McMillan, David H (No. 40048)

McMillan, David H.

Private

No. 17271, Highland Light Infantry transferred to

No. 15092, Leinster Regiment transferred to

No. 40048, 2nd Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers

Died of wounds on Friday 21 December 1917 (aged 19)

Buried:

Tincourt New British Cemetery, France (Grave III. G. 25)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Newtownards and District War Memorial (with MM inscribed)

Kircubbin Presbyterian Church (without MM inscribed)

BIOGRAPHY

It was reported in the Press that David H. McMillan was an orphan who was placed in Newtownards Workhouse and subsequently boarded out in 1902 by the Newtownards Board of Governors.  It was reported that he was four years old when he was placed with James McDowell who was a farmer in Kircubbin.  James McDowell and his wife Margaret were in their mid-50s without any children of their own.

David McMillan was educated in Kircubbin and he won a silver medal for good conduct and drill proficiency as a member of the Boys’ Brigade.  After leaving school, David went to sea for two years and then he was ‘engaged in railway work’ in Glasgow.  He enlisted and joined the Highland Light Infantry (No. 17271).  Later he was transferred to the Leinster Regiment (No. 15092) and then to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers (No. 40048).

Private David McMillan was 19 when he died on 21 December 1917 from the effects of gunshot wounds to the chest.  David’s foster parents James and Margaret McDowell who lived in Rowantree Cottage, Kircubbin placed a For King and Country notice in the Newtownards Chronicle.  David was also remembered by his married sister, Mrs Toomath, who lived in Strandtown, Belfast.

David’s sister was called Annie and in 1901 (aged 6) she was boarding in Ballyhalbert with William and Annie Moreland (nee Thompson) who were married on 14 January 1898 in Glastry Presbyterian Church.  Annie McMillan was adopted by Hugh and Letitia Goudy (nee Reid) who were married on 10 October 1883 in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church, and they had no children of their own.  After being adopted, Annie used the surname Goudy and in 1911 (aged 16) Annie, Hugh and Letitia Goudy were living in Ballyskeagh.

Annie Goudy and Richard Toomath were married on 6 August 1914 in Dundonald Presbyterian Church.  Annie Goudy (aged 20) was from Ballyskeagh and her father wasn’t named on the marriage registration.  Richard Toomath, a widower and coal manager from Strandtown, Belfast was a son of James Toomath, deceased.  Richard and Annie’s son, Hugh Ernest Gowdy Toomath, was born on 12 May 1915 in Lisgannon, Dundela Park, Belfast.  Their daughter, Margaret Letitia Toomath, was born on 28 September 1917 in Lisgannon, Dundela Park, Belfast.

Richard Toomath had previously been married to Kathleen McPhie Kirkpatrick; they were married on 1 August 1912 in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Church, Ballymacarrett, Belfast.  Richard Toomath, a superintendent from Lisgannon, Dundela Park, Belfast was a widower and he was a son of James Toomath, a farmer.  Kathleen McPhie Kirkpatrick from 1 Dufferin Terrace, Connsbrook Avenue, Belfast was a daughter of John Kirkpatrick, a boilermaker.  Richard and Kathleen’s daughter, Kathleen Toomath, was born on 21 September 1913 in Lisgannon, Dundela Park, Belfast.  Kathleen Toomath died on 21 September 1913 (aged 23) in childbirth.

Richard Toomath had previously been married to Annie (sometimes Anna, sometimes Hannah) Sinclair; they were married on 7 May 1888 in Willowfield Church of Ireland Church.  Richard and Annie had at least 14 children:  James (born 26 April 1889); unnamed male (born 19 May 1890, died of debility 20 May 1890); Agnes (born 7 May 1891); William (born 2 November 1893); Richard (born 28 March 1895); Samuel (born 15 November 1896); David (born 13 April 1898); Maydillen Adelaide Hall (born 27 March 1900); Anna (born 7 February 1902, died of rickets 11 September 1902); Joseph (born 18 March 1903); Emily (born 1 October 1904); Jeanie (born 17 July 1906); Unity McManaman (born 11 September 1907; died of rickets 2 October 1908); Evelyn (born 16 April 1909).

Annie Toomath died as the result of a bowel obstruction on 18 December 1911 (aged 42) in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

In the December 1917 and January 1918 editions of the Newtownards Chronicle it was reported that Private David McMillan had been ‘wounded at the Battle of Loos in December 1915 and again at Ypres in August 1917 when he was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry in the field’.  It was reported in the Press that, ‘for gallantry on the same occasion his officer won the Victoria Cross’.  Neither in David’s army records nor on his CWGC headstone is there any reference to the award of a Military Medal (MM) and his service medal entitlement indicates that he did not serve overseas in 1915.

The misinformation in the newspaper reports may have arisen because of the fact that in 1917 ‘his officer’ in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers was Sergeant James Ockendon who was awarded the Victoria Cross east of Langemarck on 4 October 1917 during the Third Battle of Ypres and who himself had been awarded the Military Medal in August 1917.  One of nine children, Sergeant James Ockendon VC MM was born on 10 December 1890 in Portsmouth and he joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in 1909.  When he was awarded the Victoria Cross Sergeant Ockendon was acting as Company Sergeant-Major and, regardless of his own safety, he attacked an enemy machine-gun position capturing the gun and killing the crew. Then he led an attack on another enemy position, killing four of the enemy and capturing 16 prisoners. In 1918 Sergeant Ockendon was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre and he died on 29 August 1966 aged 75.

Private David McMillan is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial (with MM inscribed) and on the Memorial Plaque in Kircubbin Presbyterian Church (without MM inscribed).