McNally – Sergeant William

16 December 1894 – 5 January 1976:-

William was born in Murton, near Seaham, County Durham. He followed his father into the pit at Murton Colliery, where he worked as a pit pony driver. He enlisted in the 8th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment at the beginning of the war in 1914.

He was awarded the Military Medal in 1918 after going to the aid of a wounded officer. He was then awarded a bar for his Military Medal when he rescued several comrades under heavy shellfire.

On 27th October 1918 at Piave River, Italy, when his company was most seriously hindered by machine-gun fire, Sergeant McNally, regardless of personal safety, rushed the machine-gun post single-handed, killing the team and capturing the gun. Later, at Vazzola on 29 October the sergeant crept up to the rear of an enemy post, put the garrison to flight and captured the machine-gun. On the same day, when holding a newly-captured ditch, he was strongly counter-attacked from both flanks, but coolly controlling the fire of his party, he frustrated that attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy.

On his return to County Durham, William was met at Murton station by a welcoming crowd, and the local pit was closed for the day in his honour. Despite being wounded three times, he returned to the pit where he worked until he reached the age of 50. He then had an office job for 12 years in a timber yard, supervising the making of pit props, before finally retiring in July 1958.

After his retirement he spent 16 years in his home village, taking an active role in community affairs.

His medals are held at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum London.

Filed under: WW1