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Two Badges with a family connection


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One badge, which has always been in my father's possession is the badge of the Australian Commonwealth Military Forces - a bronze example from WW1. It had belonged to his uncle - I think his name was Hughes, and he served in the Australian Army during WW1, unforunately, have no record of service.

The second badge I purchased myself, a similar one had been worn by my uncle, John St.Claire Clarke, born in 1897 at The Cottage, Antrim. He had served with the North Irish Horse as a volunteer from 1915-1917, and had been invalided out, as far as I know.

Unfortunately, I never saw any of his souvenirs of that service. My aunt always wanted to give me his medals and the two polished brass shellcases, which had been on the mantlepiece for many years. After my aunt passed away in 1979, we never came across said articles. Don't know what happened there.

However, still have some of his papers, including a medical record from leaving Colonial Service in British West Africa, as a Colonial Officer, he had been infected with Malaria. That was in the 1920s in the postwar period. He was later an official in the Bank of England in London, thereafter, an official in local government offices in Stormont, N.I., until his retirement in 1962.

The copies of the typed reference of service read:

No.H./71701 Corporal Clarke, J.St.C. served in the unit under my command for a period of two years, duing that time he was Honest, Sober, and hardworking and a good disciplinarian; his educational qualities were very good, his conduct during the whole of his service was exemplary.


(Signed) H. Maude, Colonel

Commanding North Irish Horse



4: 3: 1919


I always wanted to find out more about his service record. Apparently many records were destroyed during the "Blitz" in 1940. Some however have been restored, the damage was apparently not as total as originally estimated. I wonder which medals he had, possibly the War Medal, the Victory Medal, The 1914/15 Star, maybe the King's Badge and possibly more???

Does anyone perhaps have any more information on this subject?











2154 No overseas service * Enlisted 20 April 1916. Discharged 13 March 1918.
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Further photo added, 24.7.2016

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You could try looking online for information at any of these ( Forces War Records, Findmypast,or Ancestry.

All keep copies of the following for WW1, WW2.


Surviving Service Records ( WO 363 ).

Service Records with Pension Records ( WO 364 ).

Medal Index Cards (WO 372 ).


Or you could try his Regiments War Diaries.


You may have to pay a subscription to use these sites, or try the Nationalarchives. Gov.UK.

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Many thanks for info. Have already searched these some time ago, and found some indication, that records exist - but did not get any further.

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  • 7 months later...

Further photo added: Original period copy (bluepaper) of his discharge recommendation from 4th March 1919, undersigned by Colonel H. Maude (signature not on copy)


North Irish Horse - Losses 1914-1918:


15/09/1914 Private W MOORE 01/10/1914 Lieutenant S B COMBE 08/10/1914 Private H SCOTT 23/10/1914 Corporal E BUCHANAN


02/03/1915 Private W IRWIN 17/03/1915 Corporal D W RITCHIE 24/05/1915 Private G HARPER 13/11/1915 Private T S



27/04/1916 Private J McAROW 23/06/1916 Private W J FINLAY 28/07/1916 Private T WRIGHT 27/10/1916 Private M BOYLE


12/02/1917 Captain C NORMAN 12/02/1917 Private W M MURPHY 02/05/1917 Lt L C WISE 06/05/1917 Private R MOORE 20/05/1917 L/Corporal R I BRADLEY 26/06/1917 Serjeant R A WYLIE 20/07/1917 L/Corporal S L TURNER 20/07/1917 Private C D TURNER 09/08/1917 Private S ROBINSON 19/09/1917 Private F CORDWELL


03/03/1918 Private R ELLIOTT 26/03/1918 Private R G ARMSTRONG 26/03/1918 Private J J DURNEEN 09/04/1918 Private W A MORROW 16/08/1918 Private W WALLER 16/08/1918 Private W McCLELLAND 21/08/1918 Private R ROSS 21/08/1918 Private T BRYSON 21/08/1918 Private J ROBERTS 26/08/1918 Private J McVEA 26/08/1918 Private G GILL 26/08/1918 Private A G KELLY 26/08/1918 Private F LIVINGSTONE 30/08/1918 Trooper A H HUGGINS 02/09/1918 Private A BLAIR 02/09/1918 Lt Colonel R A WEST 03/10/1918 Private F BEST 06/10/1918 Lt H P KELLOCK 25/10/1918 Private J EVANS 03/11/1918 Private H BRENNAN 04/11/1918 Private J CULLY 07/11/1918 Private C ELDER 08/11/1918 Private C R WOODSIDE 09/11/1918 Private R EVANS 10/11/1918 L/Corporal R H HILL

Info found under:


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  • 7 months later...

