Thomas Wheatley (1894-1917)
Stockton man served as a stoker in the Royal Navy on HMS Drake
Thomas Wheatley was born in Stockton-on-Tees on 30 November 1894. His father was riveter Thomas Wheatley (born 1866) from Norton. His mother was Rebecca Wheatley (born 1869) originally from Hansworth, Warwickshire. His parents married in 1890 and Thomas was their first born child. They went on to have ten children in total, although three died in early infancy. Of the surviving children Thomas had four brothers and two sisters.
At the time of both the 1901 and 1911 censuses the Wheatley family lived at 19 Chalk Street, Stockton. In 1911 Thomas’s occupation was recorded as a farm-worker. He joined the Royal Navy on 14 October 1914 to serve for five years full-time plus 7 years in the Royal Fleet Reserve. Immediately prior to joining the navy, Thomas was working as a carter. He was initially rated as a stoker 2nd class and given the service number SS116149. He was rated as a stoker 1st class on 14 September 1916.
Thomas was serving on the cruiser HMS Drake on 2 October 1917 when it was sunk by German submarine U79 in the Northern Channel off Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland. It was torpedoed striking the No 2 Boiler Room which caused two engine rooms and the boiler room to flood. Eighteen crew including Thomas were lost. His body was not recovered for burial and he is honoured on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. He is remembered in Stockton in the Book of Remembrance 1914-18, St Thomas’s Church and on the Panels 1914-18, Holy Trinity Church.
Thomas Wheatley was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal for his service in World War One.
Civil Parish: Stockton on Tees
Birth date: 30-Nov-1894
Death date: 02-Oct-1917
Armed force/civilian: Navy
Residence: 19 Chalk Street, Stockton-on-Tees (1901 and 1911 censuses)
Employment: Farm worker (1911 census)
Carter (on enlistment)
Family: Parents: Thomas Wheatley (b 1866), Rebecca Wheatley (b 1869)
Siblings: George Wheatley (b 1897), John H Wheatley (b 1901), Harry Wheatley (b 1902), Doris Wheatley (b 1904), Daniel Wheatley (b 1906), Ruth Wheatley (b 1910)
Service Number SS116149
Stoker 2nd class, 14 October 1914
Stoker 1st class, 14 September 1916
Medal(s): 1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Memorial(s): Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Book of Remembrance 1914-18, St Thomas’s Church
Panels 1914-18 Holy Trinity Church
Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham
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