Able Seaman, J45098, Thomas Edward Craft – Survived the War

Royal Navy

Synopsis of Civilian and Military Life

Thomas was born on 30 November 1899 in Canning Town, London. His parents were John George Craft, a Corn Porter, and Sarah Jane Leverett. Thomas’s mother died in 1907 and in 1913 his father remarried. Marriage records show that Thomas’ new Step-Mother, Rosina May Johnson (nee Partridge) was already living with them. 

Thomas joined the navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 8 October 1915 and taken on the books of the training ship HMS Impregnable at Devonport. His entry into the navy at such a young age was conditional on his physical height, weight and medical fitness. There would also have been a need for his parents to sign a declaration that the boy would serve in the navy for a minimum of 12 years.

In view of his good conduct, proficiency and at least one good conduct badge, Thomas was promoted to Boy 1st Class on 7 April 1916 at which point he was transferred to the training establishment HMS Ganges at Shotley in Suffolk.

On 18 May 1917 was assigned to HMS Chatham, a Town-Class light cruiser – a ship he served with for the rest of the war.

When Thomas turned 18 he entered the Navy officially as an Ordinary Seaman and became subject to the Naval Discipline Act. , his records show his description as :-

  • Height – 5’ 1 ¾” 
  • Chest – 31 ½ “
  • Hair – Brown
  • Eyes – Blue
  • Complexion – Fresh

He also had scars on both knees and also on the right side of his abdomen.

HMS Chatham

Thomas was promoted to Able Seaman on 20 June 1918 and after the war spent time on a number of ships and land based establishments. 

On 13 August 1922, Thomas married Martha Matilda Meakins at St Luke’s Church, Canning Town. From marriage records it seems that Martha was his neighbour.


Thomas was still in the Royal Navy at the start of the Second World War and by May 1941 was an Able Seaman aboard HMS Hood. The Hood and the battleship Prince of Wales were sent in pursuit of the German pocket battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen which had sailed for the Atlantic to attack allied convoys. Shortly after dawn on 24 May the Hood opened fire on the Prinz Eugen with the Germans firing back. The Hood had been hit several times when the fifth salvo of shells from Bismarck hit. A large burst of flame burst out of the Hood followed by a large explosion which broke the back of the ship. HMS Hood sank in less than three minutes with the loss of over 1400 men, Thomas amongst them.

HMS Hood in 1924 ©By Photographer: Allan C. Green 1878 – 1954 Restoration: Adam – State Library of Victoria, Public Domain.


Thomas Edward Craft was born on 30 November 1899 at Canning Town, London.

His family is shown as follows :-

  • Wife – Martha Matida Meakins or Craft, born at West Ham, 24 January 1902.
  • Daughter – Mary E.A., born 23 April 1924 at West Ham, d.2 July 1944.
  • Son – Thomas F.E., born 2 April 1926 at West Ham.
  • Son – Frank W., born 25 November 1928 at West Ham, d.1981.
  • Son – John G., born 25 November 1928 at West Ham.

  • Father – John George Craft, born c.1859 at Pimlico, London.
  • Mother – Sarah Jane Leverett or Craft, born c.1862 at Kensington, London.
  • Brother – George H., born c.1886 at Poplar, London.
  • Brother – James, born c.1891 at Poplar, London.
  • Brother – Charley, born c.1895 at Poplar, London.
  • Sister – Mary A., born c.1897 at Poplar, London.


The following addresses have been ascertained for Thomas Craft :-

  • 1901 – 15 York Street, Canning Town, West Ham, London.
  • 1911 – 21 York Street, Canning Town, West Ham, London.
  • 1922- 15 Hoy Street, Canning Town, West Ham London.
  • 1939 – 54, Palmer Road, Canning Town, West Ham, London, Essex


Thomas Craft was awarded the, Victory and the British War Medals for his service in the Great War. He also received the Royal Navy Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in 1933.


Thomas Craft is honoured and remembered on the following memorials :-

  • Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire, United Kingdom.
The panel on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire where Thomas Edward Craft is honoured – ©Frank Grant.

Links to Additional Information


  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
  • 1901 Census.
  • 1911 Census.
  • Ancestry.Co.UK UK, Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972.
  • Essex Marriages and Banns 1537-1935.
  • 1939 Register.


  • No Groups at this time.


  • Trevor Torkington
  • Frank Grant (Memorial Photo)
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