William McNally VC

Timelines: Ribbon of Remembrance William McNally VC
Announcement Date: May 23, 2018

William was born on the 16th December 1894 in the village of Murton in County Durham. At 14 he would follow his father down the pit at Mutton Colliery. At the outbreak of war he enlisted on the 3rd September, aged 20, into the Yorkshire Regiment, The Green Howards, and was posted to the 8th (Service) Battalion.

The Battalion travelled to France in August 19115 as part of the 69th Brigade, 23rd Division. It was during the Somme offensive in 1916 that William would win his first Military medal, having gone out into no-man’s-land to rescue a wounded officer. The following year during 3rd Ypres, generally known as Passcheandaele, he received a bar to his Military Medal, again recuing men wounded or buried under shellfire.

In late 1917 he was part of the detachment of British and French troops sent to the Italian front to bolster the Italians after their disastrous defeat at the Battle of Caparetto. In October of 1918 the allied advance culminated in their victory at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto paving the way for the total defeat of the Austrian Army. It was during this battle that William received the Victoria Cross having put to flight the enemy and capturing a machine gun.

William left the Army in February 1919 and returned to life down the pit at Murton Colliery. He married and would father 6 children. In 1940 he joined the Local Defence Volunteers in Murton and the following year served in the Durham Home Guard. In 1947 he became a foreman at a timber yard that made pit props retiring in 1947. He died, aged 81, on the 5th January 1976.

Return to the ribbon

Explore more memories from the ribbon

  • Edward Methuen Stone

    The Green Howards Museum’s Fiona Hall shares her thoughts about Edward Methuen Stone, her maternal grandfather: “This picture shows my grandfather, Edward Stone, with my Mum on her wedding day in 1960. Edward was born in St Mary le Bow in London in about 1900; in the 1901 census he is shown as living with his parents and three older sisters – Eliza, Emma and Julia, and a brother, John in Armagh Road. There is absolutely no existing anecdotal information regarding Edward’s war service within our family. My older cousins, who knew their granddad as young children, can’t remember anything ever being said about it. My grandfather died ten years before I was born, and I can only remember my Mum saying what a kind and gentle father he was. My great uncle John was ten years older than Edward. It seems he served in the Royal Engineers and also survived the war. No service record exists for Grandad Stone, so we do not know when he enlisted or was demobbed, or precisely where he served, his medal card shows he was a Private in the Norfolk Regiment. A researcher at their regimental museum managed to find just one intriguing reference to him. On the 10th of October 1916 he is recorded as being in 23 Base General Hospital, Amara, Mesopotamia with a ‘slight gunshot wound’. That’s it. There’s nothing else. The boy from Bow was in what’s now Iraq! Needless to say my cousins are gobsmacked. How could we…

  • Otto Wedgwood

    Otto Wedgewood was born in July 1882 at Bredgar in Kent to Rowland and Annie Wedgwood. He was a descendant of Thomas Wedgwood, the elder brother of the famous potter Josiah Wedgewood. Otto was one of six children. The 1891 census has Otto’s father’s occupation as ‘living on own means’ and was successful enough to employ two servants. The 1901 census shows Otto was living at the home of his nephew George Maxstead in Hornsea Yorkshire. Otto at the time was an Engineer Apprentice. On the 24th October 1914 Otto embarked from London to Bombay in India. His occupation on the passenger list is given as ‘Expert’ and presumably the trip was work related. It is not certain when he returned to Britain. However, it probable that he felt he had to ‘do his bit’ for the war effort and so came home. He subsequently joined the Royal Engineers. From the 4th May 1917 he served with CRE IX Corps. The London Gazette of the 4th December 1915 details Otto attaining the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. By the end of the war he was a Captain. Otto spent time in Canada in the early 1930s but by 1939 he was back in England working as a Cement Works Manager at Gravesend in Kent. In 1944 he married Stella Vincett in Chatham. Otto died on the 23rd May 1957 and was cremated five days later at Greenwich in London. He was 74 years old. Otto’s Granddaughter, Jeanette Schofield, in Richmond.  

  • Henry Robinson

    Kevin Robinson of Dalton on Tees visited the Green Howards museum to tell us about his great great grandfather, Sergeant Henry Robinson MM. Henry joined the Yorkshire Regiment (the Green Howards) as a very young man and soon left the UK to serve in the Boer War. Henry had several service numbers during his career with the earliest (and therefore a low number) being 421. On returning from the Boer war he then went to serve in the First World War both in France and Belgium, Henry and his division engaged in 2nd & 3rd Battle of Ypres, 1st & 2nd Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Arras to name a few. He is believed to have been a very accomplished horseman. His army career spanned some 4 decades as a Territorial reservist. During this time he picked up a proud chest-full of medals including the Military Medal awarded 10th October 1916. Adding a Bar to his MM in October 1918, other medals believed to be Queens South Africa Medal, 1914 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal with Oak Leaf (Mentioned in Despatches). Henry was also a Hero when not serving his country he was serving children with fun, Henry and his wife Elvira lived in a motor home at Derby Street / Cooper Street / Canon Street Common in Middlesbrough. They operated several fun fair rides which included swing boats and a roundabout. They continued to run the fun fair rides for several decades into the…