Second Lieutenant Robert Craigan

 

 

Robert Craigan and his twin brother John were born on 10 June 1891 at Magherascouse, Newtownards, County Down, the last of four children of National School teacher John Craigan and his wife Eliza (nee Mulholland). Educated at Belfast Mercantile College, on the outbreak of war he was working as a warehouse assistant for the firm John Lytle & Sons Ltd., Victoria Street, Belfast.

Craigan enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 20 August 1915 (No.1721 – later Corps of Hussars No.71520). He embarked for France on 22 March 1916, where he was posted to A Squadron, joining it in the field at Humbercourt a few weeks later. On 4 June 1917 he was appointed to the post of unpaid acting lance corporal.

On 31 May 1917 Craigan applied for a commission in the infantry, with a preference for the 12th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He left France the following month and after a short period of leave, on 3 July reported for duty at the 25th Reserve Brigade at the Curragh.

Craigan began his officer training at No.17 Officer Cadet Battalion at Rhyl on 9 November 1917. After several months he was assessed as having a good education, and fair military knowledge and power of command and leadership. "Inclined to be slow. Physical Training and Topography weak. Has shown improvement in general work. A good type of cadet."

On 1 May 1918 Craigan was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was posted to the 1/8 Battalion, joining it in France in September or October 1918. (The battalion had arrived in France from Italy on 19 September.)

Craigan saw action in the last weeks of the Advance to Victory offensive. On 23 and 24 October the 1/8 Battalion took part in an attack on Pommereuil (east of Le Cateau, France) and the territory beyond it. Although successful, they lost 58 other ranks killed, wounded or missing, and three officers wounded. It is likely that Craigan was one of the three officer casualties. On 24 October he was admitted to a Red Cross hospital in Rouen suffering from a head wound.

Craigan recovered, and was demobilised on 12 April 1919. He relinquished his commission on 1 September 1921. After the war he returned to business in Belfast. In 1925 he was appointed manager of the Ulster Automobile Club, the local branch of the Royal Automobile Club, serving in that role for many years until his retirement.

He died at Belfast on 25 September 1980.

 

Ballymena Weekly Telegraph 13 February 1926

 

Belfast News-Letter, 4 February 1939

 

First image from the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph of 26 December 1925.