Lance Corporal James Taggart


James Taggart was born on 26 July 1895 at Straidbilly, Dervock, County Antrim, the second of three children of general servant (later agricultural labourer) Robert Taggart and his wife Mary Ann (née Pollock). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Straidbilly with his parents, siblings, a grandfather and an aunt. He trained as a watchmaker under Robert Adams, watchmaker and hardware merchant of Church Street, Ballymoney.

Taggart enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 2 June 1915 (No.1651). After training at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot, on 22 March 1916 he embarked for France, where he was posted to C Squadron.

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 until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Taggart, were transferred on 20 September and were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Taggart was issued regimental number 41318 and posted to C Company.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

Taggart was fortunate to be away from the front on leave during the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918, when many of the 9th (NIH) Battalion were captured, killed or wounded. He rejoined the battalion on 1 April and was wounded in the right arm on the 11th in the actions between Wulverghem and Kemmel on the Ypres front. The injury was not severe, however, and he was able to return to duty on the same day. On 23 May he was promoted to lance corporal.

On 11 August Taggart took party in a raid on the enemy lines near Meulenhouck. According to the battalion diary:

At 11 pm patrol of 32 O.R. under Capt. J Benson and 2/Lt. Behennah attempted to raid Shoddy Farm but were attacked in rear and after hand-to-hand fight in which casualties were inflicted on either side, returned. Our casualties, Capt. Benson, missing, two O.R. killed, two wounded.

Taggart was one of the two wounded, in the right knee. Initially treated in the 2nd Australian General Hospital at Le Havre, on 23 August he was evacuated to England, where he was admitted to the Southwark Military Hospital in London. He remained there until 11 October, when he was discharged to furlough before returning to duty with the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

A medical board on 18 February 1919 found:

There has been through & through wound of the knee. He walks with a limp – there is quite good flexion at the knee.

On 20 March 1919 Taggart was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.