Sergeant Richard Frederick Benson


Richard Frederick Benson was born on 13 December 1883 in Georges Street, Dungannon, County Tyrone, the fifth of ten children of summons-server Robert Benson and his wife Mary (née McKee). His mother died when he was just 11 years old. By the time of the 1901 Census he was living at 21 Perry Street, Dungannon, with his father and five of his siblings. In 1907 he emigrated to Canada, settling in Toronto.

On the outbreak of war Benson returned to Ireland, and on 4 June 1915 enlisted in the North Irish Horse (No.1666), probably understating his age by four years. He then went into training at the regiment's reserve camp at Antrim, where he was promoted to the rank of corporal.

On 13 September 1916 he married Annie Kelly in St Jude's Church of Ireland Parish Church, Muckamore. The couple had two children over the next three years.

Benson embarked for France in late 1916 or the first half of 1917, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments, probably B or C Squadron of the 2nd Regiment.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and most of its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Some, however, were found unfit for front-line duty and instead were transferred to the Labour Corps. Benson was one of these – he was transferred on 25 October and issued regimental number 41636.

On 6 December 1918 Benson was discharged, being 'no longer physically fit for war service' (paragraph 392 (xvi), King's Regulations). He was granted a pension due to 'nephritis', which was attributed to his military service.

Following his discharge Benson lived at Riverside, Antrim and worked as a draper. On 4 September 1926 he sailed from Belfast for Canada with his wife and their youngest child, settling, again, in Toronto. He died there in 1956 (see articles below).


Northern Whig, 30 May 1956


At least one of Benson's brothers, Thomas, also served in the war, in the Royal Navy (see article below).


Northern Whig, 28 September 1916