Private Horace Alderton Sewell



Horace Alderton Sewell was born in Canterbury, England, in 1899, the second of four children of London-born cavalryman (5th Lancers) William Alderton Sewell and his wife Harriett (nee Hill). Around 1909 the family moved to Belfast. At the time of the 1911 Census Horace was living with his parents and siblings at Frederick Street.

Sewell enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 14 April 1913 (No.835 – later Corps of Hussars No 71124). He was only 13 years old at the time, and was probably given the role of squadron trumpeter.

In 1914 Sewell was kicked in the face by a horse, sustaining severe facial injuries. He remained with the regiment throughout the war, but was unable to serve overseas. On 4 April 1919 he was discharged as no longer physically fit for service (paragraph 392 xvi, King's Regulations).

After the war Sewell underwent surgery at The Queen's Hospital in Sidcup, England, which had been established in August 1917 for the treatment of severe facial wounds and was doing pioneering work in plastic surgery under Dr Harold Gillies:

Horace Sewell, who while serving with the North Irish Horse in 1914 sustained considerable facial damage (including the loss of the tip of his nose and much of his septum) after being kicked by a horse, recalls the day that he was consulted on the repair to his nose: "[Gillies] greeting one morning was, 'Well, Paddy, your big day is here. What sort of nose do you think we ought to give you?' He made various sketches of me […] with different shaped noses. 'I'm not fussy, sir.' I said, and he decided I should have a Roman nose, as my face was rather round."
(Reginald Pound, Gillies: Surgeon Extraordinary, 1964, p.58.)

Sewell married Eveline Crawford in Belfast on 15 August 1925. He died at his home, 119 Kingsway, Dunmurry, on 22 February 1973 and was buried in the Dundonald Cemetery, Belfast.


Sewell's father William Alderton Sewell served during the war as regimental sergeant-major of the North Irish Horse.


The image above, showing Sewell after his surgery, and quote from Reginald Pound's book, are from Kerry Neale, Poor devils without noses and jaws: facial wounds of the Great War, Honest History lecture, Manning Clark House, Canberra, 26 May 2014.