Private Isaac Robb


Isaac Robb was born (as Richard Robb) on 1 November 1882 at Carrowmannan, Newry, County Armagh, the last of six children of farmer and shoemaker John Robb and his wife Fanny (née King). His mother died when he was just two years old. At the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Corrowmannan with his father, step-mother, and an older brother, and working on the family farm.

It is probable that he served in the North of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry (the predecessor of the North Irish Horse). According to the Newry Reporter of 9 June 1908 Robb, appearing in a court case, stated "he could not be present to answer the charge next court day, as he was a member of the Yeomanry and would be up for training during the month of July."

Robb enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 23 February and 28 March 1912 (No.690 – later Corps of Hussars No.71073). He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

A letter at the time to his brother from another A Squadron man, Robert Burke, mentions "Isaac Robb & Martin Andrew and Sandy Frazer & one of the Forsythes" all from south Armagh.

Passing on the news to his mother, the brother wrote:

I heard that Isaac Robb was wounded but it can't be true for the letter that Robert sent me was dated the 9th Nov & he said he was along with Isaac so if he is wounded it must be since the 9th.

A Squadron then served as escort and bodyguard to the BEF's commander-in-chief at St Omer from October 1914 until January 1916, when it was posted as divisional cavalry to the 55th Division. In May 1916 it was combined with D and E Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps until February-March 1918, when the regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

Robb remained with the regiment throughout the war, though how much time he spent in France and Belgium with A Squadron and how much at home at the Antrim reserve depot is not known at present. On 21 February 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

After the war Robb returned to farming at Carrowmannan. On 3 December 1919 he married widow Eliza Johnston (nee McCalister) at Newry Presbyterian Church. He remained at Carrowmannan all his life, and died in the Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry, on 19 January 1963.


This page last updated 8 October 2023.