Private William Carlisle


William Carlisle was born on 20 March 1878 at 16 Langford Street, Belfast, the third of seven children of labourer James Carlisle and his wife Hannah (née Rutherford). It is probable that he served in the army in the 1890s and early 1900s. By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 18 Dewey Street Shankill, Belfast, with his older brother David, and working as a general labourer.

On 25 December 1912 he married Martha Seeds in the Albert Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast. The couple had three children over the next five years.

Carlisle enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 5 October 1914 (No.1262). He embarked for England with D Squadron in December that year. On 5 March 1915 while in training at Cople, Bedford, he faced a court martial charged with 'escaping or attempting to escape from confinement'. Initially sentenced to 42 days' detention, it appears that he successfully appealed.

Soon, however, he fell ill, suffering from 'general debility' resulting from dysentery contracted during his earlier military service. On 24 April 1915 he was discharged, being 'no longer physically fit for war service' (paragraph 392 (xvi), King's Regulations). He was granted a pension, his level of disability assessed at 40 per cent as late as August 1920 (although it improved in the following years).

Following his discharge Carlisle worked as a packer and lived with his family at 47 Crosby Street, Belfast.


At least one of Carlisle's brothers, Robert, also served during the war, in the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. The Northern Whig of 9 May 1916 reported that:

Mr. William Carlisle, 47, Crosby Street, Belfast, has been advised that his brother, Robert, a rifleman in the Royal Irish Rifles, is in hospital in England. He is wounded in the head, and is also suffering from the effects of gas. He has nine years' service, and was in Aden at the outbreak of hostilities.