Sergeant Robert Archibald Wherry


Robert Archibald Wherry was born on 4 June 1880 at Ballyreagh, County Fermanagh, the second of seven children of farmer Archibald Wherry and his wife Annie (née Hunter). By 1907 he was working as a merchant in Ballyreagh, and on 17 April that year he married Elizabeth Moffitt at the Church of Ireland Parish Church in Rossorry, County Fermanagh. The couple had three children over the next six years.

At the time of the 1911 Census Wherry was living with his family at Mullyknock, Ballyreagh, and working as a grocer. Two years later they moved to Belfast, where Wherry found work as a tram conductor.

Wherry enlisted in the North of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry, the predecessor of the North Irish Horse, after its formation in 1904, serving in that regiment as trumpeter until he left in 1907. He served in the Ulster Volunteer Force's mounted unit, the Enniskillen Horse from its formation in 1912.

Records suggest that Wherry enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron at the beginning of the war (regimental number unknown). On 6 October 1915 he embarked for France with the squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division. In June 1916 the Inniskilling squadron combined with F and C Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps.

It is probable that Wherry returned to the UK during 1916 (after 16 September, as there is a reference to him in the regimental diary on that date), and between 1 and 20 November that year he transferred to the North Irish Horse (No.2302 – later Corps of Hussars No.71747). He later returned to France, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment.

In February and March 1918 the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist regiment, meaning a 25 per cent reduction in the regiment's numbers. Wherry was transferred to the 8th (King's Royal Irish) Hussars, later joining the 19th (Queen Alexandra's Own Royal) Hussars. On 25 February 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. He was granted a pension for some years for 'myalgia', which was attributed to his military service.

Following his discharge Wherry returned to Belfast and resumed work as a tram conductor. He died at home on 2 February 1955 and was buried in the Carnmoney Cemetery, Newtownabbey. Two articles published at the time give some insight into his life:

Mr. Bob Wherry, 19 Roseleigh Street, Belfast, one of the best-known figures in band circles in Ulster, died yesterday at the age of 74. He was Honorary Trumpet Major to the North Irish Horse (T.A.). Mr. Wherry was a trumpeter to Major Cole (later Lord Enniskillen) in the days of the North of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry. In 1907 he left the Yeomanry. Five years later he became mounted drummer in the Enniskillen Horse, which was part of the Ulster Volunteer Force. At the outbreak of the First World War he was with the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, but he later transferred to the North Irish Horse. He was posted to the 8th Hussars when the North Irish Horse dismounted. He was a trumpet major throughout the whole of his Army career, and when he learned that the North Irish Horse (T.A.) had formed a band, he offered his services voluntarily. He was appointed Honorary Trumpet Major and attended camp with the Regiment in that capacity. A County Fermanagh man by birth, he came to Belfast in 1913 and worked as a tram conductor. He formed the Belfast Tramways Band in 1925. His wife died some years ago and he is survived by Sergt. Ernest Wherry, R.U.C., Belfast; Mrs. Olive Wishlade, Devon, and Miss Edith Wherry, Belfast.
(Belfast Telegraph 3 February 1955)

It is with a sigh of feeling that the passing of one of nature's musicians is now recorded and that Mr. Robert Wherry ... has taken rest, writes J.K., of Enniskillen, in an appreciation. He became the bandmaster of the Enniskillen Horse, the only regiment of Cavalry in the Ulster Volunteer Force of 1912-14, and it was no doubt at the time an achievement to turn out in such grand order enough men to take care of the regimental music of three squadrons of the territorial unit, thus so efficient in every other way also. The late Copeland Trimble, who was its commanding officer, was himself a musician and the band had, therefore, a welcome preference when the men went to Camp at Castle Hume, in June 1914. Mr. Wherry had charge of the preparations at the time when the old buildings were being made suitable and once when the camping ground was being visited by Sergeant Conway, of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who were partly hostile, Wherry showed him round. In the meantime some good humoured fellows got together and tied with barbed wire to the Sergeant's bicycle, one of the U.V.F. wooden guns. The Sergeant was disappointed and dismayed but the situation came all right as the result of Mr. Wherry's quietly unyielding diplomacy. Joesy was the name of Wherry's drum-horse and "Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still" his regimental march.
(The Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 5 February 1955)


Belfast Telegraph, 5 February 1955


Sergeant Wherry's brother, James Malcolm Wherry, also served in the North Irish Horse and was commissioned during the war.


This page last updated 3 July 2023.