Back to the HMS Prince of Wales crew list

Return to the HMS Li-Wo list

Thomas Henry Parsons MiD

Leading Seaman

1918 - 1999

HMS Prince of Wales


Thomas Parsons circa 1940

The oak leaf awarded for a 'Mention in Despatches'

Thomas was born in Cardiff on 21st June 1918, the sixth of nine children of Thomas and Emily PARSONS (nee BURNHAM). His mother died in 1927 shortly after giving birth to the couple's last child. By his own admission, he was a bit of a wild child and as a teenager he ran away from home eventually joining the Royal Navy. He remained in the service until the end of WW2.
He married my mother Mari BRUNT on 4th November 1939 in St Patrick's RC Church, Cardiff. Their first child Ann (1940-1995) was born three days short of their first wedding anniversary.
He was on a minesweeper in the Channel during the evacuation of Dunkirk and saw service on HMS The Prince of Wales. He survived the sinking and was part of a group of the following men from Force Z:

C.P.O. Rogers  - HMS Repulse

Leading/Seaman Adley  - HMS Repulse (Probably Leading Seaman Hadley)

Leading/Seaman Bennett HMS Repulse

Leading Seaman Countant - HMS Prince of Wales

These men served together on HMS Li-Wo, heading for Java on 13th February 1942. HMS Li-Wo was involved in a sea battle and eventually sunk. After the sinking of HMS Li-Wo North of the Banka Straits in February 1942, he became a Japanese POW. My mother received a telegram informing her that Thomas was missing presumed dead. The next news of him was that he was in a camp in Kent having survived the War. He was extremely undernourished, had lost his hair and was suffering from Malaria. He was Mentioned in Despatches in the London Gazette of 23rd July 1946, for "Good services whilst a Prisoner of War in the Far East". On leaving the Royal Navy he trained to be a carpenter, but his life had changed forever and he needed psychiatric treatment for a number of years.

I was his second child, born 10th December 1951 and my date of birth held extreme significance for him because I was born 10 years to the day of the sinking of the Prince of Wales.

My parents divorced 3rd December 1956 and Thomas left Cardiff to live in Coventry. When he retired he returned to Cardiff. He died of cancer on 1st January 1999, aged 81.

Please contact Andy (Webmaster) with any information.

Andy Wade (Webmaster)

Information provided by Moyra Jones (Thomas's daughter)