Private Thomas Steele


This North Irish Horseman was probably the Thomas Gardiner Steele born on 23 June 1888 at 46 Osborne Street, Belfast, the first of three children of clerk (later draper) James Alexander Steele and his wife Annie (née McGladdery). His mother died when he was just five years old. By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 111 The Mount, Belfast, with his father, step-mother and five half-siblings, and working as an assistant draper.

Steele enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 20 and 23 November 1915 (No.1936). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France around June 1917. There 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 Steele, 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. Steele was issued regimental number 41365 and posted to B Company.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917. On 27 December he fell ill and was treated at the 18th General Hospital at Camiers, returning to his battalion in late January.

Steele was one of the many posted as missing following the 9th (NIH) Battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive. It was later reported that he had been wounded. He rejoined the battalion later that year, and was wounded again, in the right wrist, during the Advance to Victory offensive, probably in September or October.

Steele was demobilised, or discharged, on 25 February 1919. He was granted a pension due to his wound, his level of disability assessed at 20 per cent in January 1920.