Private John McCann


John McCann was born on 20 December 1888 at Bloomfield, Hollymount, County Mayo, the sixth of nine children of gardener James McCann and his wife Louisa (née Carter). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Fortland, Ballymachugh, County Cavan, with his parents and three of his five surviving siblings, and working as a domestic gardener. He later lived at nearby Mount Nugent.

McCann enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 27 January 1915 (No.1430 – later Corps of Hussars No.71385). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France on 17 November 1915 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 infantry. By then, however, McCann had either been posted to a squadron of the 1st NIH Regiment, or had returned to the NIH camp at Antrim (before re-embarking for France where he joined the 1st Regiment).

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. It saw action from 21 August 1918 on the Somme front during the Advance to Victory offensive. According to its war diary, from 21 to 31 August it lost two officers wounded, seven other ranks killed, one missing believed killed and 25 wounded.

It was probably at this time, or in early September, that McCann received a shrapnel wound in the right shoulder. Evacuated to the UK for treatment, on 17 March 1919 he was discharged, being 'surplus to military requirements, having suffered impairment since entry into the service' (paragraph 392 xvi(a), King's Regulations). He was granted a pension due to his wound, his level of disability assessed at 30 per cent in May 1920.