Corporal Shoeing Smith Thomas Bennett


This North Irish Horseman was probably the Thomas Bennet born on 27 January 1885 at 49 Wolff Street, Belfast, one of at least nine children of horseshoer and blacksmith Thomas Bennet and his wife Mary (née Jellie). At the time of the 1901 Census he was living at 80 Foundry Street, Belfast, with his parents and four of his siblings, and working as a general labourer. He later followed his father's trade.

On 25 December 1907 Bennett married Mary Wilson Robertson in the Mountpottinger Presbyterian Church in Belfast. The couple had three children over the next four years. By the time of the 1911 Census they were living at 101 Rathmore Street, Belfast, Thomas working as a horseshoer.

Bennett enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 3 and 5 October 1914 (No.1261 – later Corps of Hussars No.71308). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France on 17 November 1915 with F Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 33rd Division.

In June 1916 F Squadron combined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps.

On 9 April 1917 Bennett was treated at the 139th Field Ambulance, suffering from deafness. Whether he was evacuated to the UK for treatment before being posted to the regimental reserve at Antrim, or remained in France, is not known at present. However the former seems the most likely.

On 27 April 1919 Bennett was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. He returned to Rathmore Street and his work as a blacksmith, later living at 40 Mount Merrion Park, Belfast. He died at the Royal Victoria Hospital on 21 June 1962 and was buried in the First Saintfield Presbyterian Burying Ground.