Private Andrew John Harkness


Andrew John Harkness was born on 28 July 1897 at Beltrim, Gortin, County Tyrone, the last of eight children of servant Alexander Harkness and his wife Fanny (née Ballantine). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at nearby Culvacullion, where he worked on the farm of Andrew McCullagh.

Harkness enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 20 and 23 November 1915 (No.1935). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot before embarking for France in 1916 or the first half of 1917, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Harkness, were transferred on 20 September and were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion, joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Harkness was issued regimental number 41296 and posted to C Company.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

Harkness was one of the many posted as missing following the 9th (NIH) Battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive. It was later learned that he had been wounded. He later rejoined the battalion, and was wounded again during the Advance to Victory offensive from August to November 1918.