Sergeant William Stevenson, MSM


The background of this North Irish Horseman is not certain, other than that he was born in Donegal in the early months of 1877. He may have been the person (named William James Stevenson) born on 12 February 1877 at Carnbeagh, County Donegal, the first of at least four children of farmer Charles Stevenson and his wife Margaret (nee Irwin).

After initially working as a grocer's assistant, Stevenson joined the Royal Irish Constabulary on 15 April 1899 (No.58851). Over the next fifteen years he was stationed at Clare, Dublin and in Belfast, mostly in the mounted force.

On 7 July 1906 he married Annie Wiggins at Blackhall Place Methodist Church, Dublin. By the time of the 1911 Census the couple were living at Moore Street, Kilrush, County Clare.

Stevenson resigned from the RIC on 8 September 1914 and two days later enlisted in the North Irish Horse (No.1198 – later Corps of Hussars No.71276). He was quickly promoted to sergeant. He embarked for France on 18 December 1914 as the senior NCO in charge of the first party of reinforcements for A and C Squadrons – Stevenson was posted to the former. On 9 January 1915 the Larne Times reported that:

News has reached the city that Sergeant William Stevenson, of the North Irish Horse, is well and doing good work for his country at the front. At the outbreak of the war Sergeant Stevenson was a member of the city R.I.C. troop, and resigned after 17 years' service in order to fight the enemy.

A month later the Ballymena Observer reported that:

Mr. J. Stevenson, Bridge Street, has received the following from Sergeant W. Stevenson, A Squadron, N.I.H. – “I received your parcel of tobacco to-day, and, seeing you are the same name, I feel it my duty to answer. I may say we are having a fine time here in St. Omer, all in the best of form, being from Belfast myself and knowing all the Northmen. I thank Ballymena people on their behalf for presents received.”

On 24 March 1915 he faced a field general court martial at St Omer charged with being drunk while on active service. Found guilty, he was awarded three months' Field Punishment No.1 and reduced to the ranks. (The field punishment was later remitted.)

Stevenson remained with the regiment throughout the war. On 29 April 1916 the Larne Times reported that:

Trooper Stevenson, North Irish Horse, who has been at the front for the past fifteen months, was also a recent visitor to the city, when he received a hearty welcome from his friends at Musgrave Street. Prior to the outbreak of the war the gallant trooper was a member of the mounted force at that station and was one of the first members of the police establishment to resign and join the army.

In June 1917 he was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal "for valuable services rendered with the Armies in the Field."

Stevenson was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 21 February 1919. Two months later he was readmitted to the Royal Irish Constabulary, stationed at Antrim. He remained with the force until it was disbanded in 1922.

On 6 April 1921 he married Kathleen Hill at the Great Victoria Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast.