Cook’s Mate Thomas Franklin Patten

Service: HMS Cullist, Royal Navy
Service No: M/20827
Date & place of birth: 1 June 1896 or 1897 in Drayton, Somerset
Date & place of death: 11 February 1918 in the Irish Sea, aged 20

Tom Franklin Patten although born in Drayton, Somerset, lived in Up Marden and Easebourne. His parents subsequently lived in Selham. Tom enlisted in the Royal Navy and was serving on a ‘Q’ ship when she was torpedoed and lost in the Irish Sea. ‘Q’ ships were heavily armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry, designed to lure submarines into making surface attacks.

Family background

Thomas ‘Tom’ Franklin Patten was born in Drayton, Somerset presumably on 1 June 1896, although his naval records say 1897. He was christened on 12 July 1896. He was the son of Joseph Franklin Patten, a carter on a farm, and his wife Sarah, probably née Warbutton, both of whom came from Langport, Somerset. Tom had an elder sister Lily Elizabeth Perren Patten who married Frank Hounsom in 1915.

In 1901 the family was living in Green Lane, Up Marden, Sussex. In 1911 Tom was working, like his father, as a carter on a farm and living with his parents in Hollist Lane, Buddington near Easebourne.

Military service

On 30 May 1916 Tom enlisted in the Royal Navy for 12 years, with service number M/20827. He served initially on HMS Victory, then on HMS Dolphin, a screw sloop launched in 1882 that served as a submarine depot ship in World War I. From 12 May 1917 he was a Cook’s Mate on HMS Cullist, a ‘Q ship’ previously named SS Westphalia. A Q ship was a heavily armed merchant ship with concealed weaponry, designed to lure submarines into making surface attacks.

Death & commemoration

Tom was lost with his ship when she was torpedoed by a German U Boat U-97 in the Irish Sea with the loss of 46 lives on 11 February 1918. He was aged 20.

He is commemorated on panel 30 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Southsea and on both the Lodsworth and Selham war memorials.

Subsequent family history

Tom’s parents later lived in Marands Cottage and Hurlands Cottage, Selham. Sarah died in 1929 aged 61 and Joseph in 1939 aged 72.

His sister Lily died in 1979.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project