Lieutenant Norman ffolliott Darling



Norman ffolliott Darling was born at Market Street, Lurgan, County Armagh on 18 November 1888, son of medical practitioner John Singleton Darling and his wife Ada Elizabeth Jane (nee Belcher). He was educated at Lurgan College.

Darling enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 8 August 1914 (No.960), just four days after the war began, describing his occupation at the time as 'independent' and 'meteorological'.

He embarked for France on 20 August 1914 with C Squadron of the North Irish Horse, seeing action in the Retreat from Mons and the Advance to the Aisne. On 24 September his officer, Lieutenant Barrie Combe, mentioned him in a letter to his (Combe's) wife:

Greer, McNeil, & the two gentlemen recruits who you saw at the Northern Counties Hotel have proved a great success. They are two of the best men I have got. Also I have a son of Dr Darling in my Troop and a young Coey – all good men.

Combe was killed in action six days later. On that day, Combe and his troop were taking their turn at the observation post overlooking the enemy lines on the Aisne. Soon after midday he was ordered to ascertain whether the Germans had evacuated Condé village, which sat on the far side of the bridge, in the shadow of Condé Fort. Combe set out with Darling, telling his sergeant that no search party should be sent if they did not return. Passing through the line of picquets, they rode to within 200 yards of the bridge. Combe left Darling and their two horses under cover and proceeded on foot. After a couple of hours Darling went in search of his officer. He made his way to the bridge and hunted up and down the river bank but finding no trace, returned to the outpost, reporting the officer's disappearance.

Darling was promoted to lance corporal on 7 December 1914. On 22 July 1915 he was commissioned in the field as a 2nd lieutenant in the North Irish Horse. He was immediately transferred to the regiment's reserve at Antrim.

On 11 January 1916 he embarked for France as one of the officers of E Squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry squadron to the 34th Division. He was promoted to lieutenant on 21 February. The squadron war diary refers to Darling taking ten NCOs and men on a sniping course on 10 February, and to him putting his sniping skills to use in the trenches over ten days at the beginning of April.

On May 1916 his squadron joined with A and D Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment. The regiment served as corps cavalry to VII, XIX then V Corps through 1916 and 1917.

Lieutenant Darling went home on leave in December 1917. While there he fell ill and was admitted to hospital. In February a medical board found him unfit for further frontline service, and he was posted to the reserve regiment of the North Irish Horse at Antrim. In December 1918 to he was posted for duty with the Appointments Department of the Ministry for Labour in London.

He was demobilised on 7 May 1919 and relinquished his commission on 1 April the following year.

Lieutenant Darling died in Belfast on 21 April 1967.

At least three of Darling's brothers also served during the war - Lionel Scott Darling, with the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers and Royal Irish Fusiliers; Owen Darling, with the Royal Irish Fusiliers; and Ronald Harry Darling, with the Royal Irish Rifles. Ronald was with the 14th Battalion of the Rifles when he was killed in action on 16 August 1917.