Private Andrew Averell


Andrew Averell was born on 23 April 1892 at Clontivrin, Clones, County Fermanagh, the fifth of eight children of farmer Adam Averell and his wife Mary Jane (née Ballagh). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at nearby Clonmackan with his father and six surviving siblings.

Averell enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Cavan on 17 December 1915 (No.2046). He understated his age by two years and gave his occupation as engine cleaner with the Great Northern Railway. On 27 January 1917 he embarked for France, where he was posted to B or C Squadron of the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, joining it in the field on 3 April.

A month later, however, Averell fell ill. Tuberculosis was suspected, but after a month's treatment in hospital it proved to be bronchitis, and he was able to return to the regiment.

In August 1917 orders were received that the 2nd NIH Regiment would be disbanded and its men transferred to the infantry. Averell 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. Averell was issued regimental number 41584. He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

On 28 December 1917 Averell was one of twenty-four former North Irish Horsemen who transferred from the 9th (NIH) Battalion to the Tank Corps (No.304875). Following training at the Tank Corps Depot at Bovington near Wareham, Dorset, he was posted to the 15th (Heavy) Battalion.

On 8 July 1918 Averell returned to France with the 15th Battalion, operating mostly Mark V* tanks. The battalion saw a great deal of action during the Advance to Victory offensive, including at Amiens (8-9 August), Albert (21 August), Second Bapaume (30-31 August), and Canal du Nord (27 September). Averell was wounded in the right arm on 30 August in the fighting at Vaulx-Vraucourt. The wound was not severe, and after treatment at No.47 General Hospital at Le Treport, on 11 November 1918 he returned to duty with the 15th Battalion.

On 22 January 1919 Averell returned to the UK and on 26 February he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.