Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Private Thomas Bryson



Thomas Bryson was born on 24 July 1893 at Newtowngore, County Leitrim, the last of five children of farmer and cooper Francis Bryson and his wife Fanny (nee Briggs). By 1911 he was living at Newtowngore with his parents and older sister Bella and working on the family farm.

He enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Cavan between April and June 1911 (No.613) and embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 August 1914, seeing action on the Retreat from Mons and Advance to the Aisne.

In December 1914 he wrote home to a Mrs Taylor:

The first of the sad sights I saw when I landed in Belgium was the Germans shelling a town. I went about moping - not thinking - picking up bits of shells for curiosity. Then our officer shouted to get into a house. We had no sooner obeyed orders when a shell burst in the yard and smashed the windows of the house where we were standing. The bullets and shells were falling as thick as hailstones on three roads leading from the town. I saw one shell bursting which killed two of the Lancers, eight horses, and wounded three more. We could not leave until it got dark, and then we were riding over men and horses lying dead as thick as they could be. I often heard and read of war, never expecting to take part in it; but now, when I have taken part in this great struggle, I am not sorry for doing so, although it is a bit hot sometimes. Neither am I tired of it. I never was as happy in all my life as I am at present helping to hold up the old flag, and I believe I could not die happier than to die for it. And I must say any man or boy fit to hold or help to hold up that flag which we all should love and does not do his duty is a coward, and should be deemed a coward.
(The Belfast Weekly News, 31 December 1914)

Bryson remained with A Squadron throughout the war. From March 1918 it was serving as part of the North Irish Horse cyclist regiment, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps.

On 21 August Bryson was serving with one of the regiment's Lewis Gun teams and was involved in an attack on German positions on the Somme front, part of the Advance to Victory offensive. During the fighting he was killed, just north of the Bois d’Hollande on the slope running up from the Puisieux Road. He was buried where he fell (map reference 57d.R.2.d.0.9), the location marked with a cross.

After the war Bryson's body was exhumed and re-buried at Queens Cemetery, Bucquoy, Pas-de-Calais, France, grave IV.E.17. His gravestone inscription reads:

21ST AUGUST 1918


He lies next to an unidentified North Irish Horseman, believed to be Private John Martin Roberts, whose body was recovered nearby.




Bryson's older brother, Joseph, had served in France and Belgium since the beginning of the war with the 8th Hussars. In June 1918 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. He was awarded a Military Cross for his role in the fighting around Wulverghem in September. On 6 October he took out a patrol to test the German defences around Goldflake Farm on Hill 41 west of the Menin-Roulers road. The patrol met strong resistance from a well-manned garrison and Bryson was hit by shellfire, his body recovered from the field a week later.

On the wall of Newtowngore Hall (formerly the Methodist Church) is a plaque which reads:

In Sacred and Loving Memory of Trooper Thomas Bryson, N.I.H., and his brother Lieut. Joseph Bryson, R.I.F., who gave their lives for their country in Great European War 1914-18, being killed in action in the year 1918, on the 21st of Sept and 7th of Oct, respectively.

The golden evening brightens in the west,
Soon, soon, to faithful warriors, cometh rest,
Sweet is the calm of Paradise, the Blest, Alleluia.

Erected by contributions and Newtowngore L.O.L. 396


Bryson's medals (above) are held by the North Irish Horse headquarters at Dunmore Park Camp, Belfast.