Corporal Robert Thomas West


Robert Thomas West was born on 6 September 1886 in Bridge Street, Cootehill, County Cavan, the ninth of eleven children of boot and shoe maker (later boot and shoe merchant) Aaron West and his wife Mary Jane (née Lowry). The family later moved to Market Square, Ballyclare, County Antrim. At the time of the 1911 Census, Robert was living as a boarder at 10 John Street, Sligo and working as a commercial traveller.

West enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 14 and 19 January 1915 (No.1406 – later Corps of Hussars No.71376). He embarked for France in the first half of 1916, probably on 11 January with E Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 34th Division.

In May 1916 E Squadron came together with A and D Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX then V Corps.

On 24 July 1916 West faced a court-martial at Pommera, charged with 'wilfully or without reasonable excuse allowing to escape a person committed to his charge, or whom it is his duty to keep or guard'. He was found guilty and reduced to the ranks.

In February-March 1918 the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit. This meant a 25 per cent reduction in the regiment's numbers, and it is likely that this was the time that West was transferred to the 8th (King's Royal Irish) Hussars.

West was wounded by shellfire between August and October 1918 during the Advance to Victory offensive. He was evacuated to the UK where he was admitted to a hospital in Liverpool.

On 7 March 1919 West was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. He was awarded a pension for sciatica, which was found to have been aggravated by his military service.


West's brother Richard Lowry West also served in the war, as an officer in the Black Watch.