D Squadron North Irish Horse


This diary covers the period from just before the Squadron embarked for France on 30 April 1915 to 30 April 1916. During this time it operated as 51st (Highland) Division Cavalry Squadron. On 10 May 1916 the Squadron joined A and E Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 1st Regiment North Irish Horse, VII Corps Cavalry Regiment. The diary was written and signed by its commanding officer, Major the Honourable A. Hamilton Russell.

The diary is sourced from National Archives document WO 95/2854. This includes two versions, one more detailed than the other.  The more detailed version is shown here, with any additional or alternative information from the shorter version shown in brackets { }. All are in the same hand, the shorter version signed:

A Hamilton Russell Major
O.C. "D" Sqn

War Diary
from May 1st 1915 to Dec 31st 1915
(Volume I)


May 1915


Southampton. 5 AM. One half the men of D Sqn North Irish Horse, together with all Sqn Horses under Major Hon A. Hamilton Russell, 2nd Lt. J.C.G. Kirkpatrick and 2nd Lt. W. Murland on board the Anglo-Canadian left Southampton at 6 P.M & arrived at Havre at 11 A.M. 2-5-15. The remaining men of the Sqn under Major Holt Waring, 2nd Lt J.V. Adair & 2nd Lt. L.C. Wise on board the Empress Queen left Havre [sic] at 7 P.M 1-5-15 and arrived at Havre at 7 a.m. 2-5-15. – Men & horses disembarked at once & rested at the docks during the day. at 10 P.M. 2-5-15 the Sqn entrained at Havre station leaving at 1 a.m for Berguette – arriving there at 12 midnight 3/4-5-15 and detrained in heavy rain, Busnes was reached at 5 a.m. 4-5-15 and the men billetted in barns, the Sqn horse lines being placed in 2 orchards. – the Division (51st) being directly under the orders of G.H.Q. on the 9.5.15 a very violent attack was begun by the British in the neighbourhood of Festubert – the Indian Army Corps being engaged. This engagement lasted 4 days but no great success was obtained. – The Road from Berguette to Busnes was good.

{"D" Sqn North Irish Horse 51st (Highland) Division left Cople (Bedford) on the 30-4-15. under Major Hon[oura]ble A Hamilton Russell arrived at Southampton 6 a.m. 1-5-15. Embarked at Southampton at 4.P.M in two transports and arrived at Havre at 6. A.M. – 2-5-15. – Entrained at 10 P.M. 2-5-15 and arrived at Berguette at 12 midnight 3/4-5.15. proceeded at once to Busnes. The Squadron consists of the following officers – Major Hon[oura]ble A Hamilton-Russell, Major Holt Waring, 2nd Lt. J.C.G. Kirkpatrick, 2nd Lt. W. Murland, 2nd Lt. J.V, Adair, 2nd Lt. L.C. Wise. 141 N.C.O's & men 158 Riding & Draught Horses. Interpreter H. Martin Zédé joined the Squadron on disembarkation at Havre on the 2-5-15. At Busnes the 51st Division remained in reserve directly under G.H.Q.}


Pradelles. 3 P.M. The Division marched north on the 14-5-15. The Sqn marching at 9 a.m. via St. Venant – Hazebrouk to Pradelles, the Division now coming under the orders of G.O.C. Indian Army Corps ({Lt. Genl.} Sir J. Willcocks {commanding}) – the Road was in good order. Men were billetted in 3 barns, the horse lines in an open grass field. Water for horses obtained in a local pond. Drinking & cooking water from local pumps.
Ref. map 1/40 000 Bethune.



La Gorgue. 11 a.m. At 6.a.m. 19-5-15 the Sqn marched to La Gorgue (via Vieux Berquin) the roads somewhat cut up by motor traffic – the Sqn bivouacked near a powder factory S of the La Gorgue – Merville Road. Major Holt Waring left the Sqn during this march & proceeded to take over "C" Sqn North Irish Horse attached to the 3rd Divn in the neighbourhood of Bailleul. Capt E King King transferred from C Sqn North Irish Horse joined D Sqn this day from C Sqn.


Hinges. At 10 a.m. 20-5-15 The Sqn marched via Paradis to farm North of the La Bassée Canal, ½ mile N of Hinges. The Road used being a 2nd Class Road & in fair order, arrived at billets 3 P.M, the men billetted in a barn, horses in an open grass field.

