Corporal Howard Henry McKay



Howard Henry McKay was born on 14 April 1886 at Braehead, Londonderry, the eldest son of farmer Marshall McKay and his wife and Catherine McKay (nee Henry).

On 1 November 1914 he enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron (No.UD/92). The squadron, which had been formed as divisional cavalry for the 36th (Ulster) Division, embarked for France on 5 October 1915. A party of about thirty men of the squadron, including Howard McKay, had embarked two days earlier, attached to the 36th Division Headquarters - many if not all of them serving as batmen to senior officers.

McKay either continued serving at Headquarters throughout the war, or at some stage returned to the service squadron's reserve at Enniskillen. He received the number D/21237 (Corps of Dragoons) when the numbering system was restructured in September 1917.

On 25 February 1919 he was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

Howard's father Marshall was Governor of the Apprentice Boys of Derry. On 21 June 1920 Howard was killed by persons demanding to know the whereabouts of hidden UVF guns in the city. The death was mentioned in the House of Commons adjournment debate of 22 June 1920 by Lieutenant-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley:

I would draw attention to a most foul crime which I could not believe any inhabitants of the United Kingdom could be guilty of. It is more worthy of darkest Africa or some savage Asiatic potentate. Let me read the paragraph: Most tragic of all yesterday's (Monday's) events was the shooting of a young man named Howard McKay, son of the governor of apprentice boys of Derry. Mr. McKay, who was about 25 years of age, and served in France with the North Irish Horse during the War, had been on holiday. He was not in uniform. He was not a resident. He only arrived in the city yesterday (Sunday) afternoon. He was on his way to his father's residence outside the city, but on the outskirts of the town he was seized by armed Sinn Feiners, bound with ropes, and then shot dead. The body lay on the roadside for several hours.



Images kindly provided by Trevor and Howard McKay.