Private William Victor McKee


McKee with his sister Jane Hilda Irene. Note that he is wearing his Silver War Badge.


William Victor McKee was born on 22 March 1896 at 12 Belgravia Avenue, Belfast, the last of eight children of clerk Samuel McKee and his English-born wife Eliza Harriett (née Watt). The family had only recently moved there from Banbridge, where Samuel had been a merchant. He died when William was just two years old. By the time of the 1911 Census, William was living at 45 Cavehill Road, Belfast, with his mother and three of his siblings, and working as a commercial clerk for a tea merchant. He later worked for solicitor Thomas Erskine Alexander.

McKee enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 22 May 1916 (No.2177). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp until November 1916, when he and around 100 other North Irish Horsemen volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles. The formal transfer took place on 7 December (McKee was issued regimental number 40894), and on that day the men embarked for France. There they were posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, joining it on the Somme front on 12 December.

In early 1917 McKee was wounded, possibly during the attack in the sector in front of Bouchavesnes from 4 to 8 March, during which the battalion took significant casualties. However he recovered by the end of the year was back at the front line with a Royal Irish Rifles battalion (probably the 1st Battalion).

McKee was posted as wounded and missing following the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 at the beginning of the German spring offensive. It was later learned that he had been captured. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war.

Following his repatriation, on 17 April 1919 McKee was discharged as 'surplus to military requirements, having suffered impairment since entry into the service' (paragraph 392 (xvi(a), King's Regulations). He was granted a pension for 'DAH' (disordered action of the heart) and for his wounds. This was discontinued two years later.

On 15 December 1921 McKee married Winifred Taylor in the Cliftonville Presbyterian Church, Belfast. By 1939 he was living at 23 Queen Street, Ballymoney, and working as a civil servant. He died on 29 December that year in the Bangor Hospital, and was buried in the Bangor New Cemetery.


At least one of McKee's brothers also served in the war – John Ernest Reginald (Reggie) McKee, in the  14th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.


Image sourced from Ancestry - Public Member Trees. Contributor Charlotte Martin.