{On the 20-5-15 the Division moved south D.H.Q. being at Locon. "D" Sqn N.I.H at Hinges (North side of La Bassée Canal)}


The 2nd & 9th Divns were relieved by the Highland (51st) & Canadian Divns. – the Divn moved into the 4th Army Corps Command (Lt. Genl Sir H Rawlinson). The Sqn remained ½ mile N of Hinges until the 1-6-15 when it marched to Carvin.

During this month the weather remained fine & warm. There were occasional showers but not sufficient to damage the roads to any great extent.
Ref. map 1/40 000 Bethune.


June 1915


Carvin. 5 PM. The Squadron marched at 2.30 P.M 1-6-15 to Carvin, arrived at 5 P.M. – route taken partially along canal bank. – roads dry & in good order. The Squadron lines were situated in a shady orchard good water obtained from small stream, the men in barns. On this day the Prime Minister motored through a part of the 51st Divisional area & addressed the troops.

{Carvin. 3 P.M. On the 1-6-15 the division joined the 4th Army Corps (Lt. Genl Sir H. Rawlinson). On this date the Sqn moved to Carvin (near Robec) remaining there until the 21.6.15.}



[14.6.15] Le Touret. 6 PM. Two troops under Capt E. King King moved via Locon to Le Touret, bivouacking in the neighbourhood of the farm to act as prisoner's escort. These two troops were relieved on the 16th by remaining 2 troops under Major Hon A Hamilton Russell on 16-6-15. These troops returned to Carvin on the 18-6-15. No prisoners were handed over to O.C. Sqn during these 4 days.

{During the period 14/17 [June] there was a big British attack at Festubert and two troops were employed to form a prisoner's escort at Le Touret.}




[21.6.15] La Pannerie. 2 P.M. Sqn marched via Bois de Pacault to La Pannerie at 10 a.m. Horse lines situated in open grass field W of village, men in a barn. – Roads dry & in good order.
On the 24-6-15. certain units of the Division started to move to Estaires & the Divn came into the command of the Indian Army Corps.

{Le Pacault. 21.6.15. 11 A.M. The Sqn moved on the 21-6-15 to Le Pacault & thence on the
25-6-15 to Neuf Berquin (near Estaires) & were under command of the Indian Army Corps.}



Neuf Berquin. 2.30 p.m. At 9 a.m. 27-6-15 the Sqn moved north via La Gorgue to Neuf Berquin arriving 2.30 P.M. a Heavy thunderstorm fell during this march. – the roads were in good order. Horse lines in an orchard, on the north of the Neuf Berquin – Estaire Road. – Horses were watered in the Canal at La Gorgue – Drinking water was scarce, obtainable in small quantities from Pumps in the locality.
Ref map 1/40 000 Bethune.



On the 30-6-15 Capt E. King King left for the base to attend a medical board. He was suffering for Debility & eventually vacated to England.

The weather during June (1-25) was extremely hot & dry, no rain falling. on the 25th a severe thunderstorm succeeded by others on the 26th & 27th broke the weather.


July 1915


Neuf Berquin. Working parties of up to 100 men in the support trenches & for the construction of trenches to carry a subterranean telephone wire from advanced D.H.Q. to the Bde H.Q's in case of an enemy attack were found by the Sqn on the 3rd-6th-9th-10th-12th-13th-15th-16th-17th-18th-19th-20th & 21st of this month. – This work was one to three miles East of Laventie.
2nd Lt. W Murland & 2nd Lt. J.V. Adair & 4 N.C.O.'s were instructed in "Bombing" at the bomb school (154th Bde) at Laventie from 16-7-15 to 23-7-15.

{From the 21st June to 28th July – the Sqn supplied trench repairing & various digging parties by day & by night.}


Berguette. 11 PM. The Sqn marched at 9.30 PM via Merville to Berguette and entrained, proceeding via Boulogne – Abbeville & Amiens to Mericourt St[atio]n detrained at once & marched to Heilly, arriving at 7 PM 28.7.15.

{10 P.M. 27-7-15 The Sqn marched to Berguette Stn. & entrained – proceeded via Calais & Abbeville to Mericourt Sta[tion] arrived there 6 P.M. 28-7-15. detrained & marched the Heilly.}


Martinsart. 10.30 P.M. Major A Hamilton Russell, 2nd Lts J.G.C. Kirkpatrick, J.V. Adair & 60 men were attached to the 152nd Bde {(Brigadier Genl Ross)} & marched at 7 P.M via Albert to Martinsart. The remaining men of the Sqn & horses remained at Heilly under 2nd Lt. W. Murland.


