William McFadzean

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William McFadzean
William McFadzean as shown on a mural in Cregagh, Belfast
Born9 October 1895
Lurgan, County Armagh, Ireland
Died1 July 1916 (aged 20)
Thiepval, France
AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service1914 - 1916
Unit14th Battalion, The Royal Irish Rifles
Battles/warsFirst World War
AwardsVictoria Cross

William Frederick "Billy" McFadzean VC (9 October 1895 – 1 July 1916), born in Lurgan County Armagh, Ireland, was a British recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


McFadzean was a 20-year-old bomber in the 14th Battalion, The Royal Irish Rifles, British Army during the First World War. On 1 July 1916, during the Battle of the Somme near Thiepval Wood, France, a box of hand grenades slipped into a crowded trench. Two of the safety pins in the grenades were dislodged. McFadzean threw himself on top of the grenades, which exploded, killing him but injuring only one other.[1] The citation published in the Sept 8 1916 London Gazette read:

No. 14/18278 Pte. William Frederick McFadzean, late R. Ir. Rif.

For most conspicuous bravery. While in a concentration trench and opening a box of bombs for distribution prior to an attack, the box slipped down into the trench, which was crowded with men, and two of the safety pins fell out. Private McFadzean, instantly realising the danger to his comrades, with heroic courage threw himself on the top of the Bombs. The bombs exploded blowing him to pieces, but only one other man was injured. He well knew his danger, being himself a bomber, but without a moment's hesitation he gave his life for his comrades.[2]

McFadzean's father was presented with his son's VC by King George V in Buckingham Palace, London on 28 February 1917.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at The Royal Ulster Rifles Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland.[citation needed]

McFadzean played rugby for Collegians RFC.[1] He was also a member of the East Belfast Regiment of the Ulster Volunteers and the Young Citizens Volunteers[3]


Private McFadzean was remembered in song:[4]

Let me tell you a story of honour and glory
Of a young Belfast soldier Billy McFadzean by name
For King and for Country Young Billy died bravely
And won the VC on the fields of the Somme
Gone Like the snowflake that melts on the river
Gone like the first rays of days early dawn
Like the foam from the fountain
Like the mist from the mountain
Young Billy McFadzean’s dear life has gone
Now Billy lies only where the red Flanders poppy
In wildest profusion paints the field of the brave
No piper recalling his deeds all forgotten
For Billy McFadzean has no known grave
So let us remember that brave Ulster soldier
The VC he won the young life that he gave
For duty demanding his courage outstanding
Private Billy McFadzean of the U.V.F.


  1. ^ a b "Your Place And Mine - Armagh". BBC. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  2. ^ "No. 29740". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 September 1916. p. 8871.
  3. ^ Newsletter
  4. ^ http://www.upperbannfusiliers.co.uk/loyalistsongs.htm Upper Bann Fusiliers Flute Band


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