Major, William Joseph

Major, William Joseph (William)


Royal Artillery

Survived the Second World War

Death Reported Erroneously in the local Press


Gunner William Joseph Major’s name is included in this website as an example of a soldier who was captured and held as a Prisoner-of-War but whose family was initially informed that he had been killed in action on 27 May 1940.  His family placed two Killed in Action notices in the 13 July 1940 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle; one from his wife Sarah, his baby daughter and his parents-in-law Mr and Mrs David Aicken and family of 21 North Street, Newtownards and the other from his father and mother, Robert and Margaret Major and family of 47 William Street, Newtownards.  In the same edition of that newspaper his death was reported under the headline Local Soldier Makes Supreme Sacrifice.

Then, in the 3 August 1940 edition of the County Down Spectator it was reported under the headline Sorrow Turned To Joy that Gunner William Joseph Major ‘who was previously reported killed in action is now a Prisoner-of-War’.  William’s wife Sarah was employed by Messrs Webb and Company in Newtownards and she was at work on 1 August 1940 when her father David brought her the official notification that William was still alive.  A picture of a group of British prisoners in a German Prisoner-of-War Camp was published in the 11 October 1941 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and Gunner William Major was included in the group.

Gunner William Joseph Major’s nephew, Private Robert James Major (No. B/58784) was murdered in England on 19 June 1944.