2nd Lieutenant John Allen French



John Allen French was born on 1 January 1894 at Shankill, Belfast, son of grocer Thomas French and his wife Ann Jane (nee Martin). The family home was at 24/26 Cumberland Street, Belfast.

At the outbreak of war he was working as a bookkeeper in the flax business. He enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 1 October 1914 (No.1231). On 28 April 1915 he arrived in France as part of a reinforcement draft, and was posted to A Squadron. On 23 February 1918 he was promoted to the rank of acting corporal.

In December 1917 French had applied for a commission (claiming his age at three years greater than it was). He was posted to No.7 Officer Cadet Battalion at Fermoy, leaving France on 22 March 1918 and arriving at Fermoy on 10 May.

His officer cadet report assessed him as “not good appearance but has shown much improvement & with experience should make a leader.” Commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant on 30 October 1918, he was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. He was demobilised on 27 January 1919 and relinquished his commission on 1 April 1920.


Image sourced from The Belfast Metropolitan College.