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Thomas Grainger was the son of Thomas and Eliza Grainger of Croft Cottage, Boughton, and the brother of Reginald Grainger, who had died in 1915. They were both born in Marshside near Chislet, where their father was a coachman.
Both brothers are buried in Dunkirk Churchyard, and remembered with honour at the War Memorial there. Both brothers were tragically invalided out of their respective service with tuberculosis.
Thomas joined the Royal Navy on 30 June 1910, giving his occupation as baker’s assistant. From 1911 to 1913 he served on the cruisers HMS Edgar and HMS Rosario in the Far East. He joined HMS Falmouth in February 1914.
HMS Falmouth was a Town-class light cruiser. She saw action in a number of major naval engagements of the war. On the outbreak of the First World War, she was assigned to the 5th Cruiser Squadron operating in the Mid Atlantic, in August 1914 Falmouth sank four German merchant ships and later that month was reassigned to the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet.
On 28 August 1914 she took part in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, and on 24 January 1915 she took part in the Battle of Dogger Bank. She was still part of the squadron when on 31 May to 1 June 1916 she was present at the Battle of Jutland.
Her eventful career came to an end on 19 August 1916 when she was damaged by U-boats off Flamborough Head, and sank the next day.
Within a month, Thomas joined HMS Weymouth, another cruiser, and this is the name on his headstone in Dunkirk churchyard. He stayed on this ship until the end of March 1918, when he was returned to HMS Pembroke in Chatham. He was discharged from the Royal Navy on 23 May 1918, having been diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis.
Thomas died on 6 March 1919.
National Archives naval service records
National Archives in association with Ancestry.com. 1901 and 1911 England census database.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website: CWGC.org
Dunkirk Parish Magazine
Rickard, J (8 September 2007), HMS Falmouth, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Falmouth.html
HMS Falmouth sinking
Photos - Owen, Imperial War Museum and Wikipedia