Colonel Sir Thomas Butler Bt. who died on the 9th April
last was the 12th Baronet Butler of Clogrennan, County
Carlow. He was born in Carlow in September 1910 at a time
when the family doctor was out riding with the Carlow Hunt ,
upon been told of the impending delivery the doctor replied"
tell them to delay the event until we've killed the fox".
The Butler family settled in Carlow circa 1500. At one time
they owned over 30,000 acres of land and several houses in
Carlow. The late Sir Thomas maintained a home at
Ballintemple and up to a short time before his death at the
age of 83 he was fishing on the Slaney river with his friend
Robin Eustace Harvey.
During the Second World War Thomas served with the
Grenadier Guards and was engaged in action in France and
Belgium. Following the surrender of Belgium his mixed force
of several surviving Guards battalions, with no transport or
weapons, withdrew to France from where they set sail to
England. He was then posted to Damascus and the
Western Desert as an officer with the 6th Battalion
Grenadier Guards. He was awarded the Distinguished Service
Order (D.S.O.) for his gallantry during the battle of Mareth
in 1943. Butler was the commander of the company
leading the attack on the elite German Infantry 90th Light
Afrika Korps, which shortly before had been under the
command of General Erwin Rommel, holding the Mareth Line.
His battalion passed through minefields and mined wire
whilst encountering the enemy whom they fought with
small-arms fire and bayonets. Half of Butler's company was
wiped out and during the battle he was wounded twice. He was
taken prisoner along with two fellow officers by the Germans
. The two officers were later shot dead as they attempted to
escape. During his captivity Butler was nursed back to
health and later made several attempts to escape. Finally
following the surrender of Italy, Butler along with another
officer managed to escape from the Modena prisoner of war
camp. He had to walk for over 400 miles, still in pain from
his injuries , criss-crossing the Apennines in freezing
conditions before meeting up with the advancing British
In 1946 his Battalion provided firing squads to carry out
the death penalty on German war criminals. Having learned of
the extent of their criminality he had no sympathy for those
sentenced to death by the War Crimes Commission. When he
returned to London after the war he found that his London
home had been demolished during a German air raid on the
In 1952 Butler was appointed Assistant Quartermaster
General, London. In 1953 under the command of The Earl
Marshall for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth, he had
responsibility for administration and quartering of the
16,000 Commonwealth officers and troops who were in London
to take part in the Coronation ceremony. In 1954 he was
invested with the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.).
Following the death of his father, Pierce Butler, in March
1955 Thomas succeeded to the title 12th Baronet Butler of
Clogrennan. In 1957 he became Lieutenant Colonel in command
of the Grenadier Guards. He visited Thailand as military
advisor to the Thai army, reviewing troops and inspecting
military installations. In 1959 he was appointed to head the
defence staff of the High Commissioner in New Zealand. His
next post was as Resident Governor of the Tower of London
where he lived with his family in the Queen's House, which
had been built for Anne Boleyn and was said to be haunted by
Following the State Funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965
Thomas was in charge of receiving the coffin into the Tower
for loading on a barge to carry the remains up the river
Thames to Waterloo Station. In 1967 he oversaw the
transference of the Crown Jewels to the newly built Jewel
House. In 1968 he held the office of Keeper of the Jewel
House and kept the keys in a secret place in the house.
During his time as Resident Governor of the Tower many
people from Carlow experienced his hospitality and were
often taken on "inside" tours of the Tower. Some local lads
from the Carlow branch of the FCA recall such a welcome on
one of their visits to London.
In 1966 Corona Lecky-Watson from Altamont House and her
new husband Garry North on their honeymoon slept in Anne
Boleyn's bed as guest of Thomas and his wife.
I am grateful to Corona and her sister Diana Lecky-Watson
Curtis for much of the information contained in this
In 1970 Thomas was invested as a Commander, Royal
Victorian Order (C.V.O.). Following his retirement as
Governor in 1971 Thomas and his family returned to
Ballintemple where, despite the fact that his family home
had been accidently burnt down in 1917, he spent many
healthy and happy years fishing, wildfowling and enjoying
the company of his family and friends. He was an advisor to
the Imperial War Museum in London and was also active in
charitable work on behalf of the Cheshire Homes. He was the
author of three publications "Tower of London",
"The Crown Jewels and Coronation Ceremony" and "Crown Jewels
and Coronation Ritual", they are now collectors items and
are much sought after.
He is survived by his wife, Rosemary Liege, daughters,
Caroline and Virginia and his son, Richard Pierce Butler who
now succeeds to the title of 13th Baronet Butler, of
Clogrennan County Carlow. M.P.
The above is a true and
accurate transcript of the original document.
Transcribed by Mary Corcoran, Oct.
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