Private William James McWilliams


William James McWilliams was born on 8 June 1890 at Ballinamallard, Irvinestown, County Fermanagh, the second of fourteen children of agricultural labourer and former soldier in the Royal Engineers James McWilliams and his wife Anne (née Mulligan). At the time of the 1911 Census he and his sister Sarah were living at Derrykeeghan, Ballydoolagh on the farm of William Johnston and family, where William worked as a farm servant.

McWilliams enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron between 31 August and 9 September 1915 (No. UD/294), soon after his brother Christy. On 6 October 1915 the squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division, embarked for France. The McWilliams brothers, however, remained in training at the reinforcements depot at Enniskillen.

In April 1917, William and around ten other men of the reserve squadron transferred to the Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) (No.105469) – together with around ten from the South Irish Horse. They embarked for France on 24 April.

Nothing further has been discovered about his service for the remainder of the war. On 24 February 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

By 1922 McWilliams was living at Sessiagh East, Inishmore, and working as a labourer. On 19 April that year he married Jane Lucy in the Enniskillen Registrar's Office. Their first child, William, served as a bombadier in the 119th Battery, 75th Anti-Tank Regiment, in the Second World War. He was killed in action in France on 27 June 1944.


McWilliams' brother, Christy McWilliams, who served with him in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron, was killed in action at the Battle of Cambrai on 22 or 23 November 1917.


This page last updated 31 July 2023.