William Frederick Cecil McGarry - Royal Dublin Fusiliers

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Nov 14, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    In Memory of

    6th Bn., Royal Dublin Fusiliers
    who died
    on 10 August 1915

    Remembered with honour

    William Frederick Cecil McGarry was born on 8 September 1885. He was a man whose only ambition in life was to be a soldier. From a very young age McGarry was adamant that when he grew up he would join the army.

    He came to Belvedere on 15 September 1906, having been educated before that at the Holy Faith Convent in Glasnevin. His family lived at 4 Belfast Terrace, North Circular Road, not far from Belvedere. William was an excellent student. In 1908 he sat and passed his Preparatory Grade Exam in English, French, History & Geography, Algebra & Arithmetic and Science. Two years later, he sat his Junior Grade Exams, getting Honours in four subjects (English, French, History & Geography, Algebra & Arithmetic): the best results in his year.

    McGarry was not just an academic. In 1909, he was a member of ‘The Holy Angels’, a religious society at the college for the younger students. A year later he was elected to the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was for the senior students.

    Fervent students had to apply for membership, which was regarded as prestigious. Members of the Sodality were then elected, in a manner similar to the way Prefects are chosen nowadays.

    McGarry was a member of the 1909 Rugby Junior Cup Team. This was the inaugural year of the Leinster Junior Cup. They went all the way to the final (beating High School 43-0, Terenure 5-3 (after a scoreless first match), and King’s Hospital 14-0 in the semi- final). They lost 9-0 to St Andrew’s College in the final. But this was not a bad result, as they had lost 60-0 to the same team just two months earlier.

    McGarry was also on the 1911 Senior Rugby XV, in a year when they met with little success (they were knocked out of the Cup by Wesley College 24-0). He was also on the Senior Rugby Committee, alongside Rupert Coyle, who later joined the Jesuits and became a headmaster at Belvedere.

    After he left school in 1912, William joined the Volunteer Corps. As a member of the Volunteers during the first months of their existence, he had to deal with civil disturbances at Bachelor’s Walk in Dublin - a baptism of fire that stood to him when he later received a commission.

    McGarry’s ambition was realised when he enlisted in October 1914. He was first stationed at the Curragh (where he was complimented for the efficient way he performed his duties as Detail Officer) and then at Basingstoke. But he was really satisfied when he was sent to the front line - to Gallipoli in Turkey - in the summer of 1915.

    He was reported to have been surprisingly happy on the voyage - delighted finally to get his chance. He spent his spare time writing letters to his friends and family.

    He reached Mytilene (a town on the Aegean island of Lesbos) towards the end of July 1915, and stayed there until he was moved to the front on what he wrote was ‘the happiest August Bank Holiday of my life’.

    He spent his last few days near Suvla and during these days he managed to save the life of a fellow north Dubliner. While on a reconnaissance mission, a party led by him stumbled upon a badly injured man whom McGarry knew from his time in Dublin. All present believed there was no hope for the man - except McGarry. Against the odds, he managed to bandage the soldier’s wounds himself and to locate medical assistance afterwards.

    This fallen soldier was saved, but on Tuesday 10 August 1915, McGarry himself was not so lucky. On this tragic day, he led his platoon in an attack on a tactical position on the slope of Scimitar Hill. Once they had taken this position, they were outnumbered, and a combination of stiff Turkish resistance and difficult terrain forced his platoon to flee. Lieutenant McGarry and his entire platoon were wiped out.

    His family, shortly after receiving his upbeat letters about how happy he was, received the grim news that Second Lieutenant William Frederick Cecil McGarry was missing, presumed dead.

    McGarry lived his life, according to his obituary, ‘as a shining beacon of hope and courage around whom others rallied’. The colonel in charge of the 6th battalion said of McGarry -

    The words are quite ironic as the Gallipoli campaign was a disaster despite the best efforts of people like McGarry. The British casualties were 213,980 (of which at least 145,000 were due to sickness). Turkish losses were as high as 350,000. Allied forces in Gallipoli were evacuated in 1916, a humiliation for the Anglo-French alliance and a remarkable victory for the Turks.

    To conclude, the words of The Belvederian (1916) sum up William McGarry’s death nicely: ‘Dying as he did, willing and ready, he merits our envy rather than our pity.’ He is commemorated, along with 21,000 other named soldiers, on the Helles Memorial in Turkey. His name is on panel 190-196.

  2. Dolphin

    Dolphin New Member

    To What End Did They Die? mentions that there's a photograph of 2Lt W F C Mc Garry in The War Illustrated of 13 November 1915.

  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    I know ! - its on lulu !! .... but I've used up all my allowance this month .... I keep buying photos for people and then not being able to get " me own " !! :(:(:rolleyes:


    Annie :)

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