Second Lieutenant James Norman Fulton


James Norman Fulton was born on 24 April 1897 at 9 Laurel Bank, Woodvale Road, Belfast, the first of three children of medical practitioner James Fulton and his wife Mary (nee Campbell). Educated at the Royal Academical Institution, Belfast, by 1911 he was living with his parents and sisters at Woodvale Road.

Fulton enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 8 February 1915 (No.1442). He added two years to his age, as he was only 17 at the time. On 17 November 1915 he embarked for France with F Squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 33rd Division.

In June the following year F Squadron joined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps.

On 16 March 1917 Fulton was found absent from fatigue duty for 1½ hours and was ordered to perform three extra guards. A more serious offence occurred in August that year, when he was "absent off pass" for two days. He was confined to barracks for seven days and lost two days' pay.

In September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was dismounted and most of its men were transferred to the infantry. After training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, the men, including Fulton, were formally transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 September and soon after were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – re-named the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. Fulton was issued regimental number 41207 and posted to D Company.

Fulton applied for a commission in the infantry, with a preference for a battalion of the 36th (Ulster) Division, on 24 October 1917. He left France for the UK at the end of November and, following a period of leave, on 5 April 1918 reported for duty at the No.7 Officer Cadet Battalion at Fermoy. Following several months training he was assessed as having an average standard of education, good military knowledge, and fair power of command and leadership. "This cadet has ability and with a little experience will make a good officer."

On 25 September 1918 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. In late October or early November he embarked for France, where he was posted to the 6th (Service) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. By the time he reached the battalion at Monceau the Armistice had been signed. The war diary of the 6th Battalion notes:

21 officers [were] posted to Battalion and joined for duty between 14th and 30th Nov. With 2 exceptions these officers are just commissioned and entirely without experience as officers.

Fulton left the battalion for home on 17 January 1919. He was demobilised eight days later and relinquished his commission on 1 September 1921.

After the war Fulton went into business in Belfast. He took an active interest in the North Irish Horse Old Comrades Association. During World War 2 he was commissioned as an officer in the Ulster Home Guard, and by the end of the war was lieutenant-colonel commanding the 4th Belfast Battalion. On 29 December 1944 he was awarded an OBE (Civil Division) for his work with the Home Guard.

Fulton died in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, on 17 April 1952. The following notice appeared in the Northern Whig and Belfast Post the next day:

MR. NORMAN FULTON O.B.E., Haberton Park, Belfast, head of the firm J. Norman Fulton, Ltd., electrical engineers, Bedford Street, died yesterday morning. He had been ill for some weeks.

A well-known figure in the electrical trade in Northern Ireland, Mr. Fulton had a wide business connexion. He was an ex-Serviceman, having gone through the first World War with the North Irish Horse, while he served with the rank of colonel in the Ulster Home Guard between 1939 and 1945.

On one occasion Mr. Fulton was official Unionist nominee for Shankill in the Northern Ireland Parliamentary election. For some years he was a member of Shankill Unionist Association.

A member of the Masonic Order, and of the Rotary Club and Malone and Dunmurry Golf Clubs, he was married and is survived by his wife, his mother and two sisters.