Leading Cook (S)
No. D/MX 61660, HMS Hermes, Royal Navy
Died as the result of enemy action on Thursday 9 April 1942 (aged 29)
No known grave
Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon, England (Panel 72 Column 1)
Comber and District War Memorial
Second Comber Presbyterian Church
Thomas Wilson was born on 19 April 1913 at 20 Railway Street, Comber and he was a son of Samuel and Elizabeth Wilson (Lizzie, nee Warnock) who were married on 1 May 1893 in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church. Samuel Wilson from Newtownards was a son of James Wilson, a labourer. Lizzie Warnock, a factory worker from Newtownards was a daughter of John Warnock, a labourer.
Samuel Wilson worked as a labourer and he and Lizzie had at least nine children:
Sarah (born 8 February 1894 in Church Street, Newtownards)
Eliza Jane Galway (born 12 July 1895 in Church Street, Newtownards; died of measles/bronchitis 7 January 1898)
James (born 20 April 1898 in Church Street, Newtownards)
Matthew William (born 9 July 1900 at 88 Bread Street, Belfast)
Martha Galway (born 17 October 1902 in Church Street, Newtownards; died of measles/bronchitis 14 February 1906)
Samuel (born 14 July 1905 in Church Street, Newtownards)
Martha (born 8 September 1906 in Church Street, Newtownards)
Mary Dorman (born 12 January 1909 in Church Street, Newtownards)
Thomas (born 19 April 1913 in Railway Street, Comber)
Prior to the outbreak of war, Thomas Wilson was employed by Messrs J.M. Andrews and Company, Ltd., Comber. He joined the Royal Navy at the outbreak of war and served aboard HMS Hermes. He was reported missing in action on 9 April 1942 and about a month later his sister Sarah was officially informed that he must be presumed to have been killed.
HMS Hermes was an aircraft carrier built by Armstrong Whitworth for the Royal Navy. She was laid down in 1918 and commissioned in 1923. After a brief refit in August 1939 HMS Hermes then conducted anti-submarine patrols in the Western Approaches before going to Dakar in French West Africa. In December she escorted a convoy to Britain and after another refit in January 1940 she returned to Dakar. In July 1940 HMS Hermes collided with HMS Corfu and, after temporary repairs in Freetown, she sailed to Simonstown in South Africa for more permanent repairs and further refitting.
In February 1941 HMS Hermes gave support to the British offensive against Italian Somaliland before proceeding to the Persian Gulf and then the Indian Ocean. In December 1941 she returned to Simonstown for further refitting. After sea trials she was transferred to the Eastern Fleet based at Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). On 8 April, the Japanese Carrier Fleet was sighted approaching Trincomalee, Ceylon and the British ships were ordered to withdraw. The following day HMS Hermes and her escorting Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire were attacked by some 80 Japanese bombers and fighters. Both ships were sunk southeast of Trincomalee, and Leading Cook Thomas Wilson was one of more than 300 men aboard HMS Hermes who died. Survivors were picked up by the hospital ship HMHS Vita.
Leading Cook Thomas Wilson was 29 when he died, and he is commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial in Devon; on Comber and District War Memorial and in Second Comber Presbyterian Church.