Thomas Ellis was born in May 1911 in Canterbury, Kent. He was the oldest of six children.

Sgt T Ellis
Sgt T Ellis

In 1928 his love of horses led him to lie about his age and join the 21st Lancers. This was the start of a long career with horses.

He trained racehorses, polo ponies and show horses and drove a gun team.

He enlisted into the Cavalry of the Line on 21 October 1929 and was posted to the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars, joining them in Beaumont Barracks, Aldershot.

The 8th Hussars had just returned from Germany, being the last of the troops to leave after the occupation in the First World War. Tom spent the following six and a half years as a remount rider (nags man) and in 1931 went to Weedon as a groom. His duties involved training and schooling horses. He had six months in the Polo Club in London and spent the hunting season in Dorset with Maj Peter Sturgis.

On 4 October 1932 Tom, together with 400 comrades, rode to the Cavalry Barracks, Hounslow. The time here was spent preparing for the move to Egypt, several funerals of prominent soldiers and the Lord Mayor’s Show.

He sailed with the Regiment for Main barracks, Cairo on 19 December 1933. The training was carried out in the desert around Bir Victoria, Bir Hooker and Khattab. As a physical training officer, Tom became very proficient in horseback gymnastics.

He took part in the last mounted parade of the Regiment on Armistice Day 1935 and returned to the UK just before the Regiment moved to Palestine in May 1936.

Tom then went on the Reserve. He volunteered the day before he would have been called back for service, 1 September 1939, and was posted to the Warwickshire Yeomanry, where he met up with another 8th Hussar, Harry Williams, who was also recalled from the Reserve and posted to the Warwickshire Yeomanry.

Tom fought in six campaigns and saw 174 actions including El Alamein. He was discharged on 3 October 1945 as permanently unfit for military service, having sustained major injuries, including the loss of a leg at the Battle of Ficcule, Italy in 1944.

In civilian life Tom returned to his pre-war employment with the Post Office but, physically unable to work as an underground construction engineer, he became a liaison officer. This position he kept until he retired in 1973.

He was awarded the Imperial Service Medal in 1972.

In retirement, Tom enjoyed collecting and repairing clocks and browsing in antique shops.

He and his wife, Wynn, moved to Northampton in 1981 to be near their son, daughter and three grandchildren. They celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in 1999 and moved to St John’s Residential Home in 2001. Wynn died in 2003.

Tom joined the Regimental Association in 1987. He was one of a group of local ex-8th Hussars who met regularly and were a great help to the Regimental Secretary of the time on 8th Hussars’ matters.

Tom died on 28 October 2007, aged 96.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 8th Hussars