Private Reginald John Ashman


Reginald John Ashman was born on 5 September 1895 in Newmarket, Cambridgeshire, one of at least nine children of coal miner (later domestic groom) Frederick Emanuel Ashman and his wife Lavinia Matilda (née Howe). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Winston Road, Staindrop, County Durham, with his parents and six siblings, and working in the coal mines as a below-ground pony driver.

Ashman enlisted in the Dragoons of the Line in the early years of the war (No.6080 – later Corps of Dragoons No. D/20327). He embarked for France at the end of June 1916, having been posted to the headquarters establishment of the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment following the formation of that regiment in France from C and F Squadrons and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron. The headquarters, formed in England and comprising 40 officers and men, joined the new regiment in France at the beginning of July.

The 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment served as corps cavalry to X Corps until August-September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Ashman was one of 70 men given the job of conducting the regiment's horses to Egypt, to be handed over for use by mounted units there. They embarked from Marseilles on board HMT Bohemian on 25 August. After a month at Alexandria they returned to France, via Italy. On 5 October 1917 they arrived at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur for infantry training, and after just a few days were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – which had been renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt on 12 October. Ashman was issued regimental number 41617.

No information has been discovered about Ashman's service with the 9th (NIH) Battalion through the latter part of 1917 and during 1918.

After the war Ashman returned to County Durham where, in 1921, he married Sarah A. Stephenson. The 1939 Register shows them living with their children at The Lodge, Little Burstead House, Essex, Reginald working as a groom. He died in Petersfield, Hampshire, on 6 March 1980.