Lance Corporal Samuel McMurray


The background of this North Irish Horseman is uncertain. He may, however, have been the Samuel Robert McMurray born on 15 February 1893 at Carrownacaw, Downpatrick, County Down, one of fourteen children of farmer William John McMurray and his wife Elizabeth (nee Hughes).

McMurray enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 7 or 8 October 1914 (No.1289). The Northern Whig of 12 October reported that:

Three members of the Kilkeel Mounted Company of the Ulster Volunteers, named Samuel Gordon, Gerald Sloan, and Samuel McMurray, have passed the required examination, and have left for Shane's Castle, County Antrim, to join the Irish Horse. There are now about thirty members of the Kilkeel Ulster Force in Lord Kitchener's Army.

In the first half of 1915 he embarked for England with F Squadron, where they awaited orders for France. On 12 July, however, McMurray 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.

McMurray probably fell ill while at Gallipoli and was evacuated to Egypt, before being shipped to the UK for convalescence. Following his recovery he returned to the North Irish Horse reserve depot at Antrim.

In late 1916 or the first half of 1917 McMurray embarked for France, where he was posted to either the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment. In September 1917 the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment was disbanded and most of its men, together with some from the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the infantry. The majority, including McMurray, were transferred to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – on 20 September. McMurray was issued a new regimental number – 41314 – and posted to C Company. He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

McMurray was one of the many of the 9th (NIH) Battalion posted as missing following the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918, during the German spring offensive. It was later learned that he had been wounded, but he returned to the battalion soon after. In June 1918 he was hospitalised at the 2nd General Hospital with influenza, returning to duty after four days treatment and a period of convalescence.

On 26 February 1919 McMurray was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.