Lance Corporal Albert James McKenna


Albert James McKenna was born on 31 January 1896 at Drumullan, Magherafelt, County Londonderry, the first of two children of labourer Albert McKenna and his wife Mary (nee Carleton). By 1911 he was living with his parents and brother at Tievenagh, Coagh, County Tyrone, and working as a labourer.

McKenna enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 22 January and 19 March 1913 (No.795). He embarked for France with C Squadron on 20 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

On 28 November 1914 the Mid-Ulster Mail reported that:

Driver W. J. Arbuthnott, of the North Irish Horse, son of Mr. W. J. Arbuthnott, Drumbonaway, writing to a friend says:--"... I have come through a few battles safely. All the rest of the boys are well and doing good work at the front, especially the Cookstown chaps. We are very well looked after with food and clothes, and we never want for anything, and not one of the Cookstown party of the North Irish Horse has got a wound, though all have shown up bravely at the post of duty. Sergeant Ashcroft, John Maxwell, Samuel Espey, Willie Crooks, Willie Anderson, George Henry, and Albert James McKenna, are the Cookstown fellows in the same troop as me.

In fact McKenna had left France for the UK on 22 November, presumably either sick, wounded or injured. He quickly recovered and on 28 April 1915 returned to France with a small reinforcement draft for A and C Squadrons.

On 2 October 1915 the Mail reported:

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.

On 11 December 1916 McKenna transferred to the Military Mounted Police (No. P/5852) and was promoted to the rank of lance corporal. He remained with that regiment until the end of the war.