Private John Beck


This North Irish Horseman is probably the John Beck born on 12 January 1895 at Hamiltonsbawn, Markethill, County Armagh, the third of six children of farmer and public house keeper Alexander Beck and his wife Sarah (née Gray). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Hamiltonsbawn with his parents and four of his siblings and working on the family farm.

Beck enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 3 September 1914 (No.1114). On 2 June 1915 he embarked for France with a reinforcement draft for A, C and D Squadrons – he was probably posted to C Squadron.

In June 1916 C Squadron combined with F Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men transferred to the infantry. Beck 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. Beck was issued regimental number 41585.

No information has been located about Beck's service with the 9th (NIH) Battalion through the latter part of 1917 and during 1918. On 8 March 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

After the war Beck returned to Hamiltonsbawn. He died there on 8 March 1979.


St John's Church, Mullaghbrack (images sourced from the Billion Graves website)