Private Thomas Charles Hawthorne


The background of this North Irish Horseman is not known at present, other than that he was born around August 1897 at Glynn, near Larne, County Antrim.

Hawthorne enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 13 December 1916 (No.2329). He gave his occupation as labourer and his next of kin as his uncle, farmer Robert Hume of Ballyhone (near Glynn). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp where, on 6 February 1917, he was admonished and lost a day's pay for being absent off pass. On 12 May 1917 he embarked for France, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments.

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 Hawthorne, 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. Hawthorne was issued regimental number 41432 and posted to C Company.

On the night of 3 November 1917 C Company mounted a major raid on the German trenches near Havrincourt on the Cambrai front. The battalion war diary for that day states:

At 4.30 p.m. 'C' Coy left Ruyaulcourt and marched up to the line to carry out a raid. The enemy's front line was successfully penetrated, from the Canal ... to about 150 [yards] E of it. The fighting was very severe as the enemy refused to surrender. Our men stayed in the enemy trenches for twenty min. and bayonetted and shot at least forty Germans. We suffered some casualties, mostly from bombs:- 1 officer severely wounded; 1 officer slightly wounded; 1 N.C.O. killed; 3 O.R. missing, believed killed; 13 O.R. wounded; 1 R.E. (N.C.O.) severely wounded.

Hawthorne was one of the wounded, in the abdomen. On 19 November he was evacuated to the UK for hospital treatment. He recovered quickly, and by the end of December was able to enjoy ten days' furlough at home. He was then posted to the 10th (Reserve Battalion), Royal Irish Fusiliers, and on 9 May 1918 was able to re-embark for France, where, presumably, he rejoined the 9th (NIH) Battalion in the field.

In February 1919 Hawthorne volunteered to serve in the Army of Occupation, and was transferred to the Royal Irish Regiment (No.41305) and posted to the 5th (Service) Battalion. He served with that regiment on the Rhine until 30 November 1919, when he was transferred to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (No.44579), serving in the 51st Battalion.

On 14 March 1920 Hawthorne was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. Although disciplined for six minor offences while serving with the Royal Irish Regiment and the Warwicks, his military character was recorded as 'good'. He was awarded a pension as a result of his wound, his level of disability assessed at 20 per cent in January 1921, but down to 5 per cent a year later.

Soon after his discharge, Hawthorn was living at 60 Bank Road, Larne.