Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
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   Lieutenant William John McVeagh
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 03/01/2019
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 7th Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers (British Army)
Date Of Birth: 13/11/1893
Died: 28/12/1917 (Killed in Action)
Age: 24
Summary      
William John McVeigh was a son of James McVeigh of Loy Hill, Cookstown. After five months training as a Cadet he was gazetted Second Lieutenant in March 1915. After seeing a great deal of active service on the Western Front and being wounded on three occasions he was gazetted Lieutenant and sent to Salonika. He also served in Egypt and Palestine. He was killed in action on 28th December 1917.
Lieutenant William John McVeagh
Further Information
William John McVeigh was a son of James and Alice Mary McVeigh (nee Morgan). William was born in Cookstown on 13th November 1893.
The 1901 census lists Willie John as age 7 living with the family at house 21 in James's Street Cookstown. His father was a grocer.
The 1911 census does not list William as living with the family at house 32 in James's Street, Cookstown, Tyrone. James McVeigh was still a grocer.
Family: James McVeigh, Alice Maria McVeigh, Margaret Elizabeth McVeigh (born about 1885), Alice Maria McVeigh (born 20th July 1886), James Joseph McVeigh (born 20th March 1889), Willie John McVeigh (born 13th November 1893), Annie Louisa McVeigh (born 12th February 1896), Thomas Patrick Aquin McVeigh (born 21st September 1899), Mary McVeigh (born 11th April 1902).
William was a past student of St. Mary’s College, Dundalk and was an undergraduate of the National University, Dublin.
Mr W J McVeigh was a nephew of Head Constable Doohan, Police Office, Belfast.
He was a chemist’s assistant in Bangor.
He enlisted in in the Leinster Regiment as a private at the beginning of the war. He was soon transferred to the cadets’ list.
1915
After five months training as a Cadet he was gazetted Second Lieutenant in March 1915 with the Royal Munster Fusiliers.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 11th March 1915:
Mr W J McVeigh, son of Mr James McVeigh, Cookstown, and nephew of Head Constable Doohan, Police Office, Belfast, has been given a commission in the Munster Fusiliers. He was a chemist’s assistant in Bangor, and enlisted in in the Leinster Regiment as a private at the beginning of the war. He was soon transferred to the cadets’ list, and has now got a commission.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 13th March 1915:
Mr W J McVeagh, second son of Mr James McVeigh, Loy Hill, Cookstown, has been gazetted to a commission and has been appointed Second Lieutenant, 9th Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers. Mr McVeagh is a past student of St Mary’s College, Dundalk, and was an undergraduate of the National University, Dublin. He had been training in Fermoy for the past five months, where he was a member of the Cadet Corps.
From the Tyrone Courier dated Thursday 25th March 1915:
Newspaper Report
Mr W J McVeigh, son of James McVeigh, Cookstown, has been given a commission in the Munster Fusiliers.
William John McVeigh photo
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 27th November 1915:
Lieutenant W J McVeigh, 9th Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers, who was gazetted to the rank of captain last night, belongs to Cookstown.
1916
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 12th April 1916: Lieut. W J McVeigh
A wire has been received from the War Office by Mr James McVeigh, Cookstown, that his son, Lieutenant W J McVeigh, of the 9th Royal Munster Fusiliers, has been wounded, not seriously, and is in hospital. Lieutenant McVeigh is a nephew of Head Constable T Doohan, of Police Office. Before joining the army he was in business in Bangor, where he was an ardent sportsman and greet favourite. About ten days previously, Lieutenant McVeigh’s servant, Private Joseph Fox, a Bangor, boy, was wounded and is also in hospital.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 15th April 1916: Lieut. W J McVeigh Wounded.
