Lance Corporal Herbert Graham Rutherford


Herbert Graham Rutherford was born on 28 March 1893 at 41 Percy Street, Belfast, the first of four children of linen manufacturer (later weaving factory manager) William Graham Rutherford and his wife Elizabeth Margaret (née Lee). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 77 Garvaghy Road, Portadown, County Armagh, with his parents and siblings, and serving an apprenticeship as a weaving factory manager.

Rutherford enlisted in the North Irish Horse at some point between 1914 and the first half of 1917 (regimental number unknown). After training at Antrim, however, on 14 June 1917 he and a handful of others transferred to the South Irish Horse (No.3144) and embarked for France, where they were posted to one of the two SIH regiments.

Three months later these regiments were disbanded and re-formed as an infantry battalion, the 7th (South Irish Horse) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment. The transfer of the men took place on 11 October 1917. (Rutherford's new regimental number is unknown.)

On 21 March 1918 the 7th (SIH) Battalion was holding the line in front of Ronssoy. Following a sustained bombardment the Germans attacked, beginning their Spring Offensive. By 8.30 that morning every man in the two companies in the front line – A and C – had been killed or captured, and according to the battalion diary:

The enemy had practically surrounded the village [Ronssoy] before HQ and S & B Coys were aware of it, as he had broken through the Division on the right. At this time all the Officers, with the exception of Capt. Bridge had become casualties, also the majority of other ranks. The remainder were ordered to withdraw and fought their way back to St. Emilie ... The strength then was 1 Officer and about 40 Other Ranks.

Rutherford was one of the many made a prisoner of war, held at camps including Limburg.

Following his repatriation at the end of the war, he resumed duty with the Corps of Hussars (No.83262), serving at the 2nd Reserve Regiment of Cavalry at the Curragh until at least 1920.

Rutherford later lived in Canada. He died in 1966, the Belfast Telegraph of 19 September reporting that:

Mr. Herbert Graham Rutherford, who has died at Preston, Ontario, was well known in the textile trade and at one time set up a textile plant in Riga. Mr. Rutherford, who was 73, was the son of the late Mr. Graham Rutherford, who was the last manager of Kirk Partners and Forestbrook's factory at Keady, Co. Armagh, before it closed down. During World War I he served with the North Irish Horse, and for a time was a prisoner of war. When the Russians overran Latvia during World War II, Mr. Rutherford made his way to Canada with his wife, via Russia, Siberia, and Japan. He retired from business a year ago. His sister is Mrs. James McKee, Galwally Avenue, Belfast.

His name is included on the World War 1 memorial tablet of the First Presbyterian Church in Portadown.