Sergeant James Coburn

 

 

James Coburn was born on 1 November 1888 at Wateresk, Kilmegan, County Down, the third of five children of farmer William John Coburn and his wife Jane (formerly Magowan, nee Taylor). By 1911 he was living at Wateresk with his parents, sister, half-sister and her son and working on the family farm, his father working as a storekeeper.

Coburn enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Downpatrick on 8 April 1909 (No.353). He was promoted to lance corporal on 7 April 1911, corporal on 27 March 1912, and sergeant on 30 May 1914.

On 17 August 1914 he embarked for France with A Squadron, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

While in Belgium with A Squadron, Coburn had a number of brushes with authority. On 3 December 1914 at St Omer he was severely reprimanded for allowing a disturbance in his troop billet; on 20 January 1915 at St Omer he faced a field general court martial for being drunk in his billet about 8.00 pm on the 15th, for which he was reduced to corporal; and on 25 November 1915 at Blendeques he was reprimanded for disobedience of garrison orders.

On 1 October 1915 he was promoted to lance sergeant.

When Coburn's term of service ended he chose to leave the army. He left France on 30 March 1916 and on 7 April was discharged at Antrim as 'time expired'. His record of service was marked as 'good'.

Coburn died at Wateresk on 7 March 1917 due to chronic nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys). His family believed that this was contracted while he was serving overseas, which may have been the case, as 'trench nephritis' was a not uncommon illness for servicemen during the war. His gravestone (below) reads:

ERECTED BY MRS JANE COBURN IN LOVING MEMORY OF HER SON
JAMES COBURN SERGT NORTH IRISH HORSE
WHO DIED 7TH MARCH 1917 AGED 28 YEARS

Gone but not forgotten

 

 

These images kindly provided by Kenny Cromie.