Newspaper Report
On Saturday last a telegram was received from the War Office by Mr James McVeigh, Cookstown, that his son, Lieutenant W J McVeigh, of the Munster Fusiliers, has been wounded. No details were given, and his parents and relatives were in suspense till Monday night, when a belated message was received to the effect that although wounded, Lieutenant McVeigh remained on duty, thereby suggesting that the wound was trivial. Just the day before he was wounded a letter was received from Lieutenant McVeigh, conveying a message of thanks to the local Comforts’ Committee, for a generous gift of comforts for his men. This, he stated, was badly needed and very much appreciated by the men during the recent severe weather in the trenches.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 29th April 1916: Poetic Coalisland Soldier
Newspaper Report
Miss Anderson of Cookstown received a letter of thanks from Private Francis White, a native of Coalisland, who happened to obtain one of the scarves sent out by her to soldiers at the Front. He mentions the interesting fact that Lieutenant McVeigh, Cookstown, is his platoon Commander. He happily expresses the men’s opinion of that young officer as follows:-
"Dear Miss, I’m sure you’ll be surprised to get a line from me
A lonely Munster Fusilier from the green isle o’er the sea
It’s just a word or two of thanks for the gift I had today
I mean the scarf you kindly sent, which came, by chance, my way
Tonight as I was standing near the Quarter Masters store
“Fall in” and “Cover off”, I heard our Sergeant loudly roar
We toe’d the line and “numbered off”, then quickly marched away
to the billet of our Officer, Lt. J McVeigh.
Before proceeding further, just a word or two, I’ll say
In praise of this same officer, Lt. J McVeigh
He never bully-rags his men, or orders them about
He’s just a perfect gentleman, a sportsman out and out.
He never sees us short of fags or tobacco for a smoke
And, another thing, he’s always gain to give or take a joke
He doesn’t swank, or put on “side”, Oh no, he’s not that sort
Just ask “D Coy” what he is and they’ll tell you he’s a sport
We halted at his billet door, when he told his servant Fox
To open out that parcel, and to hand him out the socks
He gave a pair to every man, and the socks we needed bad
There were neither legs, nor heels, nor toes in the only pair I had
Well, after we received the socks, he told us all to stay
As he said he had some mittens, and some scarves to give away
He hadn’t quite sufficient scarves to go around the lot
But I don’t care, I’m satisfied, for the splendid one I got.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 17th June 1916:
Newspaper Report
Lieutenant W J McVeigh, Machine Gun Section, Munster Fusiliers, who has been wounded a second time, and is at present in hospital in France, is a son of Mr James McVeigh, Loy Hill, Cookstown. He was wounded by shrapnel on the left shoulder, but it is not of a very serious nature, and he is making satisfactory progress
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 22 July 1916:
Newspaper Report
Lieutenant W J McVeigh, Royal Munster Fusiliers, son of Mr James McVeigh, Loy Hill, Cookstown, is officially reported wounded, but from enquiries at the War Office this refers to the wound received six weeks ago, and we are glad to know that he is out of hospital and on active service again.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 26th August 1916: Lieutenant McVeagh Wounded
Lieutenant W J McVeagh, Machine Gun Section, Munster Fusiliers, son of Mr James McVeagh, Loy Hill, Cookstown, was admitted to the Stationary hospital, Boulogne, on 21st August with gunshot wounds in the thigh and wrist. His condition is satisfactory. This is the third time Lieutenant McVeigh has been wounded.
After seeing a great deal of active service on the Western Front and being wounded on three occasions he was gazetted Lieutenant and sent to Salonika.
1917
In March 1917 he was granted a commission in the Regular Army, after which he served in Egypt and Palestine.
Lieutenant William John McVeigh was killed in action in Palestine whilst leading his platoon over the walls into Alay in the face of heavy rifle and machine gun fire on 28th December 1917. He was 24 years old.
An Officer commanding the 6th Royal Munster Fusiliers sent a letter from Palestine to Mrs. McVeigh on 31st December 1917, in which he said:
“I regret very much that your son was killed in action near Abu Dineen on 28th, while gallantly leading his platoon over the walls into Alay in face of heavy rifle and machine-gun fire. The loss of your son is deeply felt by us all, he was such a fine officer, especially keen on machine-gun work, and we cannot spare him. May I offer you, in your great sorrow, on behalf of myself and the officers of the battalion, our sincere regret in your great loss.”
