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Thomas Hunter (1896-1916)

Hetton-le-Hole man served with his cousin in the Royal Navy at the Battle of Jutland

Thomas Hunter was born on 23 June 1896 in Hetton-le-Hole. His father was George Hunter who was born in 1877 in Easington Lane. His mother was Mary Hunter nee Carr who was born in 1875 in Brandon. Thomas was the eldest of six children in their family. In 1901 they lived at 168 Richard Street, Hetton-le-Hole and by the time of the 1911 census they had moved to 26 East Rainton.

Thomas Hunter worked at a local coal mine and like a host of other pit lads from Horden, Easington, and Shotton Colliery joined the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) at the start of the war and served as stokers. This included his cousin Samuel Hunter who was born in Byer’s Green one day earlier than Thomas’s birth date. Both cousins served on HMS Indefatigable.

HMS Indefatigable was a battlecruiser that spent two years in the Mediterranean and carried out the first British attack on the Dardanelles following the commencement of hostilities between Ottoman Turkey and Russia. The ship returned to England in February 1915 and conducted uneventful patrols of the North Sea for the next year and a half.

Indefatigable was sunk on 31 May 1916 during the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of the war. She was hit several times in the first minutes of the opening phase of the battlecruiser action. Shells from the German battlecruiser Von der Tann caused one explosion that ripped a hole in her hull while a second explosion hurled large pieces of the ship in the air. Thomas and his cousin, Samuel, died amongst 1,017 crewmates. Thomas’s body was not recovered for burial and he is remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

Thomas Hunter was awarded the Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal for his service in World War One.

Civil Parish: Hetton le Hole

Birth date: 23-Jun-1896

Death date: 31-May-1916

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: 168 Richard Street, Hetton-le-Hole (1901 census)
26 East Rainton (1911 census)

Employment: Coal miner

Family: Parents: George Hunter (1877), Mary Hunter nee Carr (1875)
Siblings: Ada Hunter (1899), George (1902), Joseph (1904), Eliza (1907), William (1909)

Military service:

HMS Indefatigable

Medal(s): 1914/15 Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Chatham Naval Memorial

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham