Private Samuel Read



Samuel Read (or Reid) was born on 2 May 1898 at 41 Geoffrey Street, Belfast, the second of two children of labourer Thomas Read and his wife Mary (nee Murray). After his mother died when he was just six months old, Read was raised at the home of weavers William and Sarah Hampton of Ewart's Row, Belfast.

Read enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 1914 and 1916, though his age suggests it was most likely after May 1916. The date and his regimental number are not known at present.

At the end of December 1916 he was one of forty North Irish Horsemen who volunteered to transfer to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. The transfer took place on 9 January 1917, the same day they embarked for France, where they were posted to the 10th Battalion, joining it at Ploegsteert Wood on the Ypres front. Read was issued regimental number 40660.

He probably saw action with the battalion at Messines, Ypres and Cambrai in 1917.

The 10th Battalion was disbanded at the end of January 1918. Read was one of 150 of the men transferred to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, on 3 February. (The 2nd Battalion had just joined the 36th (Ulster) Division.)

The 2nd Battalion was in the front line on the St Quentin front when the German Spring Offensive began on the morning of 21 March 1918. Following a heavy and sustained bombardment, the 2nd Battalion defences were quickly overrun. By the end of the month, according to the battalion's war diary, they had lost three officers wounded and 21 missing, seven other ranks killed, fifteen wounded and 646 missing. Most of the losses had taken place on the first day, and most of these were prisoners, one being Private Read captured unwounded.

He was held as a prisoner of war at Cassel, then Mannheim, until released after the Armistice.


Image from the Belfast Evening Telegraph, 1918, kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (