McWhinney, William John (No. 7544)

McWhinney, William John

(Served as Mawhinney, William John)


No. 7544, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Died of wounds on Thursday 11 March 1915 (aged 32)


Merville Communal Cemetery, France (Grave I. B. 16)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Brother of Private Hamilton McWhinney (No. 12576)


In some records his surname is spelt Mawhinney.

William John McWhinney was born on 5 December 1883 in Mill Street, Newtownards and he was a son of Margaret (Maggie) McWhinney who lived in Mill Street.

Maggie McWhinney worked as charwoman and she had at least four children:

William John (born 5 December 1883 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

Hamilton (born 4 July 1887 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

Samuel (born 11 June 1891 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

Jane (born 19 January 1900 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

All three McWhinney brothers were on active service during the Great War.

William John McWhinney worked as an apprentice butcher before he joined the Army and he served in India for 12 years with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.  At the outbreak of the Great War he came home with his Battalion and proceeded to the Front Line.  Bugler McWhinney (spelt Mawhinney on the CWGC Debt of Honour website) was wounded in action on 5 March 1915 and the War Office conveyed this news to his sister Jane who was living in William Street Newtownards.  In the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects, Jane is described as William John’s half-sister.

Later Jane was informed that William John had died of his wounds on 11 March 1915 in No. 7 Casualty Clearing Station, Merville.

William John’s brother Hamilton placed a Killed in Action notice in the 17 April 1915 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:

Though my heart may break with sorrow,

By the grief so hard to bear,

I shall meet him some bright morrow

In our Father’s mansion fair.

Five months after Private William John McWhinney (No. 7544) died, his brother Private Hamilton McWhinney (No. 12576) was killed in action on 15 August 1915.

In the 9 March 1918 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle his brother Samuel McWhinney of Ballygrainey (by then discharged from the Army) placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice and it contained the verse:

Three years today my brother died,

Beneath the roars of shot and shell;

When nights are dark and friends are few,

It’s then dear brother, I think of you.

He gave his life for his country.

Private William John McWhinney (No. 7544) was buried in Merville Communal Cemetery, France and he is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial.