Coffin, William (Willie)
No. 1951203, Royal Engineers
Killed in a motorcycle accident on Saturday 8 September 1945 (aged 38)
Bangor Cemetery, Co. Down (Section 5 W Grave 95)
Bangor and District War Memorial
First Bangor Presbyterian Church
William Coffin was born on 20 September 1906 at 15 Crystal Street, Belfast and he was the eldest son of Philip and Agnes (Hannie) Manson Coffin (nee Kelly) who lived in Ravenhill Avenue, Belfast and later at 38 Railwayview Street, Bangor. Philip Coffin worked as a house painter and he and Hannie Kelly were married on 19 September 1905 in Donegall Street Congregational Church, Belfast. Philip Coffin of 80 Beechfield Street, Belfast was a son of William Coffin, a coastguard (deceased). Agnes Manson Kelly of 5 Ravenscroft Avenue, Belfast was a daughter of George Kelly, a blacksmith.
Philip and Agnes Coffin (nee Kelly) had at least six children:
William (born 20 September 1906 at 15 Crystal Street, Belfast)
George Kelly (born 1 March 1910 at 176 Ravenhill Avenue, Belfast)
Phyllis Mary (born 28 November 1914 in Gray’s Hill, Bangor)
Henry (Harry, born 7 January 1918 at 36 Gray’s Hill, Bangor; died of pneumonia 5 November 1918 at 36 Gray’s Hill, Bangor)
William Coffin worked as a ship’s painter and he and Winifred May Wright from Drumgavlin, Dunmore, Dromara, Co. Down (born 16 May 1907, daughter of William Wright who was a scutcher) were married on 28 November 1927 in Magherahamlet Parish Church of Ireland Church, Ballynahinch. After they were married, William and Winifred Coffin lived in Hull and they had four children – Philip, Henry (Harry), Margaret, and Phyllis.
Sapper William Coffin (aged 38) died on 8 September 1945 in a Military Hospital in Southampton and it was reported in the 22 September 1945 edition of the County Down Spectator that he died as a result of a motorcycle accident in Southampton and that the funeral took place from his mother’s residence in Bangor. His late father had been a local Councillor. Military honours were conferred for the funeral which was conducted by Pastor David Burrows, a former minister in Bangor Baptist Church. Amongst the mourners were William’s son Philip; his brother George; his sister and brother-in-law Joan and Fred Lindsay of 44 Victoria Road, Bangor; his sister and brother-in-law Maureen and Corporal Walter Richardson; his sister and brother-in-law Phyllis and Charlie Fulton of 77 Church Street, Newtownards, and his brother-in-law Lance Corporal Stuart Wright.
Sapper William Coffin (No. 1951203) is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial and in First Bangor Presbyterian Church. There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone in Bangor Cemetery:
THE DAY THOU GAVEST, LORD, IS ENDED
There were Roll of Honour notices in the 7 September 1946 edition of the County Down Spectator and the one from his wife and children contained the verse:
I shall know his voice in the Heavenly throng,
His step in the streets of gold,
The same sweet smile on his gentle face
That I knew in the days of old.
In 1950, Sapper William Coffin’s widow, Winifred May Coffin (nee Wright), married John L. Schultz in Hull, Yorkshire, and they had two children – Olwen and Tim.
Winifred’s death was registered in Hull in the first quarter of 1982.