Lieutenant David Service


David Service was born on 30 September 1891 at Renfrew, Scotland, the second of two children of ship carpenter James Service and his wife Margaret (nee Colhoun). Following the death of both his parents around 1897, Service moved to Ireland with his sister Bella, where they lived at Urbalreagh, Victoria Bridge, County Tyrone, with their uncle, farmer James Colhoun. Educated at Ardstraw School, by the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Urbalreagh with his uncle, an aunt, two cousins and his sister, and working on the farm.

Service enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 19 March 1913 at Newtownstewart (No.808). He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

On 3 October 1914 he was admitted to No.1 Casualty Clearing Hospital at Fère-en-Tardenois, suffering from rheumatic fever. A month later he was evacuated to the UK for further treatment. Service recovered quickly and on 9 February 1915 returned to France, where he rejoined A Squadron.

On 30 December 1916 Service applied for a commission in the infantry, with a preference for the Gordon Highlanders. Soon after, he left his regiment for the UK where, on 15 March 1917, he reported for duty at No.19 Officer Cadet Battalion at Pirbright. On 1 August 1917 Service was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Felixstowe. He embarked for France on 3 September and was posted to the 2/5 Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

In February 1918 Service's unit was converted to a pioneer battalion. Soon after, he was posted to the 15th Entrenching Battalion, then in April to the 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. He remained with the East Surreys until October 1918, seeing a great deal of action during that period. The battalion's war diary mentions him in relation to two actions. On the night of 16-17 May 1918 in the St Emile sector, Lens, Service led a raiding party, but was unable to get into the enemy trenches when they:

... came across thick strong wire in front of [the planned entry point] ... & although repeated attempts were made to cut it under the enemy's bombing & MG fire ... it was not possible to effect a passage.

The commanding officer of the 24th Division later wrote that:

Lieut Harvey & 2/Lt Service appear to have done all they possibly could to ensure success, & the fact that the raiding party incurred no casualties shows that the enterprise was skilfully handled by these two officers & the NCOs under them.

On 13 September, in a new part of the same sector:

A very determined & successful effort was made during the morning to ascertain how the enemy were holding their front; this part being quite a new sector to the Battn.

2/Lt Tucker was detailed to carry out a daylight patrol by going forward along L'Ecole Lane for a distance of about 400 yards & examining a large house which commanded that road. ... While this patrol was working Captain High, 2/Lt Service & a runner proceeded along the same road & started exploring on the right, but before long they were fired on by an enemy party of about 12 who rushed from one house to another about 100 yards away, evidently with the idea of moving further back by means of underground passages. The party under 2/Lt Tucker was now returning having completed their task; they were however collected & redistributed so as to support Captain High in the event of a hostile attack. While these preparations were going on 2/Lt Service went across to the left where the C.O. (Colonel Cameron DSO) & the I.O. (Lt Birtles MC) were examining the surroundings forward of our line along the La Bassee Rd with a view to placing snipers in position.

The C.O., accompanied by the I.O., then moved over to the position our patrols had taken up & after a consultation decided that the patrolling party should move further over to the right & examine a large modern chateau (Gibraltar) which occupied a prominent position. The party split up under Captn High, 2/Lt Service & 2/Lt Tucker and commenced an enveloping movement. L/Corpl Harrison succeeded in reaching the chateau & promptly shot the sentry while 2/Lt Service hurled two bombs down the stairway as the enemy rushed up & their screams were heard a long distance away. The house itself was found to be reinforced with concrete & a veritable strong point. In view of this fact the C.O. decided that the patrol should wait for half an hour in case of enemy movement & then withdraw by twos to our own line.

In October 1918 Service was accepted for employment with the Royal Air Force as an observer and left his battalion for training in the UK. Following the Armistice, however, he applied to return to his regiment, joining the 3rd Battalion at Felixstowe on 8 January 1919. He was promoted to lieutenant on 1 February.

On 20 December 1919 he was released from service and relinquished his commission.