McMurray, William Hamilton

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William Hamilton McMurray
10 March 1889 – 29 November 1985
Lt W.H. McMurray detail photo.jpg
Place of birth Armagh, Ireland
Allegiance Canada
Service/branch Canadian Army
Rank Lieutenant-Colonel
Awards OBE, MC, ED, MiD
Lieutant-Colonel William Hamilton McMurray, OBE, MC, ED (10 March 1889 - 29 November 1985) was a Canadian soldier who served in both world wars as a member of the Canadian Signalling Corps and the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals.

Early Life

Born in Armagh Parish, Ireland 10 March 1889, William McMurray emigrated to Canada with his family. He completed his high school education in Toronto Ontario where he worked at a bank for a time before proceeding West. Ending up in Winnipeg Manitoba, he first worked for the provincial government on their telephone system but later he worked as a clerk for the Canadian Pacific Railway.[1]

Service

In Winnipeg, McMurray joined the Militia with No. 10 Section, CSC in 1910 and served until the outbreak of the Great War. He quickly attested for active service and proceeded to Valcartier Quebec to join the 1st Canadian Divisional Signal Company. He proceeded to France in Feb 1915 as a member of No. 4 Section, the section of 1st Canadian Divisional Signal Company permanently attached to 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade and which was commanded by Capt Forde. Having reached the rank of Sgt, he was selected and commissioned as a temporary Lieutenant 6 February 1916 in the Canadian Engineers. It is worth noting that, as the Canadian Signal Service was run by the Canadian Engineers, it was into that Corps that he was commissioned despite his service with the Canadian Signal Corps. Photos show[2] that regardless, he continued to wear the badges of the CSC and he doesn't seem to have thought himself as an 'engineer'. Upon commissioning he was given command of No. 2 Section, 1st Canadian Divisional Signal Company, which was attached to 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade. In 1916 suffered a bout of influenza and another of German measles but he recovered well.

He was promoted to Capt effective 15 March 1917[3] and in April 1917 was transferred to the Canadian Engineer Training Depot where he joined the newly forming 5th Canadian Divisional Signal Company as the 2nd in Command. When it was decided to break up the Division in order to provide reinforcements to the four Canadian divisions already in the field, Capt McMurray joined the Canadian Corps Signal Company in November 1917.

In May 1918 while riding a motorcycle he collided with a motorcar and suffered a compound fracture of the index finger on his left hand. For his work with the Corps Headquarters of the Army of Occupation after the Armistice, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire[4]. At the end of the war, he was also Mentioned in Despatches[5] In Apr 1919 he transferred to the 1st Canadian Engineer Reserve Battalion to proceed back to Canada where he was demobilized on 8 July 1919 in Winnipeg Manitoba.

McMurray rejoined the military, in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, in 1940 where he served in a training role until 1945 when he was demobilized for a second time.

Military Cross Citation

Capt McMurray was awarded the Military Cross in 1916 for actions in the Battle of the Somme. Capt McMurray's Military Cross citation[6] reads:

For conspicuous gallantry in action. He maintained communications with the frontline during our successful attack and the subsequent enemy bombardment. He was under heavy fire, and, when most of his lines-men had become casualties, he personally maintained the lines with total disregard of his own safety.

Civilian Life

After the Great War, having declined an offer to join the post war permanent force as a Major in the Canadian Signal Corps, McMurray returned to work for the Canadian Pacific Railway.

William McMurray died in Victoria British Columbia on 29 Nov 1985

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References

  1. McMurray, William Hamilton: my Army recollections, oral interview 1979
  2. 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade Officers July 1916
  3. Initially published as effective 10 May 1917 in The London Gazette, Supplement 29824. 1 June, 1917. Page 5408 however it was later amended to be effective 15 Mar 1917 in The London Gazette, Supplement 30745. 11 June, 1918. Page 7041.
  4. The London Gazette, Supplement 31370. 30 May, 1919. Page 6811.
  5. The London Gazette, Supplement 31448. 8 July 1919. Page 8817.
  6. The London Gazette, Supplement 29824. 14 November, 1916. Page 11079.