Private Gerald Cullen


Gerald Cullen was born on 8 October 1896 at Keigeen [Keadeen?] (some records state Colvinstown), Baltinglass, County Wicklow, the second of ten children of agricultural labourer (and former soldier) Lawrence Cullen and his wife Anne (née Flynn). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at nearby Donard and working as a farm servant on the farm of Mary Deegan.

Cullen enlisted in the Dragoons at Naas, County Kildare, on 18 November 1914 (No.5863). He gave his age as 19 (his true age was 18) and his occupation as groom. He requested that he be posted to his father's old regiment, the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, was supported, as he was "a very good class of recruit and of good character". On 6 May 1915 Cullen was posted to the 2nd Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Aldershot, a unit which trained men for the 2nd Dragoon Guards and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons. On 19 December he was awarded ten days' confined to barracks and lost four days' pay for overstaying his leave pass by four days.

Cullen embarked for France on 30 June 1916, having been attached 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. Cullen 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. Cullen was issued regimental number 41616 and posted to D Company.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

Cullen was one of the many posted as missing following the 9th (NIH) Battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive. It was later learned that he had been captured. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war, held in camps in Germany, including at Stendal.

Following his repatriation Cullen enlisted in the Royal Navy, serving from 14 June 1919 to 13 June 1924.