Private John Conn


John Conn was born on 15 January 1898 at Tullyvallen, Newtownhamilton, County Armagh, the fifth of eight children of farmer John Hill Conn and his wife Isabella (née Matthews). His father died when he was just six years old. By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Tullyvallen with his great uncle, his mother and his six surviving siblings.

Conn enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 29 May 1915 (No.1689). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp 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 Conn, 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. Conn was issued regimental number 41293.

The 9th (NIH) Battalion saw action during the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917. Following the attempt to capture the village of Moeuvres on 22 and 23 November, on 4 December it was rushed into the line south of Marcoing to help repel the German counter-attack. Conn was severely wounded in the left arm, probably during this latter phase of the fighting.

The arm was amputated, and Conn was evacuated to the UK. On 30 May 1918 he was discharged, being 'no longer physically fit for war service' (paragraph 392 (xvi), King's Regulations). He was awarded a pension due to his wound, the level of disability assessed at 70 per cent as late as November 1922.

After his discharge Conn returned to Tullyvallen. He later lived at Townhill, Portglenone, with his wife Mary Ellen. He died in the Waveney Hospital, Ballymena, on 26 February 1954 and was buried in the Knockbreda Cemetery.


Ballymena Observer, 5 March 1954