Private Arthur McGookin


Arthur McGookin was born on 5 October 1896 at Rashee, Ballyclare, County Antrim, the last of eight children of blacksmith and farmer Arthur McGookin and his wife Mary Jane (nee McAllister). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Rashee with his mother and two siblings.

McGookin enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 7 and 10 October 1916 (No.2289 – later Corps of Hussars No.71741). He may have seen earlier service in a different regiment, because records show him embarking for France on 5 October 1915 (this was the embarkation date of much of the 36th (Ulster) Division).

In 1917 he embarked for France, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment. On 5/6 September that year at Ypres a working party from the regiment was hit by an enemy gas barrage. Ten of the men became casualties, including Private McGookin. Whether he saw further service in France or Belgium during the war is unknown.

McGookin was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 18 March 1919. After the war he emigrated to New Zealand with two North Irish Horse comrades, George Ferris and William Holmes. They sailed from Southampton on 18 February 1921 on board the Waimana – McGookin listed as a clerk, aged 23.


Private McGookin's older brother, Thomas James, who served in the war in the 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards, was killed in action on 13 September 1916. His father Arthur also served, as a farrier in the Army Service Corps. When he enlisted he gave his age as 45, although he was actually 60. He was discharged due to sickness in October 1918, an entry on his service file stating "This man appeared too old to work at his trade in the Army."