Private John Alexander


John Alexander was born on 24 May 1887 at Ballyalbanagh, Ballynure, County Antrim, the second of three children of farmer Thomas Alexander and his wife Jenny (nee Dundee). His father died when John was just four years old. He grew up with his mother and brothers at the farm of his uncle Samuel Dundee at Bruslee, Ballylinny. By the time war broke out in August 1914 he was in training as a medical student, as was his younger brother Samuel.

Alexander enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 14 October 1914 (No.1310). He embarked for France on 1 May 1915 with D Squadron.

On 28 June 1916, just prior to the Battle of the Somme, D Squadron was on provost duties for the 46th Division. According to a later report:

While on the march his horse stumbled and fell: he was thrown off, the horse falling on top of him, crushing left leg and breaking both bones.

The injury was severe. After initial treatment at the No.16 General Hospital, Le Treport, Alexander was evacuated to the UK, where he was admitted to the 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester. He remained there until 22 December, when he had recovered sufficiently to return to Ireland.

On 12 March 1917 Alexander was transferred to Class W, Army Reserve. Eighteen days later he faced a medical board at Belfast Military Hospital. The board found:

Evidence of fracture situated lower third left leg. Very bad union of Tibia, and Fibula also badly united. Left foot slightly everted. Considerable swelling around ankle joint. Result of Active Service. Probable duration 1 year – condition will improve.

On 20 April 1917 he was discharged as no longer fit for military service (Paragraph 392 xvi King's Regulations), his military character recorded as 'very good'. "Intelligent, honest, trustworthy and sober".

Alexander slowly recovered. A medical board at Belfast on 19 May 1920 found he needed no further treatment, but with one leg half an inch shorter than the other, he had a permanent disability of 5 per cent.


Alexander's younger brother Samuel Thomas also served in the war, as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

It is likely that Private Alexander was related to the three Dundee brothers, Alexander, Robert and Albert, who also served in the North Irish Horse.