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

  • William Helmsley

    William was born in 1897 in the village of Thoralby, near Aysgarth, in the North Yorkshire Dales. Birth registrations show he was born in the first quarter of that year. He was the youngest son of farmer John and his wife Alice, living at Town Head Farm. The 1901 census shows he had two older brothers, Ralph 10 and John Hunter 7, and a sister Elizabeth 9. However, the 1911 census only shows William, and by that time his mother was a widow at 42. Also at the time, three boarders lodged at the farm. William attended the local school and in his teens became a valued member of Aysgarth Amateur Dramatic Society. At the outbreak of war, aged 17, he enlisted in the 10th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. He went to France in October 1915. By the onset of the 3rd Battle of Ypres in 1917 William was now a Corporal. It was during this offensive on the 3rd October that the 10th Battalion was involved in an action on Broodseinde ridge. It was during the heavy shelling on the 4th that William was killed. His body was never found. William is commemorated on a panel at the Tyne Cot Cemetery. He was just 19 years of age when he died.

  • Nellie Spindler

    Nellie Spindler was born in Wakefield in September 1891. Nellie was her actual Christian name, being baptised on the 11th November 1891. In 1911 Nellie was a hospital nurse at the City Fever Hospital in Wakefield and from 1912 to 1915 was working at the Township Infirmary, Leeds. From November 1915 until May 1917 she was a staff nurse at Whittington Military Hospital in Litchfield. Nellie then worked as a Staff Nurse with the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, which had been formed in 1902 from the Army Nursing Service of 1881. From May 1917 she was a staff nurse at Stationary Hospital in Abbeville, France. Neillie also worked as a staff nurse in No. 44 Casualty Clearing Station, a British evacuation hospital located at Brandhoek, a small hamlet near Poperinghe in Belgium. It had a high mortality rate as No 44 CCS was closer to the front line than most and also close to a railway line and munitions dump. It was shelled often as the enemy tried to destroy the rail network thus preventing more munitions reaching the front line. On the 31st July 1917 the Third Battle of Ypres began. On that day alone a total of 6869 casualties were registered in the four Casualty Clearing Stations and surgeons carried out 582 operations. On Tuesday, 21st August, 1917 the hospital was shelled and at 11 o’clock in the morning Nellie was hit by shrapnel. She became unconscious immediately and although tended by her fellow nurses she…

  • John Vivian Nancarrow

    John Vivian Nancarrow was born on the 6th June 1885 in Middlesbrough. He was eldest son of George and Charlotte Nancarrow of ‘Ravenscroft’ at Grove Hill in Middlesbrough. John was educated at Leys School and Kings College in Cambridge attaining an MA and a Law degree. He was admitted a Solicitor in 1909 and became Secretary to Middlesbrough Chamber of Commerce. He had joined the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry in 1907 and later was attached to the Northumberland Fusiliers at Newcastle. At some point he moved to Cornwall and was attached to the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. In 1911 he is recorded as being a Solicitor in Camborne Cornwall. Shortly after John was back in Middlesbrough joining the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment as a Lieutenant. He was promoted Captain in late 1913. Prior to his mobilisation to France he had become engaged to Miss Elsie Harkness of Stokesley North Yorkshire. The 4th Battalion arrived in France in April 1915 and were at Ypres by the 23rd. The Battalion were straight away into Ypres offensive being involved in the Battle of St Julien. During the attack at Fortuin on the 24th John was leading his men forward when he was shot and died instantly. Subsequently his body was never recovered. He was 29 years of age. John is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.