Quartermaster and Honorary Captain John Edward Pittaway



John Edward Pittaway was born in Aston, Birmingham, in 1866, son of tailor John Edward Pittaway and his wife Sarah Ann (nee Stiles).

He enlisted in the 10th Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales's Own) in 1884 (No.2091) and served with that regiment until 1902, rising to the rank of squadron sergeant-major. He saw action in the Boer War from 1899 to 1902.

On 27 November 1889 he married Louisa Coe in Birmingham.

When the North of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry was established in 1903 Pittaway became its first regimental sergeant major, remaining in that post when the regiment became the North Irish Horse in July 1908. On 8 January 1913 he became the regiment's quartermaster, with the rank of honorary lieutenant.

On 8 February 1915 Pittaway embarked for Rouen, France, in command of a draft of eighteen men – reinforcements for A and C Squadrons. He then returned to duty at the North Irish Horse regimental headquarters at Antrim. (His time in France was not of sufficient length to qualify him for a 1915 Star or Victory Medal.) He served at Antrim through the remainder of the war.

At the beginning of 1917 Pittaway was mentioned in despatches and on 1 July that year he was promoted to the rank of honorary captain.

Pittaway faced a Medical Board in May 1917, given that he was over 50 years of age. He was found to be "fit for Garrison duty abroad or Home Service but over age for General Service." However another Medical Board in December 1918 found him "fit for General Service". He continued to serve at Antrim until demobilised on 21 July 1919.

After the war Pittaway applied in vain for an officer's pension. He died on 10 March 1921 at his home at Helensvale, Glenburn Park, Cavehill Road, Belfast. He was buried in Carnmoney Cemetery. After much effort his widow, Louisa, was provided a small allowance by the Officers' Association.


The Belfast News-Letter, 11 March 1921


The Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 14 March 1921


Captain Pittaway's son, John Edward, also served in the North Irish Horse, enlisting in March 1914 at the age of 15. He went to France with D Squadron in May 1915 and later served as an officer in the Royal Field Artillery.


Image from the Belfast Evening Telegraph, 12 March 1921, kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com).

Captain Pittaway can also be seen in three pre-war images, here, here and here, and in a newspaper clipping from 1917 here.