Private Thomas Hickey


Thomas Hickey was born on 8 November 1869 at Granard, County Longford, the only child of Royal Irish Constabulary sub-constable Luke Hickey and his wife Martha (nee Cosgrove). His father died when he was just five months old.

On 14 September 1892 Hickey enlisted in the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Royal Scots Greys) (No.4035), stating his age as 19 years, three less than his true age. After serving in India (1893-94) and Egypt (1894-96), on 13 September 1899 he was placed in the Army Reserve (1st Class). Two months later, however, he was recalled to duty, serving in South Africa with the Scots Greys from 1899 to 1902. He was wounded during the Boer War at Rietvlei on 19 October 1900.

While in South Africa he twice faced a court martial: on 19 November 1900 receiving four weeks' imprisonment for absenting himself without leave and drunkenness; and on 17 October 1901, thirteen weeks' imprisonment for drunkenness and resisting an escort.

Hickey returned to the UK on 20 August 1902. He was placed in the Army Reserve on 15 April 1903 and discharged at the end of his twelve years' service on 13 September 1904.

On 5 November 1902 Hickey married Margaret Jane Arthur in the Willowfield Church of Ireland Parish Church, Belfast. The couple had four children over the next eleven years. By the time of the 1911 Census the family was living at at Belmont Street, Belfast, Thomas working as a general labourer and Margaret as a dressmaker. Soon after, they lived at 29 Spruce Street, Donegal Pass.

Hickey enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 9 August 1914 (No.975). No doubt his cavalry experience helped the recruiters overlook his age, which he declared as 38, six years less than his real age. Eleven days later he embarked for France with C Squadron, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

On 14 September 1914 Hickey faced a field general court martial. Found guilty of drunkenness and losing by neglect his horse, equipment and rifle, he was sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour. He rejoined the squadron on 9 February 1915, after earning a 26-day remission of his sentence.

Hickey remained with the North Irish Horse until 15 September 1917, when he was transferred to the Military Mounted Police (No. P/12934) with the rank of acting lance corporal. At this time the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, of which C Squadron was a part, was dismounted and most of the men transferred to the infantry, apart from those found unfit for the rigours of infantry service. It is likely this was the reason for Hickey's transfer.

On 5 February 1918 Hickey faced another court martial. He was found guilty of drunkenness and awarded 14 days' Field Punishment No.1 and fined £1.

Hickey was transferred to the Labour Corps on 7 March 1918 (No.513714) and posted to No.44 Labour Company. On 12 July 1918 he was transferred to the Royal Army Service Corps (No. R/382434) and posted to the No.2 Advanced Remount Depot.

While with the remounts Hickey fell ill and on 5 October 1918 he was evacuated to the UK. He was discharged on 8 November as being no longer physically fit for military service (Paragraph 392 xvi, King's Regulations).

After the war he was awarded a pension for 'disordered action of the heart' caused by his service during the war.


Hickey's son Luke also served in the military, joining the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in November 1920 (claiming his age as 18, three years more than his actual age). He later served in the Tank Corps.