Lance Corporal Henry Welsh


Henry (Harry) Welsh was born on 13 December 1884 at Ballee near Ballymena, County Antrim, the fourth of seven children of farmer James Carson Welsh and his wife Ruth (née Hall). Following the death of his brother Samuel in 1902 and his father in 1904, Henry and his brother John Wilson Welsh emigrated to New Zealand in August 1905. Their brother Walker followed them five years later. John Wilson, however, died at Kimbolton just two years later.

Henry returned home around 1912, living at the home of his sister Matilda and her husband, Dr William Samuel Ramsey Dick, at Cullybackey Town near Ballymena. His brother Frederick had died in 1910 and Matilda died in 1912.

On 25 November 1915 Welsh enlisted in the North Irish Horse (No.1975 – later Corps of Hussars No.71651). The Ballymena Observer of 3 December reported:

Amongst the recruits to the North Irish Horse this week are Messrs. James Anderson, Brocklamount; William Stevenson, Crankill; Harry Welsh, Cullybackey. Mr. James Anderson is the eldest son of Mr. John Anderson, greenkeeper of the Ballymena Bowling Club. He has a younger brother, Jack, at present serving in France with the 12th Batt. R.I.R. Mr William Stevenson is a son of the late Wilson Stevenson, of Crankill. He was formerly employed in Mr. Cameron's, Mill Street, and both he and James Anderson have for some years past occupied good positions in Liverpool, which they gave up at the call of their King and country. Mr. Harry Welsh is a son of the late Carson Welsh, Ballee. He returned from New Zealand some time ago, and resided with his brother-in-law, Dr. Dick, at Cullybackey. He is an enthusiastic member of the Cullybackey Golf Club.

Welsh trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot before embarking for France in 1916 or the first half of 1917, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, probably E Squadron.

From its formation in May 1916, the 1st NIH Regiment served as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps. In February-March 1918 the Regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps. Welsh remained with the regiment until the end of the war. During the Advance to Victory offensive from August to November 1918 he was wounded by mustard gas. This took place on 3 October 1918, east of Epehy, near the German defences on the St Quentin Canal. E Squadron's war diary recorded:

[1-2 October] Attached 100th Inf Brdge 33rd Division. Sent out a patrol under 2/Lt Downey to reconnoitre Canal de St Quentin ... preparatory to small raiding operations on following night which however never took place.

[3 October] 15 ORs Gassed by gas shelling. Sqdn moved forward to Battn H.Q. owing to report that enemy were retiring. This did not prove to be the case, so Sqdn moved back to previous location and were engaged in afternoon on salvage work.

Welsh was treated in the Convalescent Depot at Trouville.

On 24 February 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

At some point after the war Welsh returned to New Zealand. He died there on 17 June 1970 and was buried in the Mount View Cemetery, Marton, Manawatu-Wanganui.


Welsh's brother Walker Welsh also served in the war, in the Otago Regiment of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He was wounded in France in January 1918.



Image sourced from the Billion Graves website.