Lance Corporal Thomas Welton



The family background of this North Irish Horseman is at present not known. He may have been the Thomas Welton born on 3 April 1880 at Cullenfad, Dungannon, County Tyrone, the last of five children of coachman Richard Welton and his wife Eliza Jane (nee McWilliams). Eliza Jane died in 1885 and Richard remarried five years later, the couple having three children in the next seven years. However Thomas and his four siblings disappear from UK and Irish records from 1885, suggesting they may have emigrated.

Welton served during the Boer War as a private in the South African Constabulary (No.1303), earning a Queen's South Africa Medal and five clasps (South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902, Transvaal, Orange Free State and Cape Colony). At some point up to 1914 he returned to Ireland, residing in Belfast.

Welton enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 21 and 26 April 1915 (No.1494 – later Corps of Hussars No.71402).

In the first half of 1915 he embarked for England with F Squadron, where they awaited orders for France. On 12 July, however, Welton was one of about two dozen men of the squadron who volunteered for service as Military Mounted Police with the 54th (East Anglian) Division, which was under orders to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. They sailed from Devonport on HMT Manitou on 29 July 1915, joining the landing at Suvla Bay between 10 and 16 August.

At the end of the year the campaign at Gallipoli was abandoned, the men of the North Irish Horse leaving in December. They arrived in Egypt the following month, where a number of them, including Welton, remained for the duration of the war. In March 1916 the photo below appeared in the Belfast Evening Telegraph, accompanied by the following text:

Lance-Corporal R. Corry, formerly a Belfast motorman, who entered the tramway service a very young trace boy, and has been in it ever since, without a 'bad mark' against him; and T. Wilton [sic], another Belfastman, two close chums, belonging to the North Irish Horse. They spent four months with that regiment at Suvla Bay, and took part in the famous charge, when the heights were carried. They left Suvla Bay with the Australians, and are now in Egypt. The photograph shows the Sphinx itself, and the Great Pyramid. The two men, both lance-corporals, are doing military mounted police duty in Egypt. The figure to the left is Corry, and the figure to the right is Wilton.

Welton continued serving with the Military Mounted Police. He formally transferred to that regiment in June 1918 (No. P/14895) – with effect from 30 August 1917.

He was discharged as being medically unfit for further service on 23 June 1919.



Welton's medals


Newspaper image, from the Belfast Evening Telegraph, 2 March 1916, kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (