Private Thomas John Nelson


Thomas John Nelson was born on 14 November 1885 at Dunbeg, Downpatrick, County Down, the first of seven children of farmer (later labourer) Thomas Nelson and his wife Mary (née Abernethy). Around 1900 he began work as a draper's apprentice in Belfast. By the time of the 1911 Census he was living as a boarder at 4.2 Telfair Street, Belfast and working as a draper's assistant for the firm Robb & Co.

Nelson enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 25 and 27 November 1915 (No.1979). While in training at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp, on 9 August 1916, he married Margaret McAllister in the Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church, Bangor, County Down.

In late 1916 or the first half of 1917 Nelson embarked for France, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Nelson, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Nelson was issued regimental number 41434.

No information has been discovered about Nelson's service with the 9th (NIH) Battalion through the latter part of 1917 and during 1918. However he subsequently joined the Northumberland Fusiliers (No.87080) and was posted to the 22nd (Service) Battalion until demobilised and discharged, probably in 1919.

After the war Nelson returned to Belfast, where he worked as a drapery salesman. By 1980 he was living at 24 Hartland Avenue, Lisburn. He died in hospital on 31 January that year, and was buried in the Dundonald Cemetery.