Corporal Thomas Jonas Trotter


Thomas Jonas Trotter was born on 25 May 1892 At Muckross, Ederney, County Fermanagh, the seventh of eleven children of farmer John Trotter and his wife Catherine (nee Armstrong). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Muckross with his parents and four siblings and working on the family farm.

Trotter joined the Royal Irish Constabulary on 15 May 1912 (No.66575), serving first at Meath, then at Belfast from October 1914.

On 17 May 1916 he enlisted in the North Irish Horse (No.2173) at Dublin. In November that year he was one of around 100 North Irish Horsemen who volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles (No.40925). The formal transfer took place on 7 December, the same day they embarked for France, where they joined the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, on the Somme front.

On 16 August 1917 the 1st Battalion took part in the Battle of Langemarck, part of 3rd Ypres. They sustained many casualties – according to the battalion war diary, losing two officers killed, five wounded and missing and three wounded, and 27 other ranks killed, seven wounded and missing, 170 wounded and 63 missing. Trotter received a shrapnel wound in his shoulder.

After recovering, Trotter was allowed a month's leave to the UK 'for agricultural purposes', from 20 October 1917. He returned to Base Depot on 28 November and, after recovering from an illness, on 9 January 1918 rejoined the 1st Battalion, where he was posted to D Company. It is likely that he saw action with the battalion during the German Spring Offensive.

On 15 October 1918 the 1st Battalion went into action in Belgium. According to its war diary:

The Battalion again attacked (with Artillery barrage) Gulleghem and reached objection 1000x E of Gulleghem where the 2nd Bn passed through our Bn and reached line of Corps objection (Heule).

Casualties were one officer killed and three wounded, and three other ranks killed, 24 wounded and one missing. Trotter was one of those wounded, in the left arm. He was evacuated to the UK, via No.3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station and No.26 General Hospital, arriving on 24 October. Initially treated at a hospital in Dublin, on 19 November  he was admitted to a Military Convalescent Hospital in Randalstown. After he recovered he was posted to the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.

On 31 January 1919 Trotter was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. His military character was recorded as 'very good'. On 7 March that year he was readmitted into the Royal Irish Constabulary, serving in Belfast. He remained with the RIC until the force was disbanded in 1922.

On 10 November 1926 he married Margaret Ann (Madge) Johnston at Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church.

Trotter died at Belfast in January 1985.


Thomas Trotter's brother, Sampson Kirkpatrick Trotter, also served in the war, in the North Irish Horse.