Lance Sergeant Thomas Matthews


Thomas Matthews was born on 7 July 1900 at Balymacrea, Portrush, County Antrim, the sixth of thirteen children of farm labourer (later road surfaceman) Henry Matthews and his wife Martha (née Knight). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at nearby Cloughorr, Portrush, with his parents and his seven surviving siblings.

Matthews enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 4 and 10 June 1915 (No.1673 – later Corps of Hussars No.71495). Two of his older brothers – James and Robert, also enlisted during the war, but it is not known in which regiment they served. In fact there is some uncertainty as to who was who, as one record gives this man's name as James Matthews, and another as J. Matthews, rather than Thomas.

Matthews trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot before embarking for France sometime between 1916 and 1918, possibly with E Squadron on 11 January 1916.

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

Matthews remained with the regiment throughout the war, apart from occasional home leave. For example the Ballymoney Free Press of 30 August 1917 reported that "Lance-Corporal James [sic] Matthews, North Irish Horse, ... [is] presently on furlough from France."

In late August 1918 at the beginning of the Advance to Victory offensive Matthews was wounded by shrapnel in the right knee. It is not known whether he saw any further front-line service.

On 11 March 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.