Private John Sands


It is likely that this North Irish Horseman was the John Sands (or Sandes) born in County Armagh around 1879, one of at least two children of engine driver John Sands. On 7 October 1899 he married Rebecca Jane Sparks at the Church of Ireland Parish Church in Lurgan. The couple had five children before Rebecca's death in June 1908. John married Minnie McMurray on 23 October 1909, the couple having six children over the next eight years. By the time of the 1911 Census he was living with his wife and two children at Claytown, Lurgan, County Armagh, and working as a cambric weaver. Soon after, they lived at Victoria Street.

Sands enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 29 November 1911 (No.628 – later Corps of Hussars No.71047). He embarked for France with C Squadron on 20 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

During that period Sands was wounded in his right ankle. The Belfast News-Letter of 16 October 1914 reported:

Writing to his brother, Mr. Samuel Irwin, Waringstown, Sergeant Richard Irwin, of the North Irish Horse, who is serving at the front, says:- "I am in the very best of health and spirits, and so are all the boys of the Waringstown troop with me, except John Sands, of Victoria Street, Lurgan, who was wounded in the foot.

Sands later suffered a fractured shoulder, though the date and circumstances are not known at present. He did not recover sufficiently from his injuries to return to frontline service, and in January 1918 (with two other North Irish Horsemen) was transferred to the Labour Corps (No.531432) – working in a home service company.

On 25 October 1918 he was discharged, being no longer physically fit for military service (paragraph 392 xvi, King's Regulations).

On 26 June 1919, however, Sands re-enlisted, joining the Northumberland Fusiliers (No.90057). He served overseas, probably in the Army of Occupation in Germany, until he was once again discharged as no longer physically fit on 27 October 1919.