No. 10395, ‘D’ Company, 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers
Killed in action on Sunday 3 September 1916 (aged 26)
Delville Wood Cemetery, France (Grave XXIII. K. 5)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for
Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards
Family grave headstone in Movilla Cemetery
William O’Neill was born on 28 May 1890 in Ballyhalbert and he was the eldest son of Samuel and Sarah O’Neill (nee Bell) who were married on 11 May 1888 in Glastry Presbyterian Church. Samuel O’Neill from Ballyhalbert was a son of William O’Neill, a labourer. Sarah Bell, a minor from Ballyhalbert, was a daughter of James Bell, a farmer.
The O’Neill family lived in Ballyhalbert and then at 34 William Street, Newtownards.
Samuel O’Neill worked as an agricultural labourer and he and Sarah had at least nine children:
Martha (born 18 September 1888 in Ballyhalbert)
William (born 28 May 1890 in Ballyhalbert)
Mary (born 9 November 1891 in Ballyhalbert)
John (born 25 May 1894 in William Street, Newtownards)
James Alexander (born 16 January 1896 in William Street, Newtownards)
Ellen (born 23 April 1898 in William Street, Newtownards)
Samuel (born 9 May 1900 in William Street, Newtownards)
Thomas (born 26 March 1902 in Church Street, Newtownards)
David (born 8 February 1907 in William Street, Newtownards)
The first three children were baptised in Glastry Presbyterian Church and the remaining six in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.
James Alexander O’Neill (No. 18577) served with the 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles and before the war he worked as an employee of the Newtownards Chronicle.
Rifleman James Alexander O’Neill (No. 18577) survived the war.
Brothers John and William O’Neill died; John was the first of the two brothers to be killed in action although William’s death was the first to be confirmed.
During the Great War William O’Neill served with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and he was 26 when he was killed in action on 3 September 1916. He was buried in Delville Wood Cemetery, France and there is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:
HE DIED THAT WE MIGHT LIVE
In September 1917, the O’Neill family placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
He little thought when leaving home,
It would be his last good-bye;
But some day we hope to meet him
In that happy home on high.
His mother, Sarah O’Neill, died of myocarditis on 11 May 1917 (aged 48). Three days earlier, on 8 May 1917, her son Samuel died of tuberculosis (aged 16). Rifleman James Alexander O’Neill (No. 18577), then stationed at Newtownards Military Camp, was with each of them when they died.
Private William O’Neill (No. 10395) is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial; on the family grave headstone in Movilla Cemetery, and in the PCI Roll of Honour for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.