1918
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 2nd January 1918: Cookstown Officer Killed
Lieutenant W J McVeagh, Royal Munster Fusiliers, killed in action in Palestine on the 28th December, was son of Mr James McVeagh, Cookstown. He received his early education at St Mary’s College, Dundalk, and was an undergraduate of the National University before the war. After five months training as a cadet, he obtained his commission in March 1915. He saw a good deal of active service in France, where he was twice wounded in 1916. In March he was granted a commission in the Regular Army, and had since been serving in Egypt and Palestine.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 5th January 1918:
McVEAGH – Killed in action in Palestine on 28th December, Lieutenant W J McVeagh, Royal Munster Fusiliers, son of James McVeagh, Loy Hill, Cookstown. R.I.P. Deeply regretted. Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on his soul.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 5th January 1918: Lieutenant W J McVeagh
Lieutenant W J McVeagh, Royal Munster Fusiliers, Machine Gun Section (son of Mr James McVeagh, Loy Hill, Cookstown), was killed in action in Palestine on 28th December. Lieutenant McVeagh was a past student of St Mary’s College, Dundalk, and was an undergraduate of the National University, Dublin. After five months training as a cadet, he was gazette second lieutenant in March 1915. He saw a great deal of active service on the western front, and was three times wounded. Last March he was gazette lieutenant and went to Salonika, and has been serving in Egypt and Palestine. His parents have the sincere sympathy of all their townspeople on the death of their gallant son, who not only risked his life for the Empire, but died as many a crusader wished to do long ago, in a successful attempt to free the Holy land from Muslim rule.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 12th January 1918:
At the Cookstown Branch of the Irish National Foresters on Sunday evening, Brother John Hagan, S.C.R., presiding, the following resolution was, on the motion of Brother P McLarnon, seconded by Brother Joseph Crilly, passed in silence, the embers standing:- ‘That we have learned with regret of the death of Lieutenant William J McVeagh, and we hereby tender to his father, Brother James McVeagh and other relatives, our deepest sympathy in their sad bereavement.’
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 2nd February 1918: The late Lieutenant W J McVeagh
Mr James McVeagh, Loy Hill, Cookstown, has received the following telegram of sympathy on the death of his son:- ‘The King and Queen deeply regret the loss you and the army have sustained by the death of your son in the service of his country. Their Majesties truly sympathise with you in your sorrow. Keeper of the Privy Purse.’
The officer commanding the 6th Royal Munsters, writing from Palestine to Mrs McVeagh on 31st December 1917 says:-
‘I regret very much your son was killed in action near Abu Dineen on the 28th, while gallantly leading his platoon over the walls into Alay in the face of heavy rifle and machine gun fire. Your son’s loss is deeply felt by us all. He was such a fine officer, especially keen on machine gun work, and we cannot spare him. May I offer you, in your great sorrow, on behalf of myself and the officers of the battalion, our sincere regret in your own great loss.’
Memorials
Lieutenant William John McVeigh is buried in Jerusalem War Cemetery.
W J McVeigh grave, Jrsusalem
Photo of William John McVeigh's gravestone in Jerusalem. Picture courtesy of Yair Malachi.
Lieutenant William J. McVeigh is commemorated on Cookstown Cenotaph.
The CWGC record Lieutenant William John McVeigh as the son of James and Alice M. McVeigh, of Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. They also state he enlisted in August 1914 and was wounded three times in France.
Read more
Relevant Cookstown Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 James Street Cookstown Central Census listings in James Street 54.645200 -6.745274
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 1901 Census lists McVeigh family 1901 census lists Willie John as age 7, son of a grocer, at house 21 in James's Street Cookstown
2 1911 Census lists 'McVeagh' family Does not list William as living with the family at house 32 in James's Street, Cookstown, Tyrone
3 Facebook Photo of visit to grave
4 National Archives UK Medal card can be purchased here
5 Soldiers Died in the Great War Details of Lieutenant William John McVeigh
6 Ulster Towns Directory for 1910 The Cookstown Section lists William's father James as a grocer at James St
7 War Graves Photographic Project Photo of Lieut William McVeigh's grave can be purchased here
Cookstown District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2010-2019