Private John Simpson Milligan


John Simpson Milligan was born on 12 September 1896 at Glenside House, Ligoneil, Belfast, the first of three children of physician and surgeon Charles James Milligan and his wife Lizzie (nee Simpson). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Ligoneil Road with his parents, grandmother, and his two siblings.

Milligan enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 19 and 28 October 1915 (No.1754 – later Corps of Hussars No.71541). He embarked for France between 1916 and 1918, where he was posted to one of the three squadrons (A, D or E) of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment.

The 1st NIH Regiment served as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, the V Corps from May 1916 until February-March 1918, when the regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist regiment. It then served as corps cyclist regiment to V Corps until the end of the war.

Milligan remained with the regiment until 18 March 1919, when he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

On 19 December 1923 he married Sophia Baastad in Belfast. At some point after this the couple moved to England. The 1939 Register shows them living at 15A Victoria Parade, Hornsey, London, John working as a Metropolitan Police war reserve constable.

Milligan died at his home in London on 24 January 1952. The following month the Belfast Telegraph carried the following item:

Noted Belfast Marksman died in London

Mr. John Simpson Milligan, who has died at his home, at Victoria Parade, Muswell Hill, London, was a noted rifle shot, and was a member of the Irish team at Bisley on a number of occasions.

Mr. Milligan, the eldest son of the late Dr. C. J. Milligan, for many years dispensary doctor of Ligoneil, Belfast, was 55, and made his home in London many years ago.

He became interested in rifle shooting before the 1914 War, and shortly afterwards was a member of the Irish team at the Scottish rifle meeting at Perth. In the same year he won his first trophy, the Kerr Smiley Cup, in the Co. Antrim Junior Championships.

Since going to live in North London he took a keen interest in the pastime there and was a member of the Alexandra Palace Rifle Club. For some years he was also its secretary. He represented Northern Ireland on the Council of the National Small-bore Rifle Association.

In the first World War Mr. Milligan served with the North Irish Horse, and in the last war was a War Reserve policeman.

The funeral was at St. Marylebone Crematorium, East Finchley.

Mr. Milligan is survived by his wife, and by two brothers, Mr. Charles Milligan, of Berkhampstead, and Mr. William Milligan, who is well-known in the Belfast motor trade.


Milligan's war medals and shooting awards.


Milligan's brother Charles Stanley also served in the war, as a rifleman in the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (No.20530). He was wounded in the neck in September or October 1918 but survived, later working as a tyre company manager in England.


Image kindly provided by Jonathan Maguire, Researcher at the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum, Armagh.