Private James Alexander Elliott


James Alexander Elliott was born on 17 July 1888 at Carrickaheenan, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, the first of six children of labourer (also farmer and coachman) Robert Henry Elliott and his wife Ellen Jane (nee Geddes). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living in Eden Street, Enniskillen, with his parents and two siblings and working as a railway porter. He later lived at Lisbellaw, probably working on the farm of his aunt Sarah Geddes at Tattymacall.

Elliott enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Lisbellaw on 16 November 1911 (No.636). He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

In May 1916 A Squadron joined with D and E Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX then V Corps. In August-September 1917 the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment was disbanded and its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the infantry. Most, including Elliott, were transferred to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion, on 20 September. Elliott was issued a new regimental number – 41514.

On 14 November, while with the 9th (NIH) Battalion on the Cambrai front, Elliott fell ill. He was suffering from PUO ('pyrexia of unknown origin', or trench fever), and a fortnight later was evacuated to England. He was treated at Northamptonshire War Hospital, Higham Ferrers Auxiliary Hospital, then at Enniskillen before being released, fit for service, on 11 February 1918.

Initially posted to the 10th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers at Armagh, a fortnight later Elliott was transferred to the 2nd (Home Service) Garrison Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment (No.3198). He left for France with the battalion (soon after renamed the 8th (Service) Battalion) on 14 May 1918. There he was attached to the headquarters of the 121st Infantry Brigade.

Elliott was allowed home on furlough on 10 December 1918. He was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 23 February 1919. His military character was recorded as 'very good'.

After the war Elliott returned to Lisbellaw where, on 16 October 1919 he married Eva Shaw at the Church of Ireland Parish Church. By 1930 he was living in an ex-servicemen's cottage at Drumlone, Lisbellaw. That year he wrote to the authorities asking for a copy of his service papers and character certificate, "As I have in for a job as rural district postman and an ex service man is the only man that will get the job".