Private Robert McKane


The background of this North Irish Horseman is not known for certain, but he appears to have been the Robert McKane born in Motherwell, Scotland, around 1899, one of two children of Irish-born labourer John McKane and his wife Eliza Jane (née Creelman). At the time of the 1901 Census he was living in Boghill, Ballylagan, County Londonderry, with his parents and an uncle at the home of his grandparents, farmers Robert and Annie McKane. Ten years later he was living at 5a North Orchard Street, Dalziel, Lanarkshire, Scotland, with his parents, his father working as a bridge-building labourer.

By 1917 Robert was living in Motherwell and working as an estimating clerk for the firm Hurst, Nelson & Co. On 26 June 1917 he enlisted or was called-up at Hamilton and was posted to the North Irish Horse at Antrim (No.2564).

Soon after, however, on 18 August, he was transferred to the Royal Irish Rifles (No.20101) and was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion. He embarked for France on 5 January 1918, where he was posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. He joined the battalion in the field on 23 January and was posted to C Company.

On 24 March 1918, at the beginning of the German spring offensive, McKane was wounded in the scrotum. Treated at the 109 Field Ambulance and the 3rd Stationary Hospital at Rouen, on 28 March he was evacuated to the UK, where he was admitted to the 15th Canadian General (Duchess of Connaught) Hospital at Taplow, Buckinghamshire. He remained there until 9 August, when he was sent to the Military Convalescent Hospital at Crown Hill, Devon, the wound having healed. Released to duty on 26 October, he received further treatment in military hospitals until the end of the year.

On 2 March 1919 McKane was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. His military character was recoreded as 'very good'.