Thomas joined the army in 1976 and on enlistment, he requested to be allowed to join the Queens Royal Irish Hussars. After a few months of Basic Military Training, he then began special to-arms training. As the Irish Hussars were one of the Regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps and equipped with Chieftain Tanks, this required Thomas to undergo training as a tank driver, radio operator and gunner.

After completing his training Thomas joined The Irish Hussars, who were stationed in Paderborn West Germany. Like most soldiers, Thomas was given a nickname, in his case this was “TAP” (which comprises of the first letter of each of his Christian names) and from then on he was always called TAP.

On arrival at the Regiment, Thomas joined his Tank Troop as a driver and quickly settled into his tank crew of 4. He became a much-valued member of the Troop. The Troop consisted of 12 members, many of them being from Northern & Southern Ireland. The troop were a most likeable bunch of lads who were well respected by all members of their Squadron.

He moved to Tidworth in Wiltshire, with the Regiment in 1979 and in 1980 was involved in Exercise Spearpoint, which was the largest Deployment of Military Armour to West Germany, as part of NATO Support. He also deployed to Cyprus on a 6-month tour with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force.

After a few years on the tanks, Thomas decided he needed a change and commenced working in hospitality. This resulted in him being a member of a close-knit team, who managed the Warrant Officers & Sergeants Mess. In 1982 he yet again moved back to West Germany with the Regiment and spent the next 6 years in Munster. Thomas continued to work in hospitality. Part of his duties included running the bar, organising formal functions/dinners, and looking after UK, German and military dignitaries when they made formal visits to The Irish Hussars. One such event was a visit by HRH Prince Philip, on the occasion of the Regiments Tercentenary.

Thomas moved back to the UK in 1988 and took up an appointment (on promotion to Corporal) where he worked directly for Brigadier Dick Webster initially in Bovington Camp in Dorset and then at Dover Castle in Kent.

Thomas elected to apply for redundancy and left The Irish Hussars in 1993. Throughout his time in service, Thomas was very proud of his Irish & Cumbrian roots.

After leaving the army Thomas kept in touch with his many friends and attended many Regimental Reunion Dinners in Chester, London, Eastbourne, Wool, Belfast and Coleraine. He was a respected, trustworthy & valued member of the Regiment who was held in high esteem by all who knew him.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars