Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Private James McArow



James McArow was born on 24 December 1889 at Mulrod, Derrybrusk, Fermanagh, the first child of farmer Michael McArow and his wife Bridget (nee Maguire).

He enlisted in the North Irish Horse on its creation at Newbridge on 6 July 1908 (No.164), probably having also served in its predecessor, the North of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry.

McArow embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, playing a role in the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne. In October 1914 he and fellow Horseman Private Colquhoun were awarded a French decoration, the Medaille Militaire, “in recognition of their gallantry during the operations between 21st and 30th August”.

At the end of October he became ill and was sent home to recover. While there he was interviewed by the Belfast News-Letter:

Story of a Bayonet Charge.

Private McArow, of Tamlaght, near Enniskillen, who was decorated with the Medaille Militaire by the French Government for distinguished service and valour, has been invalided home with rheumatic fever.

In the course of an interview with our correspondent, he gives particulars of an exciting encounter which the North Irish Horse had during the retreat from Mons. One very dark night they were pegging down their horses in [a] garden, preparatory to retiring for the night’s rest in some hay lofts, when suddenly bullets whistled overhead. Lord Cole, who was in command, shouted to Lieutenant Hughes: “Get your men out, Hughes.” The men readily responded, and fixed bayonets. They advanced through a field of vegetables in the direction from which the sound of firing came, and then heard the cheers of the 2nd Inniskillings and Cameron Highlanders as they charged the enemy. Lord Cole ordered the charge, and the North Irish Horsemen answered with cheers, and rushed forward along with the infantry. The Germans did not wait, but took to their heels. The Horse then retired that night a further ten miles, escorted by the two foot battalions, and thus gained a short respite from the pursuing Germans. Private McArow says – “Lord Cole is grand, and so are all our officers, and we would follow them anywhere. There was only half our lot covering the retreat from Mons, the other half acting as escort to General French.”
(Belfast News-Letter, 6 November 1914)

After he recovered McArow returned to his squadron in France. In September 1915 his period of service expired, but rather than opt for a discharge and return home, he signed-on for the duration of the war.

In April 1916 he once again became ill, this time with ‘spotted fever’, a tick-borne disease. He was evacuated to the 19th Casualty Clearing Station at Doullens, but died on 27 April 1916, aged 26. He was buried at Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No.1, Somme, France, grave I.D.15. His gravestone inscription reads:

27TH APRIL 1916


Private McArow was survived by his brother John and sister Sarah. His mother had died in 1900 and his father in November 1915. His sister was married on 3 May 1916, at about the same time as news of James’s death would have reached home.


Belfast News-Letter, 27 October 1914


Belfast Evening Telegraph, 11 May 1916




Gravestone images Copyright © Phillip Tardif with all rights reserved as set out in this Use of Material policy. Clippings kindly provided by Nigel Henderson (see Fitzroy Presbyterian Church: Wartime Service and Sacrifice).