- The Yorkshire Regiment, First World War
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Sergeant Billy McNally MM crawls alone to destroy an Austrian machine-gun post which was holding up the battalion's advance once they crossed the River Piave in north east Italy, - 27th October 1918.
|For most conspicuous bravery and skilful leading during the operations on the 27th October 1918, across the Piave, when his company was most seriously hindered in its advance by heavy machine-gun fire from the vicinity of some buildings on a flank. Utterly regardless of personal safety, he rushed the machine-gun post single-handed, killing the team and capturing the gun. Later at Vassola, on the 29th October, when his company, having crossed the Monticano River, came under heavy rifle fire and machine-gun fire, Sergeant McNally immediately directed the fire of his platoon against the danger point, while he himself crept to the rear of the enemy's position. Realising that a frontal attack would mean heavy losses, he, unaided, rushed the position, killing or putting to flight the garrison and capturing a machine gun. On the same day, when holding a newly-captured ditch, he was strongly counterattacked from both flanks. By his coolness and skill in controlling the fire of his party he frustrated the attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. Throughout the whole of the operations his innumerable acts of gallantry set a high example to his men, and his leading was beyond all praise.|
William McNally was born at 12 Bude Square, Murton, near Seaham, County
Durham on 16th December 1894. At the age of four, he went to Murton
Colliery School but left, aged 14, to follow his father down the pits
as a pit pony boy. He worked six shifts a week until he was 20
years old. On 3rd September 1914, he enlisted in Sunderland into
the Green Howards. After training he was posted to the 8th (Service)
Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment at Halton Park Camp in Buckinghamshire.
They trained for a year before travelling to France in August 1915
as part of 69 Brigade, 23rd Division.
The above stone, commemorating the award of the VC to Sergeant William McNally, was one of several installed at the DLI Museum in Durham in August 2015. The DLI "VC Stones" were commissioned to commemorate the award of the Victoria Cross to men from the County of Durham. Each stone will be transferred from the DLI Museum, to the village from where the VC recipient originated, on the anniversary of the award of the Victoria Cross.
Photo courtesy of Elaine Miller (<email@example.com>), Murton Heritage Centre.