Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Private George Mark



George Mark was born on 3 April 1896 at Alfred Street, Ballymena, the second of four children of factory worker Samuel Mark and his wife Mary Jane (nee Allen). By 1911 he was living with his family at Casement Street, Ballymena, and working as a draper's apprentice. He was later in the employ of Messrs John Wilson & Sons, Victoria Laundry, Harryville and by 1916 was working as a vanman.

Mark enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 28 August 1916 (No.2251). He embarked for France on 20 March the following year, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment.

In September 1917 the 2nd Regiment was dismounted and most of its men, together with some surplus from the 1st Regiment, were trained as infantrymen and transferred to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion. Mark, like most of the others, was formally transferred on 20 September. He was issued regimental number 41562. After joining the battalion in the field at Ruyaulcourt at the beginning of October he was posted to D Company.

Mark probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917. Following the retreat from St Quentin during the German offensive from 21 March 1918 he was posted as missing, but was later located in a military hospital suffering from a wound to his face. He recovered and returned to his battalion at some time in the next five months.

On 4 September 1918 the 9th Battalion took part in an attack south of Wulverghem on the Ypres front. The battalion war diary for the day recorded the action as follows:

8 a.m. Battle. H.Q. was formed at T.10.d.05.80. and under an artillery barrage the battalion, in conjunction with other battalions on flanks, attacked. Good progress was made. 'D' Coy lost direction and got as far as Stinking Farm (U.7.a). Not being protected on flanks the enemy attempted to cut them off and the Coy had to retire. Our line was established from road (T.6.d.35.80) where touch was made with the 30th Div., along hedge running south through T.6.d.4.0 to river in T.12.b then along breastwork trench from T.12.c.50.35 – T.18.a.80.90, with the gap between 'B' and 'A' Coys. D Coy was put in support along road running south through T.6.c and T.12.a. The enemy were not very numerous but their m.g. fire was heavy. The shelling was fairly heavy but was confined to vicinity of St Quentin Cabaret. During the operation Battle H.Q. was moved to T.5.d.80.40. Six prisoners were made, four of whom were sent through 29th Div. on the right. Some of our men on the right were cut off and are thought to be made prisoners. The 29th Div. took Hill 63 but did not come up far enough to cover our right flank. During the day there was an amount of sniping and m.g. fire and the enemy shelled St Quentin Cabaret and T.12.a with 5.9. In the afternoon he attempted a counter-attack by coming up along railway between 'B' and 'A' Coy. but was driven back by m.g. and rifle fire. At dusk our patrols were pushed forward to get the line behind Bristol Castle but were unable to do so owing to m.g.

The 9th Battalion casualties for the day were four officers wounded, and 17 other ranks killed, 67 wounded and 11 missing. Private Mark was one of those killed. Later that month the Ballymena Observer reported that:

Mr. Samuel Marks, Casement Street, Ballymena, has received a wire from the war office stating that his son, Pte. George Marks, Royal Irish Fusiliers has been killed in action on 4th September. The deceased was for some time in the employment of Mr. Adam Gregg, Broadway, Ballymena and was in Scotland for a short period. After returning home he was employed by Messrs. J. Wilson and Son, Victoria Laundry, Larne Street. He joined the North Irish Horse in August 1916 and was transferred to the Fusiliers, going to France in March 1917. After some months he was wounded and on recovery went back to active service.

As he has no known grave, Private Mark is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium, Memorial Panel 9.



Family memorial at Ballymena New Cemetery


Ploegsteert Memorial images Copyright © Phillip Tardif with all rights reserved as set out in this Use of Material policy. Image from Ballymena kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com).