The Cumnock Chronicle

28th November 1941

From the Cumnock Chronicle of 28th November 1941

Death Notices

McCall – suddenly on the 21st of November 1941, in Lincolnshire, on active service, Major Wm. McCall D.S.O., M.C., Royal Artillery, dearly beloved husband of Jean Timpany, 76, Burnside, New Cumnock

New Cumnock



His many friends in Cumnock and New Cumnock districts were shocked to learn on Friday, of the sudden and wholly unexpected death in England, of Major McCall of the Royal Artillery. Then followed the tragic details of how the Major and his good lady (formerly Miss Jean Timpany of 76 Burnside), had attended a military party, where, as usual, the Major was the life and soul of the company. He retired to rest in excellent good spirits, but shortly after 2 a.m., he complained of sudden illness, and passed away before medical help could be procured. Death was due to heart failure.

A native of Stevenson, young William, when only fifteen years old, decided to try teaching and was given his first chance as a pupil teacher in his own school. The natural grace and ability with which he tackled a class of youngsters was freely commented upon by the local headmaster, who recognised at once the born teacher, the ease of command, and sense of discipline – those priceless attributes which were later to stamp him the fearless leader of men. The young man was not long in proving his worth, and when war broke out in 1914, he was teaching in the High Street School, Kilmarnock.

He enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders and then began that epic of meteoric promotion in the field, which culminated in his unique attainment to the rank of Lieut-Colonel while only 28 years of age. During his four years service in France, he was awarded the coveted Distinguished Service Order on two occasions; the Military Cross and the Croix-de-Guerre. When the last battle was won, he remained as Commanding Officer with his beloved Gordons for over a year in the Army of Occupation stationed at Cologne.

The came demobilisation, and the very gallant soldier, now that the fighting was over, chose to return to teaching in his old school. Later he took the special course of training as gymnastic teacher at Dunfermline, and in 1925 was appointed in that capacity to Cumnock Academy, with visiting days at New Cumnock and Bank Schools. Six years ago he relinquished his post in Cumnock and returned to day school teaching in Loanhead School and later and until the end of 1940, in Hillhead School, both in Kilmarnock.

In January of this year he accepted a lieutenancy in the Royal Artillery, and again came quick promotion to the rank of Captain, then Major. It was just a repetition of the Great War story – the ability to command men and to win the devotion of men and officers alike. He was intensely happy in his work, and shared that happiness with his wife, who was equally popular in their new military sphere, where she was in charge of the Y.M.C.A. Some conception of the high esteem in which both were held may be gathered in the following excerpts from a letter which Mrs McCall has received, signed by three of Major McCall’s fellow Officers:-

“We were all very shocked when we heard the sad news of the sudden passing on of the Major, first, because we felt that we had lost a very dear friend, and secondly, because as a soldier he commanded the respect and admiration of all, and our Regiment can ill afford to lose a soldier of his capabilities and achievements. We can take comfort from the fact that this is not the end, and that all the fine qualities which he expressed are essential to the great scheme of things. We can be sure that he has only changed his field of operations, and that he is now, just as busy as ever, carrying on with the good work. Our thoughts are with you, and we know that you will be given all the comfort and courage you need to help you at this difficult time.
P.S. – Sgt. O’Donnell has just asked me to convey to you his deepest sympathy – Lieut. McK”.

The casket draped in the Union Jack, was conveyed from the Barracks Hospital to the Railway Station with full military honours, Lieut. MacDonald being deputed by the Regiment to accompany the remains to their last resting place in New Cumnock. The committal service from Burnside to Afton Cemetery on Monday afternoon, was simple and impressive, and conducted throughout by the Rev Andrew Burnett, Home Guard Chaplain. As the cortege passed Bank School, members of the staff and senior pupils stood respectfully to attention. At “Shilling Hill”, Major Taylor, the officers of the Home Guard and Lieutenant MacDonald, R.A., formed a bodyguard on either side of the hearse, the remainder of the Home Guardsmen, under C.S.M. Armour falling in immediately behind. At the cemetery gates, the Home Guards opened ranks to allow the relatives to pass through to the graveside, closing ranks again behind them to form a cordon at the foot of the grave. Chaplain Burnett concluded the brief service with the Benediction and as Buglers Sgt. Dalziel and Guardsmen Wm. Dalziel and Sam McKnight sounded “The Last Post” and “Reveille”, all the Officers present came smartly to the salute.

The general public was largely represented, and amongst the former colleagues and officials we noted Dr. Meiklejohn, Depute Director of Education; Mr A.H. Frame, Inspector of Gymnastic Instruction for Ayrshire; Mr Andrew Martin, Rector of Cumnock Academy; Mr Wm. Dow and Mr Angus Mackay of New Cumnock School; Mr Robert Watson, Bank School and Mr H Spark, Dalleagles School. Amongst wreaths laid on the grave were three from the Major’s Regiment – the Officers; the Sergeants and Staff Sergeants and All Other Ranks of the Royal Artillery; three from the three schools already mentioned and a wreath of poppies from “C” Coy. Home Guard, New Cumnock.

Major McCall was 52 years of age, and it is scarcely necessary to add, that the sympathy of our entire community is extended to Mrs McCall and the other members of her family in their so tragic bereavement.

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