Authuille. 1 a.m. Major Hamilton Russell, two officers & 60 O.R. proceeded at 10 P.M & marched to the Trenches at Authuille & were attached to the 1/8 Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders (Lt.-Col Campbell com[man]ding). These trenches were taken over this night from the 116th French Regiment.
Ref Map 1/40 000 Bethune. Ref Map 1/100 000 Amiens.



August 1915

The Sqn horses Remained at Heilly. on the 5-8-15 they moved to Franvillers. The Sqn officers & 60 O.R. in the trenches near Authuille came out of the trenches at 8 P.M. 13-8-15 being relieved by 3rd Lancers (Skinner's Horse). – During their period in the trenches (30-7-15 to 13-8-15) their casualties were one slightly wounded by a dropping bullet. this man, Pte McGivern, a sqn cook, being in a Reserve trench. During this period, there was a considerable amount of rifle fire especially early morning & evening, & some shelling by both artilleries of reserve trenches, the fire trenches not being shelled at all, & no trench mortars or bombs thrown by enemy. The 111th Reserve Regt was said to be in trenches of the enemy opposite to our own. The Trenches in the neighbourhood of Thiepval Chateau were shelled by our artillery. At 1.30 a.m 14.8.15 we met our horses at R[ailwa?]y Br[idge?] W of Albert & marched to Behencourt, rejoining the remainder of the Sqn, which had moved from Franvillers to Behencourt on the 13.8.15.
24.8.15. Major Genl Bannatyne-Allason C.B. handed over 51st Div to Major Genl C.M. Harpur C.B D.S.O & returned to England & took of the 61st Divn. [Note: repeated below in September with different date.]
On the 27th-28th-29th-30th-31st Aug. The Sqn Furnishing digging parties of 1 off. 50 O.R.'s for construction of trenches West of Albert.
Ref. Map. 1/100 000 Albert.

{5.8.15 1 PM. The Remainder of the Sqn with led Horses moved to Franvillers, the men of the Sqn being attached while in the trenches to the 1/8 Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders. On the 13-8-15 the Sqn was relieved in the trenches by a Sqn of 3rd B.C. Lancers (Skinner's Horse) & being met at Albert at 10 P.M by led horses, marched to Behencourt arriving there 4 a.m. 14-8-15. One man was slightly wounded in the shoulder during the period in the Trenches. On the 8-8-15 2nd Lt T.P.D Sherston joined the Sqn from Antrim. [Note: repeated below in September with different (correct) date.] – while at Behencourt the Sqn supplied occasional Trench repair parties & daily woodcutting parties, built winter stables & made comfortable winter quarters.}


September 1915

Behencourt. The Sqn found a working party of 50 men for the trenches on the 1-9-15. On the 8-9-15 2nd Lt. P. Sherston N.I.H. joined the Sqn from Antrim.
During this month the men of the Sqn were given individual instruction in map reading – riding school – & a weekly scheme. From the 25-9-15 to 30-9-15 a party of 30 men was detailed daily for wood cutting to supply wood required in the trenches.
On 24-9-15 Major Genl Bannatyne-Allason C.B. handed over the 51st Divn to Major Genl G.M. Harpur C.B. D.S.O., returned to England & took over 61st Divn.
On the 25-9-15 The Big attack by the British troops at Loos & the French in Champagne began, which ended in some progress being made by both the British & French, & a few miles of ground recovered from the Enemy.
The weather was fine & warm during the greater part of this month – some wet & cold weather from the 25th to 30th Sept[embe]r.


October 1915

Behencourt. 5-10-15. A draught [sic] of 1 Sergt & 8 O.R. arrived from the base & joined the Squadron.
11.10.15. A draught of 1 Corpl & 9 O.R. arrived from the base & joined the Squadron, bringing the Squadron up to strength.
7.10.15. The Sqn horses were moved from the lines into stables in the village.
9.10.15. The Sqn inspected by G.O.C. 51st Divn.
25.10.15. King George & President Poincaré reviewed the troops of the Xth Corps (5th 30th 51st Divns) a few miles west of Albert.
Working parties in the trenches near Aveluy on 20-10-15 under 2nd Lt P. Sherston & on the 30.10.15 under 2nd Lt. Kirkpatrick.
During the month of October – the Sqn found a daily woodcutting party of 30 N.C.O's & men. they also built stabling – Bath house – covered Latrines – wash house – repaired barns – made beds – & established a canteen & institute in the village.
Fine weather the greater part of this month.


