Hon Lieutenant Thomas Peter Davis Sherston


Thomas Peter Davis Sherston was born on 7 April 1874 in Weymouth, Dorset, son of magistrate and land-owner John Davis Sherston and his wife Innes Eliza Sherston (nee Maxwell). He was educated at Haileybury College, Hertford.

Sherston worked as Assistant Inspector for the Board of Agriculture from 1904 to 1906 and was a member of the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. From 1906 to 1914 he worked as Bursar of Wellington College, Berkshire, a prestigious school established to educate the sons of deceased military officers.

On 7 September 1914, just a month after the war began, Sherston enlisted in the 2nd King Edward's Horse Regiment (No.455), having secured agreement that Wellington College would keep his position open until the end of the war. He then applied for a commission in the North Irish Horse.

Despite his lack of military experience his request was strongly supported, Lieutenant-Colonel Maude of the North Irish Horse stating that "he should make a thoroughly efficient officer and [I] therefore earnestly request that the age limit may be waived in his case." No doubt Sherston's application was assisted by the fact that he was very well connected – War Office correspondence at the time noting that he "is a cousin of Lord Roberts's and a friend of Q.M.G's [Quartermaster General]".

Sherston was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant on 12 January 1915 and posted to the North Irish Horse headquarters depot at Antrim. He was promoted to lieutenant on 30 August that year.

On 7 September 1915 Sherston embarked for France, joining D Squadron in the field at Behencourt. His arrival caused some consternation with at least one of his fellow officers, Lieutenant Lancelot Wise, who wrote home to his mother on 10 September:

We’ve got a new officer here. Goodness knows why! He’s a 2nd Lieut. aged 42. Sound in wind & limb. No hair!!!! Perhaps they will send a younger fellow to H.Q. as I believe they are one short there.

D Squadron's war diary makes a number of references to Lieutenant Sherston, including his taking a working party to the trenches near Aveluy on 20 October, and taking a course of instruction in use of the Hotchkiss Gun with six NCOs and men in April 1916.

In June 1916 D Squadron joined with A and E Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment. On 12 October that year Sherston left the regiment for the UK on sick leave. By February 1917 he was once again fit for general service. On 6 April he joined the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment in the field at Boeschepe and was posted to C Squadron.

In September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was dismounted and most of its officers and men were absorbed into the 9th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. Sherston, now aged 43, wrote the following letter to his commanding officer, Colonel Goring:

I have the honour to request that you will forward this application to the proper authorities.
I desire to resign my commission in His Majesty's Forces owing to my age & because I feel that I can be better employed in civilian life.
I attach copies of letters from The Secretary of State for War & the Master of Wellington College supporting my request & should be much obliged if you will add to this your comments of my case.

Goring backed his request, noting:

Forwarded & recommended.
This officer's age is 43. Previously to the War he was bursar of Wellington College. He is Senior Subaltern of N.I.H. but owing to lack of previous military training, I was not able to recommend him for promotion, his position is therefore a(?) & I consider his capabilities to be such, that he would do far better in a civilian capacity. There is nothing whatever against him in any other respect.
This memo has been seen & initialled by Lt Sherston.

His resignation was accepted, dated 17 October 1917, and he was given the honorary rank of lieutenant.

Sherston died on 3 February 1956 at Wincanton, Somerset.