No. 6565, 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (Royal North Downs) attached to
2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died of disease on Sunday 23 January 1916 (aged 30)
Newtownards (Movilla) Cemetery, Co Down (Grave 5. 18)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)
In some newspaper reports his surname is spelt McTeggart.
In the 29 January 1916 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle the funeral of Rifleman Thomas McTaggart was reported under the headline Military Funeral in Newtownards. It was reported that Thomas McTaggart who had ten years of military service had been wounded when fighting at the Front and, ‘owing to the exposure to which he was subjected at the time, contracted consumption’.
Rifleman Thomas McTaggart (No. 6565) was discharged from the Army on 17 September 1915 and for several months his mother cared for him in her home at 37 Frederick Street, Newtownards. The Rev W.L.T. Whatham communicated details of Thomas McTaggart’s service to the Adjutant of the 10th (Reserve) Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers stationed in Newtownards and Colonel Fitzgerald agreed to provide for a military funeral. The brass band of the Fusiliers with draped drums played on the way to the cemetery. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack on which was placed the deceased’s cap, belt and side-arms.
Rifleman Thomas McTaggart had three brothers on active service in the Great War – Private John McTaggart, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers attached to the 3rd Battalion; Rifleman Watson McTaggart, 4th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and Private Andrew McTaggart serving with the Canadians. Watson McTaggart was born in Scotland.
Thomas McTaggart’s mother, father, sister and brothers placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the 20 January 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
Death came stealing o’er his pillow,
Ere the dawning of the day;
Without a sigh, without a struggle
Peacefully he passed away.
Love cannot die, we love you still,
For memory’s golden chain
Doth link our hearts to yours on high,
Until we meet again.
On 4 September 1906, Thomas McTaggart and Sarah Ritchie were married in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). In civil marriage registration records it is recorded that Thomas McTaggart from 27 Frederick Street, Newtownards was a son of Thomas McTaggart, a labourer. Sarah Ritchie (aged 20) from Newtownards was a daughter of James Ritchie, a labourer. In the 1911 census it is recorded that Thomas and Sarah McTaggart had no children.
On 11 February 1919, Sarah McTaggart, an embroiderer and a widow from 38 Vernon Street, Belfast, married Matthew Couldridge in St John’s Church of Ireland Church Belfast. Matthew Couldridge from Newtownards was a Private in the Labour Corps and he was a son of Thomas Edward Couldridge, a stoker.
In the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects it is recorded that Rifleman Thomas McTaggart’s widow was Sarah Couldridge.
Rifleman Thomas McTaggart (No 6565) was 30 when he died of pulmonary tuberculosis in Frederick Street, Newtownards. His mother, Eliza Boyd, was with him when he died.
Eliza McTaggart (nee Weir) and David Boyd were married on 18 October 1905 in Newtownards Registrar’s Office. Eliza McTaggart was a daughter of John Weir, a labourer. David Boyd was a son of David Boyd, a poultry dealer.
Rifleman Thomas McTaggart (No 6565) was buried in Newtownards (Movilla) Cemetery and he is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).