Captain Thomas Alexander McWilliam


Thomas Alexander McWilliam (or MacWilliam) was born on 11 November 1890 at 20 Seafort Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin, the last of at least four children of accountant Thomas Alexander McWilliam and his wife Harriett Frances (née Parnell). At the time of the 1911 Census he was living in Tritonville Road, Pembroke East, Dublin, with his recently-widowed mother and three siblings, and working as a valuation office clerk. He was later employed as a civil servant in the Department of Agriculture, resisding at 83 Strand Road, Merrion.

McWilliam enlisted in the South Irish Horse at Sandymount, Dublin, on 25 January 1911 (No.567). On 17 August 1914 he embarked for France with B Squadron of the regiment (together with A Squadron of the North Irish Horse), seeing action in the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne before being attached to IV Corps headquarters.

McWilliam applied for a commission on 30 December 1914, and again on 15 February 1915. On 23 February he was appointed 2nd lieutenant and was posted to the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron at Enniskillen. On 6 October 1915 he embarked for France with the squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division.

He was twice mentioned in the squadron's war diary:

[26 January 1916:] 2/Lieuts Matthews & McWilliam, Sergt Quinn & Lce Sergt Reid proceeded to the Div. School of Instruction at Le Meillard.

[1 May 1916:] 2nd Lieut MacWilliam was detailed to instruct 12 men in the use of the Hotchkiss Gun he having recently been through a short course at St. Omer.

In June 1916 the Inniskilling squadron 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.

McWilliam was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on 8 March 1917.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded, with most of its officers and men being transferred to the 9th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. McWilliam was posted to the battalion but did not join, instead returning to England on 22 September to transfer to the Indian Army Reserve of Officers (Cavalry). He embarked for Bombay on 22 December 1917. There he was given the rank of acting captain, commanding a squadron of the 33rd Light Cavalry at Risalpur. He left India for home and demobilisation on 26 January 1919. He resigned his commission on 1 May 1922.


McWilliam's brother, William Nicholson McWilliam, also served in the war, as an officer in the Highland Cyclist Battalion and the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch).


This page last updated 13 June 2023.