Private James Mitchell Alexander


James Mitchell Alexander was born on 26 July 1895 at 72 Newtownards Road, Belfast, the second of four children of grocer Robert Alexander and his wife Mary Jane (Minnie) Alexander (née Withers). His two younger siblings and his mother had died by the time he was four years old. In 1899 the family moved to The Square, Comber, County Down, the home of James's maternal grnadmother. By the time of the 1911 Census he was living there with his grandmother, two uncles and his brother.

Alexander enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 13 and 15 November 1915 (No.1863 – later Corps of Hussars No.71600). He was one of four members of the North Down Cricket Club to have joined the regiment, the others being his uncle William G.A. Withers, Donald S. Graham and Thomas H. Morrow. The Northern Whig of 19 June 1916 reported that he was one of a number of Horseman who had turned out for Muckamore in a cricket match against Balmoral the previous Saturday. (He was dismissed without scoring.)

Alexander trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France sometime between 1916 and 1918, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment. This regiment served as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps from its establishment in May 1916 until February-March 1918, when it was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

He remained with the regiment throughout the war. On 5 March 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. Following his discharge he returned to Comber and worked as a tea blender. He was awarded a pension, probably due to tuberculosis contracted while serving in the army, his level of disability assessed at 40 per cent in November 1920 and 100 per cent in April 1921.

Alexander died at The Square on 16 February 1922, aged just 26. He was buried in the Comber New Cemetery. The Northern Whig reported under 'Hockey Notes':

There was a very curtailed programme at the week-end, only two senior games being played. North Down were due to play South Antrim at Lisburn, but the match was cancelled owing to the lamentable death of Mr. James Alexander, of North Down. Jimmy, as he was familiarly termed, will be sadly missed as Comber, where he was a great favourite. I knew him well both as a player and a spectator. He was a man for whom I had a most sincere regard, being a sport to his finger tips.

Alexander is listed as a casualty of the war on the North Down Cricket Club's Roll of Honour.



Image sourced from the Billion Graves website.