McNeilly, James (No. 18375)

McNeilly, James

Lance Corporal

No. 18375, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged 21)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)

McNeilly Family grave headstone in Movilla Cemetery Newtownards


James McNeilly McFall was born on 3 September 1893 in North Street, Newtownards and he was the only son of James and Elizabeth (Lizzie) McNeilly (nee McFall) who were married on 13 July 1900 in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.  James McNeilly, a plasterer from Newtownards, was a son of John McNeilly, a weaver.  Lizzie McFall from Newtownards was a daughter of William McFall, a labourer.

After James McNeilly Senior died of appendicitis on 28 July 1909 (aged 36) Lizzie worked in a factory and she and her son James lived with Lizzie’s mother, Margaret McFall, in Frederick Place.   They moved to Mark Street and then to 61 North Street, Newtownards.

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War James McNeilly worked as a tenter for Messrs Ross Brothers in their Bloomfield factory in Belfast.  He served his time with the Ards Weaving Company and was an original member of First Newtownards Boy Scouts Company which he joined at the inauguration of the Boy Scouts movement in Newtownards by the Rev W.L.T. Whatham.  James was an Assistant Scoutmaster of the Troop and he was also Captain of the Ards Parochial Football Team.

James McNeilly enlisted in Newtownards and he served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division.  In September 1915 he was accidentally injured and hospitalised in England.  He went to the Front and was posted as missing in action after the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  In February 1917 it was officially confirmed that he must be presumed to have been killed in action on 1 July 1916.

Lance Corporal James McNeilly’s mother placed a For King and Country notice in the 17 February 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle with a request for the Dublin and American papers to copy.  It contained the text:

I have given my all to Jesus

Lance Corporal James McNeilly (No. 18375) was 22 when he died, and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Newtownards and District War Memorial; in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s) and on the McNeilly family grave headstone in Movilla Cemetery Newtownards.

His mother Lizzie died on 9 February 1954 (aged 81).