Corporal Thomas Fitzgibbon

Thomas Fitzgibbon
© Royston Williamson 2015

Many thanks to Jim Edwards from North Holmwood for this research.

Thomas was born in July 1878, in Tralee, Ireland. He joined the army in August 1892, at the age of 14, for twelve years’ service with the Royal Munster Fusiliers. His brother and father were also in the regiment. He started at the regimental depot in Tralee, becoming a drummer after six months. He moved to Gosport in 1900 but was soon back in Tralee.

In 1904, at the end of his twelve years, he married Kathleen Lynch, who had been born in 1885 in Tralee, and he then re-engaged in the army for another period of service. Their first child was born in Dover in 1905. In November Thomas sailed for the Punjab (now in Pakistan but then part of India). His wife was allowed to accompany him. In January 1907 he made paid Lance Corporal. In 1907 he spent ten weeks in hospital at Gharial with enteric fever, which was spread by poor hygiene or sanitation. In 1908, on two occasions he lost good conduct stripes, for neglect of duty and being absent from duty. Despite this, in January 1911 he was promoted to Corporal. The couple had three more surviving children born in India. In March 1912 they went to Rangoon (now in Burma but then considered as part of the Indian Empire) and another child was born there at the end of the year. In January 1914 the family started the three-week voyage home and Thomas was discharged on termination of his second period of engagement, after total service of 21 years 200 days, on 18th February.

In August, as a reservist, he would have been recalled. He re-enlisted in Leeds (Number 214) and was posted to Tralee in the 7th Battalion, a newly raised service battalion, of his former regiment. The battalion soon moved to the Curragh, the large military camp near Dublin, and then in May 1915 to Basingstoke. After very hard training, the battalion embarked in July 1915 from Liverpool, disembarking after ten days at Mudros on the Aegean island of Lemnos, where disease reduced the battalion strength from 1000 to 800 men. The battalion landed at Suvla Bay in Gallipoli on 7th August 1915, taking severe casualties, partly because a number of other battalions of the division had landed on the wrong beaches. Thomas was killed in action two days later and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, at the southern end of the Gallipoli peninsular.

His widow, Kathleen, was married in Dorking in the late summer of 1917, to William Worsfold (who had been baptised at St John’s on 18th January 1880). They lived at 30 Myrtle Road, Dorking, not far from St Martin’s Church until 1930. (They also had a property at 79 High Street until 1923.)

Thomas is commemorated on North Holmwood Church Memorial and on South Street Memorial Dorking

Born                            Tralee, Co. Kerry
Lived                           Leeds

Husband of                 Mrs K. Worsfold (formerly Fitzgibbon) of 30 Myrtle Road, Dorking

Enlisted                       Dorking

Regiment                     7th Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers
Number                       7/214

Date of Death               9th August 1915
Place of Death             Gallipoli
Cause of Death            Killed in Action

Age                              38

Memorial                     Helles Memorial, Turkey