No. 18/775, 11th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Sunday 25 June 1916 (aged 26)
No known grave
Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)
Donaghadee and District War Memorial
Shore Street Presbyterian Church Donaghadee
Cousin of Rifleman Robert James Semple (No. 16998)
Cousin of Rifleman William Semple (No. 16999)
Brother-in-law of Rifleman Andrew McWilliams (No. 19/26)
William Semple was born on 13 September 1889 in the townland of Ballywilliam, Donaghadee and he was a son of Samuel and Mary Semple (nee Bell) who were married on 8 November 1877 in Millisle Presbyterian Church. Samuel Semple from Ballyfotherly was a son of Samuel Semple, a labourer. Mary Bell from Portavo, Donaghadee was a daughter of William Bell, a labourer.
Samuel Semple was a farm labourer and he and Mary had at least six children, all of whom were baptised in Shore Street Presbyterian Church Donaghadee:
Hannah (born 27 October 1878 in Ballyfotherly)
Martha Ann (born 22 June 1881 in Ballywilliam)
Hugh (born 24 June 1883 in Ballywilliam)
Samuel (born 2 May 1885 in Ballywilliam)
Mary (born 16 April 1886 in Ballywilliam)
William (born 13 September 1889 in Ballywilliam)
Their mother Mary died of ‘exhaustion after confinement’ on 8 October 1889 (aged 38).
William Semple worked as a labourer and he and Mary McWilliams were married on 25 April 1913 in Ballygrainey Presbyterian Church. Mary McWilliams was a daughter of Benjamin McWilliams, a labourer. They lived in Meeting Street, Donaghadee and at 42 Manor Street, Donaghadee and they had at least two children who were baptised in Shore Street Presbyterian Church Donaghadee:
Walter (born 14 August 1913 in Meeting Street, Donaghadee)
Mary Eleanor (born 17 April 1915 in Meeting Street, Donaghadee)
William Semple enlisted in Belfast in November 1915 and he joined the 18th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. In February 1916 he went to France where he served with the 11th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division. He was killed by enemy shellfire whilst in the trenches on 25 June 1916 and official notification of his death was a three stage process. Initially he was reported as wounded in action and then in September 1916 this was updated to wounded and missing in action. Later it was officially confirmed that he must be presumed to have been killed in action.
Rifleman William Semple (No. 18/775) is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Donaghadee and District War Memorial and in Shore Street Presbyterian Church Donaghadee.
Rifleman William Semple (No. 18/775) was a cousin of Rifleman Robert James Semple (No. 16998) and Rifleman William Semple (No. 16999). William’s father Samuel and their father George were brothers.
Rifleman William Semple (No. 18/775) was a brother-in-law of Rifleman Andrew McWilliams (No. 19/26).