Lieutenant Hamilton McConnell


Hamilton McConnell was born on 17 December 1896 in High Street, Ballynahinch, County Down, the ninth of eleven children of leather merchant Hamilton McConnell and his wife Isabella (nee Fishbourne). Educated at Ballymaglave National School, Ballynahinch, he then served a three year apprenticeship at the York Street Flax Spinning Company as an assistant accountant.

McConnell emigrated to Canada, but returned on the outbreak of war to enlist, joining the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 26 April 1915 (No.1495). He embarked for France on 22 September that year, where he was posted to C Squadron.

On 28 October 1916 he applied for a commission in the cavalry. He left his regiment for the UK two months later and, following a period of leave, on 22 February 1917 reported for duty at No.1 Cavalry Cadet Squadron at Netheravon. On 29 June 1917 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the 4th Reserve Regiment of Cavalry.

Two months later he applied for a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps. Although found fit for transfer, soon after he fell ill. Treated at the 4th London General Hospital and the Connaught Hospital at Aldershot, he was not fully fit for service until 8 March 1918.

On 27 August 1918 McConnell embarked for France, where he was posted to the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays). However while at the British Cavalry Base Depot he was charged with drunkenness. In was not until 24 October that he faced a court martial, and was acquitted of the charge.

McConnell then joined the 2nd Dragoon Guards in the field as a supernumary officer. A week after the Armistice he returned to Base, where he was employed at the Rive Gauche Rest Camp at Rouen. On 29 December was promoted to lieutenant. He returned to the UK on 2 May 1919 and was demobilised four days later. He relinquished his commission on 1 September 1921.

In 1920 McConnell applied to join the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary. After the application was refused, on 25 October he wrote to the War Office:

I have the honour to place before you a complaint, with reference to an adverse report on me, sent to the Commanding Officer Auxiliary Divn. R.I.C.

After serving for 2 years in the North Irish Horse, I was commissioned to the 4th Res. Regt of Dragoons. In August 1918 I was sent to join the 2nd D Gds in France.

While at the base I was placed under arrest, and kept so for 6 weeks, when I was acquitted and discharged from court without a stain on my character. I was then sent to join my Regt, where I remained till after the Armistice, having been with same, about two weeks, as a supernumary officer, afterwards being sent to Rouen.

At Rouen I was appointed a/adjutant at Rive Gauche Rest Camp, where I remained till I was demobilised.

In Decr 1918, the C. Officer 2nd D Gds, sent an adverse report to the War Office, against which I appealed, but no inquiry was made, he then refused to recommend my promotion to Lieut, this being done by O.C. Town Troops Rouen, (under whom I was then employed) being satisfied that my conduct and work merited same.

I came from Canada to join the Army in 1915, at the age of 18, and serving from April 1915 till May 1919, never was accused of Neglect of Duty and never convicted or punished for any other reason, always trying to do my duty to the best of my ability.

My brother Major W.F. McConnell C.F. served throughout the War, also my sister (who was nursing) both of whom were with the Canadian Forces.

As my service in the Army was purely voluntary, and from a patriotic motive only, I do not consider I received fair treatment.

If given the opportunity I am quite prepared to clear my name even by resuming service as a Private Soldier.

Trusting Sir, that you will favour me with an early reply.

The War office replied that the RIC had not been informed of the matter of the court martial. However they had sent the RIC extracts of the adverse report written by the Commanding Officer of theĀ  2nd Dragoon Guards.

McConnell later returned to Canada. It appears that he served in World War 2 with the Canadian Forces.


A number of McConnell's siblings also served during the war. These are detailed in the article below.


The Northern Whig, 15 January 1917