Private John Craig

 

The background of this man is not clear, other than that he was from Newbliss, Clones, County Monaghan (although according to another record he was from Glasgow). The Northern Whig of 26 July 1916 stated that he gave his address as Newbliss when he enlisted, but that he "formerly belonged to Cootehill", County Cavan. On that basis he may have been the John Craig shown in the 1911 Census as living at 75 Bridge Street, Cootehill, aged 22, son of widow Annie Craig, who was working as a general dealer.

Craig enlisted in the 6th(Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron on 3 November 1914 (No. UD/105). On 6 October 1915 he embarked for France with his squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division.

In June 1916 the Inniskilling squadron joined C and F Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps. On 5 July 1916, while engaged on salvage duty at Aveluy Wood, Craig was wounded when his party came under heavy artillery fire. According to the regimental diary:

Orders were received from A.P.M. 36th Division at 9 am for the two troops dismounted to report to Capt O'Neill at Lancashire Dump for salvage duty. They carried out this duty bringing in equipment, rifles etc till 1 pm. The men had dinner and were just turning out again when Lieut Seymour received orders from 36th Division to return to Regtl Head Quarters. The men had just started to saddle up when a heavy bombardment of both high explosive, shrapnel & machine guns was concentrated on the Wood. The intensity of the fire necessitated Lt Seymour giving orders for the men to take shelter in some old dugouts & trenches close by. The bombardment lasted for 3/4 of an hour & then slackened but did not entirely stop. Up to now one horse was killed & four wounded. The men were then ordered to saddle up & lead their horses thro' Wood out on to the road and were waiting for the others to join up when the bombardment opened much heavier than previously especially on that part of the road where the men were waiting. Lt Seymour moved off up the road leaving 2/Lt Matthews & Sergt McIlvoy to round up the stragglers in the wood, as by this time horses were very restive and almost unmanagable. Lt Seymour with his party had reached about 1 mile along the road & turned down a lane leaving the horses in charge of Sergt Quinn. Almost immediately a heavy fire was brought to bear on the horses and Sergt Quinn was wounded. The horses stampeded in every direction, some back to Aveluy Wood. Eventually Lt Seymour was able to round up most of this party & got to Senlis. Lieut Matthews & Sergt McIlroy remained behind. Our losses numbered 16 horses killed or wounded and 2 missing. 2/Lt Matthews was wounded severely in the knee from high explosive and Pte Downes, Nicholl, Gourley wounded (hosp) and Ptes Buchanan, 195 Campbell, Totton, 105 Craig, Cpl Dickson, 209 Robinson slightly wounded (duty).

Craig returned to his squadron soon after.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and its men were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Craig, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Craig was issued regimental number 41377.


He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

In January 1918 Craig fell ill and on 1 February he was evacuated to hospital in England. He returned to France on 29 July. It may have been at this time that he was posted to the 5th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. On 27 September 1918 he was wounded in the left leg during the Advance to Victory offensive.

Craig re-enlisted in the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 16 May 1919 (No.7042137). On 30 June 1921 he was discharged for misconduct (paragraph 392(xiii), King's Regulations).