681371 GNR. D. McNEE. R.F.A.
Donald McNee was born in Everton in the first quarter of 1898. His father was James McNee (b. 1877 in Liverpool), a boiler scaler on merchant ships. His mother was Margaret Ann Titherington (b. 1878 in Everton). James and Margaret were married in 1896 and they had 7 children but three died young. Donald was the oldest, followed by Flora (b. 1900), Thomas (b. 1904), Clementina (b. 1907) and Emma (1910-1911). James is not listed in the 1911 Census so I presume he was at sea. Margaret was living with her four children (Emma would die shortly after the Census was taken) at 42 Elias Street, Everton. At the time, Donald was still at school.
Donald enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in 1915 and was assigned service number 681371. He was still only 17 so must have lied about his age. I believe he began his service with other Liverpudlians in “D” Battery of 286 Brigade but at some stage he was transferred to 59th Divisional Ammunition Column.
In September 1917, 59th (2nd North Midlands) Division was engaged in the Third Battle of Ypres.
From The Long, Long Trail:
The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (23-25 September)
On 20 September 1917, the Division’s role was to relieve the 55th (West Lancashire) Division after it had made an attack in the area of Gravenstafel. The Lancashires succeeded in capturing all objectives and the 59th duly moved to relieve them. Assembling around Goldfish Chateau, just outside Ypres, the Division moved up into the salient on the night of 23/24 September and completed the move into battle positions during 25 and 26th. Divisional HQ was set up in a pillbox on the eastern bank of the Ypres Canal.
The Battle of Polygon Wood (26-30 September)
The Division attacked as part of the British force that made an assault early on 26 September. Using 177th and 178th Brigades in front, the Division captured all of its objectives and then held on against German counter attack. Divisional HQ, finding its canal position to be very near some heavy artillery, moved back a way to Mersey Camp Wood but were there bombed by enemy aircraft at night. The Division had suffered 2000 casualties while in the salient and was relieved on 29 September by the New Zealand Division.
Donald McNee was killed in action on 12 October 1917. His Division had just taken part in these successful operations and were in the process of being withdrawn to move to Lens and then Cambrai. I don’t have any further details of the circumstances of Donald’s death, but his body was not recovered for burial. He was still only 19 years old.
Service No: 681371
Date of Death: 12/10/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, 59th Div. Ammunition Col.
Cemetery/memorial reference: Panel 4 to 6.
Memorial: TYNE COT MEMORIAL