Private William Harkness


This North Irish Horseman was probably the William Harkness born on 3 May 1902 at Craigs, Ballymena, County Antrim, the third of four children of beetler (later linen finisher) Thomas Harkness and his wife Lizzie (née Murdock). His mother died when he was just two years old. By the time of the 1911 Census he was living on the farm of his grandfather at Broughdone, Cullybackey, near Ballymena, with his father, three brothers, and an aunt.

Based on reports in the Ballymena Observer, it appears that William enlisted in the Royal Irish Rifles in the last months of 1917, after his brother had joined the regiment a few months earlier. He was probably discharged soon after due to his age – 15 years.

In September 1918 he enlisted again, this time with the North Irish Horse. Nothing more is known of his service with the regiment.