Private Peter Tobin


Peter Tobin was born on 2 February 1891 at Bennekerry, County Carlow, the third of six children of labourer (later gardener and domestic servant) Martin Tobin and his wife Eliza (nee Harty). He grew up at Bennekerry and by the time of the 1911 Census was working as a strapper and groom for Major Browne-Clayton of Brown's Hill, Carlow.

On 11 April 1911 Tobin enlisted on the 1st (King's) Dragoon Guards at Dublin (No.5853). He came well-recommended by his employer, and the recruiting staff officer described him as "a most desirable recruit, smart and intelligent." Soon after, he was posted to the 5th Dragoon Guards and served at the Curragh until 31 October 1911, when he was discharged at his own request (on payment of £18 by his father).

On 30 September 1914 Tobin enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim (No.1221). On 10 March the following year he faced a field general court martial at Antrim for being drunk and striking a superior officer while on active service. Found guilty, he was sentenced to 90 days' imprisonment with hard labour. (This was later reduced to 90 days' detention.)

Tobin remained at the regimental reserve at Antrim for much of the war. On 10 February 1917 he was admonished for being drunk.

Soon after this he embarked for France, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments. In September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and most of its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the infantry. After a brief period of training at the 36th (Ulster) Division's Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, on 20 September Tobin was transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers and soon after was posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion. He was issued regimental number 41557. He probably saw action with the battalion during the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

On 28 December 1917 Tobin was one of twenty-four former North Irish Horsemen who transferred from the 9th (NIH) Battalion to the Tank Corps (No.304876). Following training at the Tank Corps Depot at Bovington near Wareham, Dorset, Tobin was posted to the 15th (Heavy) Battalion.

On 8 July 1918 he returned to France with the 15th Battalion, operating mostly Mark V* tanks. The battalion saw a great deal of action during the Advance to Victory offensive, including at Amiens (8-9 August), Albert (21 August), Second Bapaume (30-31 August), and Canal du Nord (27 September).

Tobin returned to the UK on 15 February 1919 and a month later (17 March) was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

He returned to Bennekerry, where he worked as a chauffer. On 17 November 1920 he married Katie Kelly at the Carlow Roman Catholic Cathedral.

On 17 April 1927 Tobin was found dead in the River Barrow. The cause of death could not be determined. He was buried in St Mary's Cemetery, Carlow.