Private John Pinkerton


John Pinkerton was born on 9 June 1888 at Ednego, Dromore, County Down, the second of four children of weaver and labourer Thomas Pinkerton and his wife Mary Anne (née McEvoy). His mother died when he was just two years old, his father re-marrying two years later. At the time of the 1901 Census he was living at Skillycollane, Skeagh, County Down, at the home of his widowed grandmother, his three siblings and four half-siblings, and working as a farm labourer.

Pinkerton enlisted in the Royal Irish Rifles at Banbridge on 10 May 1909 (No.4694), and was posted to the 5th (Extra Reserve) Battalion. While in the regiment he was employed as a cook. On 9 July 1914 at Stonyford he was deprived of 20 days' pay for sleeping at his post whilst a sentry.

On 26 December 1914 Pinkerton embarked for France, where it is probable that he was posted to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. He was wounded in the left shoulder at Kemmel on 19 February 1915 and was treated at the 11th General Hospital at Boulogne before being evacuated the England. Following his recovery he was posted to the 5th Battalion at Holywood. On 9 May 1916, at the end of his period of engagement in the army, Pinkerton elected to leave the service (paragraph 392(xxi), King's Regulations). He was discharged that day at Holywood, his military character recorded as 'good'.

Between 29 January and 12 April 1917, however, he re-enlisted, in the North Irish Horse (No.2358). Within weeks he embarked for France, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH 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 Pinkerton, 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. Pinkerton was issued regimental number 41354 and posted to B Company. He was wounded in the left arm during the Battle of Cambrai, in the fighting for the village of Moeuvres on 22 and 23 November 1917. Initially treated at No.29 Casualty Clearing Station then the 18th General Hospital at Camiers, on 4 December he was evacuated to the UK.

It appears that the injury was not severe, as Pinkerton was able to rejoin his battalion in the new year. He was wounded again, however, in the spring of 1918, probably in the fighting near Kemmel Hill during April. Nothing more has been discovered about his military service during the remainder of the war.