The Man Behind the Medals
In this blog series, SOFO Museum's Research volunteers look at the stories behind some of the medal sets in the museum's collection, from those that can be seen on a visit in our dedicated Medals display to some of those that are still tucked away in the archive.
While medals will tell you a little bit about a soldier's service, it's only with further research that their full story can be revealed! SOFO's Research volunteers respond to enquiries we receive through our Research Service, helping people find out more about their relatives who served in the county regiments, and raising funds to support the museum in the process. Using a combination of the museum's records and those available elsewhere, they piece together stories like this one.
CQMS (Company Quarter Master Serjeant) Thomas Mallin
Thomas Mallin was born in Dublin on 6th April 1889, the son of Michael, a carter by profession, & Ann Mallin. By 1912 Thomas was living in Glasgow, where he married Margaret Monks on 26th August. At this time, he was working as a furnaceman, and both his parents had died before his marriage. Thomas & Ann had their first child – a daughter Annie in October 1913.
He enlisted with the Army on 6th April 1915, joining the 5th Connaught Rangers (The Devil’s Own) as Pte 3/5594. The 5th was raised in Dublin in August 1914, becoming part of Kitchener’s K1 Army, and were assigned to 29 Bgd in 10 Division. After training at the Curragh in January 1915, the 5th Connaughts were first sent to Gallipoli, landing at Anzac Cove on 5th Aug 1915, but two months later they were withdrawn and sent to Salonika in Sept 1915.
Pte Mallin’s Medal Card records he first joined the 5th overseas in Salonika on 21st Sept 1915, just in time for the Battle of Kosturino in December 1915. It is believed he stayed with the 5th through service in Greece and Palestine, including the capture of Gaza & Jerusalem (December 1917), before returning with them to the Western Front in June 1918. The 5th Connaughts being one of many battalions recalled to France following the huge losses suffered during the Kaiserschlacht of April 1918.
At this stage of the war, many units were being broken up and amalgamated due to a severe manpower shortage, and Acting Cpl Mallin was briefly transferred to the 1st Garrison Bn of the Royal Munster Fusiliers before joining the 1/4th Ox & Bucks LI as Pte 35829. The 1/4th of the Ox & Bucks were at this time still serving in Northern Italy in the Trento Region, and were amongst the troops who advanced into Austria on 1st November 1918 as the war neared its end.
The armistice with Austria took effect from the 4th November, with the 1/4th at Caldonazzo, following which they withdrew to Arquata near Genoa. The first demobilisation train left for home on the 23rd December 1918, but Thomas Mallin stayed on, enlisting into the Regular Army as Pte 5373297 on 14th January 1919. Service with the 1st Bn (the old 43rd) followed, as did promotion to Sgt, Colour Sgt and later Company Quarter Master Sgt.
C/Sgt “Sammy” Mallin took his discharge on 17th September 1934 and attended the Old Comrades Dinner in November that year, by which time he was working at the Pressed Steel Works in Oxford as a rivetter. The Regimental Journal for January 1939 printed his obituary, which noted that he moved on from the Steel Work in Cowley to work for Morris Motors in Coventry, where he was living until he died aged just 43 on 31st October 1938.
1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, MGS with clasp, LSGC Medal