Private William Woodburn


William Woodburn was born on 13 November 1889 (with his twin sister Ellen) at 14 Agincourt Avenue, Belfast, the eighth of twelve children of shirt factory manager (also recorded as lapper and linen merchant) George Woodburne and his wife Ellen (nee McKittrick). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 127 Agincourt Avenue with his widowed mother, seven siblings, two nieces and a nephew, and working as a boot salesman. On 17 May 1911 he married Elizabeth McKinley at St James's Church, Belfast.

Woodburn enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 8 and 10 August 1914 (No.979). On 1 May 1915 he embarked for France with D Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 51st Division.

In May and June 1916 D, A and E Squadrons of the North Irish Horse combined to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, while C and F Squadrons joined the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, each serving as corps cavalry units. In September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the infantry. Most joined the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – on 20 September. Woodburn, however, did not join the battalion until late January 1918. He was then issued regimental number 41896.

He remained with the 9th (NIH) Battalion through 1918, although twice hospitalised for relatively minor illnesses.

On 19 February 1919 Woodburn was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. Soon after he was granted a pension for 'DAH' (disordered action of the heart) which was attributed to his war service.


Woodburn's brother Thomas McCormick Woodburn also served in the North Irish Horse during the war.