Private Robert Smith

 

The background of this North Irish Horseman is not known at present, other than that he was the son of James Smith, sexton, and that prior to the war he had worked as a shoemaker.

Robert Smith enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 1 or 2 September 1914 (No.1086 – later Corps of Hussars No.71229). On 1 May 1915 he embarked for France with D Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 51st Division.

In May 1916 D Squadron came together with A and E Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps until February-March 1918, when the regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit. This meant a 25 per cent reduction in the regiment's numbers, and it may have been at this time that Smith was attached to the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers).

Prior to this he had spent time at the North Irish Horse reserve depot at Antrim, where on 9 November 1917 he married Ellen Lowry at the Church of Ireland Parish Church. Their first child, John, was born at Riverside, Antrim, on 17 September 1918.

Smith remained with the Dragoon Guards until the end of the war. On 15 February 1919 he was discharged (another record states that he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 14 March 1919). He was granted a pension, his level of disability assessed at 40 per cent.

Following his discharge Smith lived at 5 Riverside, Antrim. It appears that he died soon after, and his wife was granted a widow's pension, but as yet I have been unable to locate a record of his death.