Second Lieutenant Hugh Alexander Annesley



Hugh Alexander Annesley was born on 27 February 1891 at 16 Ferndale, off Lisburn Road, Belfast, the second of four children of saddler William Henry Annesley and his wife Margaret (née Mitchell). Educated at Malone National School, he then served a five-year apprenticeship as a warehouseman with the Belfast firm Kirk & Partners. By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 12 Lisburn Avenue with his parents and siblings.

Annesley was a skilled footballer, playing back for Cliftonville then Glentoran in the years just prior to the war.

On 24 May 1915 he enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim (No.1589). The Sport newspaper (Dublin) noted on 29 May:

Jack Cowell, the Celtic centre, has joined the North Irish Horse at Antrim. ... On Monday last Anesley [sic], the Glentoran back, and Wilkin, the Cliftonville outside left, forsook civilian life and joined the North Irish Horse at Antrim. Of course, both the latter are amateurs, so that the only pro to join since the close of the season is the Celtic centre.

Annesley trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot before embarking for France on 17 November 1915 with F Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 33rd Division. In June 1916 F Squadron combined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps.

In late September 1916 it appears that he fell ill. Evacuated to the UK on 4 October, he was treated at the Scottish General Hospital in Edinburgh before being released for light duty later that year. He returned to his regiment at the front in the first half of 1917.

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 Annesley, 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. Annesley was issued regimental number 41538.

On 5 October, however, Annesley applied for a commission in the infantry, with a preference for the Royal Irish Rifles. He embarked for the UK soon after, and on 8 February 1918 reported for duty at the No.7 Officer Cadet Battalion, Fermoy.

Although he failed to qualify at the War Office final exam, Annesley was recommended for a commission. This took place on 26 June 1918, and he was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Soon after this he embarked for France, where he was posted to the 12th Battalion, but whether he arrived in time to see any action is not known.

Annesley was demobilised on 5 February 1919. He relinquished his commission on 1 September 1921.

Following his discharge he returned to Belfast, living at 100 Wellesley Avenue, Lisburn Road, and working as a warehouseman. On 23 September 1919 he married Anna Isabella Kerr at Fisherwick Presbyterian Church, Belfast.

By 1966 Annesley was living at 47 Cabin Hill Park in Belfast. He died on 20 January that year, and was buried in the Roselawn Cemetery.


Annesley is the player standing far left.



Hugh Annesley (left) with fellow Glentoran player Davy Lyner in Hugh's backyard at Cabin Hill in 1963.


The first image, believed to be Hugh, is from a group photograph of men of the North Irish Horse, which can be seen here. Last image courtesy of Brian McClelland.