Private Hugh John Bennett


Hugh John Bennett was born on 25 January 1892 at Ballinode, Monaghan, the third of six children of RIC constable (later farmer) William Samuel Bennett and his wife Annie (nee McIvor). By 1911 he was living with his parents and three siblings at Primrose Hill, Ennish, County Tyrone, and working on the family farm.

Bennett enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Dungannon on 23 October 1912 (No.741).

Although mobilised on 5 August 1914, he was unable to report for duty due to a shooting incident the next day. As reported in the Mid-Ulster Mail:

An alarming shooting outrage is reported to have taken place at Parkanaur, near Dungannon, late on Thursday night. So far as can be learned it appears that Mr. Hugh J. Bennett, of Ennish, who is a trooper of the North Irish Horse, had been in Castlecaulfield paying farewell visits preparatory to rejoining the colours. He was cycling homewards about ten o'clock p.m., when he observed the shadow of a man standing in Hackett's Lane, at Parkanaur. No words passed between them, but as Bennett rode on he saw the flash of a revolver shot, and a bullet passed clean through his left forearm from left to right. A second shot was fired, which passed clean through Bennett's right shoulder from back to front and the shots had been fired at such close range that the clothing opposite both wounds had actually been scorched. Some neighbours about 300 yards in front, hearing the firing – four shots in all, they state, were discharged – halted, and Bennett, despite his injuries, managed to cycle as far as where they were standing, but he then collapsed. He was conveyed into a gatehouse at Parkanaur, and Dr. Garvin, Killymaddy House, promptly applied treatment. The police at Castlecaulfield were also informed, and Sergt. Sweeney and his constables made diligent inquiry into the circumstances, but without obtaining any clue. District-Inspector Barrington, Dungannon, also visited the scene. Young Bennett is a section leader of the Dungannon Battalion Ulster Volunteer Force, and his father is a half-company commander of the Castlecaulfield Company.

The Whig Parliamentary correspondent writes: – In conversation in the lobby Mr. A. L. Horner, M.P., referred with deep indignation to the shooting outrage of which Mr. Hugh J. Bennett was a victim near Dungannon on Thursday. Mr. Horner is well acquainted with and has the greatest esteem for this gentleman. He thinks it possible that the victim was mistaken for his father, whom the member for South Tyrone describes as one of the most active and capable registration agents in Ireland or any other country. Mr. Horner has sent the following letter to Mr. Birrell:– "Dear Mr. Birrell, The outrage upon Mr. H.J. Bennett came too late for me to ask a question in the House of Commons. I have little doubt that the cowardly assailant mistook the son for the father, ex-Sergeant Bennett, who is an active Unionist officer in the South Tyrone section of the Ulster Volunteers. This incident is a curious commentary upon the specious utterances of goodwill we hear on the part of Irish Nationalists. I hope no effort will be spared to bring the criminal or criminals to justice.

Bennett's wounds were not serious and he was able to report for duty on 22 October 1914. However the attack may have brought on a recurrence of childhood epilepsy. A medical board held at Belfast on 12 November found:

[He] states he was subject to fits during childhood up to 9 years ago when they ceased altogether. On the 5th Aug. 1914 was bicycling from Dungannon after a drill with the U.V.F. when he was fired on (revolver) and hit on left arm and right shoulder. He proceeded home and was surgically treated and recovered. He joined his regiment at Antrim on 22nd Oct. 1914. Has had 3 seizures between 5th Aug. and 22nd October and since then has had 4 seizures.

... Is reported to have had severe attack in Antrim Camp on 7th Novr. Was transferred to Belfast on the 11th Novr. and has had no seizure since his arrival. He is in good condition originally and complains of nothing.

Bennett was discharged as permanently unfit under paragraph 154(xi) Special Reserve Regulations on 28 November 1914. His service record was marked as 'very good'.

After the war Bennett returned to farming at Primrose Hill. He married Ethel Victoria Turbitt at Dungannon on 27 January 1931. He was later appointed a justice of the peace, and worked as a rate collecter in addition to farming. He died on 28 January 1961.



Bennett's older brother, Captain William Henry David Bennett, served with the 13th Battalion, Canadian Infantry. He was killed in action on 15 August 1917.


William Henry David Bennett


Images sourced from the excellent website Dungannon War Dead Database, created by the Friends of the Somme, Mid Ulster Branch.