Thomas Edwin Pleace

Date of birth: 1870
Place of birth: Guernsey
Service No.: Not known
Rank: Chief Officer
Vessel: SS Normandy
Service: Mercantile Marine
Died: 25th January 1918 aged 40 years
Buried: Old Southampton Cemetery (G48/101)


Life before the War
Firstly, there are some apparent anomalies with Thomas and his family.  Thomas himself is listed as Thomas EDWARD in the majority of war records; the 1911 census appears to prove that he is Thomas EDWIN.  His wife is listed in most places as Agnes Norah in both the 1901 and 1911 censuses, but it is ELLEN AGNES who is living with Thomas Edwin.

Thomas was the fourth of 5 siblings born to Thomas George and Sarah Vincent, nee Waldron.  Thomas’s siblings were:

Marion Amy   b. 8th May 1863 St. Peter Port.
Married Edward Ford in Guernsey in 1886.  They had 3 daughters.

Alice Susan Waldron   b. 17th July 1866 St. Peter Port.
No other information available.

Ethel Elizabeth Waldron   b. 17th April 1868 St. Peter Port.
Married Albert George May in Guernsey in 1897.

Frederick William   b. 15th December 1871 and d.1955 Southampton.
Married Louise Alice (last name not known) in Guernsey in 1894.  They had 3 daughters.

The family was based in St. Peter Port, Guernsey. Thomas senior was born there in 1835 whilst Sarah was born in Devon in 1838.

Thomas senior was a Master Mariner which explains Thomas junior’s subsequent career.

Census evidence shows both Thomas senior and Sarah being alive in 1911, both in their 70’s, but there is no evidence of their deaths.

Thomas junior married Ellen in Christchurch in 1898.  Before Thomas went to sea they lived at The Old House, Foundry Lane, Shirley.  The 1911 census shows that they had a child, but it died in infancy.


War Service
Thomas was one of 27 people (14 crew and 13 passengers) who lost their life on the Normandy as it made its way from Southampton to Cherbourg.  It was a merchant ship, carrying general cargo and mail to the troops in France.  Eight miles off Cape La Hague the vessel was torpedoed by the German submarine U-90.  Only 13 passengers survived.

U-90 is also known as the submarine that sank the 32,500 tonne USS President Lincoln off Brest, an American military transport ship.

Thomas’s name is on the Tower Hill Memorial, London, which commemorates
almost 12,000 men and women of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets who died
in both World Wars and who have no known grave.  As with Southampton’s Cenotaph,
the WWI section of the Tower Hill Memorial was also designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Thomas’ grave was granted a Commonwealth War Grave by the CWGC in 2016.


Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 11th May 2015
Updated: Insert dates here

If you have any additional information about the person named above please complete the Comments section below.

One response to “Thomas Edwin Pleace

  1. Carole Olding

    Thomas Pleace is actually buried in the Old Cemetery on the Common and has a stone. The Friends of the Old Cemetery have put forward his case for a War grave. Contact them for further details.

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