William McQue AM

b. 06/1866 Ilkeston, Derbyshire. d. 4th Quarter 1911 Staines, Middlesex.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 17/03/1891 Gibraltar.

William was born in Derbyshire, and on leaving school, he became a collier. He then enlisted in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. In December 1895 he married Lilian Carslake in Hythe, Kent. William served in the Boer War reaching the rank of Colour Sergeant and receiving the Queens South African Medal with six clasps. He wass discharged from the Army in 1905, and was employed by the Corps of Commisssionaires. He and his wife lived in Ashford in his final years. He died at The Bungalow, Townsend Road, Ashford at the end of 1911, aged 44.



On the occasion of the sinking of the British steam ship ” Utopia,” through collision, off Gibraltar, on the 17th March, 1891, when 551 lives were lost, a number of boats were put out by the vessels of the Channel Squadron to the assistance of the shipwrecked persons. The launch of Her Majesty’s ship “Immortalite,” while engaged in the work of rescue, fouled her screw, became uncontrollable, and was beaten on to the shore near the breakwater, where she eventually became a total wreck. Two of her crew were drowned, two others swam safely ashore, and the remainder, with eight emigrants from the ” Utopia,” were rescued in an exhausted condition by officers and men of the Port Department and of the King’s Royal Rifles. Among the rescuers, WILLIAM SEED, Chief of Police, and Corporal WILLIAM McQUE, of the Rifles, particularly distinguished themselves. Although the night was intensely dark, with a strong gale blowing and a strong current and heavy sea dashing on the breakwater (which is a low line of jagged rocks, giving no foothold outside the wall of the fortifications), they plunged into the waves with ropes, and, although washed back on the rocks, renewed their attempt until they succeeded in reaching the launch, which was eighty yards off shore, when the rescue was effected.