Sub-Lieutenant Lionel Graham Cameron Thompson

Branch of service: Royal Navy, HMS Indomitable
Date & place of birth: 24 April 1895, South Weald, Essex.
Date & place of death: 21 March 1916 (aged 20) in the North Sea.

Lionel Thompson’s connection to Rogate is tenuous as he was born in Essex and his parents lived in Worth, Sussex. It is through his grandmother, Lady Thompson, that there is a connection with Rogate, as she lived in the Parish. In addition, his name on the Rogate War Memorial is recorded incorrectly as E G Thompson.

Family background

Lionel Thompson was the youngest son of Sir Thomas Raikes Thompson, 3rd Baronet (1852–1904) and Lady Alice Maude Lovett Cameron Thompson. His father was a civil engineer and spent more than 20 years working in India. He died at the early age of 52 after a strenuous career in the tropics.

Lionel’s grandfather and great grandfather were both in the Navy. His grandfather (Sir Thomas Raikes Trigge Thompson, 2nd Baronet, 1804–1865) is recorded as having visited Pitcairn Island on 5 March 1843 while in command of HMS Talbot en-route to Valparaiso. His great grandfather (Sir Thomas Boulden Thompson, GCB, 1st Baronet, 1766–1828) was an Admiral and fought with Nelson at the Battles of The Nile and Copenhagen.

Lionel’s connection with Rogate was by his grandmother Lady Gertrude Thompson who moved to live at ‘Coombe Lodge’, Harting Coombe between 1881 and 1891. She lived at Coombe Lodge until sometime prior to the 1911 census when she is recorded as living at ‘Sandilands’. She died on 3 August 1921.

Military service

Lionel Graham Cameron Thompson joined the Royal Navy as a cadet at Dartmouth on 15 January 1908. He made steady progress being promoted to a midshipman in 1912 and an acting sub-lieutenant on 15 September 1914, achieving the full rank of sub-lieutenant on 15 May 1915.

He joined HMS Hibernia in September 1912 before moving to the Indomitable in August 1913, and served in her when the ship was in the Mediterranean in 1914 and engaged at the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915.

His service record describes him as “zealous, alert and promising”, but that when he joined the Indomitable he “came to the ship dirty, but has improved”.

Death and commemoration

His service record shows that he died on HMS Indomitable as a result of “an accident at gun drill, due to a 12 inch shell falling on him” on 21 March 1916, while the ship was on duty in the North Sea as part of the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron.

As reported in the Surrey and Sussex Courier of 1 April 1916, he was given a large funeral at St Nicholas Church, Worth, Sussex, where he is commemorated on a headstone and also on the War Memorial at Rogate under the name of E G Thompson.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project