Private Samuel Wray


Samuel Wray (or Rea) was born on 5 August 1894 at Kells, Ballymena, County Antrim, the last of nine children of farmer and publican William Hugh Wray and his wife Mary Ann (nee Graham). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Kells with his parents, three siblings, a nephew and a niece, and working as a cloth finisher.

Wray enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 27 November 1915 (No.1986). In 1916 or the first half of 1917 he embarked for France, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments.

In September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was dismounted and most of its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the infantry. After training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, most of the men were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 September and soon after were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – re-named the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. Wray was issued regimental number 41265. He probably saw action with the battalion during the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

In late 1917 or early 1918 Wray fell ill and was evacuated to the UK, suffering from gastritis. On 1 July 1918 he was discharged, being no longer physically fit for military service (paragraph 392 xvi of King's Regulations).

Wray returned to Kells, where he worked as a publican. On 28 March 1923 he married Ellen Jane Neeson at the First Ballymena Presbyterian Church. Later that year he emigrated to America, initially living at 5036 Jackson Street, Frankford, Philadelphia.


Wray's brother Robert also served in the war, as an armourer corporal in the 2nd Brigade Machine Gun Company of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.