Place of Issue: Nigeria. Name: John St Claire Clarke. Nationality: British. Date of...

This record has not been digitalised and cannot be downloaded.

You can order records in advance to be ready for you when you visit Kew. You will need a reader's ticket to do this. Or, you can request a quotation for a copy to be sent to you.

Reference: FO 655/1981

Place of Issue: Nigeria.

Name: John St Claire Clarke.

Nationality: British.

Date of issue: 9 January 1922.

Age: [not given].

Occupation: Inspector and Schoolmaster.

Destination: [not given].

Passport number: 4373.

Residence: [not given].

Date of Birth: 13 January 1897.

Place of Birth: Kerry

Date: 1922
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Closure status: Open Document, Open Description
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Port Harcourt, 9. March 1931

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Two exercise books from the posession of J. St.C. Clarke


An old postcard from the possession of J. St.C. Clarke. Antrim Castle was the headquarters of the North Irish Horse. Antrim Castle was totally destroyed by a fire in 1922. The ruins were demolished in 1970, only the gardens remaining.  The castle had belonged to Lord Mazarin. The cause of the fire was never discovered, and therefore no insurance compensation was ever paid.


Two pocket diaries of 1935 and 1945. Latter from the posession of J.St.C.Clarke, the other from his sister in law.

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The 1st North Irish Horse Regiment had moved to the Ypres sector in mid-July 1917, held ready to exploit the expected success of XIX Corps when Third Ypres (Passchendaele) began on the 31st.

As the battle commenced they marched 6 miles along the road to Ypres, stopping at a point west of Goldfish Chateau.

XIX Corps attacked up the Pilckem Ridge towards Gravenstafel. Here the ground was unwooded, but pocked with shell-holes, and although the water lay close to the surface, it was not the sea of mud that it would soon become.

If the attack went well and the first three objectives were seized, strong patrols of infantry and troops of the North Irish Horse would move forward – one troop under New Zealander Lieutenant Grigg (pictured) supporting 164 Brigade, and another supporting 45 Brigade. If the enemy’s positions were not strongly held, they would seize them and move forward again, advancing beyond the fourth objective to occupy the high ground of the Passchendaele ridge.

That was the plan, but after a heavy German counter-attack in the afternoon, XIX Corps was pushed back to their second objective, which it held. The North Irish Horse was not ordered forward, and the following day rode back to their bivouac near Poperinghe.

Interesting to note, they are all wearing the Imperial Service Clasp.

(Photo showing Grigg brothers – far left and far right – provided by Penny Otto and Jill McLaren)

(from facebook page of N.I.H.)



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  • 2 weeks later...

Silver objects from the Estate of John St. C. Clarke, Esq. of Antrim, 1897 - 1966,
fomerly North Irish Horse, Colonial Office, Bank of England and Stormont
(photo from 1980)
Most of the silver dates from 1914-1919, London, Chester  and Birmingham hall-marked. The large tray is silver plate, a present
from the Bank of England during the 1930s.



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  • 9 months later...

From the estate of John St.C. Clarke

Silver cigarette case initialled J.St.C.C. - Lion Hallmark and "M"  ca. 1917(?) Carried for many years.
2 souvenir coins, British West Africa, One Penny, G.R.V., 1919 and 1928, nickel silver with patina
2 brass paperclips from the Colonial Administration





A Chester hallmarked silver cigarette box, ca. 1923



A hallmarked gold personal signet ring, worn for a lifetime, split due to a cricket injury in the early 1920s.


A gentleman's walking stick with hallmarked silver band J.St.C.C., ca. 1917.  Silver has not been cleaned for many years.


A cigarette box, native work, West Africa, tropical hardwood, ivory and porcupine quills, some insect damage to latter.



