Private Robert Cassidy


Robert Cassidy was born on 17 August 1893 at Kinarla, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, the first of eight children of labourer William Cassidy and his wife Fanny (nee Lee). Around 1899 the family moved to Belfast. By the time of the 1911 Census Robert was living with his parents and six surviving siblings at 13 Clifford Street, Belfast, and working as a general labourer. He later worked as a yardman.

Cassidy enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 13 August 1914 (No.1002). Just seven days later he embarked for France with C Squadron, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

In June 1916 C Squadron combined with F Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men transferred to the infantry. Like most, Cassidy was posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – on 20 September, joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. He was issued regimental number 41290 and posted to C Company. It is likely that he saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

At the end of December 1917 Cassidy was one of twenty-four former North Irish Horsemen who transferred from the Royal Irish Fusiliers to the Tank Corps (No.304846). Following training at the Tank Corps Depot at Bovington near Wareham, Dorset, on 1 June 1918 he was posted to the 15th Battalion, embarking for France on 8 July.

The 15th Battalion Tank Corps saw action at Amiens on 8 August, Albert on 21 August, Second Baupame on 30-31 August and Canal du Nord on 27 September.

Following the Armistice on 11 November Cassidy was posted to 3rd Tank Brigade Headquarters. He returned to the UK on 5 February 1919 and on 7 March was transferred back to the North Irish Horse.

At the beginning of 1918, following his return to England to train with the Tank Corps, Cassidy had been allowed leave to Ireland where, on 2 January, he married Mary Elizabeth Turkington at St John's Church of Ireland Parish Church, Carnmoney, County Antrim.