Tuesday, 14 February 2012

An important date

Today, being the 14 February, I want to celebrate... but not for the usual reason.

Today is the 70th Anniversary of the loss of life of my Grandfather's brother, Thomas Wilkinson, VC and all the other brave men who fought so valiantly in WWII on the 14 February 1942 on HMS Li Wo.

from the National Archives

Uncle Tom, who I wrote about here, loved the sea and adventure. Can you imagine back in the 1920's a young man setting sail for the China Seas, living his dream? I know that he did, for my mother adored him and could hardly wait as a young girl for his shore leave so that she could listen to his stories of the Far East.

This book was one of the reasons I commenced researching Uncle Tom. It was given to me by an Uncle, my mother's elder brother. On the fly cover it says: The savage, incredible truth of the most decorated small ship in the Navy

During my research, I have come across many stories and items relating to the events of that momentous day. To honour Uncle Tom's memory and his love of the sea, here is some of that memorabilia.

front and back cover
click on the images to enlarge them

I managed to purchase a copy of this comic on eBay, and also found this certified cover number 53 of 226 issued dated 14 February 1987.

Uncle Tom's former employers, Jardine Matheson, generously gave to me a copy of this book

wherein on page 146 is the following

They also sent me a copy of their in-house magazine, Thistle, that celebrates 175 Years of the Right People and Uncle Tom is mentioned as being one of the Right People.

One thing is for sure. The events of 14 February 1942 will never be forgotten. Only the other day, I received an email from Diane Snow, who I mentioned here, to say that all her research on the Li Wo (held by the Imperial War Museum in book form) now has a co-author, Nicholas Tucker. Nick is ex-RAF and has another side of the story to offer. I am so excited for her and can't wait to see the book in print. Keeping memories alive is so important to me and while there are people in the world like Diane, I know that her Uncle Billy and my Uncle Tom's story will never be forgotten. And that is something worth celebrating. 

Wishing you all a Happy St Valentine's Day and hoping you get to spend it with those you love.

1 comment:

Sian said...

As soon as I read your post I ran for my copy of "Lost Voices of the Royal Navy" and sure enough, there the story was, pages 335-337. It's fascinating! and pause for thought on a day when we think about love. I have the book because it also includes eyewitness accounts of what happened on my Dad's ship Indefatigable. Highly recommended, if you don't already have it