Private William John McLenaghan


William John McLenaghan (or McClenaghan) was born on 4 June 1878 at Kurin, Desertoghill, Garvagh, County Londonderry, the fifth of eight children of farmer John McLenaghan and his wife Margaret (nee Thompson). By 1911 he was living with his parents and younger sister Carrie and working on the family farm.

McLenaghan enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 18 February and 24 April 1911 (No.593). He embarked for France on 20 August 1914 with C Squadron, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne. His exploits at the time were referred to by a pal Corporal Fred Lindsay in a Belfast Weekly Times report:

On the first Sunday in September, Corporal Lindsay was sent with four men to patrol as far as a certain point where the railway crossed a road. They had scarcely dismounted at this point when they observed three Uhlans approaching up the road, and far away in the distance they could see a cloud of dust betokening the approach of the main body of Uhlans. ...

Next day the troop came up with the Uhlans in a small wood, killing a number and taking some prisoners. In this action Trooper McClenaghan, of Garvagh, single-handed killed three Uhlans and captured two horses, and Corporal Lindsay and two comrades, firing simultaneously, brought down an escaping Uhlan and his horse when 900 yards away.

Later that year or in early 1915 McLenaghan was probably wounded, injured or fell ill, and was evacuated to the UK for treatment. On 28 June 1915 he was discharged under Paragraph 392(xvi) of King's Regulations – being no longer physically fit for war service.

McLenaghan died at Blackrock House, Boveedy, Kilrea, County Londonderry, on 6 November 1949. He was survived by his wife Rachel.