Lance Corporal James Freeborn Wray


Wray (seated) with Hamilton McClay (left) and George Alexander Browne (right), all from Laghey, County Donegal, photographed in France or Belgium in 1914 or early 1915


James Freeborn Wray was born on 8 May 1893 at Moyne, Laghy, County Donegal, the fourth of six children of carpenter and farmer John Wray and his wife Annie (nee Graham). By 1911 he was living with his parents, their niece and two of his brother at Raneany West, just north of Laghy, and working as a farm labourer. He had also served two years as an apprentice carpenter to his father.

Wray enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Ballyshannon on 11 February 1911 (No.575), overstating his age by ten months as he was then under 18 years. He was promoted to lance corporal on 19 April 1913.

Wray embarked for France with C Squadron on 20 August 1914, seeing action in the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne. On 4 October 1914 he was charged by his commanding officer Viscount Massereene & Ferrard with neglect of duty while on guard, losing his lance stripe as a result. He was reappointed lance corporal on 3 December to fill the vacancy left when James Greer was commissioned.

Wray remained in France with C Squadron until early 1916. When his period of service expired he elected to leave the army. He returned to the North Irish Horse reserve depot at Antrim where he was discharged on 10 February 1916. His military character was recorded as 'very good'.

On 1 November 1916 Wray joined the Royal Irish Constabulary. He served as a constable, mainly at Armagh, until the force was disbanded in 1922, after which he served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

On 17 August 1926 he married school teacher Alicia Clarke at Ballintra, County Donegal.


Wray (standing) in RIC uniform



First image kindly provided by Gareth Browne, grandson of George Alexander Browne. Second and third images kindly provided by Lance Corporal Wray's grandson Lindsay Hamill.