William Charles Shepherd Thomas

Date of birth: 1888
Place of birth: Southampton
Service No.: Not known
Rank: Boatswain’s Mate
Vessel: SS Galway Castle
Battalion: Mercantile Marine
Died: 12th September 1918 aged 30 years
Death location: At sea


Life before the War
William was the seventh of 8 siblings born to Frederick and Ruth, nee Folger, who married in Southampton in 1872.  Ruth was born in Southampton in 1850 and she passed away in the city only in 1896.  Frederick was also born in the city in 1850 and died there in either 1914 or 1919.   Following Ruth’s death he remarried in 1903, to Phoebe Emma Dymott.

William’s 7 siblings – 5 sisters and 2 brothers – were:

Rose Eliza   b.1875 Southampton and d.1940 Blackpool.

Phoebe Lily J.   b 1877 Southampton and d.1922 Southampton.
Married Henry Thomas in Southampton in 1895.

Rosemond Sarah   b.1879 Southampton and d.1931 Southampton.
Married Walter George Nixon in Southampton in 1903.

Martha Mary   b.1881 Southampton and d.1959 Southampton.
Married Arthur Richard Orman in Southampton in 1905.

Violet Catherine   b.1883 Southampton and d.1951 Southampton.
Married Arthur Wray in Southampton in 1907.

John Henry F   b.1886 Southampton and d.1949 Southampton.
Married Gladys M Jewell in Southampton in 1926.

Bertie Frederick A   b.1890 Southampton and d.1918 Southampton.


War Service
The Galway Castle was built in Belfast in 1911, as a passenger steamer.  She was requisitioned by the Admiralty in August 1914 and turned into a troopship.  She was deployed in the German West Africa campaign against Windhoek.  After this German colony was seized by the South Africans in 1915 Galway Castle reverted to commercial service.

On 3rd August 1916 she was attacked with a bomb from a German aircraft but the device failed to explode.

At 07.30 on 12 September 1918, when 2 days out from Plymouth, she was torpedoed by U-82 and broke her back.  She was carrying 400 South African walking wounded, 346 passengers and 204 crew.  It actually took Galway Castle 3 days to sink and this allowed destroyers to save all bar 143 souls, William was sadly one of them.

William is remembered 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.




Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 14th May 2015
Updated: Insert dates here

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