Thursday, June 09, 2011

Seaman Thomas Tubman, 'HMS Capetown'

Photographs (top to bottom):

1. Seaman Thomas Tubman's grave
Gibraltar (North Front) Cemetery
CWGC Grave Ref: Plot 2. Row A. Grave 19.

2. HMS Capetown (postcard photograph)
A WW1 and WW2 C-Class Royal Navy cruiser
Her motto - unsurprisingly - was 'Good Hope'

Seaman Thomas Tubman, RNVR of HMS Capetown died in Gibraltar on 16 November 1939 while on active service. He was interred in Gibraltar (North Front) Cemetery. At the time of his death Seaman Tubman was 46 years old.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

1. 'HMS Capetown'

(a) Before WW2

HMS Capetown was a C-Class Cruiser that served in WW2 but was originally ordered during WW1. She was the first Royal Naval vessel to bear the name 'Capetown', and named after the South African city.

HMS Capetown was ordered from Cammell Laird. Birkenhead in July 1917, laid down on 23rd February 1918 and launched on 28th June 1918. 'Capetown' was then transferred to the dockyard at Pembroke Dock and not completed until 28 February 1922.

In 1939, with the situation in Europe worsening HMS Capetown sailed from Plymouth for Gibraltar on 28 August. She was deployed at Gibraltar on 1 September 1939 - the day Germany invaded Poland.

(b) Deployments in 1939

On 3 September 1939 - the day British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany HMS Capetown sailed from Gibraltar. She became part of an 'interception patrol' to enforce a blockade and also for defence of the Atlantic convoys that began immediately after the declaration of war with Germany. She returned to port in Gibraltar on 12 September, while other ships of 'C-Class' were deployed in northern Atlantic.

On 17 September 1939 'Capetown' sailed from Gibraltar for escort of a convoy from Freetown, returning to Gibraltar 10 days later. After refuelling she set sail for patrol and convoy escort on 2 October but returned to Gibraltar the following day after developing defects. Arrangements were made for repairs at HM Dockyard, Malta. 'Capetown' set sail for Gibraltar on 6 October and arrived at Malta two days later when the repairs began.

Upon completion of the repairs, HMS Capetown was deployed at Malta on 21 October. As the C-Class cruisers had been found unsuitable for deployment in the North Atlantic 'Capetown' was transferred to the 3rd Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet, and was initially involved in contraband patrol. She sailed from Malta on 27 October, returning on 3 November.

On 7 November 1939 HMS Capetown was deployed for patrol and convoy defence in western Mediterranean and so once more set sail for Gibraltar, arriving on 9 November 1939. She was deployed for patrol in the Gibraltar area on 12 November 1939. It was at this time that Seaman Thomas Tubman of HMS Capetown was taken into the Military Hospital, Gibraltar where he died on 16 November. He was buried in Gibraltar North Front Cemetery on 18 November 1939, the same day that HMS Capetown left port and returned to Malta.

[Possibly the sailing of 'Capetown' was delayed until after Seaman Tubman's funeral so that at least some of his shipmates could pay their last respects].

Thursday, 09 June, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

2. HMS Capetown's Service History

A more complete service history of HMS Capetown is available on the Naval History website. Most of the research of the service history of WW2 Royal Navy vessels on this website, including that of HMS Capetown, was undertaken by the late Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Mason, RN Rtd. (1922 - 2010).

To read the service history of HMS Capetown on the Naval History website:

Click here

Saturday, 11 June, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

3. Seaman Thomas Tubman, RNVR

Seaman Thomas Tubman was born at Whitehaven Cumberland (now Cumbria) in 1893. Thomas, or Tom as he was sometimes known, was the son of William Patterdale and Elizabeth Tumban and was baptised by Reverend James Anderson (Vicar) at Holy Trinity Church, Whitehaven (Church of England) on 25 June 1893. On Wednesday 15 October 1919 Thomas Tubman, then aged 26, married Miss Annie Henderson, aged 31, also at Holy Trinity Church, Whitehaven. The wedding ceremony was conducted by Reverend Frederick K. Fell, (Parish Vicar).

