No. 5946 5th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles
Died of disease on Monday 10 March 1919 (aged 38)
Holywood and District War Memorial
The name T. Armstrong is inscribed on Holywood and District War Memorial.
Thomas Armstrong from Holywood worked as a groom before he enlisted on 17 October 1900 in Belfast. It was noted in his attestation papers that he was 19 years 4 months old, 5 feet 6¾ inches tall with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair. He stated that he was willing to be enlisted in the Royal Regiment of Artillery, the Royal Horse Artillery and the Royal Field Artillery. He was appointed to the 5th Depot Battalion, Royal Field Artillery (No. 12692) and then the 52nd Battery.
He cited as his next-of-kin his mother Mary and his brother William who lived at 2 Victoria Road, Holywood.
Thomas Armstrong was transferred to the Army Reserve on 8 December 1908 and discharged on 16 October 1912. He served at home from 17 October 1900 to 7 December 1903, in India from 8 December 1903 to 3 December 1908 and at home from 4 December 1908 to 16 October 1912.
Before the outbreak of the First World War he worked as a gardener and general labourer and in 1911 he boarded with William and Catherine Hawkins at 22 Strand Street, Holywood. William Hawkins worked as a fisherman.
Thomas Armstrong was 33 (in some records 35) when he enlisted on 7 July 1915 in Holywood. He was unmarried, and his address was 3 Killip’s Place, Holywood. He cited as his next-of-kin his sister Mary, ‘address unknown’.
During the war Thomas Armstrong served as a Rifleman with the 5th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (No. 5946). On 29 January 1916 he was in the Military Hospital, Holywood suffering from chronic bronchitis and emphysema. He stated that, since he came home from India, he had been getting bronchitis every winter. It was noted on his medical file that he had been ‘attending morning sick on and off ever since he enlisted’. He had been a hospital in-patient from 19 November 1915 to 4 December 1915; from 12 December 1915 to 18 January 1916 and again since 26 January 1916. He had only been able to do his duty for two of the six months since he enlisted.
Medical opinion was that his disability was ‘probably due to the return to this climate from India’ and it was recommended that he should be ‘discharged as permanently unfit’. He was in hospital from 26 January 1916 to 3 February 1916 and again from 17 March 1916 to 22 April 1916. He was examined by a Medical Board on 14 April 1916 and recommended for discharge. He was discharged from the Army on 3 May 1916 ‘being no longer physically fit for war service’.
Thomas Armstrong was born on 31 May 1880 in Mill Lane, Holywood and he was a son of Thomas and Mary Armstrong (nee Renwick, sometimes Rennick, sometimes Rennox) who were married on 20 January 1870 in Holywood Parish Church of Ireland Church.
Thomas Armstrong worked as a labourer and gardener and he and Mary had six children:
William John (born 1 December 1870 in Mill Lane, Holywood; married Sarah Robinson on 7 July 1904 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church)
Samuel (born 28 November 1873 in Mill Lane, Holywood; worked as a boot cleaner; died of heart disease 30 September 1894 aged 20)
Mary (born 23 May 1877 in Victoria Road, Holywood)
Thomas (born 31 May 1880 in Mill Lane, Holywood)
Walter (born 1 February 1883 in Victoria Road, Holywood; died of convulsions 20 July 1883)
Mabel Alexandra (born 19 April 1885 in Victoria Road, Holywood; baptised 27 April 1885 in Holywood Roman Catholic Church; aged 17, married Walter Christopher Stockton on 23 April 1901 in Holywood Parish Church of Ireland Church – Walter aged 24 was a widower and a soldier stationed in the Military Barracks, Holywood)
Their father, Thomas Armstrong, died from the effects of chloroform in the Royal Hospital on 17 August 1891 (aged 44).
Their mother, Mary Armstrong, died of tuberculosis on 13 May 1901 (aged 58).
Ex-Rifleman Thomas Armstrong (No. 5946) died of broncho-pneumonia in the City Hospital, 51 Lisburn Road, Belfast on 10 March 1919 (aged 38). Before being admitted to hospital he had been living at 51 Alloa Street, Belfast with his sister, Mary Martin.
Ex-Rifleman Thomas Armstrong is commemorated on Holywood and District War Memorial.