Trumpeter Thomas Owen McVeigh



Thomas Owen McVeigh was born on 20 June 1893 at 10 Greenville Terrace, Belfast, the third of four children of tailor Samuel McVeigh and his wife Margaret (nee McSally). His father had also had at least six children by a previous marriage. By 1911 he was living with his widowed mother and three sisters at 49 Cromwell Road, Belfast, and working as an apprentice pattern weaver.

McVeigh enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 8 September 1914 (No.1163). Soon after he was promoted to the rank of trumpeter. He embarked for France on 18 December 1914 as part of a small reinforcement draft for A and C Squadrons. It is likely that he was posted to C Squadron to replace Trumpeter William McFerran, who had recently been demoted and imprisoned for four months for drunkenness.

In June 1916 C Squadron joined with F Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was dismounted and most of the men transferred to the infantry. After training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, the men, including McVeigh, were formally transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 September and soon after were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – re-named the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. McVeigh was issued regimental number 41253.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917, and perhaps also during the retreat from St Quentin in March 1918 and the Advance to Victory offensive from August 1918.

On 15 March 1919 he was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

After the war he returned to his trade as a pattern maker, living at 18 Canterbury Street, Belfast. On 15 October 1919 he married Kathleen Elizabeth Moore at St Jude's Parish Church, Belfast.


In France (possibly Bailleul), February 1915


Family group, 1919


Images of Trumpeter McVeigh kindly provided by his grandson Simon McVeigh. Another image of McVeigh can be seen here.