Corporal Joseph Ernest Stafford


Joseph Ernest Stafford was born on 30 November 1891 in Belfast, the first of eight children of fireman (later assistant superintendent in the Belfast Fire Brigade) James Stafford and his wife Minnie (née Law). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living in the Belfast Corporation Fire Brigade Station in Chichester Road with his parents and six surviving siblings, and working as an apprentice clerk.

Stafford enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 11 December 1915 and 3 January 1916 (Regimental Number one of the following – 2044, 2045, 2048 or 2051. Later in the war he was issued Corps of Hussars No.71681). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France sometime between 1916 and 1918, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment. This regiment served as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps from its establishment in May 1916 until February-March 1918, when it was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

Exactly when he served overseas is not clear, but it may not have been until 1918. An article in the Lisburn Standard of 30 March 1917 reported on:

... a patriotic concert in Market Square schoolroom on Friday evg. by the North Irish Horse Concert Party from Antrim, ... the merry musical combination gave of their very best, to the huge delight and appreciation of a very large audience. ... With the exception of songs delightfully rendered by Miss Coulter all the items were given by the soldiers or, to give them their full title, the North Irish Horse Glee Singers, trumpet calls and cornet solos lending a pleasing variety. In addition to the numbers, both grave and gay, rendered by the Glee Party, individual items were contributed by the following, each and all of whom had to respond to imperative encores: -- Miss Coulter, Trumpeter Brewer, Corporal Stafford, Private Holton (a local man), Sergeant Harvey, Trumpet-Major Woodford, Lance-Corporal Bradley, Lance-Corporal Thomason, Private Rutherford.

On 14 November 1917 Stafford married Margaret (Madge) Wilson in the Newtownbreda Presbyterian Church. Their first child, Raymond Baxter Stafford, was born two years later.

On 8 March 1918 the Ballymena Observer reported on a military concert at Antrim, Stafford being one of the performers named.

Stafford was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 2 May 1919. By 1938 he was living at 4 Portland Avenue, Glengormley, and working as a salesman. He died there on 5 November and was buried in the City Cemetery, Glenalina Extension.


Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 9 November 1938