Westmacott, Major Thomas Horatio

Captain Thomas (Tom) Horatio Westmacott

This picture shows Captain Thomas (Tom) Horatio Westmacott with his friend, protector and brother officer Risaldar Major Amar Singh Bahadur. Tom was born in Purnea and worked in Calcutta. He had been a Major with the Calcutta Light (‘Tight’!) Horse prior to the war. He came to join the 38th King George’s Own Central India Horse in France as an independent volunteer straight from India (highly discouraged by those in authority – those who tried it were often turned back at Bombay, especially if they were foolish enough to turn up in uniform). Tom (in civvies) and his two horses Daisy and Golden Rod managed to get through and subsequently rejoined the Indian Cavalry at Therouanne in France very early in 1915, but only as a Captain. After a tough yet oddly uplifting year in the trenches he felt he was accepted and valued by his fellows, only to have someone ‘shop’ him as a former lawyer – whereupon he found himself transferred to the military police as the Assistant Provost Martial to the Indian Cavalry. This was a hideous military police role which involved the supervision of difficult civilian interaction and military discipline, including the arrangement of firing squads. He was eventually gassed and sent back to England to convalesce, returning to find the regiment had been sent to Syria. 

Like a few other older CIH officers he remained in France rather than joining them, taking part in the retreat from the Somme and the eventual liberation of France. He was mentioned in despatches four times, twice on the same day (7th November 1918) and the French awarded him the Croix de Guerre. The Army caught up with his long-overdue regrading to Major when the war had ended, in 1919.

Tom’s grand-daughter Vee Walker is a CIHA member who has written a novel based on her grandfather’s and three other contemporary stories. It is called Major Tom’s War and further details and lots more archive pictures can be found here at www.majortomswar.com.