Billy McFadzean at the Battle of the Somme
Read how Billy McFadzean won the Victoria Cross at the Battle of the Somme
WWI Hero, William ‘Billy’ McFadzean, one of History Heroes’ World War I Heroes, was born today, 9th October 1895. He was born in Lurgan, County Armagh. He was a strapping, 6′ tall rugby playing lad, who found himself on the Western Front on the 1st July 1916, preparing for the start of the Battle of the Somme.
Billy was a bomber. His job was to go ‘over the top’ of the trenches, carrying buckets of hand bombs to lob at the Germans. That morning, the 1st July 1916, the Allies were preparing for battle and the trenches were packed with soldiers. A box of bombs was opened for attack and slipped near Billy. He saw two of the bombs lose their safety pins. Without hesitation Billy threw himself on the box of bombs just before they exploded. Billy died but, despite the crowded trenches, only one other soldier was injured from the explosion as a result of Billy’s bravery and sacrifice. Unsurprisingly Billy was awarded the Victoria Cross for ‘most conspicuous bravery’.
Before Billy died, he had written home to his family about his part in the war, “I hope to play the game and if I don’t add much lustre to it, I certainly will not tarnish it.’ His modesty was only exceeded by his bravery.