Private Thomas William Collins


Collins (standing right) with North Irish Horsemen James Marks (standing left) and Hiram Irwin (seated)


Thomas William Collins was born on 2 January 1892 at Coagh, County Tyrone, the second of nine children of farmer Thomas Collins and his wife Elizabeth (nee Glendinning). By the time of the 1911 census he was living with his parents and siblings at Coagh, his occupation given as 'Yeoman'. In 1914 he was a section leader in E Company of the Cookstown Battalion of the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Collins enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 20 August and 16 September 1910 (No.536 – later Corps of Hussars No. 71033). He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne. A Squadron then served as escort to the Commander-in-Chief of the BEF until 4 January 1916, when it was posted as divisional cavalry to the 55th Division.

On 26 June 1915 the Mid-Ulster Mail reported that:

Trooper T. W. Collins, of the North Irish Horse, has just paid a visit to his parents' residence, Lower Coagh. He was called up at the outbreak of the war, and since then has been mostly in France, serving some time as bodyguard to General French. He also took part in the retreat from Mons, and until a short time ago, when he contracted scarlet fever, Trooper Collins was doing one man's part to help drive the German invaders back across the Rhine. He was some time in hospital both in France and England and on his recovery he was granted a fortnight leave home. He is feeling quite fit now and speaks well of the treatment he received in the different hospitals. He left home again on Thursday.

In May 1916 A Squadron combined with D and E Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps until March 1918, when the regiment was converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war. Collins remained with the regiment throughout.

On 6 January 1918 the Mail reported that:

Privates Thomas Creighton, Joseph Curry, James Mitchell, of the Inniskillings, and Troopers Matthew Hagan and Thomas Collins, N.I.H., spent Christmas with their friends at Coagh.

Collins was wounded during the Advance to Victory offensive from August to November 1918. On 2 March 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

His name is included on the Coagh Orange Hall Roll of Honour.


Image sourced from Friends of the Somme Mid Ulster Branch - Coagh website, who received it courtesy of Dessie Gordon.