Major Thomas Hay Ritchie Browne

 

Larne Times and Weekly Telegraph, 10 November 1917

 

Thomas Hay Ritchie Browne was born on 30 January 1892 at 7 Windsor Terrace, Belfast, son of English-born commercial traveller and Irish international soccer player Frederick William Joseph Browne and his wife Jean Anderson Browne (formerly Barry). His mother died a month before his first birthday.

By 1911 he was living with his father and step-mother Annie at 379 Newtownards Road, Belfast, and working as an apprentice grocer.

According to the Larne Times, he played for Sydenham Rugby Club, and on three occasions was chosen to represent Ulster against Leinster in the Junior Inter-Provincial tournament. In 1914 he was a member of the Knock senior side, playing at full-back.

Browne enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 9 September 1914 (No.1186). He embarked for France on 18 December that year, part of the first group of reinforcements for A and C Squadrons.

In 1917 Browne applied for a commission and returned to the UK for officer cadet training. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 30 October 1917 and posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.

A week later he was married in Belfast. The Belfast News-Letter of 7 November reported:

An interesting military wedding took place in St. James's Church, Belfast, yesterday, the contracting parties being Second-Lieutenant Ritchie Browne, son of Mr. Fred W. Browne, Crofton Villas, Knock, and Miss Marion Hobson, of Cherrydene, Cardigan Drive, Cliftonville. Rev. T.G.G. Collins, B.D., rector, officiated. Miss Florence Hobson, sister of the bride, was bridesmaid, and Mr. Lexey Flynn, of the Young Citizen Volunteers, acted as best man. Second-Lieutenant Browne, who is a young man of splendid physique, has seen a good deal of service in France with the North Irish Horse, and came home some time to qualify for a commission.

Browne remained in the UK with the 3rd Battalion, and on 30 April 1919 was promoted to lieutenant. He relinquished his commission on 1 April 1920.

In 1924 he was one of five men chosen to represent the North Irish Horse at the unveiling of the cavalry memorial in Hyde Park, London (see below).

After the war Browne joined the civil service. In World War 2 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Royal Ulster Rifles (No.127857). He rose to the rank of captain, but on 10 April 1943 relinquished his commission on account of ill-health. He was granted the rank of honorary major.

He died on 1 April 1954 at the Musgrave and Clark Clinic, Grosvenor Road, Belfast, and was survived by his wife Marion and only son Barry.

 

Larne Times and Weekly Telegraph 31 May 1924