November 1915

Behencourt. During November the daily woodcutting Fatigue party of 30 N.C.O's & men was continued. Work in Behencourt in connection with stabling & making the village comfortable for troops to winter in, was continued. About 700 French troops the 292nd & 326th Regts under Genl Drouot arrived in Behencourt on the 7th. – on the 16.11.15, Major Genl Harpur C.B. inspected the horses & institutes of the Sqn.
Some snow fell on the 17-11.15 & melted on the 20.11.15. There was a hard frost & cold weather on the 28th–29th–30th.


December 1915

Behencourt. During December (1-20) – 30 N.C.O's & men were employed in woodcutting daily. Septenville.
On the 26.12.15 The Squadron {left Behencourt &} marched via Molliens-au-Bois to Septenville {the 51st Divn being withdrawn from the line & retired to rest in a back area}, a 2nd Class Road in Fair condition. Training – schemes – drill & musketry were carried out during this month. A Sqn of South Irish Horse (Major Stern in command) attached to the XXXIInd Divn succeeded the Sqn at Behencourt & took over the stables – baths – beds – canteen etc which the Sqn had made.
Septenville a small village ½ mile S of Rubempré consists of 3 farms & a shooting lodge. nothing had been prepared by troops previously billetted there for the comfort of troops during the winter months.
Weather during December was on the whole mild – fine.
Ref Map Amiens 1/100 000.


January 1916

FROM Jan 1st 1916 to Jan 31st 1916

Septenville. During Jany 1916 The Sqn were stationed at Septenville and continued their training while the Division remained in reserve. on the 12/1/16 The Divisional area was inspected by the C-in-C & G.O.C. 3rd Army. The division during this month {4-1-16} came into the Command of the XIIIth Corps and Lt. Genl Congreve V.C. The Sqn was employed in making road reconnaissance reports of the divisional area.
The weather was fine on the whole & mild for the time of year.


February 1916

D Sqn N Irish Horse


Septenville. D Squadron, North Irish Horse were quartered at Septenville in the commune of Rubempré from the 26.12.15 to the 8-2-16. The horses belonging to 1, 2 & 3 troops in under the shelter of outhouses – No.4 troop in the open in an orchard. The men were billetted in barns. Water drawn from a well 250 ft deep was good for men & horses.


Corbie. 8-2-16. The Sqn under orders of G.O.C. 152nd Bde marched via Molliens-au-Bois – St. Gratien – Querrieux to Corbie. The 51st Divn still remaining in Reserve. – D.H.Q. at Daours. The Squadron were billetted in Rue Victor Hugo – Corbie, the men in 3 sheds at the East end of the street, the horses in the open on the bend of a stream running Parallel to the Somme River Canal – the conditions were unfavourable for horses – the horse lines deep in mud. Snow fell to the depth of 4" on the 23/24 but rapidly melted on the 25th & 26th. The Div during this month came into the command of the XVIIth Corps.


Flesselles. The Sqn marched at 8.15 a.m via Daours – Amiens to Flesselles. The march of the Division on this occasion being conducted by groups – each group under a commander – the Sqn N.I.H. & Cyclist Co. forming one group. Flesselles was reached at 2 P.M. weather fine. Road good. – The men were billetted in the Rue D'Amiens in barns – Horses in orchard near the Road. – Good water was obtained from wells in the neighbourhood of Rue D'Amiens.


March 1916

From March 1st 1916 to March 31st 1916



Flesselles. The Sqn continued their training from 1st–5th March – on the 6-3-16 they marched via Naours–Valenciennes–Candas to Hardinval. – road in fair order – very cold – some snow showers. Remained at Hardinval 7th & 8th & did some musketry.


Sericourt. On the 9-3-16 the Sqn marched via Occoches–Barly–Bonnières–Frèvent to Sericourt, Road in fair order – very cold north wind – snow lying about. The Division commenced taking over their new line from Neuville St. Vast (inclusive) to Roclincourt (exclusive) from the French (46, 45 & 48 Brigades) on the 9/10 completing it on the 13/14 – on the 10-3-16 the Sqn found guides for reinforcements arriving at Railhead (Bouquemaison). Railhead moved to Aubigny on the 11-3-16. – on the 11-3-16, 1 N.C.O & 1 man went to Wisques to attend a Hotchkiss gun course, returning 18-3-16.


Berlencourt. On the 12-3-16 the Sqn moved via Frèvent to Berlencourt, a first class Road the greater part of the way in good order, Billets were dirty & bad, horse lines in a filthy state.


Tilloy-les-Hemaville. On the 14-3-16 the Sqn marched via Ambrines–Sir Simon–Izel-le-Hameau to Tilloy-les-Hemaville, 2nd Class road in good order – met 2 Batt. Art[iller]y (French) & Ambulance Train (French) moving west. – fine & warm. – billets were fair.


