Corporal Frederick John Lindsay



Frederick John Lindsay was born on 21 February 1876 at Drumlamph, Bellaghy, County Londonderry, the second of six children of farmer Stewart Lindsay and his wife Nancy (nee Hutchinson). Frederick grew up at Drumlamph and worked there on the family farm. His older brother Creighton Hutchinson Lindsay and sister Anna Sarah became medical practitioners.

Lindsay enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 29 October and 16 November 1912 (No.753). He embarked for France on 21 August 1914 with C Squadron, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne. He returned home on a short leave the following February, describing his experiences to a newspaper reporter. According to the Northern Whig):

Save that they played a heroic part in the terrible rearguard action during the first days of the war little has been heard of the North Irish Horse, except perhaps that they are still being found equal to all the calls being made upon them. Corporal Fred Lindsay, of No.4 Troop N.I.H., spending a few days leave at his home near Castledawson, relates some incidents of particular interest to Ulster people. He says:--

We had got as far as St. Quentin when we met the first of the British force retreating from Mons. We were hurried forward in the direction of Mons to assist in covering the infantry and transport. In this work Trooper Moirs, of Belfast, and another were taken prisoners by Uhlans and afterwards retaken by the Suffolks, who also captured their captors. When within 16 miles of Paris we made a wide circle to our left, turned the enemy's flank, and, as you know, quickly had them on the run towards the Marne. The Germans lost heavily in this retreat, and many prisoners fell into our hands. The Horse and other cavalry would gallop up, dismount, and have fifteen minutes' rapid fire in this hunt, but once we were a bit too precipitate. We had pursued the Germans as far as Conde Bridge, near Soissons, where they determined to make a stand. We were not aware of their intentions, of course, and pushed right on up to the river, taking up our position on a farm. Here we got badly shelled, and I was slightly injured on the nose and had my trousers torn by portions of a shell. We withdrew from this, and near here we lost an officer that any of us would have given his life for, Lieutenant S. B. Combe, Belfast. It was necessary that we should know the strength and disposition of the enemy across the river, and rather than ask any of the men to take the risk Lieutenant Combe stole across one night in the darkness alone. He never returned. Here, too, we lost Troopers Jack Scott, of Londonderry, and W. Moore, of Limavady. With a Sergeant Hicks they were sent to partol as far as a ford in the river which, unknown to us, was held by a German force with a machine gun. When the three reached the ford they found a British officer dead across his motor car and some of his men dead around the car. They were about to dismount to investigate when the machine gun fired upon them, instantly killing the two troopers. Sergeant Hicks escaped on Moore's horse, his own being shot under him.

On the first Sunday in September I was ordered to proceed with four men as far as a level-crossing. We had scarcely taken up our stand behind a fence of sleepers when I espied through my glasses three Uhlans approaching up the road, and far behind them I could see the dust of a larger force to which they belonged. We debated our course of action and decided to allow the Uhlans to approach to within 60 or 100 yards. Two fell at our first volley and the other escaped. Mounting our horses we galloped back to our column and informed Viscount Massereene of the force we had seen. Next day we came upon these in a wood near a village, and succeeded in killing a good many, taking a good many prisoners, and capturing a good number of horses. In this action Trooper McClennaghan, of Garvagh, accounted for three Uhlans and captured two horses single-handed; and two others and myself, firing simultaneously at an escaping Uhlan, brought both horse and rider down at 900 yards' distance. Sitting on the road-side later eating biscuits and bully beef with the rest of us Viscount Massereene complimented us, saying, "Boys, you have done a good day's work. If we only had an opportunity like this every day!"

Our troop was only twenty-four hours in the trenches altogether, and as this was in the good weather and the trenches were the second line we can scarcely claim to know what being in the trenches means. It was here we acquired our troop mascot, a little terrier, which we have named "Dacey." Dacey came to us from somewhere near Bethune, and was made so much of by both officers and men that he remained with us. Now Dacey is "on the strength," so to speak, and on two occasions on which he was missing the officer organised search-parties, and there was great rejoicing when the pet of the troop was brought "home" safe. We are now in billets and attached to one of the divisional headquarters.

Corporal Lindsay brought home a number of trophies.

Further details were reported in the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph:

On another occasion Trooper Ellison, also of Belfast, rode by mistake into a Uhlan camp, but happily for him the night was so dark that he had discovered his mistake before he was recognised, and was almost clear of the camp again before the Uhlans were aware that he was not one of themselves. Just as he came to the high wire fence surrounding the camp one of the Uhlans struck a match to light his pipe, and Ellison stood revealed. Putting spurs to his horse, he attempted to jump the fence, but his mount baulked and threw him over its head into a drain on the outside. Amid a hail of bullets Ellison managed to run along the drain and escape in safety to the high road. Here he fell in with a motorist despatch rider, who gave him a "lift" behind him for some miles. Two weeks later he rejoined his troop, little the worse for his experience.

...Once, when a farm was heavily shelled, the troop had to beat a hasty retreat, and Corporal Lindsay, returning for his field glasses, had his trousers torn right up the leg, and was slightly injured on the nose by portions of a shell which alighted on a wall. He was afterwards in hospital at Hazebrouck suffering from the effects of the cold.

Corporal Lindsay is a member of Bellaghy Masonic Lodge No. 291, and his leave enabled him to be present at the monthly meeting on Wednesday evening, when he received a hearty welcome from the bretheren.

In April 1915 Lindsay sustained a severe bullet wound to his leg. He was evacuated to the UK for treatment. The Mid-Ulster Mail of 10 July reported that:

Corporal Fred Lindsay, North Irish Horse, and Sergeant Clement Hueston, 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers, who are now convalescent, visited their homes at Islandburn and Grovehill respectively this week.

Whether Lindsay saw any further service in France is not known at present. On 31 January 1918 he was transferred to the Army Service Corps (No. T/40579) with the rank of transport corporal.

Lindsay died at his home, Portmore House, Portstewart, on 21 April 1963.


Corporal Lindsay's older brother, Creighton, also served in the war, in the Royal Army Medical Corps, reaching the rank of colonel. He was awarded a CMG and DSO and was twice mentioned in despatches.


Image from the Belfast Evening Telegraph, 20 February 1915, kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (