Private Herbert William McClean


Herbert William McClean was born on 3 June 1891 (with his twin sister Edith Mary) at Killeaton, Dunmurry, County Antrim, the first of four children of bank clerk (later bank manager) Thomas Alexander McClean and his wife Jane Elizabeth (née Saul). Between 1901 and 1911 the family moved to Ballymena, residing at Provincial Bank House, Wellington Street, Herbert working in the linen business.

McClean enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 23 November 1915 (No.1952). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France on 3 August 1916, where he was posted to B or C Squadron of the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, which was serving as corps cavalry to X Corps.

During August 1917 McClean was allowed a short leave home to Ballymena.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded, its men transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including McClean, 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. McClean was issued regimental number 41392. He was hospitalised from 16 October to 6 November and on his return to the battalion four days later was posted to A Company.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

McClean was one of the many posted as missing following the 9th (NIH) Battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive. It was months before his family learned that he was a prisoner of war.

Following his release at the end of the war, McClean arrived in London on 25 November, where he was admitted to King George's Hospital. Three weeks later he was transferred to the Dublin Castle Red Cross Hospital, where he remained until discharged on 18 January 1919.

On 10 April 1919 McClean was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. His military character was recorded as 'very good'.


McClean's brother John Gerald, who served in the war in the Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment), was wounded in the early months of 1917.