Private James Majury



James Majury was born on 14 May 1895 at Ballyclare, Doagh Grange, County Antrim, the first of nine children of bread-server James Majury and his wife Elizabeth (nee O'Hara). Although he grew up in Ballyclare, by 1911 he was living with his family at 45 Farnham Street, Belfast, and working as a bread-packer. The following year the family moved to 36 Raby Street.

Majury enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 8 November 1915 (No.1808 – later Corps of Hussars No.71570). He embarked for France in 1916, where he was posted to E Squadron, which from May that year was one of the three squadrons of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps.

In February and March 1918 the 1st NIH Regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps for the remainder of the war.

V Corps was on the Somme front on 21 August 1918 – the day the Advance to Victory offensive began in that sector. V Corps’ 21st Division were to attack north of the Ancre, with its 1st and 2nd Lincolns in front. To assist them, two officers and sixty-seven other ranks of the North Irish Horse cyclists were attached, taking with them all nine of the regiment’s Lewis guns. The eve of the battle found the 2nd Lincolns, with their North Irish Horse Lewis gunners, positioned east and south-east of Beaumont Hamel. That evening the Germans opened an intensive mustard gas bombardment on the reserve positions. The 2nd Lincolns sustained many gas casualties. Among them were four North Irish Horsemen, including Private Majury, who also sustained a shrapnel wound to his left eye.

Majury was evacuated to the UK for treatment, where he was admitted to King's College Hospital in London, remaining there for three months.

On 30 January 1919 he was discharged as no longer physically fit for war service and surplus to military requirements (having suffered impairment since entry into the service) – paragraph 392 xvi(a) King's Regulations.

He found employment as a clerk, and on 24 September 1919 married Sarah Jane Thompson at Downpatrick Presbyterian Church. The couple had two children before Sarah's death in 1926. Majury married Agnes Scott at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast, on 31 August 1927. The couple had five children over the following years. From 1935 they lived at 19 Jellicoe Avenue. Agnes died on 4 October 1966 and James on 29 December 1985. They are buried in Dundonald Cemetery.



Majury's King's Certificate of Discharge


During the war Majury sent home a number of postcards, some of which are reproduced below.







Majury's brother Samuel also served in the war, as a private in the motor transport branch of the Army Service Corps (No. M2 196871).


Newtownbreda Presbyterian Church Great War Memorial


I am most grateful to Rosemary Brooks, youngest daughter of James Majury, and her daughter Louise Brooks, for permitting me to reproduce the images of Private Majury, his discharge certificate and his postcards, and for providing some of the information above. Newspaper image, Newtownbreda memorial image and some of the information about Majury's life after the war kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster.