Private Samuel Doak


Samuel Doak was born in November 1873 in Londonderry, one of several children of labourer (later greengrocer) Stephen Doak and his wife Anne (née Holmes). The family later moved to Belfast, where Samuel learned the carpentry trade.

On 20 February 1893 at Belfast, Doak enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons (No.3302) – at the time he was serving in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.

On 2 November 1894 Doak was convicted in a civil court at Liverpool for assault, and was fined 1 shilling and costs. On 13 June 1898 he faced a District Court Martial charged with breaking out of barracks and resisting an escort – he was awarded 84 days' imprisonment.

Doak embarked with his regiment to serve in the Boer War on 23 October 1899. While there he faced a Field General Court Martial for stealing rum and drunkenness – he was awarded one month's Field Punishment No.2. On 11 August 1902, the day after he returned to the UK, Doak quit the colours. He remained in the 1st Class Reserve until discharged when his 12 years' service was up on 19 Feburary 1905.

On 26 July 1907 Doak married Margaret Clarke at St Anne's Church of Ireland Parish Church, Belfast. By the time of the 1911 Census they were living at 14 Hurst Street, Belfast, with Margaret's mother, and two brothers, and working as a carpenter. They later adopted a child named Margaret Clarke, born in June 1913.

Doak enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 25 August 1914 (No.1035 – later Corps of Hussars No.71206). On 1 May 1915 he embarked for France with D Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 51st Division.

On 14 August 1915 Doak was awarded 21 days' Field Punishment No.1 for an offence unfortunately not recorded on his service file.

On 4 January 1916 he was wounded in the forearm and admitted to No.3 General Hospital at Rouen. The wound healed and he was able to return to his squadron, but further disciplinary offences followed. On 11 May 1916 he was sentenced to 28 days' Field Punishment No.1. On 14 September 1916 he faced a Field General Court Martial charged with insubordination and was awarded 2 months' Field Punishment No.1. He was released early, but on 23 October he was again court-martialed, this time for drunkenness. This time he got 90 days' Field Punishment No.1, though this was remitted by 39 days.

In May 1916 D Squadron came together with A and E Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps until February-March 1918, when the regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war. Doak remained with the regiment until 29 April 1918, when he was transferred to the Labour Corps (No.580367).

Doak returned to the UK on 27 February 1919 and on 28 March was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. He was discharged from the army on 31 March 1920, his military character recorded as 'good' (though initially recorded as 'indifferent').

After his demobilisation Doak returned to his family at Hurst Street, Belfast, and resumed work as a carpenter.

He died on 30 July 1941 and was buried in the City Cemetery, Glenalina Extension.


Belfast Telegraph, 30 July 1941