Private James McVicker


James McVicker was born on 3 April 1896 at 50 Bann Street, Belfast, the second of nine children of labourer James McVicker and his wife Margaret (née McAuley). At the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 15 Raleigh Street, Shankill, with his parents, his three surviving siblings, and an uncle, and was working as an apprentice tenter.

McVicker enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 27 January 1915 (No.1426). He was described as being 5' 7½" tall, with brown hair and blue eyes. He gave his occupation as a blacksmith's helper.

On 17 November 1915 he embarked for France with F Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 33rd Division.

In June 1916 F Squadron combined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men transferred to the infantry.

Like the majority, McVicker was transferred to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – but later than most, between 24 October and 26 November 1917. He may have been ill at the time the main transfer took place. He was issued regimental number 41637.

He may have seen action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917, but by March 1918 had returned to the UK, where he was posted to the 10th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, at Armagh.

McVicker was reported to have deserted from Armagh on 1 April 1918, but had rejoined the regiment within a month. He subsequently returned to France, where he was posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. He was reported as missing during the Advance to Victory offensive from August to November 1918. This may indicate that he had been made a prisoner of war.

Following his return to the UK after the Armistice, on 27 March 1919 McVicker was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

On 30 August 1919 he married Elizabeth Graham in the Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church, Belfast. At the time he was living at 19 Foyle Street and working as a smith's helper. When their first child, Agnes, was born in January 1920 James was working as a labourer, but in March the following year, on the birth of Samuel Alexander, he recorded his occupation as a cabinet maker.


This page last updated 16 February 2024.