Private William Cunningham


It is likely that this North Irish Horseman was the William Cunningham born on 11 December 1892 at Drumullan, Magherafelt, County Londonderry, to domestic servant Margaret Cunningham. By the time of the 1901 Census he was living with his grandmother, farm servant Margaret McKenna, at Tullyweery (Red Row), Coagh, County Tyrone. The 1911 Census shows him living with farmer John Berkley and his family at Dufless, Tullaghoge, County Tyrone, and working there as a servant.

On 12 February 1914 Cunningham married Catherine Marshall at St Andrew's Church of Ireland Parish Church, Ardtrea. Their child, Joseph William, was born at Moneymore, Magherafelt, on 14 April 1915.

Cunningham enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 2 and 5 April 1913 (No.825 – later Corps of Hussars No.71118). He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

A report in the Ballymena Observer of 12 February 1915 quotes a letter of thanks from Cunningham for comforts sent to the men at the front:

Received your welcome present alright, and I am very thankful to you.

On 2 October 1915 the Mid-Ulster Mail reported that:

Trooper W. Cunningham, North Irish Horse, whose home is in Drapersfield, arrived home on the 16th for a short leave, and left again on the 20th. he went out to France with the first contingent, and saw a good deal of fighting in the earlier stages of the war. During recent months he has been on Sir John French's bodyguard. He was looking very fit and in good heart, after over a year on active service. His immediate chums in France are Troopers Wesley McClelland, Hiram Irwin, John Marks, Joseph MacKenzie, Wm. Anderson, and A. J. McKenna, and these were all well when he left.

Cunningham remained with the regiment throughout the war. On 6 May 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.