Sergeant Hugh Nesbitt Ashcroft

 

Hugh Ashcroft (rear) 1912

 

Hugh Nesbitt Ashcroft was born at Urble, Coagh, County Tyrone, on 19 February 1887, son of servant and later horse trainer and farmer William Ashcroft and his wife Sarah (nee Toss).

He enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 6 July 1908, the day the regiment was formed from its predecessor the North of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry (No.137 – later Corps of Hussars No.71007). His brother Albert also served in the regiment.

Ashcroft embarked for France on 20 August 1914 as part of C Squadron, North Irish Horse. He served with the regiment through the war.

On 28 November 1914 the Mid-Ulster Mail reported that:

Driver W. J. Arbuthnott, of the North Irish Horse, son of Mr. W. J. Arbuthnott, Drumbonaway, writing to a friend says:--"... I have come through a few battles safely. All the rest of the boys are well and doing good work at the front, especially the Cookstown chaps. We are very well looked after with food and clothes, and we never want for anything, and not one of the Cookstown party of the North Irish Horse has got a wound, though all have shown up bravely at the post of duty. Sergeant Ashcroft, John Maxwell, Samuel Espey, Willie Crooks, Willie Anderson, George Henry, and Albert James McKenna, are the Cookstown fellows in the same troop as me.

On 31 December 1914 the Belfast News-Letter reported:

Sergeant Hugh Ashcroft, of the North Irish Horse, spent a week's furlough with his father and friends at Carryhill, Coagh. The sergeant, who has been on duty in France since August, was one of the troop who formed the escort to the King when in France, and he was one of the two sergeants who were presented by his Majesty with pipes as souvenirs of his visit, the other recipient being Sergeant Munford, a Ballymena man. Sergeant Ashcroft told our representative that he had felt very fit during his four months' campaigning. The North Irish Horse had an early experience of active service when they formed the rear-guard to a column of infantry in the retreat from Mons. Since then they had been on outpost duty, scouring the woods for Uhlans, one squadron forming the bodyguard to Sir John French and another squadron – to which Sergeant Ashcroft is attached – being bodyguard to General Smith-Dorrien.

The Irish Times published a letter from Captain Herdman stating:

We had a busy time when His Majesty was here, supplying guards. Two of our sergeants had the honour of being attached to him as orderlies, and were presented by him personally with pipes on his departure, of which they are naturally very proud.

The Mid-Ulster Mail of 25 March 1915 reported:

Sergeant H. Ashcroft, of C Squadron, North Irish Horse, at the front, writes as follows to Mr. Thomas Ferguson in acknowledgement of a parcel of comforts, provided by the recent concert at Tamlaghmore:--"Just a line to thank you for your welcome parcel. The cigarettes were great, and the boys from Coagh and Cookstown district appreciated them very much. There is no stuff we get out here like the Irish stuff we get from home, so I am thanking you on behalf of the boys of my troop and myself.

On 18 August 1916 the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment's war diary noted:

F.G.C.M. held on Sergt Ashcroft N.I.H. Accused was acquitted.

Ashcroft had been accused of drunkenness.

In the latter part of 1918 he was awarded a Special Reserve Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

Sergeant Ashcroft was transferred to Class Z Army Reserve on 7 February 1919.

 

The image above is from a photograph of regimental sergeants at the Murlough Camp in 1912. See full picture here.