No. 7020231, 6th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Killed in action on Wednesday 3 November 1943
Sangro River War Cemetery, Italy (Grave VIII. E. 9)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Mark’s)
It was reported in the Press that Lance Corporal Andrew McVeigh (No. 7020231) was the only son of Robert James and the late Catherine McVeigh and the brother of Sarah McVeigh of 51 Mark Street, Newtownards. His wife Elizabeth and daughter Shirley lived at 31 Bangor Road, Newtownards. Prior to the outbreak of hostilities Andrew McVeigh worked for newsagent Samuel Ferguson in High Street, Newtownards.
Andrew McVeigh was a son of Robert James McVeigh and Catherine (Kate) McVeigh (formerly Robinson, nee Coughlin, sometimes Cochrane) who were married on 14 November 1924 in St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church Newtownards. Robert James McVeigh from Market Street, Newtownards was a widower and a son of James McVeigh, a labourer. At the time of her second marriage, the widowed Catherine Robinson was living at 51 Mark Street, Newtownards and she was a daughter of Patrick Coughlin, a labourer.
Catherine Robinson’s first husband was Rifleman Samuel Robinson (No. 13/18686) who died of influenza on 14 March 1920. Samuel Robinson and Catherine (Kate) Coughlin were married on 21 October 1917 in St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church Belfast and they had at least one child:
Ellen Jane (born 18 June 1918 in Drumaness, Ballynahinch)
If Andrew’s reported age is correct, then he was born around 1921/1922. Because Robert James McVeigh was a widower when he and the widowed Catherine (Kate) Robinson (nee Coughlin) were married on 14 November 1924, Catherine may, or may not, have been Andrew’s mother; we do not yet know when Robert James McVeigh’s first wife died. Similarly, without more information, it is not possible to confirm whether Catherine McVeigh was Sarah McVeigh’s mother, or not.
In 1932 Catherine McVeigh developed breast cancer and she died at home (51 Mark Street, Newtownards) on 30 April 1935 (aged 44). Her husband Robert James was present when she died. At that time, Robert James was working as a labourer in a quarry.
Andrew McVeigh joined the Royal Ulster Rifles in October 1940 (aged 18) and was later transferred to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Andrew McVeigh and Elizabeth Wallace were married on 14 April 1941 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). Andrew McVeigh (aged 19) from 51 Mark Street, Newtownards, and a soldier on active service was a son of Robert James McVeigh, a labourer. Elizabeth Wallace (aged 18) from 31 Bangor Road, Newtownards was a daughter of James Wallace, a labourer.
Having been home on leave in May 1943, Lance Corporal Andrew McVeigh (No. 7020231) was killed in action some six months later – on 3 November 1943 – as Allied Forces fought their way up the Adriatic coast in Italy.
His father and sister placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the 4 November 1944 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
A soldier’s grave in an unknown land,
Holds one we loved so dear,
A smiling face that won’t come home
When they sound the last ‘All Clear’.
His wife and daughter placed a Roll of Honour notice and it contained the verse:
In my heart your memory lingers,
But we know tis vain to weep,
Tears of love can never awake you
From your peaceful, happy sleep.
Lance Corporal Andrew McVeigh (No. 7020231) is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Mark’s).