A RADIO documentary which investigates claims that the first shot fired by the British army in WW1 came from a Tipperary man’s rifle is due to be aired this week.
In Search of Ernest Edward Thomas outlines documentary maker Tom Hurley’s journey to uncover the truth about the origins of Corporal E. Thomas of the 4th Royal Irish Dragon Guards.
“It’s an accepted fact and has been publicised the world over that the first shot fired by the British army at the western front during WWI came from the rifle of Corporal E Thomas,” Mr Hurley explains.
“But my interest in his origins were sparked by various claims in Irish newspapers and books over the years that Corporal Thomas, or to give him his full name Ernest Edward Thomas, actually came from Nenagh in Co Tipperary.”
Hurley’s journey proved eventful with “scant” information still in existence about the soldier, but his efforts did reveal that Thomas survived the war and ended his days in England, where he worked at a Brighton cinema until his death in 1939.
“The information about Thomas was scant and he proved to be a highly elusive figure with many twists and turns along the way,” Hurley added.
But Hurley’s perseverance proved fruitful in the end, as his documentary boasts “a ray of hope” found when the researcher takes the route of accessing official documents.
“By the documentary’s end we get a clearer picture of Thomas’ links to Nenagh and indeed Ireland,” Hurley confirms.
“In addition to his army service, the circumstances behind his first shot, life in Brighton, family, cinema job and death are all revealed,” he added.
In Search of Ernest Edward Thomas by Tom Hurley will air on Tipp FM radio on Saturday, October 18 at 6pm. British-based listeners can catch it online at www.tippfm.com or download the documentary as a podcast after the broadcast.