Private Cecil Kenny Brewer

 

 

Cecil Kenny Brewer was born on 29 June 1896 in West Derby, Lancashire, the first of five children of musician and soldier Frank Allen Brewer and his wife Minnie (nee Kenney). By 1911 he was living with his family at 169 McClure Street, Belfast, and working as an apprentice in the linen trade.

Brewer enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 24 April 1913 (No.837), aged 16. Joining-up with him was his father, Frank Brewer, who was aged 45, but claimed to be just 29.

Cecil embarked for France with C Squadron on 20 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

In June 1916 C Squadron joined with F Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment. In September 1917 the regiment was dismounted and most of its men were transferred to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion. Like most of the men, Brewer was transferred to the battalion on 20 September. He was issued a new regimental number – 41272.

In November and December 1917 the 9th Battalion fought at the Battle of Cambrai, first going into action in the attack on the village of Moeuvres on 22-23 November. The battalion war diary for those days reads as follows:

[22 November] The Battn moved up at 6.30 a.m. to a position N. of Bapaume & Cambrai Road arriving at 8.30 a.m. Here the Battn waited for an order to attack Inchi when Moeuvres was taken by the 12th Royal Irish Rifles. At 11.45 a.m. the 12th R. Ir. Rifles captured village of Moeuvres. It was unable to clear trenches East of village. At 5.30 p.m. Battn moved up to support 12th R. Ir. Rifles in the village of Moeuvres. At 5.45 p.m. 12th R. Ir. Rifles reported driven out of village. At 8.30 p.m. Battn less 'D' Coy counter attacked village of Moeuvres but was driven back to trenches immediately south of the village, where it took up a defensive position for the night.

[23 November] Battn attacked Moeuvres at 10.30 a.m. At 11 a.m. Battn reported in village. At 11.45 a.m. enemy counter attacked from trenches West of village. 12.15 p.m. counter attack driven off. At 4.30 .p.m village evacuated by Battn on account of supports not coming up. 5 p.m. 'C' & 'D' Coys took up position on Sunken Road South of village and 'A' & 'B' Coys went back to trenches North of Bapaume & Cambrai Road.

Casualties for 22nd & 23rd: Officers killed 1. Officers wounded 6. ORs 82 casualties.

Brewer was severely wounded. He was evacuated to hospital for treatment and eventually recovered, though whether he saw further active service in the war is unknown.

On 6 August 1923 he married Annie Davey in Belfast. The couple had one child.

Brewer died at his home, 5 Ormiston Crescent, Belfast, on 10 January 1939, aged 42. He was buried in the Dundonald Cemetery.

The Belfast News-Letter published the following obituary:

Mr. Cecil K. Brewer, whose death occurred at his residence, Ormiston Crescent, Belfast, on Tuesday after a prolonged illness, was for many years a member of the Belfast City Surveyor's staff and subsequently of the City Chamberlain's staff. He retired about four years ago through ill-health. Mr. Brewer was a member of the North Irish Horse, and served with that unit in the British Expeditionary Force at the beginning of the Great War. He was wounded and gassed and suffered from the effects of his experiences long after his return to civil life. He was a member of the Old Contemptibles' Association; of Cliftonville Masonic Lodge and the R.A.C. 424. He is survived by his wife and one daughter.

 

Image, from Belfast Evening Telegraph, kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com).