Private Thomas Henry Rollins


Thomas Henry Rollins (or Roylands, or Rawlins) was born on 20 September 1891 at Drumad, Coagh, County Tyrone, the son of Mary Ann Roylands. On March 1900 his mother married labourer Robert Mitchell and the couple had five children before Robert's death in April 1907. By the time of the 1911 Census, Thomas was living at Drumad with his mother and five-half siblings and working on the family farm.

Rollins enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 10 August 1914 (No.984). He embarked for France on 9 February 1915 with a draft of reinforcements for A and C Squadrons – it is likely that he was posted to the latter.

In June 1916 C Squadron combined 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 disbanded and its men transferred to the infantry. Like most, Rollins was posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – on 20 September, joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. He was issued regimental number 41260 and posted to C Company. It is likely that he saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

From 21 to 28 March 1918 the 9th (NIH) Battalion took part in a fighting withdrawal from St Quentin to near Amiens, during the first phase of the German spring offensive. Rollins was one of the many men of the battalion initially posted as missing. It was later learned that he had been captured on 27 March in the action near Erches.

Rollins remained a prisoner of war until the end of the war – in November 1918 he was being held at Stendal and Meresberg. He was repatriated soon after, and on 15 April 1919 was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.