Private John Byers Oldham


John Byers Oldham was born on 26 August 1897 at 5 Windsor Terrace, Belfast, the last of five children of bank official Edward Garr Wesley Oldham and his wife Agnes Rebecca (née Mulholland). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 184 Lisburn Road, Belfast, with his parents and four brothers.

Oldham enlisted in the Army Service Corps (Horse Transport) between 6 and 9 December 1915 (No.T4/159974). He embarked for France in 1916 or the first half of 1917, where he was posted to No.221 Company.

Between 17 August and 3 September 1917 Oldham transferred to the North Irish Horse (No.2665). Almost immediately after this, the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment was disbanded and its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Oldham, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Oldham was issued regimental number 41346.

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

The War Office Daily Casualty List of 8 June 1918 reported that Oldham had been wounded. This probably occurred in the fighting around Wulverghem and Mount Kemmel on the Ypres front in April that year. It is not known if he saw any further front-line service in the war.

Oldham married Eileen Hilda Clarke in Calcutta, India, on 22 October 1927.


At least two of Oldham's brothers also served in the war. Edward Garr Oldham served in the 10th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, before being commissioned and posted to the 17th Battalion. Thomas Hemphill Oldham served as a lance sergeant in The Royal Irish Rifles, then as company quartermaster sergeant in the Machine Gun Corps, before being commissioned in June 1917. He later transferred to the Tank Corps.