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Remembering World War II
Name: Thomas Hyden Rank: Marine Service Number: PLY/X 3624 Service: HMS Gloucester (62), Royal Marines Date of Birth: January 11, 1915 Place of Birth: River Hebert East, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia Date of Death: May 22, 1941 Age: 26 Memorial: Plymouth Naval Memorial Reference: Panel 59, Column 3 Thomas Hyden was the son of William Enoch Hyden and Marion (Spencer) Hyden. His mother was born in Bloxwich, Staffordshire, England; his father - in Staffordshire also, in Heath Hayes. Thomas had one brother William S (born 1913), and two sisters – Marian J (born 1920), and Elizabeth Matilda (born 1928). Thomas’ father William served Canada in the First World War as a Sapper with the 40th Battalion, the 123rd Pioneer Battalion, and the 7th Canadian Engineers Battalion (Service No. 414880) with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in France. His attestation papers indicate he was 5 feet, 5 and ½ inches tall, fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair when he enlisted. He and his wife were living in River Hebert at the time. In 1921 Census the family was living in Chignecto Mines, Cumberland Co., Nova Scotia. Thomas’ father worked as a coal miner. Thomas travelled on the RMS Newfoundland from Halifax to Liverpool, arriving in England on May 19, 1939. There is record of him in 1939, married and residing at 66 Elson Lane in Gosport, Hampshire, England and employed as a stationary engineer. The details of Thomas’ joining the Royal Navy are unknown, but he was serving aboard HMS Gloucester (62), a Towne-class light cruiser, in the Mediterranean in 1941. The HMS Gloucester was known as “The Fighting G”. The Battle of Crete took place from May 20- 31, 1941. With some 40000 Allied troops on Crete, many of whom had already been evacuated from Greece, and with limited resources with which to mount a meaningful defence, a German airborne assault on Crete began on May 20, 1941. In the face of absolute enemy superiority in the air, the Navy did all it could, in spite of grievous losses, to save the island from German occupation, and when defence became no longer possible it managed to extricate some 17000 troops from the island. Between 20 and 31 May the Mediterranean Fleet lost the cruisers Gloucester, Calcutta, York and Fiji; the destroyers Juno, Greyhound, Kelly, Kashmir, Imperial and Hereward; one minesweeper and 29 smaller craft. The ship was lost after repeated attacked by enemy dive-bombers and other aircraft. Of the 807 men aboard at the time of HMS Gloucester’s sinking, only 85 survived to reach shore; two more subsequently died after being taken into captivity, one in 1941 and another in 1945. Marine Thomas Hyden’s body was not recovered and he is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
Thomas Hyden
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Royal Marines aboard HMS Rodney, 1940 (© IWM A 144)
Royal Marines aboard HMS Rodney, 1940 (© IWM A 144)