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Wednesday, 11 September 2019

McMechan, James

Captain James McMechan MC
was born on 6th July 1893 to Hugh McMechan, Farmer and Lizzie Jane McMechan nee Kirkpatrick.

In 1901 James was living in house 4, Ballybranagh Lower, Ardglass, Co. Down with his parents and 6 siblings, Emma, Nellie, Hugh Thomas and John.  Two servants also live in the house, Lizzie Fitzpatrick (14) and Lizzie Harrison (26).

By 1911, the property is known as house 2, Ballybranagh, Ardglass, Co. Down.  The family consists of the parents and 6 children, Elsie, John, Kathleen, Emma, Hugh and Mary.

James is not recorded here.  He is boarding in house 45, Ballybannon, Dundrum, Co. Down with a family called Donnan.  His occupation is recorded as an Apprentice Mechanic.

James would have joined the Belfast Banking Company around 1909 and worked in Pettigo, Cookstown and Downpatrick branches.  His father signed the Bankers Indemnity for him.

On 28th September 1912, James and Hugh McMechan signed the Ulster Covenant at the Balee Meeting House, Ardglass or at Castlewellan.

James enlisted into the 10th Bn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and attained the rank of Captain.

James McMechan - Medal Index Card

He was awarded the Military Cross (MC).

The London Gazette dated 17th September 1917 records his citation as

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in leading his company during an attack.  He personally showed them how close they could keep to the barrage, and with great courage and skill he outflanked and wiped out an enemy machine gun and its crew without a single casualty to his own men.  His coolness and fine leadership contributed very largely to the success of the operation.”

The Belfast Banking Company 'Roll of Honour' booklet records McMechan as having been 'previously wounded' with his last known address as 'prisoner of war'.

James was captured on 22nd March 1918 by the Germans at Le Hamel and was imprisoned in the O G L Rastatt camp.  His Next of Kin is recorded as Elsie McMechan, Downpatrick.

German Prisoner of War Record 1 - Capt James McMechan MC

German Prisoner of War Record 2 - Capt James McMechan MC

Following his demobilisation after the Great War, McMechan returned to work.  He is recorded in the Northern Whig dated 29th May 1920 as being the Acting Manager of Whitehead branch.  The clipping, posted below, informs the readers that McMechan received his Military Cross in a Royal Investiture, from the King at Buckingham Palace.

[Courtesy of Great War Belfast Clippings]

James is recorded in BBCo records as having a wife, May Kathleen McMechan.

McMechan died on 23rd November 1933.