Lance Corporal Albert Alexander Aiken



Albert Alexander Aiken was born on 26 August 1896 at Ballyginny, Kilkeel, County Down, the fourth of ten children of farmer Alexander Aiken and his wife Isabella (nee Haslett/Heslip). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Ballyginny with his parents and five siblings.

Aiken enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 12 May 1915 (No.1535 – later Corps of Hussars No.71427). He embarked for France in 1916 or 1917, probably with E Squadron on 11 January 1916.

In May 1916 A, D and E Squadrons came together to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX then V Corps. In February-March 1918 the regiment was converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

On 11 May 1918, Aiken faced a Field General Court Martial, charged with 'behaviour to the prejudice of good order and military discipline' (s.40 of the Army Act). He was found not guilty.

Aiken saw action with the regiment during the Advance to Victory offensive from August to November 1918. The War Office Daily Casualty List of 31 October 1918 reported that Aiken had been wounded. This was probably on 3 October, when E Squadron was camped east of Epehy, near the German defences on the St Quentin Canal. The squadron war diary recorded:

[1-2 October] Attached 100th Inf Brdge 33rd Division. Sent out a patrol under 2/Lt Downey to reconnoitre Canal de St Quentin ... preparatory to small raiding operations on following night which however never took place.

[3 October] 15 ORs Gassed by gas shelling. Sqdn moved forward to Battn H.Q. owing to report that enemy were retiring. This did not prove to be the case, so Sqdn moved back to previous location and were engaged in afternoon on salvage work.

On 17 November 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

After the war Aiken lived at Murlough Cottage, near Newcastle, County Down. On 10 June 1924 he married Marion McCracken. They later moved to England and opened a hotel in Blackpool.

Aiken died on 28 January 1964 at 304 Church Street, Blackpool. He is buried in the Maghera Churchyard, County Down.


Image and some of the information above kindly provided by Jill Truesdale.