Billy McFadzean statue to be unveiled at ceremony

Bust of William McFadzean to be unveiled,
Bust of William McFadzean to be unveiled,

The official unveiling of a bust remembering a Lurgan born soldier will take place in October - but a few days later than originally thought.

The Ancre Somme Association will host the unveiling on Saturday, October 13, 1pm,

Lurgan born Private William Frederick McFadzean VC will be remembered in a bronze memorial, with a highly successful public fund-raising drive across the town and further afield making it possible.

It had originally been planned to unveil the memorial on October 9. The event was rescheduled to fit with the diaries of special guests and to take place on a Saturday to give more people a chance to attend.

William was awarded The Victoria Cross for the most conspicuous gallantry during the Battle of the Somme.

The 1st July 1916 saw the 14th (Young Citizen Volunteer) Battalion, The Royal Irish Rifles, in the Assembly trenches preparing for an attack close to the front line in Thiepval Wood.

Grenades were being distributed amongst the men when a box of them was dropped causing some to lose their safety pins and become armed on the floor of the trench.

With no thought for himself, Private McFadzean threw himself on top of the grenades. They exploded, killing him instantly and wounding two other soldiers. Without a doubt, his actions saved the lives of all the soldiers in the vicinity.

Lexi Davidson of the Ancre Somme Association in Lurgan said: “This prestigious memorial will help ensure that the sacrifice made by William is never forgotten and will leave a lasting legacy for future generations commemorating the brave men who left these shores, many left, few returned.

“This will undoubtedly be a very special and emotional day for those who have worked tirelessly to bring this memorial to fruition. William McFadzean is held in the highest esteem by the people of Lurgan, Northern Ireland indeed the United Kingdom and this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to unveil a very fitting tribute.”

The Lord Lieutenant of County Armagh, Lord Caledon, will join the ceremony as The Queen’s representative and he will also perform the official unveiling. He will also be joined by other special guests who have expressed an interest in attending.

There will be fitting entertainment on the day including the Northern Ireland Military Wives Choir followed by a ceremony to dedicate the memorial.