Major David Alfred William Ker



David Alfred William Ker was born on 28 November 1878 at Montalto, Ballynahinch, Co. Down, the son of 'gentleman' Richard William Blackwood Ker and his wife Edith Louisa (nee Rose).

Ker was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers) on 3 November 1900, and was promoted to lieutenant on 20 November 1901. He served at Bangalore, Madras, until 1904 when he returned home as a result of illness. He resigned as a regular officer and on 20 May 1905 joined the North of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry.

Ker transferred to the North Irish Horse on its formation in July 1908. He was an accomplished amateur boxer, as this account from a regimental training camp attests:

On one occasion when boxing was going on, Mr. Ker commanding No.1 Troop, “D” Squadron, came down and after watching one bout dominated by a farrier sergeant, put on the big 8 oz. gloves himself and challenged any man to take him on, promising £5 to anyone who could land a real punch on him.

Mr. Ker was well over 6 feet in height and broad in proportion, and while there were one or two takers there were not any winners of £5.

(Memories of the North Irish Horse, Charles D. Trimble)

Following the outbreak of war, Ker embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action in the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne. He was promoted to captain on 1 September, the Belfast News-Letter carrying the following article:

Lieutenant D.A.W. Ker, of the North Irish Horse, whose promotion to the rank of captain was announced in yesterday’s issue of this newspaper, is the son of Captain R.W.B. Ker, D.L., late of Montalto, Ballynahinch. He served for some years as a subaltern in the 6th Dragoon Guards, is the tallest man in the North Irish Horse, standing 6ft. 4½ins., and is a well known heavy-weight amateur pugilist. Since joining the North Irish Horse Captain Ker has done duty with the D (Dundalk) Squadron.
(Belfast News-Letter, 22 October 1914)

Ker was promoted to the rank of major on 18 November 1915, soon after marrying Anna Jessy, eldest daughter of Mr John N.G. Pollock DL of Mountainstown, near Navan, Co. Meath.

On 24 November 1917 he was posted to the First Army for duty with the Artillery Horse Lines, serving with the 116th Heavy Battery, 83rd Brigade of the Royal Garrison Artillery. The following July he was appointed Adviser in Horsemastership at XVII Corps Headquarters. Following the war he was Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette 5 July 1919).

He was demobilized on 10 July 1919, but continued as an officer of the North Irish Horse until he reached the 50 year age limit on 28 November 1928, when he relinquished his commission. He had been awarded an OBE (Civil Division) in the King’s Birthday Honours of 1923.

Ker’s post-war addresses included Portavo, Donaghadee, Co. Down, and Mountainstown, Navan, Co. Meath. He died on 13 June 1954, aged 75, and was buried in the cemetery of Magheradroll Church of Ireland, Ballynahinch.



Pre-war cap believed to have been owned by Ker, recently sold at auction.


First image shows Ker with officers of the North of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry in 1905; second image with officers of the North Irish Horse in 1910.