Photos of hero found at city building site

William Frederick "Billy" McFadzean VC (9 October 1895 - 1 July 1916) was born in Lurgan, County Armagh. From Ulster, he was a British recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....................................
McFadzean was a 20 year old rifleman in the 14th Battalion, The Royal Irish Rifles, British Army during the First World War. On 1 July 1916, near Thiepval Wood, France a box of grenades slipped into a crowded trench. Two of the safety pins in the grenades were dislodged. McFadzean threw himself on top of the grenades, which exploded, killing him but only injuring one other.[1] His citation read:
No. 14/18278 Pte. William Frederick McFadzean, late R. Ir. Rif. 
For most conspicuous bravery. While in a concentration trench and opening a box of bombs for distribution prior to an attack, the box slipped down into the trench, which was crowded with men, and two of the safety pins fell
William Frederick "Billy" McFadzean VC (9 October 1895 - 1 July 1916) was born in Lurgan, County Armagh. From Ulster, he was a British recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.................................... McFadzean was a 20 year old rifleman in the 14th Battalion, The Royal Irish Rifles, British Army during the First World War. On 1 July 1916, near Thiepval Wood, France a box of grenades slipped into a crowded trench. Two of the safety pins in the grenades were dislodged. McFadzean threw himself on top of the grenades, which exploded, killing him but only injuring one other.[1] His citation read: No. 14/18278 Pte. William Frederick McFadzean, late R. Ir. Rif. For most conspicuous bravery. While in a concentration trench and opening a box of bombs for distribution prior to an attack, the box slipped down into the trench, which was crowded with men, and two of the safety pins fell

Photos of a Lurgan hero of World War One have been uncovered in a former Belfast college building.

Builders had moved into the Belfast Metropolitan College building on College Square East with the job of converting it into student accommodation.

Instead, they discovered a memento from a long-passed wartime era.

Photographs of teachers and students in uniform who had enlisted to fight in World War One were found.

These photos, discovered covered in dust in a box, shed light on a chapter of the college’s history indelibly tied to the events of 100 years ago.

Former staff member and historian of the college Henry Bell said: “I think those photos are there so relatives could come into this college as a kind of memorial and look at them.

“You’ve officers, you’ve people who have medals and honours and you’ve just got the ordinary boys who lost their lives maybe in a ship in the Battle of Jutland.

“You’ve got the strange case of somebody who ended up in the Italian Army, somebody who ended up in the Australian Camel Corps.”

Among the young men captured in the photographs is Billy McFadzean, the first soldier from the 36th Ulster Division to die at the Somme on the morning of 1 July, 1916.

The Lurgan soldier was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

“He had been assigned to bomb distribution,” said David Brown, a Somme history researcher. “His job was to distribute bombs to other men in the trenches who were going to use them in attacking the enemy.

“He lifted a box, which were secured by ropes, and one of the ropes broke off.

“Two of the bombs fell out of the box, the pins came off the bombs and dropped to the floor.

“There was over 600 men in the trench.

“He hadn’t time to think about it. He had about four seconds of his life and all that was left that he could do was to throw himself on top of them and he was blown to smithereens.”

According to Henry Bell, it was the political situation at the time, combined with the enthusiasm of some at the college, that would have convinced so many to join the fighting.

“The principal of the college at the time, Frances Forth, was very heavily involved with the military.

“He would’ve probably held meetings in this hall encouraging boys in those heady days of 1914 to go off and fight for their king and country.

“So, in a way, it (the photos) is part very much of the history not just of the war but what was happening here politically between 1912 and 1914.”