Lance Corporal Isaac Carter


Isaac Carter was born on 11 June 1886 at  Keenaghan, Dungannon, County Tyrone, the third of six children of spade-maker (later farmer) Isaac Carter and his wife Jane (nee Robinson). By 1911 he was living at Gortin, Tullyniskan, County Tyrone, with his parents and one sister and working as a tradesman.

Carter enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Dungannon on 19 September 1910 (No.542), understating his age by three years. He gave his occupation as farmer.

On the outbreak of war, Carter reported for duty at the North Irish Horse depot at Belfast. The Belfast Evening Telegraph of 7 August 1914 reported:

The departure of the local members of the North Irish Horse who have been called to the colours was the occasion of a hearty demonstration at Dungannon Railway Station on Thursday afternoon. The men were in uniform, and were escorted to the train by an armed guard of the Ulster Volunteer Force, comprising the Bush Company of the Dungannon Battalion, under the command of Mr. R. H. Scott, company officer, two of the troopers being officers of the company – viz., Mr. Wingfield Espey, half-company commander, and Mr. Isaac Carter, section leader. Mr. Harry Newell, section leader of "A" Company, Dungannon, also went off.

Carter embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne. Two letters home describing his experiences were published in the Mid-Ulster Mail, on 7 November 1914:

Trooper Isaac Carter, of The Bush, near Dungannon, who is at present with the North Irish Horse at the front, writing to friends in Dungannon, under date of 27th October, says that he was present at the battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat to Paris. He details the business-like way in which the retirement was effected. On the Allies again taking the offensive, he states that the fighting was almost incessent, the troops generally operating for twelve hours at a stretch, Sometimes the men were without food, as it couldn't be supplied to them under the heavy fire of the enemy. Trooper Carter had a wonderful escape, his horse being shot from under him in a charge, while he escaped without a scratch. He states that the enemy are being driven back slow but sure.

... and on 21 November 1914:

Trooper Isaac Carter, of Bush, Dungannon, ... writes to Mrs. Henry Wilson, Roan House, Coalisland. "I received your very kind parcel yesterday (with shirts, socks, cigarettes, matches, handkerchiefs, belt, &c.) and I thank you very much for it. The shirts were very useful to us, as we get no changes out here; we had no changes for two months and never got off our boots or changed shirts. We had a lot to do up to this past fortnight; we left the front this day fortnight; retired back a few miles to rest men and horses as every one of us was done up, as we were fighting since the battle of Mons. We are getting fresh horses and a reinforcement of men, to make up for what we lost. When we get made up we return to the firing line. The Germans are a very cruel lot, killing women and children, also our wounded soldiers that can't get away. The battle field is no place for pleasure; you find it hard to see your comrade cut down beside you and the cries of wounded and dying is not pleasant, but of course we can't take any notice of them. We must fight on and try and cut as many down as possible. We had a church service this morning, but it was short. We were so glad to hear the Word of God preached, it put us in mind of home so much."

On 28 February 1915 at St Omer Carter was awarded 28 days' Field Punishment No.1 and deprived of his lance stripe for "committing a nuisance in the barrack room."

When Carter's period of service expired he chose to leave the army. He left for England on 10 September 1915 and was discharged at Antrim as 'time expired' eight days later. His record of service was marked as "very good". On 25 September the Mid-Ulster Mail, reporting the homecoming of Wingfield Espey, added:

Trooper Isaac Carter, Gortin, Coalisland, has also received his discharge from the North Irish Horse on completion of his term of service and has returned home.

Carter returned to farming and his spademaking trade. On 3 February 1916 he married Isabella Smyth at Newmills Presbyterian Church.

On 31 May 1919 he wrote to the War Office seeking a 1914 Star medal:

I wish to no [sic] if I am entitled to the mons star. I served with the First Exped Force in France from August 19th 1914 to September 18 1915. I got discharged being time expired. I would like you would give this your immediate attention. There is a man has already got it I think I am as well entitled to it as him as I was out before him he is a man of the same regiment as my self.

The medal was issued to him soon after.


Carter's medals, recently offered for sale on an online auction site.