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http://www.northirishhorse.com.au/NIH/Images/People/Full pictures/Clarke J StC.html

This biography I received from a research source, link above


John St Claire Clarke was born on 13 January 1897 at Milltown, Killarney, County Kerry, the third of seven children of land agent's assistant (later auctioneer) Nathaniel Milligan Clarke and his wife Agnes (nee Warbrick). The family moved to Antrim around 1899, where they lived at Massereene Street, Muckamore Grange. By the time of the 1911 Census, however,  John was boarding at the Dundalk Educational Institution*. He then commenced work as a school teacher.

Clarke enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 20 April 1916 (No.2154 – later Corps of Hussars No.71701). He was made acting lance corporal on 4. August 1916, lance corporal on 25 November 1916, and acting corporal on 19 January 1917.

Soon after this, however, Clarke began to have problems with his eyesight. According to a medical board report at Antrim on 12 February 1918:

After joining [he] passed musketry as a first class shot. He states that eye sight remained in same condition until 5/3/17 during cold snowy weather when he suddenly took violent pain in forehead & became almost blind. Since then sight of left eye has improved to 6/36 without glasses 6/24 with glasses. There has been no improvement for 5 months. Cannot be exposed to cold & ordered by eye specialists not to attempt clerking work.

The board concluded that his poor eyesight, although pre-dating his military service, had been aggravated by "exposure to cold at Antrim during snowy weather in March [19]17 when undergoing training." It recommended that he be discharged as permanently unfit for war service.

Clarke was discharged on 13 March 1918 (paragraph 392 xvi, King's Regulations). His character was recorded as 'good' – "Sober & honest. No offence is recorded during his service." He was awarded a 30 per cent disablement pension, but this ended in November 1919 when a review concluded that his poor eyesight had not been aggravated by his military service.

After the war Clarke returned to teaching. From around 1922 to 1931 he worked as a teacher and school inspector in Nigeria** and Ghana**. On 16 July 1924 he married Janet Chisholm Adams, daughter of the Reverend W.A. Adams, at Kells Presbyterian Church, Ballymena. He was married a second time, to Florence Isabella Gregg, on 6 January 1943.

Clarke worked as an official in the Bank of England in London and later as an official in local government offices in Stormont, Belfast, until his retirement in 1962. He died on 20 February 1966 and was buried in Clandeboye Cemetery, Bangor, County Down

* he also attended the Mountjoy School in Dublin
**British West Africa


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Some academic references from his estate:





Bildergebnis für stratton park great bletchley

A recent photograph of the site

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A wooden "clothes horse" or clothes stand, undoubtedly purchased in Britain in the early 1920s and used in the colonies, from the personal effects of John St.C. Clarke during his service with the Colonial Office as District Officer in British West Africa, 1923-1931. Probably lightweight  beech-wood with an original  patinated mahogany finish of the period.





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A great admirer of the Führer and a friend of Germany:


James Duff, Alderman (Ratsherr) of Belfast, two photos, one is dated 9th Sept.1937, at the seafront in Bangor/Co.Down.
He was also managing director of the Belfast Patents Company and a successful businessman,
and travelled to Berlin to meet the Führer several times.  After the war broke out, my aunt had to help
burn all the business papers and correspondence associated with his visits.




The only correspondence that has survived, a long letter dated 6. June 1936 to his secretary at the company, along with
2 postcards, stamped, but unwritten of the Berliner Rathaus and the Berliner Dom with Schinkelplatz.
Hotel Bristol, Unter den Linden, seems like a noble address.


An earlier image of the the British Hotel, same address, later Bristol Hotel

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  • 1 year later...



Some names were recently added to the North Irish Horse War Memorial, these soldiers had been previously missing.

