Private John Henry Douglas


John Henry Douglas was born on 23 October 1879 in Railway Street, Ballynahinch, County Down, the last of five children of farmer Hugh Robinson Douglas and his wife Jane (née Fishbourne). His mother died when he was just three years old, but his father remarried eighteen months later.

Douglas served for 2½ years during the Boer War in the 60th (North Irish Horse) Company, Imperial Yeomanry (No.30478), raised on 7 March 1900 at Belfast.

Following his discharge he worked as a carpenter in Belfast. On 30 January 1905 he married Catherine Cilleaney at St Anne's Church of Ireland Parish Church, Belfast. They later moved to Banbridge, County Down.

Douglas enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Banbridge on 31 August 1914 (No.1066). On 18 September at Antrim he was fined and admonished for being drunk in camp. A month later he was fined four days' pay and confined to barracks for seven days for being absent without leave.

In December 1914 Douglas embarked for England with D Squadron, where they were billeted at Cople, Bedford awaiting orders for France. While there his disciplinary breaches continued. On 9 February 1915 he was awarded 10 days' Field Punishment No.2 and deprived of 10 days' pay for being insolent to an officer, and on 1 March he lost two days' pay for being absent without leave.

On 19 February 1915 Douglas was informed that the separation allowance paid to his wife had been discontinued, following a police report about her conduct. He asks for details and in March the following report was provided to him, from the RIC District Inspector at Lisburn:

Complaints having been made to the police that a Mrs. Douglas wife of Trooper J.H. Douglas No. 1066 North of Irish Horse was leading an immoral life, and drawing separation allowance, a policeman called at a low lodging house in this town and found Mrs. Douglas in bed with a shoemaker named Gage. From the attached statements you will see that she stayed with Gage in another lodging house kept by Annie Hazely on three nights and on one of these nights attempted to get another man into the house while Gage was asleep. I fear this woman is a bad lot. She tramps the country by day with a child begging, and at night having left the child in a lodging house, she goes out soliciting men. The child is not her own and she is not drawing any separation allowance in respect of it.

It appears that Douglas was allowed leave to Belfast, but was there charged with being drunk on 30 March. He returned to Cople five days late, forfeiting five days' pay, plus another 14 days for the offence in Belfast. Sent back to Antrim, on 14 May Douglas was awarded 10 days' Field Punishment No.2 and lost five days' pay for being absent without leave until apprehended by civil police in Belfast, after being refused a pass.

Later that month Douglas fell ill. On 27 May he was admitted to hospital in Belfast, remaining there until 28 July, when he was transferred to Portobello in Dublin, then to the Royal Infirmary.

Discharged on 11 September, he returned to the North Irish Horse depot at Antrim, but was twice more disciplined for being absent without leave. On 3 November 1915 Douglas was discharged for misconduct (paragraph 392 (xi), King's Regulations). His military character was recorded as 'bad'.

By September 1920 Douglas was living at 84 Circus Street, Liverpool.