Private John Aiken


John Aiken was born on 4 June 1895 in Henry Street, Ballymena, the seventh of nine children of shoemaker Robert Aiken and his wife Matilda (née Small). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living in Queen Street, Ballymena, with his parents and four of his seven surviving siblings, and working as a telegraph messenger.

Aiken enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 19 and 28 October 1915 (No.1758 – later Corps of Hussars No.71543). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France sometime between 1916 and 1918, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment. This regiment served as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps from its establishment in May 1916 until February-March 1918, when it was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

Aiken remained with the regiment throughout the war. On 19 November 1918 he was treated for four days at No.3 Casualty Clearing Station, suffering from influenza. He was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 16 February 1919.


Aiken's brother William also served in the war, in the Army Service Corps (Motor Transport).