Second Lieutenant John Alexander Montford



John Alexander Montford was born on 9 May 1892 at Lisnamurrican, Broughshane, County Antrim, the last of three children of farmer Robert Montford and his wife Margaret Jane (nee McMaster). By 1911 he was living with his parents and two sisters at Lisnamurrican and working on the family farm.

Montford enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 5 June and 2 October 1911 (No.618 – later Corps of Hussars 71046). He embarked for France with C Squadron on 20 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

On 31 December 1914 the Belfast News-Letter reported that:

Sergeant Hugh Ashcroft, of the North Irish Horse, spent a week's furlough with his father and friends at Carryhill, Coagh. The sergeant, who has been on duty in France since August, was one of the troop who formed the escort to the King when in France, and he was one of the two sergeants who were presented by his Majesty with pipes as souvenirs of his visit, the other recipient being Sergeant Munford [sic], a Ballymena man. ... The North Irish Horse had an early experience of active service when they formed the rear-guard to a column of infantry in the retreat from Mons. Since then they had been on outpost duty, scouring the woods for Uhlans, one squadron forming the bodyguard to Sir John French and another squadron – to which Sergeant Ashcroft is attached – being bodyguard to General Smith-Dorrien.

The Irish Times published a letter from Captain Herdman stating:

We had a busy time when His Majesty was here, supplying guards. Two of our sergeants had the honour of being attached to him as orderlies, and were presented by him personally with pipes on his departure, of which they are naturally very proud.

Montford returned home on leave at the beginning of January. The Ballymena Weekly Telegraph reported:

Sergeant John Montford, of the North Irish Horse, son of Mr. Robert Montford, R.D.C., ... was home for a few days' furlough from the front this week, and his numerous local friends were glad to see him looking fit and well.

On 10 March 1915 Montford faced a court martial at Hazebrouck, charged with absence and breaking out of barracks. He was found not guilty.

Montford remained with the regiment through much of the war. In the first half of 1918 he applied for a commission, and soon after, returned to the UK for officer cadet training, reporting for duty at an officer cadet battalion in June 1918.

He was demobilised on 20 January 1919 and on 17 February was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. On 17 March, however, he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Connaught Rangers. He relinquished his commission on 1 September 1921.



First image from the Ballymena Weekly Telegraph of January 1915 kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (