Memorial to William McFadzean VC unveiled

The bust of William McFadzean VC.
The bust of William McFadzean VC.

A bronze bust in memory of a Lurgan-born Victoria Cross winner has been unveiled in his home town.

The bust on a granite plinth was unveiled on Saturday following 18 months of work by the Ancre Somme Association.

They formed a working group which commissioned the renowned Scottish artist, Helen Runciman, to create a bronze bust and 100 miniature cold cast busts of William.

William McFadzean was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on Julty 1, 1916 after throwing himself on a box of grenades to save his colleagues from an explosion.

Many months of meetings took place with various groups and organisations to enable what was initially just an idea to become a lasting legacy to William.

Various fundraising ventures were also undertaken to raise the funds required. These were boosted with support from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and various local businesses.

Although the weather was not kind for Saturday’s unveiling it that did not deter the resolve of the organisers.

Guests arrived from all four corners of Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Special guests included Jack McFadzean, Great Great Nephew Of William McFadzean, members of the Navy, Army, RAF, Police and the NI Fire and Rescue Service as well as many national, regional and local politicians.

Ancre Somme Association Honorary President, David Martin, started proceedings by introducing the Sarah Graham School Of Highland Dance.

Ancre Somme Association continually try to involve and educate young people regarding their British Military history so they were honoured that so many Sea, Army and Marine Cadets, and their Officers, then joined them on parade.

Next to take to the stage were the magnificent Northern Ireland Military Wives Choir. The ladies sung three emotional songs including Bring Him Home, which seemed very poignant on the day that was.

Just as the Military Wives Choir had finished their performance those in attendance welcomed the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Irish Regiment. The band were led on parade by the magnificent Brian Boru.

As the band finished playing everyone stood to welcome the Earl of Caledon, who is Her Majesty’s Representative in County Armagh who was accompanied by his Cadet. He was greeted by the Ancre Somme Association Patron Lt Col Ant Maher before being introduced to William’s ancestor, Jack McFadzean.

Association Honorary President, David Martin, officially welcomed everyone to the day’s event before introducing the Reverend Alan McCann who led those in attendance in prayer.

Association Patron, Lt Col Maher, then addressed the attendees giving an insight into the Association before paying tribute to the sacrifice made by William, and so many other men, on the 1st July 1916.

It was then Association Chairman Mark Jameson who took to the stage and recited the poem, Soldier Boy McFadzean. This poem was written by fellow Association member Lexi Davidson.

The Pipes and Drums of the Royal Irish Regiment played a selection of tunes before the soloist, Rhonda Kennedy, took to the stage and gave an emotional performance as she sung the Ballad of William McFadzean.

David Martin then invited the Lord Lieutenant, Earl of Caledon, to unveil the memorial.

There followed a service of remembrance with the Bugler of 2 R Irish the last post and reveille. A wreath was then laid by two cadets from the Sea and Army Cadets. 1ASA Mascot

Cameron Davidson (10) then recited Binyon’s Lines. The Reverend McCann gave the benediction, David Martin thanked all for their attendance and support before the event ended with the National Anthem.

An association spokesman said: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped with this project and supported unveiling especially the Lord Lieutenant Of Armagh,

Jack McFadzean, the Sea, Army and Marine Cadets, Pipes & Drums of the Royal Irish Regiment, Quintet Of 2 R Irish, Sarah Graham School Of Highland Dance, NI Military Wives Choir, Rhonda Kennedy, Cameron Davidson, Helen Runciman, Grail PR, Mid Ulster Granite, Arlene Foster MLA, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, David Simpson MP, Carol Walker MBE, Councillors and Council of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, BNL Productions, Ashley Forbes, Brownlow House and every single person who has supported this project over the past 18 months.

“A special thank you must go to Carla Lockhart MLA. Your help and support helped make the impossible possible.

“Private William Frederick McFadzean VC will be remembered now and forevermore.”