Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Private Robert Park




Robert Park (or Parke) was born on 17 December 1888 at Grange, Magherafelt, County Londonderry, the second of five children of farmer John Park and his wife Margaret (nee Hughes). By 1911 he was living with his family at Grange and working as a farm labourer.

Park enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 12 or 13 December 1916 (No.2325). In the first half of 1917 he embarked for France, where he joined one of the squadrons of either the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment.

In September 1917 the 2nd Regiment was dismounted and most of its men, together with some from the 1st Regiment, were transferred to the infantry. After training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, the men were formally transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 September and soon after were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – re-named the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. Park was issued regimental number 41353.

Park was wounded during the Battle of Cambrai in November or December 1917. However he soon recovered and rejoined his battalion.

On 9 April 1918 the 9th Battalion was on the Ypres front when the Germans began their offensive in that sector. The battalion saw severe fighting between Wulverghem and Kemmel for more than a week and suffered many casualties. Park was initially listed as missing between 9 and 19 April, but his death was later accepted. He was possibly killed in the early morning of 18 April when a composite battalion of 400 men from the 9th and 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers, and 12th Royal Irish Rifles, were caught in an enemy bombardment while moving to positions on the western slopes of Mount Kemmel. According to the battalion diary for that day:

2 am. Moved to Kemmel, as composite Bn with 1st R. Ir. Fus. cmd. by Lt. Col. Kelly. Heavy casualties, while moving into position, from enemy shelling. Capt. Despard wounded and died soon after.

... and the 108 Brigade diary:

Battalion moved to Kemmel Hill, but whilst halted near foot of N. slope was heavily shelled, losing Captain Despard killed ... and about 70 other casualties.

Having no known grave, Private Park is commemorated on Panel 141, Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.


Park's older brother, William John, was killed in action on 26 October 1917 while serving with 58th (Central Ontario) Battalion, Canadian Infantry, at Belvue Spur during Third Ypres.



Curran Presbyterian Church


First Magherafelt Presbyterian Churchyard


Memorial images Copyright © Phillip Tardif with all rights reserved as set out in this Use of Material policy. Photograph of Private Park from Nick Metcalfe's Blacker's Boys. Last two images kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, researcher at History Hub Ulster.