Private John Lorimer


The background of this North Irish Horseman is unclear at present. He may have been the John Lorimer born on 5 December 1898 at 60 Brookmount Street, Belfast, the fifth of seven children of yarn bundler (later reeling master) James Lorimer and his wife Margaret (née Alexander). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Galgorm, County Antrim, with his parents and five of his siblings.

Lorimer enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 30 July and 21 August 1916 (No.2232). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France in late 1916 or the first half of 1917, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Lorimer, 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. Lorimer was issued regimental number 41343.

No information has been discovered about Lorimer's service with the 9th (NIH) Battalion through the latter part of 1917 and during 1918. In early 1919 Lorimer's desire to be released from the army was raised in the House of Commons. According to a report in the Ballymena Observer of 25 April:

Major O'Neill asked the Secretary of State whether Private John Lorimer, 41343, 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers, was used as a ploughman of France after the armistice; whether his demobilisation was sanctioned on 5th February; whether he was asked to remain for a few days after this date until a suitable substitute could be obtained to do his work; whether he was then told that he would be finally demobilised on 12th February; whether subsequently new regulations were issued which prevented his demobilisation; and whether, if the above facts are substantially accurate, and considering that Private Lorimer enlisted voluntarily, he would take steps to secure this soldier's early release from the army.

Mr. Churchill – Private Lorimer is not registered either as pivotal of for special release, nor is there trace of any application on his behalf having been received by the War Office. I am also informed by my right hon. friend the Minister of Labour that he is not registered by his Department. I am not aware of his demobilisation having been sanctioned as stated, and no orders to that effect have been issued by the War Office. If he is demobilisable under current instructions he will be released as soon as circumstances permit.

Instead of being released, on 22 February 1919 Lorimer was one of a number of men of the regiment transferred to the Royal Irish Regiment and posted to the 5th (Service) Battalion. (He was issued regimental number 41317.) He served in the Army of Occupation on the Rhine, before returning to the UK in October or early November that year. On 14 November he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.


The image below, of the John Lorimer born in Belfast on 5 December 1898 is sourced from Public Member Trees – contributor Michael Nelson.