Private Robert McAllen Kinnear



Robert McAllen Kinnear was born in the United States of America in 1893 or 1894, one of two children of farmer James Kinnear and his wife Hessie (nee McAllen). The couple had married in Ballymena before emigrating to America. By 1911, however, they had returned to Ireland. The 1911 Census shows James and Hessie living at Kildowney, Galgorm, County Antrim with Robert, their other child having passed away.

Kinnear enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Ballymena on 5 June 1911 (No.617). (He stated that he was born at Craigs, Ballymena.) He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

On 21 November 1914 the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph reported that:

Corporal Kinnear (Glarryford), who is serving on the North Irish Horse, which is acting as body guard to Sir John French, in a letter home to a Ballymena friend, recounts his recent experiences at the front, and some very keen fighting which he has come through.

At around this time Kinnear was wounded in the left foot. He was evacuated to No.14 General Hospital, Boulogne, and to England on 2 December. On 19 December the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph reported:

Corporal Kinnear, North Irish Horse, a native of the Glarryford district, ... is home visiting his friends, and was in Ballymena on Wednesday. Corporal Kinnear was wounded, a bullet passing through his foot in one of the engagements of the war, and was in hospital for some time, but he is now almost convalescent. Corporal Kinnear was warmly welcomed back by his many friends, and the congratulations were many when it was learned that he had got promotion, and is now a sergeant.
[Official records do not support the claim that Kinnear was promoted beyond the rank of private.]

Kinnear returned to his squadron in France in February 1915. A series of disciplinary breaches followed. On 27 April 1915 he was awarded seven days' Field Punishment No.2 for "Leaving his horse ungroomed"; on 6 December 1915 he was confined to barracks for ten days for "disobedience of orders"; and on 23 April 1916 he was awarded seven days' Field Punishment No.1 for being "Absent from Roll Call 8.30pm to 9.20pm".

When Kinnear's term of service ended he chose to leave the army. He left France on 29 May 1916 and was discharged at Antrim as 'time expired' six days later. His record of service was marked as "good".

On 6 September 1921 Kinnear, by then serving as a special constable, married Lizzie McDowell at the 1st Presbyterian Church in Ballymena.

The image of Robert Kinnear, from the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph of 19 December 1914, provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (