Thomas J Osborne

The Roll of Honour shows the names of three young men named Osborne: Thomas J., Fred and Arthur   They were brothers.   Thomas was the eldest.

The West Haddon Record of Marriages shows the marriage of George Henry Osborne to Josephine Bull on 9th November, 1886.   George Henry was aged 23, Josephine aged 21.

The 1901 Census shows the Osborne family living at 102 Chequers Lane, West Haddon.   The Head of the Household was George Henry Osborne, aged 35, a woodcutter, His wife Josephine, also aged 35, their two daughters Florence (12) and Annie (9) and three sons Thomas (7), Fred (5) and Arthur (2).

Parish Records show the baptism of Thomas John Osborne on 15th March 1908 together with his brothers and sisters.    No dates of birth are shown for any of the children.   Research by a family member showed Thomas was born on 14th September, 1893.

The 1911 Census shows Thomas John, then aged 17, employed as a House Painter.

I could find no trace of military records in respect of Thomas but  Anthony Osborne, a fellow researcher and a relative of Thomas and his brothers,  found the records which shows he joined the Royal Navy on 21st December, 1912, signing on for 12 years.

From his date of joining until 15 February 1913 he served at HMS Victory II, a shore based training depot.  He subsequently joined HMS Fisgard a shore based training school for artificers and on completion of training joined HMS Achilles, a Warrior class armoured cruiser, one of 712 crewmen.

The month of May 1917 saw him return to HMS Fisgard, then to HMS Victory II before joining HMS Stonecrop, a converted collier (also known as HMS Glenfoyle), a ‘Q’ ship, on 6th August 1917.   A ‘Q’ ship was a merchant ship with concealed guns, used to attract U-boats to the surface.

On 17th September, 1917 the Stonecrop engaged and sank U88.   The following day, however Stonecrop was herself hit with a torpedo, fired from the German submarine U43 and sank quickly.

 A record shows that on 1st October, 1917 Thomas was back at HMS Fisgard before being taken to the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar where he died of empyema on 26th May, 1918.

... Empyema, also called pyothorax or purulent pleuritis, usually develops after pneumonia,

The Northampton Mercury dated  7th June, 1918 reported the funeral of Tom Osborne who died in the Naval Hospital Haslar from the effects of spending five days in a raft, his ship having been torpedoed.

The lengthy, quite moving report, is attached to this entry.

(Jim Blakey & Anthony Osborne February 2017)




The funeral of a brave West Haddon lad, painter Tom Osborne, HMS ——— took place at West Haddon on Thursday week.

Osborne died as the result of terrible exposure at sea. His vessel was torpedoed. He gave up his place in one of the boats to a gunner, and for five days he and several companions were tossed about on a raft they fashioned out of odds and ends, at the mercy of the waves, without food and with ever diminishing hopes of being rescued.

On a previous occasion Osborne had saved the life of a Commander. The terrible experiences on the raft broke down his constitution, and for many weeks prior to his death he was in a naval hospital. Earlier in the war he had volunteered for special service to combat u-boats. He had recently passed the test for Petty Officer and had been recommended for an award for bravery and devotion to duty.

The body was brought to the Long Buckby Station per rail. Twelve seamen in charge of the chief painter, Mr W H Skergold came at their own expense to attend the funeral and to carry their old mate to his last resting place. The coffin, borne on the shoulders of six sailors, was covered in the Union Jack.

There were many beautiful floral tributes; one from the Captain and Officers HMS ————, one from his mess-mates, one from the ship’s company, one from the boy artificer HMS ————, one from the painters, plumbers and blacksmiths, one from the shipmates HMS ———— on which ship the deceased previously served, one from the people of West Haddon, Colonel and Mrs Ainsworth, Mr and Mrs Webb and family, Edie and Alex Saye, Councillors Mrs Paul E Wyatt, E Collins, J Kennell, K Clarke, T Malin and family, Cousins Lizzie and Annie, Dad, Mother, Brothers and Sisters, Aunt Lizzie and cousins, Mr and Mrs Collier, Aunt Mary, E and A Whitmore, mates from the raft, T and E Palmer, Mrs Gare, Jack and Annie etc.

Two brothers are in the army; one having recently lost an arm. Reverend E Bannerman conducted the service in the church and at the graveside and the organist played the “Dead March” in “Saul”.


(left) Thomas J Osborne’s grave in All Saints Churchyard, West Haddon.

HMS Stonecrop aka HMS Glenfoyle
Thomas J Osborne