Thomas Henry Sefton

On 15th October 1914 HMS Hawke was torpedoed by U9, captained by Otto Weddigen, off Aberdeen. Of her crew of 594, only four officers and 70 ratings survived.

More than twenty men from the north of  Ireland were lost, including Lieutenant Commander Ruric Waring, who was a member of the family which gave Waringstown its name. All are commemorated on panel one of the Chatham Naval Memorial.

Less than two years later , in July 1916, this loss would be eclipsed in Ireland by the carnage on the Somme.

Thomas was born on 29th April 1888 in 3 Gable St Belfast, the son of William Sefton, a serving soldier and Eliza Jane Sefton, nee Hiland. He joined the Royal Navy on 31st July 1906 , aged 18. Described as just under five feet five inches tall, with black hair and hazel eyes, he was a stoker.

He served on various ships, joining HMS Hawke on 5th August 1914. She was an elderly cruiser, part of the tenth Cruiser Squadron, attached to the Third Fleet. Being a stoker, the ship having sunk in less than ten minutes, he had no chance of survival.

Thomas was my great uncle. His father, his brother and his nephew, my father, all served the Crown with bravery and distinction.

I will remember Thomas on the one hundredth anniversary of his death “in the grey wastes”.

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