Second Lieutenant Samuel Lonsdale McKillen


Samuel Lonsdale McKillen was born on 20 April 1895 at 62 Lawther Street, Belfast, the ninth of ten children of labourer (later carter) Thomas McKillen and his wife Margaret (nee McKillen). By 1911 he was living with his parents and six siblings at 40 Alexandra Park Avenue, Belfast, and working as an apprentice clerk. From 1912 to 1914 he was employed as a clerk in the Belfast firm William McCaughey & Son.

McKillen enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 4 January 1915 (No.1375 – later Corps of Hussars No.71361).

In the first half of 1915 he embarked for England with F Squadron, where they awaited orders for France. On 12 July, however, McKillen 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 McKillen fell ill. On 10 September he was admitted to a hospital in Malta with a 'septic arm and leg'. He was discharged two months later, returning to duty with the 54th Division.

During 1917 McKillen applied for a commission with the Royal Flying Corps .He left Egypt for cadet training in the UK in November or December that year. After training as a flight cadet, on 20 June 1918 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Air Force. He then trained as an observer, attaining that qualification on 18 October. Soon after, he embarked for the Middle East, but returned home in January 1919.

McKillen relinquished his commission on 12 March 1919.