Private Victor George Wilson Downey


Victor George Wilson Downey was born on 28 July 1884 at 15 Helmsdale Street, Belfast, the fifth of eight children of solocitor's clerk Thomas Downey and his wife Lizzie (nee Wilson). He initially worked as a linen merchant's clerk, before being employed by the Belfast Water Board.

Downey enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 11 and 30 December 1914 (No.1354). The Belfast News-Letter of 25 January 1915 reported:

Members of the staff of the Belfast Water Office met on Friday evening at a social reunion in the Crown Restaurant in honour of two of their number who have recently exchanged mufti for the all prevalent khaki – Mr. A. Mitchell, of the secretary's office, and Mr. V. Downey, of the rates department, now sergeant and trooper respectively in the North Irish Horse. There was a splendid muster of their former colleagues, every department being represented. Mr. E. Henry presided. At an interval compliment was paid in tangible form to the guests of the evening, who on being made the recipients by the chairman of wristlet watches, were assured by him of the esteem and admiration and best wishes of those with whom they had been associated in the office for so long. Sergeant Mitchell, who has seen previous active service with the North of Ireland Yeomanry in South Africa, and Trooper Downey expressed their grateful acknowledgements in suitable terms.

On 17 November 1915 Downey embarked for France with F Squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 33rd Division. In June 1916 F Squadron combined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men transferred to the infantry. Like most, Downey joined the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – on 20 September. He was issued regimental number 41181.

He remained with the battalion until the end of the war. On 11 February 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

After the war Downey resumed work at the Belfast Water Board, reaching the position of chief assistant to the superintending rate collector by the time of his resignation in 1946.