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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Tom Bambrick

Royal Navy Stoker

Sent in by Terry Curran c2008

Tom Bambrick Stoker Royal Navy of Bawnree Co. Carlow
By Bridget Evans

My Uncle Tom Bambrick (Stoker) died on the Thetis . He was my mother's oldest brother. He was born in Bawnree Co. Carlow Ireland the oldest of eleven children, nine boys and two girls. He went to England to work and joined the British Navy. He married his wife Mary the September before he died and she was expecting their first child when he died. They were living in a flat in London and Mary was not aware of the sinking of the submarine, but learned of her husband's death when she saw a newspaper with the headline Thetis Sinks. She returned to Castlecomer, Kilkenny shortly after his death. She had a son and called him Tom after his father. She lived into her eighties and never remarried. Their son Tom still lives in Castlecomer.

My mother is now eighty two and only four of the family are still alive, he has a photo of Tom on her windowsill in his navy uniform and often talks of the anguish of the wait for his body to be returned for burial. He is buried in the family plot in Paulstown Co. Kilkenny. When he was returned for burial his casket had to be carried on a horse drawn carriage because it would not fit in a hearse as it was lead lined and indeed it was the last funeral of its kind in Paulstown.

HMS Thetis the British Kursk disaster


At 9.40am, June 1st 1939, His Majesty's Submarine Thetis sailed from Birkenhead under the command of Lieutenant Commander G.H.Bolus (RN). The purpose of the day was to make a diving trial. This was to be Thetis's first venture as a submarine proper. On board were 103 persons, fifty more than her normal crew. Of the extra fifty on board 8 were Naval Officers some commanding their own Submarines anxious to see the performance of this new class of Submarine. The others were employees of Cammell Laird and Vickers Armstrong. Also there were two employees of a catering firm on board for the reception that usually follows the trials, and finally the Mersey Pilot, Norman Willcox. Thetis headed out to Liverpool Bay escorted by the Liverpool Screw Towing and Lighterage Company's tug Grebecock captained by Mr A E Godfrey. It was also the duty of the tug to take the passengers from Thetis before she commenced her first dive. At 1.30 p.m. the tug received a signal from Thetis that all passengers had decided to remain on board Thetis and that the dive would commence.

At precisely 2 p.m. there was a "whoosh" as air rushed out of Thetis tanks, clearly heard by the crew on board the tug, Thetis had opened her main vents. For the next 50 minutes the crew on board Grebecock watched the Thetis disappearing slowly below the surface in what was a dive in "slow time". She had her bow down a slight angle and appeared to have difficulty getting below the surface then, at 2.58 p.m. she suddenly disappeared beneath the waves. The submarine was a great loss to the Royal Navy and a family of County Carlow shared the sorrow with a loss of one of its sons, Tom Bambrick of Bawnree

Source Steve Johnson

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