Second Lieutenant William George McHugh


William George McHugh was born on 14 December 1889 at 19 Sullivan Street, Dublin, the second of four children of Royal Irish Constabulary sergeant Edward James McHugh and his wife Charlotte Matilda (nee Elliot). Educated at Ormond School, Drumcondra, and Wesley College, Dublin, by 1911 he was living with his family at 6 Annamoe Road, Circular Road North, Glasnevin, Dublin, and working as an insurance clerk for the Dublin branch of the Royal Insurance Company.

McHugh enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 26 October 1914 (No.1335 – later Corp of Hussars No.71341). He was promoted to lance corporal on 11 February 1915, corporal on 1 April 1915, and lance sergeant two months later.

In the first half of 1915 he embarked for England with F Squadron, where they awaited orders for France. On 12 July, however, McHugh was one of about two dozen men of the squadron who volunteered for service as Military Mounted Police with the 54th (East Anglian) Division, which was under orders to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. They sailed from Devonport on HMT Manitou on 29 July 1915, joining the landing at Suvla Bay between 10 and 16 August.

While at Gallipoli McHugh contracted dysentery. By October 1915 he was at a convalescent hospital in Malta. He was discharged to active service on 4 January 1916, returning to Egypt to rejoin the 54th Division and resume his military police duties. He was promoted to acting sergeant on 5 December 1916.

In April 1916, while serving at Shaffula in Egypt, McHugh applied for a commission in the cavalry with a preference for the Inniskilling Dragoons, or in horse transport, but it appears that due to an administrative mix-up, the papers were not processed. He applied again on 20 May 1917, leaving Egypt for cadet training in the UK the following month.

It was some months before McHugh was posted to a cadet school, reporting for duty at No.2 Cavalry Cadet Squadron at Kildare on 11 January 1918. After training there he was assessed as having good education and military knowledge, and fair power of command and leadership. His marks in the various disciplines were: musketry and bayonets – very good; shoeing, Hotchkiss gun, foot drill, and rifle – good; sword – very fair; engineering 94/100; anti-gas 81/100; topography 50/50 and 55/60; organisation 65/80; animal management 100/100; law 83/100; and tactics 90/100.

On 23 June 1918 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the 6th Reserve Regiment of Cavalry at Tidworth. It appears that he was subsequently attached to the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys), but whether he joined that regiment in France is not known at present.

On 17 December 1918 McHugh married Lily Storey at St Columba's Church, Knock, County Down. He was demobilised and relinquished his commission on 5 March 1919.


At least one of McHugh's siblings also served in the war. Lieutenant Edward James McHugh of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers died in France on 31 October 1918.