Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Private Charles Elder





Charles Elder was born on 22 May 1893 at 34 Parkmount Street, Belfast, the eighth of eleven children of ship caulker James Elder and his wife Annie (nee McKeever). By 1911 he was living with his parents and three of his siblings at New North Queen Street in Belfast, and working as a grocer's assistant.

Elder enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 10 or 11 November 1915 (No.1841 – later Corps of Hussars No.71585). He embarked for France between 1916 and 1918, where he was posted to A Squadron.

In May 1916 A Squadron (with D and E squadrons) formed the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps until February-March 1918, when it was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit. The regiment served as corp cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

The regiment saw a great deal of action during the Advance to Victory offensive from August to November 1918. From 4 November they were involved in hard fighting as the offensive pushed through the Forêt de Mormal. Further progress was made on 7 November, with Eucelin and Pot de Vin taken by the 33rd Division despite cold and a heavy mist, which made it difficult to keep direction and maintain touch with flanking battalions. A Squadron spent the day working as advance guard to 19 Brigade. When they reached the woods to the east of Pot de Vin they came under heavy machine-gun fire. Elder was killed in the ensuing fight. The Northern Whig later reported that:

From a letter sent by his captain it appeared that Elder was killed instantaneously by a shell immediately after the capture of a village.

Private Elder was the last North Irish Horseman killed in action in the war. He was buried near where he fell, north of Pot du Vin (map reference 57A.D.3.c.8.1), the location marked with a cross. After the war his body was exhumed and re-buried in the Dourlers Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France, grave I.D.17. His gravestone inscription reads:

1/71585 PRIVATE



Elder's younger brother William also served during the war, but given his age (he was born in 1900) he was not sent overseas.


Gravestone image kindly provided by Steve Rogers, Project Co-ordinator of the The War Graves Photographic Project, www.twgpp.org. Image of Private Elder from the Belfast Evening Telegraph, 2 January 1919, kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com).