Private Robert Beckett



Robert Beckett (or Bickett) was born on 1 May 1891 at Ballymagin in the Lurgan district, County Down, one of seven children of farmer Thomas Bickett and his wife Sarah (nee Halliday). By 1911 he was living at Annaghanoon, Waringstown, County Down, with his parents and a brother and working on the family farm.

Beckett enlisted in the North Irish Horse in August or September 1910 (No.531). He embarked for France from Belfast on 20 August 1914 with C Squadron, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

In June 1916 C Squadron joined with F Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, which was employed as Corps Cavalry to X Corps until August 1917.

In September 1917 the 2nd Regiment was disbanded and the men absorbed into the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – subsequently known as the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion, part of the 36th (Ulster) Division. Private Beckett was given No.41474 and posted to B Company. He probably saw action in the Battle of Cambrai.

In March 1918 the Battalion was involved in the retreat from St Quentin during the German Kaiserschlacht Offensive. Beckett was captured with many others of the battalion at Erches on 27 March. He was held until the end of the war at Gustrow POW Camp.


Image kindly provided by Ivan Minnis.