First World War Project

Thomas WIGG (of Teynham)

b. 28th December 1887
d. 27th March 1918. Aged 30

Stoker 1st Class, Service Number K/35893
H.M.S. "Kale"
Royal Navy

Chatham Naval Memorial, Panel 29, Column 3
Killed by a mine explosion in the North Sea

Chatham Naval War Memorial

This Remembrance is also recorded in the Lynsted Remembrance Project book.

The Society is happy to include Thomas Wigg in our commemorations although he does not appear on the Lynsted Memorial. Thomas's parents are buried in Lynsted Churchyard extension and he was married to Harriet Jane Carrier of 13 Cellar Hill, Lynsted. Harriet was the sister of Henry Carrier, who also appears in this book.

Thomas Wigg was born in Frognal Lane, Teynham, on 28 December 1887 and was christened along with his brother George on 26 September 1888 in Teynham Church. Thomas was the fifth of eleven children born to William, a carter at the brickworks, and Hannah (née Mitchell), who originated from Southampton. His older siblings being William, Edward, Amy (who died in infancy), and George; his younger siblings were Albert, Fred, Rose-Hannah, Percy, Henry and Ernest. Newspaper reports of the time tell us that Thomas and his brothers were talented sportsmen, taking part in running, football and goal running. His brother Fred would also served his country in The Buffs. He survived the war.

Thomas, Harriet and their daughter Margaret On Christmas Day 1909, Thomas married Harriet Jane Carrier in Lynsted Church. They started their married life living at 1 Frognal Lane, where their first child, Margaret, was born in 1910.

Thomas was working as a brickfield labourer and, as many did at that time, looked abroad for work to make a better life. Thomas along with his uncle Abraham Wigg left their families and sailed to Canada in search of work. They sailed on the Allan Line ship "Tunisia" from Liverpool to Quebec on 4 May 1911. It is believed they took up work as lumberjacks.

Abraham was to remain in Canada for the rest of his life and was joined by his wife and children who sailed, also on the "Tunisia", for Halifax, St John, on 20 April 1912. Sadly his wife, Edith, died just 3 years later. Abraham re-married in 1917 and died in Canada in 1950.

However, just six months after leaving, Thomas returned to England on the Canadian Pacific Line ship "Empress of Ireland" on 27 October 1911.

Thomas and Harriet had two further additions to their family. Edith was born in 1912 and William in 1914.

In 1916, Thomas was working as a labourer in the powder-works munitions factory in Faversham. He joined the Royal Navy on 25 August 1916, as a Stoker 2nd Class, and was based at HMS Pembroke (Chatham shore base). At the time of enlistment his appearance was described as: height 5 feet 5¼inches, hair light brown, eyes brown, chest measurement 41 inches.

Thomas served at HMS Pembroke until 3 December 1916. On the 31 December 1916, after being made Stoker 1st Class, he was transferred to Wallington, the Auxiliary Patrol base at Grimsby. He served on HMS Kale, a "River" or "E Class" torpedo boat destroyer that had been launched in 1904. All "E Class" boats were named after British rivers.

HMS Kale that was sunk by striking a mine in the North SeaOn 27 March 1918, Thomas was on his way back to port when HMS Kale struck a mine and sank in the North Sea north off Harwich. At the time the loss of HMS Kale was attributed to a mine laid by German coastal minelayer Submarine UC-11 as it was active in the area under the command of 26-year-old Reinhold Thomsen. However, on the release of records, 75 years after the war, it is recorded that Commander H E Dennison, senior officer on the Kale, was called to a Court Martial where he was accused of "Hazarding vessel and HM Ships Exe and Waveney". He was severely criticised for steering a course which was six miles east of a channel known to be cleared of mines, and straight into a prohibited area that contained a defensive British minefield. Details of the minefield had been sent to all ships a few weeks earlier, but Commander Denison had failed to read them or ensure the information provided had been marked on the charts. Therefore, it was almost certain that the loss of 40 crew members on HMS Kale and 5 on HMS Exe was caused by striking a British mine. HMS Waveney survived the explosion.

At the time of Thomas's death, Harriet and the children were living at The Laurels in Greenstreet. His death was reported in several newspapers.

East Kent Gazette of 13th April 1918
Wigg - March 27, at sea through HMS _________ striking a mine, Thomas Wigg, 1st. Class Stoker, R.N., the beloved husband of Mrs. Wigg of The Laurels, Greenstreet, in his 31st. year. From his sorrowing wife, father, mother, brothers and sisters.

