Private Thomas Chestnut


Thomas Chestnut was born on 12 June 1896 at Leitrim, Ballmoney, County Antrim, the third of six children of farm labourer William Chestnut and his wife Margaret Georgina (née Green). by the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Coole, Dervock, County Antrim, with his sister Jane, and working as a labourer for farmer James Colvin. His parents and other siblings were living at nearby Ballydivity.

Chestnut enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 27 or 28 May 1915 (No.1632). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot before embarking for France in 1916, probably with E Squadron on 11 January 1916.

In May 1916 E Squadron came together with A and D Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps.

On 9 August 1917 the Ballymoney Free Press reporte that:

Trooper Thomas Chestnut, North Irish Horse, who was on active service in France for the past seventeen months, is now on ten days' leave in Ballydivity, Dervock. [He has] improved physically, and [is] in the best of health and spirits.

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 Chestnut, 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. Chestnut was issued regimental number 41242.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

On 28 December 1917 Chestnut was one of twenty-four former North Irish Horsemen who transferred to the Tank Corps (No.304877), training at the regiment's depot at Bovington near Wareham, Dorset. It is not known whether he saw any further service in France. On 4 June 1918 he married Isabella Johnston at the First Presbyterian Church, Ballymoney.

Chestnut was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 18 February 1919.

Soon after the war he was living in Main Street, Dervock.