Private Hugh Gibson Todd


Hugh Gibson Todd was born on 6 September 1888 at Loughrelisk, near Upper Ballinderry, County Antrim, the seventh of nine children (all boys) of farmer William John Todd and his wife Sarah (née Hanna). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Loughrelisk with his parents and four of his six surviving brothers and working as a warehouse assistant for the firm John Fulton & Co.

Todd enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 14 January 1916 (No.2079), understating his age by three years (he was then 27). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp until November 1916, when he and around 100 other North Irish Horsemen volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles. The formal transfer took place on 7 December (Todd was issued regimental number 40924), and on that day the men embarked for France. There they were posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, joining it on the Somme front on 12 December.

In March the following year Todd fell ill with trench fever. Treated at the 1st Australian General Hospital in Rouen, he was able to erturn to duty at the Base Depot, Le Havre, by 20 April. However it was not until 20 July that he rejoined the 1st Battalion on the Ypres front. There he was posted to B Company.

On 31 July 1917 Todd's battalion took part in the attack on the Westhoek Ridge on the first day of Third Ypres (Passchendaele). Their casualties were high – the battalion diary reported 36 officers and other ranks killed, 152 wounded and 18 missing.

Todd was one of the wounded, in the chin, right ear, and right thigh, the last of these being severe. He was evacuated to the 4th General Hospital at Camiers, and then, on 8 August, to England, where he was admitted to a hospital in Oxford. By 27 March 1918 he had recovered sufficiently to report for duty at the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. A series of transfers to home-based regiments followed: on 23 May to the 25th (Reserve) Garrison Battalion, Rifle Brigade; on 5 July to the 18th (Service) Battalion, Welsh Regiment (No.18482); and on 2 August to the Labour Corps (No.640884), where he served in No.533 Agricultural Company and Nos.535 and 540 Home Service Employment Companies. During 1919 he was transferred to the King's Shropshire Light Infantry (No.30218).

On 21 September 1919 Todd was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. His military character was recorded as 'good'.

Prior to his demobilisation Todd had faced a medical board to assess his level of disability from the trench fever and wound to his leg:

[He] says if gets wet gets pains all over legs and arms. The heart is not affected no apparent disability. There is a wound on inner side of R lower thigh. Flesh wound F.B. extracted by operation. Says pain after walking for 2 or 3 miles.

The board determined his disability at less than 20 per cent.

After the war Todd returned to the family home at Woodlands, Ballinderry, and worked as a farmer. He died on 24 February 1970 and was buried in the Hillhall Presbyterian Churchyard.


Two of Todd's brothers also served in the war. Frederick Ernest Todd, in the London Regiment, was badly gassed at the end of 1917. Samuel Howard Todd served in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.