Private Samuel John McNeilance


Samuel John McNeilance was born in 1886 or 1887 in Glasgow, Scotland, one of seven children of engine fitter Alexander McNeilance and his wife Elizabeth (nee Howatson). In the 1890s the family moved to Belfast. By 1911 they were living at 40 Greenmount Street, Samuel working as a plater.

McNeilance enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 8 October 1914 (No.1293). He embarked for France on 17 November 1915 with F Squadron.

In June 1916 McNeilance's squadron came together with C 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 dismounted and most of the men transferred to the infantry. After training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, the men, including McNeilance, were formally transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 September and soon after were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – re-named the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. McNeilance was issued regimental number 41493.

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

In June 1918 McNeilance transferred to the Royal Engineers (No. WR/347334), where he was given the rank of sapper and posted to the Inland Waterways and Docks section.


Crumlin Road Masonic Roll of Honour


Private McNeilance's brother John Alexander saw service in the Second World War as a carpenter in the Merchant Navy. He died on 14 March 1943 when the ocean liner Empress of Canada was sunk by an Italian submarine while carrying Italian prisoners of war from Durban to the United Kingdom. Many of the 392 who died were said to have been taken by sharks.


Image courtesy of Steve Diamond through Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (