Private Samuel Boyd McCleary


Samuel Boyd McCleary was born on 10 August 1896 at Bleary, Tullylish, County Down, the third of ten children of farmer Boyd McCleary and his wife Anne Jane (née Doak). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Bleary with his parents and seven of his siblings.

McCleary enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 7 January 1916 (regimental number unknown). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp until November 1916, when he and around 100 other North Irish Horsemen volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles. The formal transfer took place on 7 December (McCleary was issued regimental number 40897), and on that day the men embarked for France. There they were posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, joining it on the Somme front on 12 December.

In mid-1917 McCleary was wounded in the right chest, probably on 31 July, when the 1st Battalion took part in the attack on the Westhoek Ridge on the first day of Third Ypres (Passchendaele). Their casualties were severe, with 36 officers and other ranks killed, 152 wounded and 18 missing, according to the battalion diary.

McCleary's wound was severe enough to end his military service. On 16 March 1918 he was discharged, being 'no longer physically fit for war service' (paragraph 392 (xvi), King's Regulations), and he was granted a pension, due to his wound and pleurisy. As late as 1922 his level of disability was assessed at 70 per cent.

Following his discharge McCleary returned to his home at Bleary. On 26 December 1934 he married Ethel Porter. He died at Bleary on 1 August 1970 and was buried in the Newmill Presbyterian Churchyard.