From the outbreak of the War until early 1916, six North Irish Horse Squadrons saw
service beyond Irish shores.
A Squadron embarked from Dublin for Le Havre on 17 August 1914, serving as GHQ Troops
until 4 January 1916, then as Divisional Cavalry to the 55th Division until 10 May
B Squadron moved from Derry to Antrim in December 1914 and in August 1915 was attached
to the 59th Division in Hertfordshire. In May 1916 it was re-designated as F Squadron
and apparently returned to Antrim.
C Squadron landed at Le Havre on 22 August 1914. Initially serving as Divisional
Cavalry to the 5th Division, the Squadron joined A Squadron at GHQ on 12 October
1914. From 14 April 1915 to 10 May 1916 it served as Divisional Cavalry to the 3rd
Division, then briefly with the 49th (West Riding) Division and 36th (Ulster) Division.
D Squadron joined the 51st (Highland) Division at Bedford before sailing for France,
arriving at Le Havre on 2 May 1915. The Squadron served with the 51st Division until
E Squadron joined the 34th Division as Divisional Cavalry in June 1915, landing at
Le Havre on 12 January 1916.
F Squadron moved to Salisbury Plain in the first half of 1915 to join the 33rd Division
as Divisional Cavalry. The Squadron landed at Le Havre on 17 November 1915, serving
with the 33rd Division until 16 May 1916, when it joined the 49th (West Riding) Division
and then the 32nd Division four days later. On 25 May 1916 it was re-designated as
During the first year and a half of the War, individual cavalry Squadrons had been
assigned to Army Divisions. In mid-1916 this was replaced with a system of Corps
Cavalry Regiments, each Regiment comprising three squadrons and a headquarters.
On 10 May 1916, A, D and E Squadrons of the North Irish Horse formed the
1st Regiment North Irish Horse, which was attached to the Army's VII Corps.
On 21 June 1916 the 2nd Regiment North Irish Horse was formed from C and B (formerly
F) Squadrons of the North Irish Horse, and the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons (Service
Squadron), and was attached to the Army's X Corps.
(The Inniskilling Squadron had been formed in October 1914 from volunteers of the
Inniskilling Horse of the Ulster Volunteer Force, and had arrived in France on 6
October 1915, serving as Divisional Cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division).
In 1917, in order to supplement depleted infantry units, it was agreed that six of
the twenty cavalry regiments attached to infantry corps would be disbanded and the
men trained as infantrymen. In August 1917 the 2nd Regiment North Irish Horse was
dismounted, most troopers going to base for infantry training, while a party accompanied
their horses to Egypt to hand over to Australian troops before returning for infantry
training. In September and October the troops were absorbed into the 9th (Service)
Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers (108th Brigade, 36th (Ulster) Division), which henceforth
became the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers. The 9th Battalion
had seen much severe action since its arrival in France in late 1915, notably at
the Somme in July 1916 and more recently at 3rd Ypres (Passchendaele), when on 16
August the Battalion lost 36 killed, 323 wounded, 12 cases of shell-shock, 83 missing,
and 2 missing believed killed.
From February to March 1918 the V Corps Cyclist (North Irish Horse) Regiment was
formed from the dismounted 1st Regiment North Irish Horse. Cyclist Regiments were
some 25 per cent smaller than Cavalry Regiments, and therefore a number of officers
and men were transferred to other units. At the same time, the former V Corps Cyclist
Battalion was broken up, with one officer and 24 other ranks transferred-in.
The North Irish Horse A Hundred Years of Service By Richard Doherty Spellmount Publishers Ltd. 2003
The North Irish Horse was created after the Boer War and first saw action in the
early days of the Great War, fulfilling divisional or corps cavalry duties, although
one of its officers earned the VC with the newly-created Tank Corps.
During the Second World War, the Horse was a tank regiment that gained distinction
in Tunisia and Italy. Post-war it was reformed as an armoured car TA regiment that
survives to this day. Its story is one of courage and dedication in the face of danger
(Well worth reading. However, unfortunately what could have been an excellent work,
it is marred by far too many errors.)
Available in the National Library of Ireland Main Reading Room NLI Call No. 3A 2587
Ballymoney Heroes 1914-1918 By Robert Thompson
Ballymoney is a small town in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, and this book provides
a fascinating (and immensley detailed) account of the men from the town who fought
and died during the First World War.
The men fought in British Army regiments such as the Royal Irish Rifles, the Royal
Inniskilling Fusiliers, the North Irish Horse, the Irish Guards, and many others,
and the book lists each of the men in turn, together with what biographical details
are known, and accounts of their wartime experiences.
Available in the National Library of Ireland Main Reading Room NLI Call No. 2B 566
North Irish Horse First World War Memorial Window, Belfast City Hall.