Lance Corporal Thomas Alexander Murphy


Thomas Alexander Murphy was born on 19 October 1897 at Prospect, Ballymoney, County Antrim, the fifth of six children of agricultural labourer Thomas Murphy and his wife Matilda (née McKee). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Ballywattick Lower, near Ballymoney, with his parents, an uncle and four of his siblings.

Murphy enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Ballymoney on 27 May 1915 (No.1631). He gave his occupation as plumber and overstated his age by nineteen months. After training at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot, on 22 March 1916 he embarked for France. There he fell ill and spent a fortnight in No.6 General Hospital at Rouen, before on 8 May being posted to E Squadron, which was part of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII Corps.

After further hospitalisations, on 16 September 1916 he was posted to D Squadron of the North Irish Horse (part of the 1st NIH Regiment).

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. Murphy, who had just returned from another three months in hospital, was one of those transferred to the Fusiliers – on 20 September. Like most, he was posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt, where he was assigned to C Company. He was issued regimental number 41537.

On the night of 3 November 1917 C Company staged a major raid on the enemy trenches at Havrincourt Wood. Although it was judged a success, they sustained twenty casualties, including Murphy, wounded in a finger of the right hand by shrapnel. He was back in the line within days, but on 14 November severely sprained his ankle and injured his left knee. After treatment at No.9 General Hospital at Rouen, on 26 December he was evacuated to England, where he was admitted to the City of London Military Hospital at Clapton. On 16 March 1918 he was transferred to Stormont House War Hospital in Belfast.

Murphy re-embarked for France on 15 June 1918, but on arrival was again admitted to hospital. It was not until 13 August that he was able to rejoin his battalion on the Ypres front. On 15 September he was appointed unpaid lance corporal.

Murphy saw action with the 9th (NIH) Battalion during the Advance to Victory offensive. He was wounded in the upper left arm at Hill 41 near Dadizeele on 9 October 1918. The battalion diary for 7-9 October reads:

Nothing of interest to note. Battalion continued to hold the line. Hostile counter preparation was intense at periods, especially before dawn and at dusk. About twenty casualties suffered. Aerial activity greatly increased on the 9th. Each night all wire behind our line was cut in order to facilitate the advance of attacking troops in the near future.

The wound was serious, though his arm was not fractured, and Murphy was evacuated to England, where he was again admitted to the City of London Military Hospital. He remained there until discharged on 25 April 1919.

On 23 May 1919 Murphy was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. For a short time he received a pension due to the impact of the wound to his arm.

On 31 July 1925 he married Anne May Stinson at St James's Presbyterian Church, Ballymoney. In 1929 they emigrated to Philadelphia, USA.


Ballymoney Free Press, 9 May 1929


All three of Murphy's brothers also served in the war – James Murphy and George Picken Murphy served in the Royal Irish Rifles. William McKee Murphy died while serving in the North Irish Horse.