Private Isaac Walker



Isaac Walker was born on 27 July 1888 at Seagoe, Portadown, County Armagh, the fifth of seven children of farmer Watson Walker and his wife Letitia (nee Robinson).

Walker enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 20 August and 16 September 1910 (No.535). He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action in the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

On 13 March 1915 the Portadown News reported that:

Trooper Isaac Walker, on his recent visit brought back a fine pair of ebony drumsticks mounted in aluminium, which were taken from a captured German drummer. He also brought a collapsible silver tumbler of fine workmanship in a leather case, and a pair of massive spurs which belonged to a fallen German officer.

The paper also published a letter from Walker to the Reverend J. E. Archer:

I arrived back here all right, and am going on just as usual, I am sending you a little cutting from the paper which concerns us. Other voluntary regiments claim to be under fire first. It is contradicted and explained, that we were the first to be under fire. I and Walter Vaughan were the ones out of Seagoe Parish who were with the N.I.H. on the retirement from Mons. Milton Boyle, of Drumcree Parish, and William Morton, of Ardmore Parish, were also with us. So there were only four from Portadown serving with the N.I.H. I am glad to say we are all safe and sound yet. We had a Church service today, but I did not get to it. Everyone likes to attend, but we can't all get. I think this is all at present. Thanking you for your kindness. I only wish this war was over till we all get back.

It is likely that at some point Walker returned home, either wounded, ill or injured, and on his return to the front was posted to C or F Squadron, which in June 1916 formed the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment. In September 1917 the 2nd Regiment was dismounted and most of its men were transferred to the infantry. After training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, the men were formally transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 September and soon after were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – re-named the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. Walker was issued regimental number 41299.

In November and December 1917 the 9th Battalion played a role in the Battle of Cambrai. After seeing action in the attempt to capture the village of Moeuvres, on 4 December they were rushed back into the line south of Marcoing to help repel the German counter-attack. The battalion war diary reads as follows:

Arrived in support trenches at 5.30 am the 4th [December].

[4 December] Battn in the trenches south of Marcoing in support of 88th Brigade. Relieved Essex & Hants Batts in front line at 4.30 am.

[5 December] Battn in the line. Capt Flood killed at 9 am by shrapnel.

[6 December] Battn in the line. Two companies in front line one in Support and one in Reserve for use as Battalion counter attack company. Enemy shelling position very heavily. 5 casualties – 4 O.R's

Walker was one of the men wounded at this time. Whether he saw any further front-line service is not known at present, although the date of the image below suggests that he did.


Walker in the tug-of-war team of the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers in 1918


Letter sourced from Richard Edgar, A Call to Arms, Portadown in the Great War. Image provided by Nick Metcalfe.