Private John Crawford


The background of this North Irish Horseman is not clear. According to his service files and other records he was born in 1875 at Kilkeel, County Down, one of at least three children of John, a flax dresser, and Mary Crawford.

Crawford enlisted in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Downpatrick on 23 May 1893 (No.4299). He gave his trade as a flax rougher and stated that he was serving with the 5th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles militia. Initially posted to the 1st Battalion, on 8 February 1895 he was posted to the 2nd Battalion and embarked for India. He remained there with the regiment until 24 January 1902, when he embarked for South Africa.

Crawford returned home on 31 August 1902. He was transferred to the Army Reserve four months later, and was discharged on the completion of his twelve-years' service on 22 May 1905. Despite having eight disciplinary offences against his name, his military character was recorded as 'Very good. ... Has been a smart soldier. ... Accustomed to horses.'

By 1906 Crawford was living at 1 Crampton Court, Carrickfergus, and working as a flax dresser. On 24 February that year he married mill-worker Maggie Turley in St Nicholas Roman Catholic Church, Carrickfergus. By the time of the 1911 Census they were living with Maggie's parents at 12 Lesley Street, Shankill, Belfast, John working as a flax rougher and Maggie as a flax spinner. They later lived at 22 Brookfield Street.

Crawford enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 9 September 1914 (No.1185). On 14 December he was fined two days' pay for drunkenness and absence. He embarked for France with a reinforcement draft for A and C Squadrons on 20 January 1915. It is probable that he was posted to the latter.

On 21 April 1916 he was charged with being drunk while on active service, and was awarded 28 days' Field Punishment No.1 with the loss of 28 days' pay.

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 were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Some, however, including Crawford, were found to be unfit for infantry service (he was aged 42 at the time). On 16 October 1917 Crawford was transferred to the Labour Corps (No.413052). He was posted to No.897 Employment Company at Rouen.

On 28 December 1917 he was awarded 14 days' confined to barracks for being 'absent off convoy duty from 1 am until found in camp at 3 am'.

On 17 March 1918 Crawford was posted to No.898 Employment Company at Rouen. On 2 June he was fined 28 days' pay for drunkenness.

Crawford returned to the UK on 17 March 1919 and on 15 April was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. His military character was recorded as 'good'. He re-enlisted, on 13 October 1919, in the Royal Army Medical Corps (No.206824), serving until he was discharged until 21 January 1920. He was awarded a pension for rheumatism, his level of disability assessed at 20 per cent in October 1920.

On 25 February 1921 Crawford emigrated to New Zealand.