Researched and written by Anne Wright
Captain T F Ivess
4th Battalion, Berkshire Regiment
Thomas Francis Ivess was a career soldier; when he left the military in 1913 he had completed 21 years’ service. The son of Irish parents, William Thomas and Mary (nee Collins), he was born in Whitechapel on 1 December 1874. His father was a tailor, a calling, which Thomas initially followed. In 1891 the family, which consisted of five siblings including Thomas lived at 21, Royal Mint Square in Whitechapel. Thomas was the second of three sons and two daughters: John, Thomas, George, Mary and Anna. He began his army career when he enlisted on his 18th birthday, 1 December 1892. Thomas stood just over five feet and five inches tall, had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He was posted to the 3rd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. His first period of service included the Boer War, when he served in S. Africa between 1899 and 1902. He emerged with the Queen’s and King’s Campaign medals plus five clasps to the former and two to the latter. The five clasps to Thomas’ Queen’s medal demonstrate the active war he had with one clasp being for the relief of Ladysmith on 28 February 1900.
Thomas was a Sergeant by the time he returned from S. Africa. Two years later he re-engaged to extend the duration of his service until 1913. He was based in the UK during this period and married Annie Morrison Arthurs at St Michael’s and St Martin’s Roman Catholic Church in Brentford, Middlesex on 21 February 1906. By 1911 he was a clerk with the 5th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, based at Hounslow Barracks. Thomas had been promoted to Colour Sergeant in 1909. His wife and family were with him; the first three of his six children had been born – Anna, Bernard and Anthony. Mary, Margaret and Bernadette would follow between 1911 and 1916. Thomas was discharged on 30 November 1913 with a gratuity of £5 and a medal for Long Service and Good Conduct. This is when the family’s connection with Weybridge began. His intended address on his discharge papers was The Constitutional Club (The Conservative Club, 2015) in Church Street where he became the Steward. However, the family home for many years was ‘Casita’ in Dorchester Road.
As for so many people the outbreak of the First World War changed Thomas’ plans. When the conflict erupted in August 1914 he was called upon to drill and train the Weybridge District Emergency Force organised by Mr H. F. Locke-King. This involved the daily use of Brooklands Rifle Range to instil musketry skills. Thomas was also appointed recruiting agent on behalf of the Army for Weybridge, Walton, Oatlands, Byfleet, Horsham and Cobham. He established an office at the Constitutional Club and by 17 August had sent about 50 men to various branches of the Service. Thomas re-joined the army on 3 May 1915 and was appointed to a commission. No doubt his long service, especially including his experience as a senior NCO (Colour Sergeant) was considered to be of great value. Thomas was posted to the 4th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment which had been divided into the 1/4th, the 2/4th and the 3/4th Battalions in 1914. It seems most likely that he served in the 3/4th Battalion which became the Reserve Battalion on 8 April 1916. They remained on the home front, finally moving to Cambois near Blyth where they remained part of the Tyne garrison. However, in October 1918 he went to the 3/5th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers as their Adjutant (senior administrator). Thomas died on 5 November 1918 in Newcastle of heart disease, which according to his death certificate, was probably exacerbated by military service.
His body was brought back to Weybridge and he was buried in Walton & Weybridge Cemetery (2609). His widow remained in Dorchester Road until at least 1930; she died, aged 97, in 1979 and was buried with her husband. Their sons, Bernard and Anthony, emigrated to Canada. Annie and Thomas had at least six grandchildren.