Saddler Corporal Alfred Neely


Alfred Neely was born on 11 August 1895 at Linen Hall Street, Limavady, County Londonderry, the last of eight children of tailor James Neely and his wife Margaret Jane (nee Rosborough). He trained as a saddler and by 1911 was living at 4 Main Street Limavady with his parents and three siblings.

Neely enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 14 and 24 April 1913 (No.841 – later Corps of Hussars No.71127). He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

On 12 January 1917 he married blacksmith's daughter Etta Crawford of Belfast at Drumachose Presbyterian Church, Limavady.

In February and March 1918 the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, including Neely's A Squadron, was dismounted and converted to a cyclist regiment, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps for the remainder of the war. This meant a large reduction in the regiment's numbers, and it is likely that this was the time that Neely was transferred to the 19th (Queen Alexandra's Own Royal) Hussars.

He was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 1 May 1919.

After the war Neely returned to Limavady. In 1927 he and his brother Robert were charged with possessing material for the distillation of poteen. According to the Derry Journal of 8 June:

At a Licensing Court, at Limavady, yesterday, before Messrs. R. W. Glass, R.M. (presiding), and H. R. Jones R.M., two brothers, Alfred Neely and Robert Neely, saddler and tailor respectively, of Main Street, Limavady, were summoned by District-Inspector Cooke for having a quantity of wash and a still for the purpose of illicit distillation in their possession.

Head-Constable Jackson stated that he visited the house and premises on the 11th May, and in an outhouse found a bath of wash. He asked Alfred what it was doing there, and he replied he had it for feeding pigs. Witness asked to see the pigs, and Alfred then admitted he had none. Witness also found three barrels of wash, and in answer to a question as to how he obtained these, Alfred said he got them from a man in Dungiven.

Sergeant Coulter said he visited the house the following morning, and on the first floor upstairs found an oil stove with eight burners. In a recess underneath the stairs leading to the third floor he found the bottom of a still, and an iron stand.

District-Inspector Coote said he had taken a sample of the contents that had been found in the bath, and on the morning of the 12th May went to Robert Neely and told him that he had satisfied himself that it was wash, and that he was going to seize it. Both of the brothers replied all right, Alfred remarking that a man had left it with him for pigs he was going to purchase. Witness asked Alfred where he got the tin bottom of the still, and he said he got it from a man in Dungiven, but he used it for boiling water for his children.

In answer to Mr. Glass, District-Inspector Coote said the amount of wash discovered was 15 gallons.

Robert Neely said his brother had been in the army and the R.U.C., and on being disbanded came with his wife and children to live with wintess, but had gone to Canada lately. Witness did not know the wash was in the house.

District-Inspector Coote submitted that Robert Neely was the brains of the whole thing.

Mr. Glass said it was a bad case, and defendants would be sentenced to three months' imprisonment each, with hard labour.