Vandelicourt. On the 15.3.16 the Sqn moved via Berles to Vandelicourt – road in good order. Men billetted in huts, horses in open – fine & warm.


Vandelicourt. On the 16-3-16 2 officers (Lt C.J.G Kirkpatrick & Lt W Murland) with 50 O.R. marched via Etrun to Louez arriving at 7.30 P.M. – proceeded on foot to the trenches to be attached to B & C Companies 4th Gordon Highlanders & take F.8 – F.15 subsector A.i. of the 154th Bde trench line. These 2 troops were relieved with the 4th Gordons on the night of the 22/23 by the 4th Seaforths. The Gordons returning to rest billets at Etrun & the N.I.H. meeting their horses at Louez at 12 midn[igh]t, returned to Vandelicourt. During the six days the N.I.H. were in the trenches, they had one casualty (Pte Harvey). He was struck in the face & eye by a fragment from a rifle grenade. There was a great deal of work to be done in the Trenches to render them more secure & bullet proof – the trenches being much confused by the continuous fighting that had taken place on previous occasions when held by the French. The dug-outs were deep & good but insufficient in number – our men occupied Dugouts which had been constructed by the Germans & captured by the French. The weather during this week was fine & warm, but colder on the 22nd. – snow fell on the 23rd & 24th & the weather became wild & broken. 1 N.C.O was sent on a course of instruction in Gas – apparatus – remedies on the 29th. on the 31st Lt Adair & troop proceeded to Filliévre to be attached to the 17th Lancers (Indian Cav[alr]y Corps) on a course of one month's instruction. On the 20-3-16 Leave for the Division reopened & the Sqn were permitted to send 1 officer & 5 men every fortnight.


April 1916

From April Ist 1916 to April 30th 1916

Vandelicourt. 3 troops of "D" Sqn N.I.H. at Vandelicourt, 1 troop under Lt. Adair were attached to the 17th Lancers (Indian Cav[alr]y Corps) at Fillièure on the 31-3-16. All Divisional Mtd Troops (Squadrons, D Sqn N.I.H. - 1 Sqn Yorks Hussars - 46th Divn & 1 Sqn Lothian Border Horse - 25th Divn), Cyclist Cos & Machine gun Cos took part in a scheme under the personal direction of Lt Genl Sir J. Byng commanding XVIIth Corps on the 43th & 6th of this month. Capt. V. Lockett 17th Lancers was attached to the Corps H.Q. Staff as instructor of Mtd Troops to introduce a universal method amongst the squadrons. Lt Kirkpatrick & 3 O.R. attended a Hotchkiss Gun course at Camiers from 10.4.16 to 18.4.16. - officers & N.C.Os attended an unsuccessful demonstration of liquid fire (Flammenwerfer) on the 13.4.16. A daily digging party of 20 men were employed in making trenches for a grenade school at Hemaville from the 15-4-16 till the end of the month. Two Hotchkiss Gun courses of 1 officer & 6 N.C.Os & men were trained for 5 days each course - Lt W. Murland & Lt P. Sherston being the officers under instruction. fifteen N.C.Os & men were instructed under the Divl. A.P.M. in Military police & road control duties. Each course lasting fifteen days. Her Majesty Queen Alexandra sent a variety of Gifts to the men of the Squadron on the 4.4.16. - The weather during the first 3 weeks of April was cold, wet & a strong west wind blew daily - the last week of the month was fine, hot with a light east wind. - The battle of Verdun, starting on the 19th of Feb/16 appears to have terminated about the 28.4.16. - The Sinn Fein rebellion started in Dublin on the 24.4.16 is still continuing.



APM Assitant Provost Marshal
Batt Battalion
BC Bengal Cavalry
Bde Brigade
Capt Captain
CB Order of the Bath - Companion
C in C Commander in Chief
Co/Cos Company/ Companies
Col Colonel
Corpl Corporal
DHQ Divisional Headquarters
Divl/Divn Divisional/ Division
DSO Distinguished Service Order
Genl General
GHQ General Headquarters
GOC General Officer Commanding
Hon Honourable
HQ Headquarters
Lt/Lieut Lieutenant
Mtd Mounted
N North
NCO Non-Commissioned Officer
NIH North Irish Horse
OC Officer Commanding
off Officer
OR Other Ranks
Pte Private
Ref Reference
Regt Regiment
S South
Sergt Sergeant
Sqn Squadron
Stn Station
VC Victoria Cross
W West