Private Andrew Lewis


Andrew Lewis was born on 3 January 1891 at 56 Ninth Street, Belfast, the third of nine children of shipyard fitter (later mechanical engineer) William Lewis and his wife Emily (née Keith). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 88 North Howard Street, Belfast, with his parents and his seven surviving sibilings, and working as a machinist in an iron foundry.

Lewis enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 4 or 5 January 1915 (No.1376). On 17 November 1915 he embarked for France with F Squadron, which at the time was 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 Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Lewis, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion, joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Lewis was issued regimental number 41204 and posted to D Company.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

Lewis was one of the many posted as missing following the 9th (NIH) Battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive. It was later learned that he had been captured on 27 March at Erches, near Roye, when much of the battalion had been overwhelmed by the fast-moving German advance. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war, held at a camps including Stendal in Germany.

Lewis was repatriated to England soon after the Armistice and on 26 November was admitted to King George's Hospital in London for treatment for eczema. On 26 March 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

Following his demobilisation, Lewis returned to North Howard Street and work as a machinist. On 31 October 1919 he married weaver Minnie Taylor at St Michael's Church of Ireland Parish Church in Belfast.