Lieutenant Howard Gregory McConnell,
IX Corps Signal Company, Royal Engineers.
Lance Corporal Herbert Owen McConnell,
Military Mounted Police, attached Headquarters, 38th Division.
Corporal Wilfred Allen McConnell,
C Battery, CCCXLII (2/1 Cheshire) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.
Driver Basil Arthur McConnell,
66th (2nd East Lancashire) Division, Divisional Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery.
Pioneer Leslie Glencoe McConnell,
The five McConnell brothers were the sons of Gregory and Martha McConnell. Gregory was a builder’s joiner and was born in Northampton, the birth being registered there in the first quarter of 1857. Martha was born in Nottingham around 1860 and their eldest two children, Mary (b. 1884) and Howard (b.1887) were also born in the city. By the time Herbert Owen McConnell (b.1893) was born, the growing family had moved to Leeds and at the time of the 1901 Census, they were living at 3 Beechwood Place, off Cardigan Lane in Burley, Leeds. Another daughter, the final child to the marriage making seven in all, Edna Lucy, was born in 1901 and she was 101 years old when she died in 2003. Between 1901 and 1911 the family removed to 29 Beechwood View.
The McConnell’s had a pre-war connection with the Army through two of the boys being members of Territorial Force units in Leeds. Herbert was the first to join when he enlisted into the 2nd West Riding Field Ambulance of the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Driver in B Section in 1911. This was one of three Field Ambulances which were attached to the 49th (West Riding) Division.
Herbert McConnell was a conscientious member of his unit and he attended annual camps in the summers of each of the years from 1911 to 1914 as well as a nursing course at Leeds General Infirmary in 1912. In civil life he was a dentist’s clerk, and later became a dental mechanic working for Mr Harry H. Spence, an Artificial Teeth maker who had premises on Great George Street in Leeds and also at 13 Cardigan Road, Headingley, close to where Herbert lived. He had also been a member of the Church Lads Brigade which was a leading uniformed youth organisation affiliated to the Anglican Church. The CLB produced at least 18 recipients of the VC during the Great War and is still very much in existence today. When war was declared Herbert McConnell proceeded on active service with his unit and signed the Imperial Service Declaration signifying his intention to go abroad with his unit if it was called upon to go to war. He signed the document at his unit’s war station in Doncaster.
While he was at Doncaster Herbert McConnell was injured while taking a horse drawn cart for repair. The evidence given at the resultant court of enquiry showed that the horse that was used to pull the cart was startled twice by a steam roller and it bolted. Herbert McConnell was unseated and thrown on to the horse’s back but he lost his grip and fell to the ground, being kicked by the horse in the process. Whilst on the ground the cart ran over him too and he sustained numerous cuts and bruises requiring hospital treatment. The court of enquiry ruled that the incident was accidental and unavoidable with no blame being apportioned to anyone.