Thomas Hunter Cheeper


This directory contains information and documents about Albert Jacques Cheeper's 5th child, and his 1st with Jane Dawson. Although registered as Thomas Hunter Cheeper, he appears to have been known throughout his life as Hunter.

Hunter's parents and descendants are shown in this rough family tree.

His birth certificate shows that he was born on 8 Feb 1898, at Wentworth Place, Allendale, 10 miles from Hexham, Northumberland. Albert was shown as an Inland Revenue Officer.

Hunter presumably moved with the family to Dingwall near Inverness some time between late 1901 and 1909 (although, particularly given that Albert was an Inland Revenue officer, the family may have been somewhere else betweentimes). This photo shows him at about 7, in about 1905.

The family appears to have been in Dingwall through Hunter's childhood (and later, until c. 1925, by which time Thomas was 27, and long gone).

Hunter was 6'6", and his height would have helped when he enlisted under-age in the Seaforth Highlanders, presumably in August 1914. This photo shows him as a (very young) Corporal, presumably in 1915-16.

The Regular First Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders was in India at the outbreak of War. It moved to France, then to Mesopotamia (where it incurred casualties so serious that it was for a time merged with another battalion), and then to Palestine. It seems more likely that he was in the Territorials, specifically the 1/4th (Ross Highland) Battalion, which was formed in August 1914 in Dingwall. That unit appears to have been in France throughout the War.

Hunter served in both wars, and appears to have stayed in the Army after the Great War. It appears that he spent at least some of the inter-War period, and quite probably some of WWII, in India.

This photo appears to be of him at about age 25, so c. 1923, and shows him as what appears to be either an officer cadet or subaltern. The cap implies at least Warrant rank. I can't interpret the bar on his epaulette. He appears to have only a single medal-ribbon. The badge is clearly not the distinctive stag's head of the Seaforth Regiment. It resembles the dull black of the Australian Intelligence Corps. The British Intelligence Corps existed from 1914 to 1929 and again from 1940, but I haven't been able to establish what badge they wore back then.

In 1931, he married Kitty Elizabeth Niederman, in Mhow, India (page number 168 on St Caths Index). Mhow is about 700km east of Mumbai. Kitty was born on 21 November 1909, so she was 21 or 22 and he was 32 or 33. Kitty already had a son, David, born in 1930, by a previous (possibly common law) husband, who was possibly Leslie F. Findlay who died at Meerut in 1931.

Ruth understands that Hunter was in Intelligence, and presumably at some stage was a field operative. She also said that he was in Burma, and behind the lines, and had lots of medals including a Ghurka medal. Ruth also heard talk of a tea-plantation, and Shang Hi. She thought he meant an Indian location, not China, but I can find no trace of such a place-name.

In this photo, which appears to be from 1940-42, Hunter would have been 42-44. He is in a staff officer's uniform, apparently lieutenant-colonel (crown over one star). The badge appears to be that of the Intelligence Corps, which was only re-formed on 19 July 1940. He has four or five medal-ribbons, but I haven' t managed to make them out. But, being in Intelligence, his display of ribbons may have been selective.

Ruth was also told that Hunter spied on German Doodlebug / V1 factories. If so, it would have had to be in the midst of WWII, c. 1942-44, in which case he'd have been 44-46, and would have had to be smuggled into Peenemünde. And it's not easy to be inconspicuous at 6'6". So it's more likely that this was part of his zone of responsibilities as a senior intelligence officer. Ruth also said that he had worked on Montgomery's staff during WWII.

Ruth also remembers Hunter saying that he was in a tank that overturned. (She thought it was a Chieftain, but that was a Main Battle Tank from the late 1960s onwards. It was preceded by the Centurion, but now I've looked it up, that was post-war as well. Here's a motley assortment of possibilities). Ruth also remembers Hunter saying that if we'd had enough people who spoke Russian, the war would have been shorter (which sounds like an Intelligence Corps grumble about the authorities denying language training).

Thomas and Kitty had one child, Ruth Sandra Musson Cheeper, in 1947, when Thomas was 49 and Kitty 38.

Thomas was a haemophiliac (although, as an infrantryman and later a serving officer, his condition presumably wasn't severe). That gene is a likely explanation why there is limited male issue. Added to that, Thomas came out of his time in the sub-continent with malaria. Retirement age for a Colonel is 47 (and even for a Brigadier is 52). He turned 47 before the end of the War, and 52 in early 1948, so he was presumably retired some time after WWII.

Thomas moved to St Austell in Cornwall as a food office controller (managing rationing) about 1949-50. (Rationing lasted until c. 1953). He retired shortly afterwards, at the age of about 53, as a result of ill health. It appears that his service, malaria, and perhaps the habit of alcohol commonly acquired in long military service, took their toll.

Hunter died in the June quarter of 1962, at the age of 64, when Ruth was 15.

Kitty would have been only 53 when Thomas passed on. She remarried a Frederick James Allen, born 12 August 1904 (Jun Qtr 1972 St Austell 7a 459). She was 62, and he was 68. He died in 1987, at 83 (Sep qtr 1987).

Kitty lived 32 years after Hunter's death, and 7 after her second husband's death. She passed away in July 1994, at 84 (St Austell, Dist No.3673, Reg No 37B Ent No 089 Dor 794), by which time Ruth was 47.

David Findley(ay?) (Cheeper), b. 1930

Kitty's son by her first marriage, David, adopted the Cheeper name.

He has lived from many years near Chelmsford in Essex. He is married and has three daughters.

David knew his step-father Thomas Cheeper as Hunter, his second name, and said that Thomas had 2 sisters, born in the early 1900's, a Dorothy and a Jean [missing Ursula]. He said that Dorothy never married. When she died (in 1983), he ended up with photos dating from the 1850's of people he didn't know. So, unfortunately, he disposed of them.

Although David was not a blood relation of the Cheepers, he and his wife and daughters are the last of the Anthony Jacques Cheeper family to bear the surname.

We're missing a lot of information; and we'd love to know more!

This a page within Roger Clarke's Family Web-Site

Contact: Roger Clarke and/or Anne Kratzmann

Created: 16 October 2005; Last Amended: 15 August 2008