Private George Roberts


George Roberts was born on 20 December 1889 at Glin, County Cork, the third or fourth of ten children of coachman George Roberts and his wife Mary (née McCarthy). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Turfarney, Kilnaseer, Queens County, and working as a servant. He later moved to Belfast, living with his father at 27 Burlington Street.

Roberts enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 1 September 1914 (No.1077). He gave his occupation as groom. Over the next seven months he was punished for five disciplinary breaches. On 10 September at Belfast he was admonished for being drunk in town and disorderly conduct; on 6 December at Antrim he was confined to camp 7 days for not complying with an order and being absent from morning stables; on 1 January, another 7 days confined to camp and loss of 4 days' pay for being absent off pass from 28 to 31 December; on 10 February, 21 days' Field Punishment No.2 for refusing to obey an order and making an improper reply to an NCO; and on 6 April, 7 days' confined to camp and loss of a day's pay for being absent from watchsetting.

On 28 April 1915 Roberts embarked for France with a reinforcement draft for A and C Squadrons – he was probably posted to the former. On 17 August, however, he was admitted to hospital at St Omer suffering from varicous veins. Nine days later he was evacuated to England, where he was admitted for treatment to a hospital in Cambridge.

After the condition improved, Roberts returned to duty at the North Irish Horse base depot at Antrim. More disciplinary breaches followed, however. On 26 November 1915 he was admonished for creating a disturbance and striking a comrade; four days later he was awarded 14 days'confined to camp for irregular conduct; on 31 December he was given 10 days confined to camp and lost 5 days pay for being absent off pass; and on 24 January, 7 days confined to camp for being absent from morning stables. On 4 February 1916 he was tried by a District Court Martial for drunkenness, resisting an escort, and offering violence to his superior officer. He received 56 days' detention (later remitted by 9 days).

On 6 June 1916 Roberts married Mary Long at St Anne's Church of Ireland Parish Church, Belfast. The couple had two children over the next four years.

Roberts returned to France on 16 January 1917, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments. His varicous veins continued to trouble him and he was twice hospitalised in the following months.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Roberts, however, was found physically unfit for infantry service, and on 10 October he was transferred to the Labour Corps (No.380535), where he was posted to No.176 Labour Company.

On 14 January1918 he was fined 4 days' pay for being absent from parade and giving an improper reply to an NCO.

Roberts was posted to No.824 Area Employment Company on 2 May 1918, remaining with that unit until 20 October 1918, when he was returned to England and admitted to the Sobraon Military Hospital in Colchester.

On 6 March 1919 Roberts was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. His military character was recorded as 'fair'. He was later awarded a pension for 'disordered action of the heart', which was attributed to his service.

After the war Roberts lived with his wife and children at 4 Carlton Place, Cork, and worked as a railway porter.