In memoriam

Private William Thomas Elliott



William Thomas Elliott was born on 8 March 1891 at Moybane, Letterbreen, County Fermanagh, the second of eight children of herd William Elliott and his wife Mary Anne (née Reid). At the time of the 1911 Census he was living at nearby Donegall, Ely, and working as a general labourer.

Elliott enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron at Enniskillen between 26 and 31 August 1915 (No. UD/284). On 6 October the squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division, embarked for France. Elliott, however, remained at the regimental depot at Enniskillen until 1916 or the first half of 1917, when he embarked for France as a reinforcement for the squadron.

In June 1916 the Inniskillings squadron had joined with C and F Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until August the following year. In September 1917 the 2nd Regiment was disbanded and most of its officers and men were transferred to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – which was renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion. Elliott, like the majority of the men, was transferred to the battalion on 20 September. He was issued a new regimental number – 41159.

He probably saw action with the battalion during the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 and perhaps also during the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918.

On 9 April 1918 the 9th (NIH) Battalion was on the Ypres front when the Germans began their offensive in that sector. The battalion saw severe fighting between Wulverghem and Kemmel for more than a week and suffered many casualties. Elliott was initially listed as missing, but his death was later accepted.

It is possible that he died in the early morning of 18 April when a composite battalion of 400 men from the 9th and 1st Battalions, Royal Irish Fusiliers, and 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, were caught in an enemy bombardment while moving to positions on the western slopes of Mount Kemmel. According to the battalion diary for that day:

2 am. Moved to Kemmel, as composite Bn with 1st R. Ir. Fus. cmd. by Lt. Col. Kelly. Heavy casualties, while moving into position, from enemy shelling. Capt. Despard wounded and died soon after.

... and the 108 Brigade diary:

Battalion moved to Kemmel Hill, but whilst halted near foot of N. slope was heavily shelled, losing Captain Despard killed ... and about 70 other casualties.

Having no known grave, Private Elliott is commemorated on Panel 141 of the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.



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This page last updated 7 July 2023.