Now a landscape park on the County Antrim coast, William McGildowny’s family occupied Clare Park in Ballycastle from the 18th century. William’s father, John served as Deputy Lieutenant for the county.
One of a family of six, William was educated at Charterhouse, as was one of his elder brothers, Robert. Charterhouse records show that Robert joined the Royal Artillery in 1884 but was killed in a fall from his horse in Kirkee, India in 1889. William, in Weekites at Charterhouse after his brother, left there in 1887, following again in his brother’s footsteps by joining the Royal Artillery shortly afterwards.
Joining as a Second Lieutenant, he was appointed Lieutenant on 27th July 1892, Captain on 20th September 1899 and he retired on 27th July 1905. However, The London Gazette on 28th September 1915 shows him appointed Captain (Honorary Major) Adjutant on 9th September 1915. He was awarded D.S.O. and died of wounds in May 1917.
The Rev A.J. Hutton provided an entry in the Windlesham Roll of Honour for all men on the Windlesham War Memorial and that for William McGildowny is reproduced below.
‘Major William McGildowny went over to France in 1915 as Adjutant to Colonel Kaye R.A. in the Royal Siege Artillery. In January 1916 he returned to England to form a Battery of Siege Artillery which he took out to France in August of the same year. He was on the Somme and received the D.S.O. for his services there. In January 1917 his battery was moved up to Arras and on May 26th 1917 he was killed in a very heavy bombardment of our line by the enemy. We had recently taken over this part of the line from the French to relieve them. He was buried quite close to where he fell at the little village of Laurent Blangy about a mile North of Arras in a small cemetery there which is beautifully cared for by gardeners from our own country.
Major McGildowny was educated at Charterhouse and passed into Woolwich from there in 1887 at the age of 17. He retired in 1907 & was on the Reserve of Officers when war broke out.’
William McGildowny and his wife, Agnes Elizabeth Honora (known as Honora), lived in High Chimneys, Westwood Road, Windlesham. They married on 15th June 1901. Kelly’s Directory shows Honora continued to live there after his death until she re-married aged 40 on January 23rd 1922. Honora herself died in 1966.
William is remembered in France, Windlesham, Ballycastle (both in Ramoan Parish Church and on the town War Memorial) and Charterhouse.
Hutton A.J., date unknown, Windlesham Roll of Honour SHC Ref: Z_682_1 31A
London Gazette, 28th September 1915
The Carthusian, June 1917
Kelly’s Directory 1913, 1915, 1918, 1919
National Archive WO372/24/40135
National Archive WO372/12/230830
National Archive WO24/77874
Weekites memorial, Charterhouse School: Courtesy of Charterhouse School
Ramoan Parish Church Roll of Honour board: courtesy of Ramoan Parish Church,Ballycastle