sorrowing mother, brother and sister then living at 77 Greenwell Street, Newtownards contained the verse:
Had we but seen him at the last,
Or raised his drooping head,
Our hearts would not have felt so sore,
The bitter tears we shed.
The second was from his loving sister and brother-in-law Lizzie and Alexander Andrews then living at 81 Greenwell Street, Newtownards and it contained the verse:
We little thought when he left home
That he would ne’er return;
That he so soon in death would sleep,
And leave us here to mourn.
In 1918 his sister and brother-in-law Lizzie and Alexander Andrews placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the Newtownards Chronicle in memory of both Robert and Frederick McKee and it contained the verse:
They are gone, oh how hard, not a friend to be near them,
To hear their last word or dry their last tear;
No parting farewell, no kind word of love
To cheer their last moments or point them above.
Rifleman Frederick McKee (No. 18/1542) was buried in Spanbroekmolen British Cemetery, Belgium and he is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.