Second Lieutenant Joseph McCausland Gourley


Joseph McCausland Gourley was born on 5 April 1896 at Carnshannagh, Raphoe, County Donegal, the fourth of ten children of farmer James Gourley and his wife Esther (née McCausland). Educated at the Royal School, Raphoe, at the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Carnshannagh with his parents and seven of his siblings (another would be born later that year).

Gourley enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron at Ebrington Barracks, Londonderry, on 4 March 1915 (No. UD/250 – later Corps of Dragoons No.21273). On 6 October 1915 he embarked for France with the squadron, which was serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division.

In June 1916 the Inniskilling squadron joined with C and F Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps.

Gourley was wounded in action on 5 July 1916. According to the regiment's war diary:

Orders were received from A.P.M. 36th Division at 9 am for the two troops dismounted to report to Capt O'Neill at Lancashire Dump for salvage duty. They carried out this duty bringing in equipment, rifles etc till 1 pm. The men had dinner and were just turning out again when Lieut Seymour received orders from 36th Division to return to Regtl Head Quarters. The men had just started to saddle up when a heavy bombardment of both high explosive, shrapnel & machine guns was concentrated on the Wood. The intensity of the fire necessitated Lt Seymour giving orders for the men to take shelter in some old dugouts & trenches close by. The bombardment lasted for 3/4 of an hour & then slackened but did not entirely stop. Up to now one horse was killed & four wounded. The men were then ordered to saddle up & lead their horses thro' Wood out on to the road and were waiting for the others to join up when the bombardment opened much heavier than previously especially on that part of the road where the men were waiting. Lt Seymour moved off up the road leaving 2/Lt Matthews & Sergt McIlvoy to round up the stragglers in the wood, as by this time horses were very restive and almost unmanagable. Lt Seymour with his party had reached about 1 mile along the road & turned down a lane leaving the horses in charge of Sergt Quinn. Almost immediately a heavy fire was brought to bear on the horses and Sergt Quinn was wounded. The horses stampeded in every direction, some back to Aveluy Wood. Eventually Lt Seymour was able to round up most of this party & got to Senlis. Lieut Matthews & Sergt McIlroy remained behind. Our losses numbered 16 horses killed or wounded and 2 missing. 2/Lt Matthews was wounded severely in the knee from high explosive and Pte Downes, Nicholl, Gourley wounded (hosp) and Ptes Buchanan, 195 Campbell, Totton, 105 Craig, Cpl Dickson, 209 Robinson slightly wounded (duty).

Evacuated to England, on 10 July, Gourley was admitted to the 5th Northern General Hospital in Leicester. Following his recovery he returned to the squadron reserve at Enniskillen. On 27 December he was promoted to lance corporal.

On 6 April 1917 Gourley applied for a commission in the infantry. He commenced training at No.11 Officer Cadet Battalion, Pirbright, on 7 September, and on 30 January 1918 was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant. Posted to the 12th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (in April 1918 absorbed by the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion), on 14 August 1918 he was seconded on probation to the Indian Army Reserve of Officers. He relinquished his commission with the Inniskillings on appointment to the Indian Army Reserve on 29 September, embarking for India, where he was posted to the 2/25 Punjabis. On 26 October 1919 he was released from service and on 1 May 1922 resigned his commission.

Following his release from service Gourley returned to Donegal, where he farmed at Listanna, St Johnston. On 23 October 1924 he married Elizabeth Lyons in the First Ray Presbyterian Church, Manorcunningham. He died at Listanna on 9 July 1956.


Londonderry Sentinel, 19 July 1956


One of Gourley's brothers, James, also served in the war, as a lance corporal in the 11th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (No.15204). He was killed in action on the Somme on 1 July 1916 and is buried in the Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval. Two of his uncles, Samuel McCausland and Joseph McCausland, served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, the former being highly decorated (see article below).


Londonderry Sentinel, 15 August 1918


This page last updated 3 May 2023.