David Starrett, Crozier's batman

1897 Dec 28. Born in Belfast. His father was a riveter and he spent his early childhood in the Tiger's Bay area.

According to his memoir he worked for "five years in the milk trade."

1912. When in his teens, he was caught up in the Home Rule Crisis. He opposed Home Rule for Ireland and signed the Ulster Covenant in September 1912.

1914 He was an active member of the West Belfast UVF: On the outbreak of war he enlisyed "Down I went with the boys, to stand outside all day long." He was still only 16 years old but, keen for adventure, he claimed to be 19:

Starrett would go on to serve as batman to officer Frank Percy Crozier, initially with the 9th Royal Irish Rifles, 36th (Ulster) Division, including at the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Later, as Crozier was promoted, Starrett accompanied him, transferring to 119th Brigade (40th Division), and serving through to his own demobilisation in 1919. After the war, Starrett wrote a detailed, unpublished memoir of his experiences, simply entitled 'Batman'.

At training camp, Starrett records an eventful day early on when he met "a heavily built small gent. Someone of importance, he looked ..." It was Frank Percy Crozier, a Major, Second in Command, with the 9th Royal Irish Rifles in September 1914. Starrett recalled that Crozier wanted his horse collected from the railway station: "'Can you ride a horse?' he asked. 'Where's the horse?' I said ... I would let the old bloke know if I could ride!" Crozier, duly impressed, took him on initially as a groom, telling him, "Well, Starrett, you belong to the 9th Bn Royal Irish Rifles from now on." Shortly afterwards, Crozier accepted him as his batman or personal assistant. Starrett thought him "a decent old bloke" who eventually "broke me in. Though never quite."

Crozier and Starrett got off to a shaky start, he says: "I could do nothing right at first." Crozier found Starrett, he records, "Inattentive ... well meaning but loony. And self-opinionated. He never broke me of that. And he'd a bit of the same. So we fought to the end, fought each other, I mean ..." But to the teenaged Starrett, "he remained from first to last more of a father to me than my officer. And, though I was loth to acknowledge it, the pride of my life."