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Herbert Thomas Deakin Rank: Petty Officer Stoker Service No: D/K66041 Service: Royal Navy HMS Thracian Date of Death: December 25, 1941 Age at Death: 35 Memorial: Plymouth Naval Memorial (Devon, United Kingdom) Panel Reference: Panel 102. Column 1. Herbert Thomas Deakin was the son of Walter John and Elizabeth Deakin and husband of Winifred Ivy Deakin, of Llanharry, Glamorgan. With the chaos that occurred in Hong Kong when the Colony surrendered to the Japanese on December 25, 1941 it is often difficult to determine the particular circumstances of an individual’s death. Sadly, such is the case of Herbert Deakin. Various war records indicate that the actual circumstances of his death are unknown. While his death is listed as occurring on December 25 he has no known grave site. One record lists the cause of death as the result of bombing while another record lists him as a prisoner of war yet another merely lists his name and date of death with specifics unknown. After seventy-five years it is almost impossible to discover the truth. One can merely speculate what might have happened on that Christmas Day to Herbert Deakin. He was a stoker on HMS Thracian. The battle for Hong Kong lasted from 8th December until 25th December 1941 when the British forces surrendered to the Japanese. All major naval vessels had been withdrawn, and only one destroyer, HMS Thracian, several gunboats, and a flotilla of motor torpedo boats remained. Records of events indicate that troops on the Kowloon Peninsula were order evacuated on December 13th and HMS Thracian sailed from Aberdeen to assist in moving troops to Hong Kong island. Hong Kong Island was subjected to heavy air and artillery bombardment in preparation for the Japanese invasion. On that night of December 15, HMS Thracian moved past Green Island and engaged two anchored steamers believed to be carrying Japanese troops. Both steamers were sunk in Kowloon Bay; however, HMS Thracian was attacked and badly damaged. On December 16 HMS Thracian was being repaired in dry dock, at Aberdeen, from damage received during an attack against Japanese landing vessels in Kowloon Bay the previous night. A formation of 27 Ki-21 Japanese aircraft bombed Aberdeen and after this attack HMS Thracian was deemed too badly damaged for repairs to be completed and was towed out of dry dock and beached by being run aground on Round Island in Repulse Bay on the evening of the December 16 where the ship continued to come under repeated air attacks that failed to hit her. A mixed naval force of about 200 men, including men from HMS Thracian were sent to take over defence of the Central Ordnance Munitions Depot (referred to as the Little Hong Kong ordnance base area). The base served as a secure military facility for ammunition and weapon storage and was composed of twelve pairs of underground bunkers, a depot headquarters and a sentry box. It was the last place to surrender during the Battle of Hong Kong and it may be here that Herbert Deakin died on December 25. It is also likely that if he was killed as a result of a bombing attack on December 25 no body could be recovered. If he was among those who surrendered that day he could have been killed while a prisoner of war, an unknown casualty of wartime Japanese brutality; however, with no body recovered it is more probable he was killed in a bombing attack. The real truth is lost to history. Records indicate that the following crew members of HMS Thracian also died as a result of bombing (missing presumed killed) on December 25, 1941. Greig, Henry Dollar Greig (C/JX 262307) Ordinary Seaman; Age 34 Harrison, George (C/JX262272) Ordinary Seaman; Age 21 Henderson, Robert (C/JX262365) Ordinary Seaman; Age 28 Keith, Robert John (C/JX262345) Ordinary Seaman; Age 28 Kendall, James Lowden (C/KX 109407) Stoker 1st Class; Age 24 Kingham, John (D/JX206086) Able Seaman; Age 19 Porrett, Harvey Loveday (P/JX172739) Able Seaman; Age 22 Thomas, Frederick George (C/KX91523) Stoker 1st Class; Age 24 After the Fall of Hong Kong, HMS Thracian was recommissioned on 25 November 1942 as Patrol Vessel No.101 and eventually served as a training ship in March 1944, with a torpedo school at Yokosuka. Recaptured in 1945, HMS Thracian was eventually broken up at Hong Kong post-war. The Ship's Bell did survive and is held by the Public House Blue Boar at Poole, Dorset. Sources/Additional Information: Commonwealth War Graves Commission Plymouth Naval Memorial Aviation of Japan/Attack on Hong Kong The Blue Boar (Poole, Dorset) www.hmscavalier.org.uk (casualty records) Imperial War Museum/ HMS Thracian Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association
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Remembering Herbert Thomas Deakin HMS Thracian
Crew of HMS Thracian