Lieutenant Charles Bothwell Pyper



Charles Bothwell Pyper was born on 15 August 1885 at 2 Frederick Street, Belfast, the third last of at least twelve children of provision merchant Hugh Pyper and his wife Eliza (nee Bodel). Charles's father died when he was just 13 years old, and his mother ten years later.

Educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Pyper joined the Home Civil Service as a Second Division Clerk in the Post Office at the beginning of 1906. This must have been in London, for at the same time he served in the 3rd County of London Yeomanry (No.1035). Four years later he resigned and emigrated to Canada, where he found work as a journalist.

On the outbreak of war he returned to Belfast, where on 24 August 1914 he enlisted in the North Irish Horse (No.1027). He was promoted to corporal on 17 September then sergeant on 1 December 1914.

On 1 May 1915 Pyper embarked for France with D Squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 51st Division. Two months later he reverted to the rank of private at his own request. Two serious disciplinary breaches followed. On 30 September while posted to squadron headquarters he was awarded 14 days' Field Punishment No.1 for drunkenness, and on 23 December the same punishment for being absent from billet after 8.30 pm and being drunk.

In May 1916 D Squadron came together with A and E Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII Corps. Pyper was initially posted to regimental headquarters, but on 2 September was transferred to A Squadron.

On 26 February 1917 Pyper applied for a commission in the infantry, with a preference for the 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. He left his regiment for the UK on 26 March 1917 where, after a period of leave, on 7 June 1917 he reported for duty at No.6 Officer Cadet Battalion, Bailloil College, Oxford. On 26 September 1917 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the 17th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, at Dundalk.

In December 1917 or January 1918 Pyper embarked for France, where he was posted to the 15th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. On 2 February 1918 the 15th Battalion was in the line at Grugies in the St Quentin sector. Although no fighting occurred that day, or at least none was mentioned in the battalion war diary, Pyper was wounded, with a rifle bullet penetrating his chest, grazing his right arm on the way out.

Fortunately the bullet had missed his lungs and broke no bones. After treatment in France, on 26 February he was evacuated to England, where he was treated at Queen Alexandra's Hospital in London, then the Officers' Hospital at Eaton Hall, Chester. By mid-year he was fit for home service and reported for duty with the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, at Durrington on Salisbury Plain. On 1 August 1918 a medical board found he was once again fully fit for service.

Pyper returned to the 15th Battalion in France. He was promoted to lieutenant on 26 March 1919. He left for England on 9 May and was demobilised a week later. He relinquished his commission on 1 September 1921.

On 8 July 1919 he married Annie Jane Phillips at Christ Church, Londonderry.

After the war Pyper returned to Canada. According to Archeion (the Archives Association of Ontario):

Following the war, he began his journalism career as an editor and columnist with the 'Regina daily province', later moving to the 'Saskatoon star, the 'Winnipeg tribune' and then the 'Toronto telegram' in 1933. At the 'Tely' he served as a editorial writer, foreign and war correspondent. He covered the Spanish Civil War, World War II (from London and the front) and later the San Francisco meetings inaugurating the United Nations and meetings of the UN in New York. Pyper was the author of 'Chamberlain and his critics: a statesman vindicated,' (1962) and 'One thing after another,' (1948) a memoir.

Pyper died in 1975.


At least one of Pyper's brothers, Robert Wilfred, also served in the war, as a private in the 16th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He was killed in action in France on 12 May 1916.


Belfast Telegraph, 2 May 1956


Belfast Telegraph, 3 September 1962