At the time of their wedding Thomas Tubman was living in a house at Bardy Steps, West Strand while Annie Henderson was living nearby at 15 Bardy Lane, West Strand (near Whitehaven harbour). Tom's occupation was listed as a sailor. The witnesses at Tom and Annie's wedding were Matthew Dockray and Esther Dockray. After their wedding, Tom and Annie Tubman had their family home at White's Lane, West Strand, Whitehaven. Thomas and Annie Tubman had 4 children: John (born 1920), Isabella (born 1921, died in infancy), Ethel May (born 1923) and Annie Isabella (born 1927). Like their father, John and Ethel May were to serve in the Forces during WW2.

In the early part of WW2 Seaman Thomas Tubman, RNVR served on 'HMS Capetown'. His WW2 service was relatively short - from 1 March 1939 until the time of his death at Gibraltar on 16 November 1939. Seaman Tubman's WW2 Royal Navy service number was D/1277E (previously X 347).

In 1947 Seaman Thomas Tubman's family submitted his details so that his name would be listed in the Borough of Whitehaven WW2 'Book of Remembrance'. Strangely, for some reason Thomas Tubman's name was never listed in the 'Book of Remembrance' of his home town. On the other hand, at the time of writing this article the CWGC record for Thomas Tubman does not include either his next of kin (Mrs Annie Tubman) or that his hometown was Whitehaven.

Seaman Thomas Tubman was interred in the Gibraltar (North Front) Cemetery [Ref: Plot 2. Row A. Grave 19]. This particular plot is immediately adjacent to Gibraltar's airfield and with a view of the Rock of Gibraltar. The CWGC headstones in this section of the cemetery are laid flat surrounded by pebbles.

Saturday, 11 June, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

4. 'In Memoriam'

The following tributes to Seaman Thomas Tubman from his immediate family appeared in 'The Whitehaven News' local newspaper during WW2:

(a) Thursday November 14, 1940

TUBMAN - In loving memory of Thomas Tubman, who died at the Military Hospital, Gibraltar, November 16th 1939.

We often sit and think of you,
The things you used to say and do,
And wonder why you had to die,
Without a chance to say goodbye.

Fondly remembered by his loving Wife and Family, White's Lane.

TUBMAN - In loving memory of a dear son, Thomas Tubman, who died on active service, November 16th 1939.

Ever remembered by his Mother and all at home.

(b) Thursday November 13 and November 20, 1941

TUBMAN - In dearest memory of my Dad, who died at the Military Hospital, Gibraltar, November 16 1939, whilst on active service.

The words are few,
But oh, how true,
Father I miss you.

Always remembered by his daughter, May, serving with the WAAF.

TUBMAN - In loving memory of my dear husband, Thomas Tubman, who died November 16 1939 whilst on active service.

Ever remembered by his Wife and family at home and away.

(c) Thursday November 12 and November 19, 1942

TUBMAN - In loving memory of my dear Dad, who died November 16 1939 at the Military Hospital, Gibraltar.

I was not there at the time you died,
To hear your last faint sigh,
To whisper just one loving word,
Or yet to say "Goodbye".

Never forgotten by his elder daughter May serving with the WAAF.

TUBMAN - In loving memory of my dear Husband, Thomas Tubman, who died at the Military Hospital, Gibraltar, November 16 1939, whilst on active service.

Ever remembered by all at home, and Son and Daughter serving with H.M. Forces.

5. Some personal comments

During a stay in Gibraltar I visited the grave of Seaman Thomas Tubman and left a small floral tribute at his grave. Seaman Thomas Tubman was one of the first WW2 casualties to be buried in the Gibraltar (North Front) Cemetery (also known as the Garrison Cemetery). The cause of death was an illness rather than being killed in action or dying of wounds.

Seaman Tubman was by no means the last service casualty of the war to die in Gibraltar. There are almost 700 casualties from both World Wars interred in the Gibraltar Cemetery, as well as many other casualties from other times who died while on military service in Gibraltar. May they all rest in peace and their sacrifice not be forgotten.

I hope this article helps in a small way to rectify the situation of Seaman Thomas Tubman not being commemorated in the WW2 'Book of Remembrance' of his hometown. Finally, one may call to mind the motto of HMS Capetown: 'Good Hope'.


Cumbria County Archives & Local History Library,

'The Whitehaven News'

Gibraltar Garrison Library

'The Gibraltar Chronicle'

Cemetery staff at Gibraltar (North Front) Cemetery


Saturday, 11 June, 2011  

Post a Comment

<< Home