26 Bty., 9 H.A.A. Regt, Royal Artillery (British Army)
Date Of Birth:
William James McGall was the son of James and Margaret McGall. His father was a labourer, his mother a seamstress. William was born on 29th April 1914. He was one of at least nine children, all born in Bellaghy. Gunner William James McGall was serving with 26 Battery, part of the 9th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment (H.A.A.) of the Royal Artillery when he died on 16th August 1941 in Alexandria in Egypt. During the Second World War, Alexandria was again an important hospital centre.
William James McGall was the son of James and Margaret McGall. James McGall and Maggie Murray were married on 3rd April 1899 in the district of Magherafelt.
The 1901 census lists the family at house 27 in Bellaghy, County Londonderry. James McGall was a farm labourer.
The 1911 census lists family at house 8 in Bellaghy. James was a labourer. Margaret was a seamstress.
William James McGall was born on 29th April 1914. He was one of at least nine children, all born in Bellaghy.
Known family: James McGall, Margaret McGall, David McGall (born 28th April 1899, died 28th April 1899), Annie McGall (born 18th February 1900), Molly McGall (born 17th February 1901, died 17th February 1901), David McGall (born 8th September 1902), John McGall (born 15th September 1903), Mary McGall (born 27th December 1904), Edith McGall (born 29th April 1906), James McGall (born 20th July 1908), William James McGall (born 29th April 1914).
Gunner William James McGall was serving with 26 Battery, part of the 9th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment (H.A.A.) of the Royal Artillery when he died on 16th August 1941 in Alexandria in Egypt.
During the Second World War, Alexandria was again an important hospital centre, taking casualties from campaigns in the Western Desert, Greece, Crete, the Aegean Islands and the Mediterranean. Rest camps and hostels were also established there together with a powerful anti-aircraft base. Alexandria was also the communications centre for the middle and near east and became the headquarters of the Military Police. The cemetery at Hadra was extended for Second World War burials and was used from 1941.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 7th October 1944: Bellaghy – Welcome to A.A. Men
A Welcome Home party, at which there were about sixty guests, was held on Monday evening in Bellaghy Presbyterian Church Hall. Amongst those present was the Hon. Mrs Mulholland, of Ballyscullion House. After supper, served up by the W.V.S. collectors and ladies of the Hospitality Committee, the Rev J Boyle, M.A., on behalf of the Bellaghy people, welcomed the men who had been serving overseas in the Londonderry A.A. Regiment. Mr James Burnside, J.P., C. Clr., Chairman of the Magherafelt Branch of the British Legion, extended a hearty welcome to the gunners, on behalf of the British Legion, the activities of which he gave a broad outline. He hoped all of them would come back safe and sound, and on their return join the Legion (applause). A two minute silence as a remark of respect to the men who had fallen on active service was observed. Mrs Mulholland congratulated the men on their return, and hoped they would have a speedy return from warfare. The people at home had proudly followed their journey through the desert, and were very proud of their great Irish leader, Field Marshall Montgomery. She had learned three precepts about speech-making when young; first, stand up and be seen; second, speak clearly and be heard; third, sit down and be liked. So she was making her speech short (applause). Mrs Mulholland, amid applause, presented tokens of esteem on behalf of the Bellaghy people to:
Gunners W Tombe, J Lorimer, H Meharg and H Lynn of the A A Regiment.
Petty Officer G Rankin of the Merchant Navy
Mrs J Cairns, whose son John was killed while on active service with the Royal Navy
Mr James McGall, whose son William, a gunner, died while on active service in the Middle East.
Each recipient duly replied. Indoor games and dancing followed up to a late hour, the music being supplied my Messrs W Brady and T Gregg. Miss V Overend and Petty Officer G Rankin contributed solos. Letters of apology for absence were received from Messrs F J Lynam (who was ill), T Norwell and John Leonard.
Gunner William James McGall is buried in Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt. His inscription reads: IN MEMORY OF WILLIAM JAMES, BELOVED SON OF JAMES McGALL OF BELLAGHY, CO. DERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND
Gunner McGall is commemorated locally on Castledawson War Memorial.
Gunner McGall is also listed on the World War Two plaque in Castledawson Baptist Church, being the only man from the church who died in the war.
Gunner William James McGall is listed on page 114 of the Castledawson War Dead Book – ‘They Didn’t Come Home.
Information provided here is courtesy of the excellent research undertaken by Mr Sam Hudson.
The CWGC record Gunner William James McGall as the son of Mr and Mrs James McGall of Bellaghy, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.