Private Samuel Burnside



Samuel Burnside was born on 18 August 1890 at Edenbane, Desertoghill, County Londonderry, the fourth of six children of farmer James Burnside and his wife Elizabeth (nee Winchester). His father died when he was just three years old. By 1911 he was living at Edenbane with his mother and four of his siblings and working on the family farm.

Burnside enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 24 February and 3 March 1914 (No.912). He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action in the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

In May 1916 A Squadron joined with D and E Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment.

In September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was dismounted. Its men, and a number from the 1st Regiment, were retrained as infantrymen and absorbed into the 9th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, part of the 36th (Ulster) Division. (The battalion was re-named the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion, RIF.) Private Burnside and the majority of his NIH pals joined the battalion on 20 September after a period of training at Le Havre. He was given the number 41289 and posted to C Company.

The battalion twice saw action during the Battle of Cambrai in November/December 1917. During the German spring offensive of March 1918 the battalion was forced to retreat from St Quentin almost to Amiens, losing heavily on the way. During that retreat (27 March) many of the battalion were forced to surrender at Erches, near Roye, when they were overwhelmed by the fast-moving German advance. Burnside was one of them, captured unwounded.

Red Cross records show him held at Bohain-en-Vermandois in France (May 1918), at Giesen in Germany (June 1918), and at Heilsberg, Sagan, East Prussia (August 1918). He was repatriated to Ireland in early January 1919.

On 20 September 1922 he married Sara Adams at Coleraine and a few years later they emigrated to Australia, living in Melbourne, where Samuel worked as a carpenter.


Image of Private Burnside kindly provided by Alexander Caldwell.