Corporal William Dawson Brennan


William Dawson Brennan was born on 18 February 1898 at 147 Blythe Street, Belfast, the second of eleven children of locomotive fireman James Brennan and his wife Rebecca (nee Dawson). By 1911 he was living with his parents and seven siblings at 99 Donegall Avenue, Belfast.

Brennan enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 28 and 31 May 1915 (No.1643). He must have overstated his age, as he was just 17 at the time. He embarked for France with F Squadron on 17 November 1915.

In June 1916 F Squadron joined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps. In August 1917 orders came that the regiment would be dismounted and its men transferred to the infantry. Brennan was one of 70 men given the job of conducting the regiment's horses to Egypt. 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. After just a few days they were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt on 12 October. Brennan was issued regimental number 41568. His subsequent experiences in the war are not known.

On 11 March 1919 Corporal Brennan was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

After the war Brennan worked as a locomotive fireman. On 9 August 1921 he married Mabel Gibson Smith at the Antrim Road Baptist Church, Belfast, He died on 27 December 1983.


On the balance of probabilities Brennan is the man in the picture below (right). It was taken with fellow Horseman George Honer at Bethune between December 1915 and April 1916. The only other possibility is Herbert Brennan.



Image sourced from Richard Doherty's The North Irish Horse: A Hundred Years of Service.