Sergeant George McFadden


George McFadden was born on 14 January 1883 at Ballycraig, Portrush, County Antrim, the fifth of eleven children of general labourer John McFadden and his wife Jane (née McClelland). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living in Main Street, Portrush, with his parents and three of his six surviving siblings, and working as a plasterer.

McFadden enlisted in the North Irish Horse (as John McFadden) on 8 September 1914 (No.1170). On 20 January 1915 he embarked for France with a reinforcement draft for A and C Squadrons. He must have returned home during 1915 or in early 1916, for on 19 April 1916 he married Annie McNabb at the Portrush Methodist Church. The couple had two children over the next four years.

In June 1916 C Squadron combined with F 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 were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including McFadden, who had returned to France in 1916, 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. McFadden was issued regimental number 41179 and posted to D Squadron.

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

McFadden, 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 later learned that he had been captured, unwounded, on 27 March at Erches, near Roye, when much of the battalion had been overwhelmed by the fast-moving German advance. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war, held at camps in Cassell and Münster.

Repatriated to the UK in January 1919, McFadden was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 26 March 1919.