Newspaper reports at the time did not publish the name of the ship. This was for security reasons and the possibility that family members of crews may not have heard the news.

Further tributes followed.

Faversham and North East Kent News of 13th April 1918



Mrs. T. Wigg, of the Laurels, Greenstreet has received the sad intelligence that her beloved husband, 1st Class Stoker, Thomas Wigg, lost his life on March 27th, when H.M.S. ____________ on which he was serving, struck a mine and foundered. Thomas Wigg (whose portrait we publish), was in his 31st year, and he leaves a widow and three young children, for whom much sympathy is felt in their sad bereavement.

Portrait of Thomas Wigg in uniform

The deceased was a son of Mr. William Wigg, of Seed Farm, Doddington. Formerly he was a prominent footballer and goal runner, in which games he played for Teynham for many years. He came from a well known athletic family, Private Wigg, of The Buffs, a famous mile runner, being a brother.

Thomas Wigg was a general favourite, and his death is sincerely mourned. He joined the Navy in August 1916, and before then was employed in munitions works in Faversham. He is another of the gallant Greenstreet lads who have laid down their lives for their country.

East Kent Gazette of 20th April 1918
Another local naval man lost in a disaster at sea is 1st Class Stoker Thomas Wigg, whose wife and three children reside at the Laurels, Greenstreet. Mrs. Wigg received the news a few days ago that her husband lost his life on March 27th when the vessel he was serving on struck a mine and foundered. Deceased was 30 years of age and was a son of Mr. William Wigg, of Seed Farm, Doddington. Formerly he was a prominent footballer and goalrunner, in which games he played for Teynham for some years. He joined the navy in August, 1916, having up to that date been working for some time in the munition works. A brother of his (a famous mile runner) is serving in the Buffs.

Newspaper reports inform us of Thomas's prowess on the football field. The following report confirms his membership of Teynham FC:

Herne Bay Press of 7th March 1914

Herne Bay Rovers 1 - Teynham 1

The Herne Bay Rovers played their return match with Teynham in the first division of the Faversham and District League on Saturday. On the former occasion, when they went to Teynham, the Rovers lost rather heavily by eight goals to nil, and with that loss fresh in their mind they scarcely expected to avoid defeat, even on the Spenser Road Ground at Herne Bay. They made the most of their chances, however, and although the team, with one exception, was the same that made the journey to Teynham, they had the satisfaction of sharing the honours with the "Lambs" - who, by the way, head the Faversham League table. The Herne Bay Rovers were represented by:—Goal, F. Pepper; backs, H. Paterson, and F. Spratt; half-backs, S. Pullen, H. J. Walker and L. Griggs; forwards, C. Tupp, F. Hougham, C. J. Woudenberg, S. Rowden and T. Wilson.
The Teynham team, which included one or two reserves, were :—Goal, H. Collins; backs, F. Main and T. Wigg; half-backs, F. Jacobs, Wondepeer and F. Hollands; forwards., A. Clark, H. Buck, A. Wigg, F. Boorman and C. Field.

"A Wigg" is possibly Thomas's younger brother, Albert. "F. Hollands" also gave his life in WW1 and is commemorated by the Lynsted with Kingsdown Society WW1 Remembrance Project.

Thomas was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory medals. [See Appendix 1]

Thomas is commemorated on the Teynham Memorial.

THomas Wigg remembered on the Teynham Church Memorial

He is also remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial on the Great Lines, Panel 29, Column 3.

Harriet, Thomas's wife of 8 years, did not remarry and died aged 98 in September 1985.

A photograph of their 3 children can also be found on the page for Thomas's brother-in-law, Henry Carrier (d. 11 May 1917).

Family group of THomas Wigg

Carrier and Wigg families (About 1926) Greenstreet
Back Row: Edith R Wigg, Ruby Carrier, Henry Carrier.
Front Row: William Thomas Wigg, Margaret Harriett Wigg, Henry Julius Carrier, Elizabeth Jane Carrier (née Gage), Isabella Evelyn Carrier, Joan Kathleen Carrier, Ronald K Carrier.
Photograph by kind permission of David Kerrall

The Society is indebted to Rosemary Ivory, Thomas's granddaughter, for her assistance in the commemoration of Thomas's life and for allowing us to use her family photographs.

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