Private James McAteer


James McAteer was born on 9 September 1885 at Ballyloughan, Ahoghill, Ballymena, County Antrim, the third of nine children of general labourer Francis McAteer and his wife Margaret (née Caskey). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 8 Greenvale Street, Ballymena, with his parents, five siblings, a grandmother, brother-in-law and a niece, and working as a horse trainer.

McAteer enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Ballymena on 7 October 1916 (No.2287 – later Corps of Hussars No.71740). On 26 November that year, while training at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp, he was admonished for being found drunk in Railway Street. He was made acting lance corporal on 19 January 1917, but lost the stripe two months later for being 'absent off pass' (it also cost him two days' pay).

On 14 May 1917 McAteer embarked for France, where he was posted to B or C Squadron of the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and its men were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. McAteer, however, was posted to the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, perhaps because of his skills as a horse trainer. At the time, this regiment was serving as a corps cavalry to XIX Corps, moving to V Corps on 7 September. McAteer was posted to E Squadron.

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

McAteer was wounded by a machine-gun bullet in the left shoulder on 26 August 1918 at the beginning of the Advance to Victory offensive. He was treated at No.2 Stationary Hospital at Abbeville, rejoining his regiment in the field on 13 November. On 17 March 1919 at Vignacourt he was awarded 21 days' Field Punishment No.2 and fined three days' pay for being drunk in camp and refusing to obey an order.

On 7 June 1919 McAteer was transferred to the Army Cyclist Corps (No.23917) and posted to the IV Corps Cyclist Battalion. He served with that unit in the Army of Occupation at Rolsdorf in Germany until he returned to the UK on 15 October 1919. On 26 November that year he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.


McAteer's brother Frank also served in the war, in the Machine Gun Corps.