Private Thomas John McNeill


Thomas John McNeill was born on 29 June 1894 at Emdale (Imdel), Banbridge, County Down, the first of three children of farmer John McNeill and his wife Elizabeth (nee Campbell). His father died when he was seven years old and one of his brothers six years later. His mother remarried in July 1909, but died the following month. By the time of the 1911 Census, Thomas was living at Sandy Street, Newry, County Down, where he was serving an apprenticeship to ironmonger to Thomas Rea.

McNeill enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 12 May 1915 (No.1530). He embarked for France with E Squadron on 11 January 1916. At the time, E Squadron was serving as divisional cavalry to the 34th Division. In May that year A, D and E Squadrons came together to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII Corps.

On 5 January 1917 McNeill transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (No.61185), with the rank of Air Mechanic 2nd Class. His trade classification was recorded as 'motor cyclist'.

McNeill served with No.6 Squadron until September 1917, when he fractured his left ankle. Following treatment at the 18th General Hospital at Camiers he was evacuated to the UK where, on 12 October, he was admitted to the Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital at Perth.

On 1 April 1918 McNeill was transferred to the newly-formed Royal Air Force, with the rank of Private Class 1. It is likely that he served the remainder of the war in the UK, including at No.1 Training Depot Squadron. On 6 April 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to the RAF's G Reserve.