Private William James Wright


William James Wright was born on 14 August 1895 at 6 Carlisle Street, Belfast, the second of eleven children of joiner John Wright and his wife Emily Edith (née Craze). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 4 Genoa Street with his parents and siblings, and working as a shirt cutter.

Wright enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 12 or 13 December 1916 (No.2328). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France in the first half of 1917, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments.

In August-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 Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Wright, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Wright was issued regimental number 41368.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

Wright was captured, unwounded, on 27 March 1918 at Erches, near Roye, at the end of the the 9th (NIH) Battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin during the German spring offensive, when much of the battalion was overwhelmed by the fast-moving German advance. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war, initially held at Bohain in France, then at camps in Giessen and Sagan in Germany.

Wright was repatriated in late December 1918 or January 1919. He was discharged or demobilised on 18 October 1919 and granted a pension for a disability attributed to his military service – assessed at 20 per cent in March 1920. His address soon after the war was with is parents at 49 Distillery Street, Belfast.