Private Alexander Thomas Cassels


Alexander Thomas Cassels was born on 13 September 1890 (or 1891) in Riccarton, Ayrshire, Scotland, one of at least seven children of blacksmith Andrew Cassels and his wife Janet.

Cassels enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 6 and 8 October 1915 (No.1739). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot before embarking for France in 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.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Cassels, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Cassels was issued regimental number 41215 and posted to D Company.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

Cassels was one of the many posted as missing following the 9th (NIH) Battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive. It was later learned that he had been captured, wounded in the left side, on 22 March. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war, held at camps in Darmstadt and Lamsdorf.

Following his return to the UK, Cassels was discharged on 9 April 1919. He was granted a pension for nephritis, which was attributed to his military service. He lived at 2a Rosebank Street, Belfast, and 3 Hood Street, Kilmarnock, working as a piano tuner, until 7 July 1928, when he emigrated to Canada.