Historian’s search for descendents of forgotten soldier

Irish soldiers during World War One
Irish soldiers during World War One

Military historians are searching for descendents of a First World War soldier from Armagh who has only recently been formally recognised as a war casualty.

Private Thomas Webster was born in the city on July 9, 1893 and baptised at St Mark’s Parish Church on February 4, 1894.

Having been added to the official list of casualties by the MOD and Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) in 2012, Pte Webster will have a headstone erected in St Mark’s churchyard where he is buried in an unmarked grave.

Volunteers at the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum, guided by local researcher Joe Center, are hoping to trace relatives of Pte Webster so they can attend the dedication ceremony.

According to the 1901 census the Webster family lived a 2 Callan Street.

A tailor by trade, Thomas enlisted in the Royal Irish Rifles in March 1911 and by 1913 was serving in India.

The following year he found himself en-route to the war in France on board HT Dilwara.

However, he found the journey arduous and contracted tuberculosis – leading to his discharge from the Army in February 1915.

Returning to his home city, Thomas died at the Armagh workhouse – then used as a military hospital – in the same year.

His brother Robert, who served with the 9th Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers, is also buried in St Mark’s in an unknown grave. Robert will also be remembered on the new CWGC headstone.

The pair were children of Thomas and Maggie Webster of Linen Hall Street, Armagh.

Any descendents of Pte Webster, or anyone who has information about the family that might help trace a relative, can contact Mr Center at the museum by email at fusiliersmuseum@yahoo.co.uk or telephone 028 3752 2911.