Private Matthew Cathcart


Matthew Cathcart was born on 29 January 1894 at 13 Ritchie Street, Belfast, the fifth of seven children of railway engine driver Matthew Cathcart and his wife Eliza (née Thompson). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living in Deacon Street, Belfast, with his widowed father, his five surviving siblings, a brother-in-law and two nieces, and working as an apprentice wood turner. By 1915 he was working as a machinist.

On 24 March 1915 he married Ethel Sturgeon at St Barnabus Church of Ireland Church in Belfast. Their child, Thomas Valentine, was born later that year. Ethel died of typhoid fever, aged just 20, on 18 March 1916.

Cathcart enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 30 September 1916 (No.2283 – later Corps of Hussars No.71738). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot before embarking for France in the first half of 1917, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment.

Cathcart was one of ten men of the regiment gassed while on a working party at Ypres on 6 September 1917. It is probable that he did not recover sufficiently to rejoin his regiment at the front later in the war.

On 30 January 1919 he was discharged, being 'surplus to military requirements, having suffered impairment since entry into the service' (paragraph 392 xvi(a), King's Regulations). He was granted a pension due to the effects of gas poisoning, his level of disability assessed at 20 per cent.

On 19 April 1922 Cathcart married Janet Carlisle in Newtownabbey.