Captain Edward Waller McKeown, MM & Bar



Edward Waller McKeown (above at rear) was born on 27 April 1887 in Bridge Street, Portadown, County Armagh, the last of nine children of factory over-looker Robert McKeown and his wife Sophia (née Strutt). At the time of the 1901 Census he was living at 6 Bridge Street with his recently-widowed mother and three of his siblings.

On 27 March 1903 McKeown enlisted at Armagh in the 3rd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers militia (No.4026). He gave his age as 17 (he was only 15) and his trade as carpenter. On 7 August he was promoted to corporal. On 29 September that year he was released from his service in order that he enlist in the regular army. That day he joined the Royal Irish Fusiliers at Armagh (No.8083) and a month later he was posted to the 1st Battalion. He was recorded as being absent from 24 February to 1 March 1904, and on 22 March was discharged, 'having made a mis-statement as to age on enlistment, soldier under 17 years of age at date of application for discharge'.

Later that year McKeown emigrated to Canada with his family, settling in Toronto, where he worked as a carpenter.

On the outbreak of war he returned to Ireland, where, between 25 November 1914 and 6 January 1915, he enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron (No. UD/203 – later Corps of Dragoons No.21257). Very soon after this he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

On 6 October 1915 he embarked for France with his squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division. On 16 November, while the squadron was camped at St Hilaire, McKeown was tried by a Field General Court Martial for drunkenness. He was sentenced to 2 months' Field Punishment No.1 and reduced to the ranks. When he returned to duty, on 10 January 1916, he was immediately ordered to proceed to the base depot at Rouen, and from there was posted to the regular cavalry regiment of the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons.

McKeown remained with that regiment until the end of the war. At the beginning of 1918 he was awarded a Military Medal, probably for his role in the fighting on 1 December 1917 during the Battle of Cambrai. He was awarded a Bar to his Military Medal following the regiment's actions between Beaucourt and Caix between 8 and 11 August 1918.

On 22 May 1919 he was discharged 'on the termination of his period of engagement' (paragraph 392(xxi), King's Regulations.

Soon after the war McKeown returned to Canada, living at Sarnia, Ontario, with his brother John, his wife Mary Ellen and their seven children. On 4 June 1921 he married English-born widow Edith Sadie McMahon.

He served as an officer in the Canadian armed forces, qualifying for the rank of captain in the Canadian Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) in March 1922.



Pages from the war diary of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons re awards to McKeown.


The image of McKeown, part of a group photo of officers and NCOs of the squadron, appeared in the Belfast Evening Telegraph of 28 January 1915. The full image can be seen here.


This page last updated 18 July 2023.