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  • 8 months later...
North Irish Horse WW2 Memorial
North Irish Horse WW2 Memorial
Stained glass window in Belfast City Hall dedicated to the North Irish Horse
N.I.H. Memorial
Some time ago I acquired this photograph of a North Irish Horse officer, taken by the Lafayette studios in Belfast. There was no name on the photo, but it gave a number of clues – he was a captain, and there was an old label on the back from a picture-framer in Strabane, County Tyrone. That made sense, because the picture came with some other material from Strabane.
After further research I believe I have identified him. He was Emerson Crawford Herdman, senior partner in Herdmans Ltd, which operated the flax spinning mill at Sion Mills, near Strabane. The clincher was the second image, a sketch of Herdman in the Larne Times from September 1911 – clearly the same man, right down to the monocle.
Herdman was born on 2 January 1869, son of John Herdman and Mary Elizabeth Marion Herdman (nee Gosselin). Commissioned in the 5th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, he became a lieutenant in September 1889, resigning his commission five years later.
On 17 July 1903 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the North of Ireland Imperial Yeomanry, transferring to the newly-formed North Irish Horse five years later. He was promoted to captain on 21 April 1913.
Herdman also commanded the 1st Tyrone Battalion of the Ulster Volunteer Force.
He embarked for France with A Squadron of the North Irish Horse on 17 August 1914. During the retreat from Mons the squadron was split, with two troops under Herdman acting as escort to the commander-in-chief General French. A letter written home by North Irish Horseman William Morton refers to Herdman's experiences at this time: "... the other two troops ... [had] some exciting experiences in the retreat. I believe they were nearly captured at St. Quentin by holding a position too long, but Captain Herdman, with two other officers and Sergeant-Major Burns, outwitted the enemy and got clear in the nick of time. They retreated about 20 miles, but the enemy was again on their track. I heard they nearly lost their transport by a horse giving up, but succeeded in gaining a bridge in time just before it was blown up by the Engineers."
Herdman was promoted to the rank of major in February 1915. He returned home on leave three months later, later joining the reserve regiment at Antrim where he took command of B Squadron.
In May 1917 a medical board found him unfit for general service but fit for garrison duty abroad or home service, due to defective vision. He saw no further overseas service. On 25 January 1919 he was demobilized and on 16 November the following year relinquished his commission.
From 1920 to 1922 Herdman served as Lord Lieutenant of Donegal. He was elected as a member of the Senate of Northern Ireland in 1923 and served until his death on 10 February 1949.
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"Postcard from France"
An interesting group photo of North Irish Horsemen taken in France. Only some are wearing cap badges, and of these, three are shoulder titles improvised as cap badges. One possible explanation is that they are men from the disbanded 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment about to commence training as infantrymen at the 36th Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur in September 1917 - having surrendered their NIH cap badges but not yet been issued with new ones (or new infantry equipment for that matter).







North Irish Horse - Brief history - Memories of the North Irish Horse

North Irish Horse - Gallery - Uniform and kit - Tunic

North Irish Horse - Gallery - Uniform and kit - Tunic

The original peacetime uniform of the Regiment

North/South Irish Horse and Irish Yeomanry

Badge and shoulder title

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  • 5 months later...

Things to do in Picardy, Hauts-de-France: The Best Art Museums

Vignacourt - Tourismus, Urlaub & Wochenenden

Well worth including on any Somme battlefield tour intinerary, the Vignacourt 14-18 Museum is built around the photographs taken by Louis and Antoinette Thuillier of the soldiers billeted around the town during the war. Thousands of their glass plate negatives were recently recovered from the farmhouse where the pictures had been taken, among them more than two dozen showing men of the North Irish Horse.
Gracing a wall at the entrance to the Museum is an enormous image of a mounted North Irish Horseman – a great honour to the regiment.
The Museum is located at 196 rue d'Amour, Vignacourt, less than half an hour's drive north of Amiens.


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Thomas James Thompson was born on 27 February 1894 at Coolbuck, Lisbellaw, County Fermanagh, the first of eight children of farmer James Thompson and his wife Ellen (nee Clegg). At the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Coolbuck with his widowed mother and six surviving siblings and working as a farm labourer.
Thompson enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 30 July 1912 (No.722). He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.
In 1915 or 1916 Thompson fell ill. Evacuated to the UK, he was diagnosed as having contracted pulmonary tuberculosis. On 7 May 1917 he was discharged, being no longer physically fit for war service (paragraph 392 xvi, King's Regulations). He was granted a disability pension and returned home to Coolbuck. The illness prevailed, however, and he died on 22 August 1920.
At the time, Thompson was not officially identified as a casualty of the war. Following my identification of his case, a submission was made to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission through the In From the Cold Project, proposing that he be included on its roll of honour. The Commission agreed on 29 October this year. Pending identification of his place of burial, Thompson is now commemorated in the United Kingdom Book of Remembrance.
There is a good chance that this man is the T J Thompson shown in this image, of the Lisbellaw Church of Ireland's Roll of Honour. (Image provided by Nigel Henderson, researcher at History Hub Ulster.)
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