To celebrate his 92nd birthday, the daughter of a local ex-Navy Sailor who served in the Arctic Convoys during the Second World War, planned to surprise her father by bringing him to see the last surviving Second World War Destroyer, HMS CAVALIER, here at The Historic Dockyard Chatham.
Joining the Royal Navy at the age of 18, Thomas Charles Bartholomew, born on the 27th June 1925, first served on HMS Anson and then on the HMS Westcott. HMS Westcott was also manned here at The Historic Dockyard Chatham on numerous occasions in 1939, 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1945. A journey described by Winston Churchill as “the worst journey in the world”, the sailors in the Arctic convoys were faced with dangerous weather and threats from the air and sea. The conditions were amongst the worst faced by any allied sailors.
The veterans of the Arctic convoys were recognised when they were awarded medals for their bravery including Thomas who was awarded The Arctic Star, The Atlantic Star, The 1939-1945 Star, The France and Germany Star, The Commemorative Medal to the 70th Anniversary of the 2nd World War (issued by the Russian Federation), and the Ushakov Medal (as pictured above), issued by the Russian Federation.
Today, his daughter Ann bought him on a surprise visit to The Historic Dockyard Chatham. On arrival to HMS CAVALIER, the National Destroyer Memorial and a ship which served in the Arctic convoys. Thomas was piped on board by Tim Stopford (RNA Chatham and CHDT Volunteer) and a local standard bearer, John Victor from the Medway Royal British Legion.
We hope that Thomas and his family enjoyed their time with us today, it was a pleasure to welcome you all.
Happy 92nd Birthday Thomas!