Brief history



First reservists in action

'A' Squadron of the North Irish Horse was the first British army reserve unit to see action in the Great War, just hours ahead of a unit of the South Irish Horse, as attested by North Irish Horse officer Sir Ronald Ross in a letter published in the Belfast News-Letter on 23 August 1938.


First of Reserves to Get Into Touch With Germans

The North Irish Horse was the first reserve regiment to gain touch with the Germans in August, 1914. This is made clear by the following letter from Major Sir Ronald Ross, M.C., in the current issue of "The Field."

"Sir – I have read with great interest the letter from Colonel Burns-Lindow, who commanded that fine squadron which so worthily represented the South Irish Horse in August, 1914, with the B.E.F., as to who would claim to be the first reserve unit 'to gain touch with' the Germans in 1914.

"Certainly the squadron of the N.I.H. under Lord Cole (as he then was) was intended for General Headquarters, whereas the squadron of the sister regiment went to 1st Corps Headquarters, both positions of reasonable security under the conditions of 1914. But if reference is made to the official history – 'Military Operations France and Belgium, 1914,' Vol. 1, at page 148 (footnote) – it will be seen that half the N.I.H. squadron were detached to act as divisional cavalry to the 4th Infantry Division. That half squadron left G.H.Q. on the evening of 24th August, and patrols sent out to gain touch with the 19th Infantry Brigade were under shell fire shortly after noon on the 25th north of Solesmes.

"The half squadron opened fire with their rifles for the first time that evening in a skirmish with a Uhlan patrol east of a village of Broillers, some hours before the action of Landrecies, in which their comrades of the South took part after dark.

"I had always understood that the S.I.H. Squadron had remained with 1st Corps Headquarters till the evening of 25th August, and that Landrecies was their first action.

"I think that probably if you test the matter by which regiment was (a) first shot at, or (b) first to shoot, or even (c) first to suffer a battle casualty, the North Irish Horse would be found to be first.

"It is, however, a somewhat academic question, and the two squadrons came out in the same ship, and their landing and joining up with the B.E.F. was a dead-heat. If, therefore, the honour is shared between the two regiments, now, alas! regiments no more, no one who served in the North Irish Horse would, I am sure, grudge such a division with their old friends and comrades of the South."