Private William Skillen


The background of this North Irish Horseman is not known for certain, but on the balance of probabilities he is most likely the William Skillen born on 27 April 1896 at Clonachullion, Bryansford, County Down, the second of four children of farmer James Skillen and his wife Rebecca (nee Adams). His mother died of tuberculosis when he was just five years old. By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Tullybranigan, Bryansford, where he worked as a farm servant for farmer and forrester John Carson.

Skillen enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 2 and 5 April 1913 (No.826 – later Corps of Hussars No.71119). He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

He was later posted to C Squadron, which had been in France since 22 August 1914. In June 1916 C Squadron combined with F Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps.

In April 1917 Skillen suffered a contusion of the knee. he was sent via the 139th Field Ambulance to the 41st Division Rest Station. Whether he was evacuated to England for further treatment or returned to his unit in France is not known at present, but he was not with C Squadron when it was disbanded in August 1917.

On 2 March 1919 Skillen was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.