Fred Toms

Fred was born in Modbury on the 18th December 1897 to Fred and Selina Toms.  He lived with his parents and sister Jane at 3 Moon Lane, Modbury.

He joined the Royal Navy and served on HMS Itchen (K227) as a Petty Officer Stoker.  This River-class frigate launched in 1942 and was on convoy escort duties in the Atlantic.  The marshalling of 65 merchant ships in mid Atlantic would never have been an easy task in the fog and heavy seas that prevailed. On top of this the Convoy commander had to attempt co-ordinate his Escort group of warships, in a fight against a group of U-boats that were making a combined attack.  The limitations of radar and inter ship communication meant that he only had a limited understanding of events as they occurred.

Already HM Frigate LAGAN had been damaged beyond repair, and HM Corvette POLYANTHUS and HM Destroyer ST CROIX had been sunk. He did not know that these ships had been the victims of the new German T5 acoustic torpedoes.  The operation was notable in that it marked the renewal of attacks on North Atlantic convoys, and disclosed the use by U-boats of a new anti-escort weapon, the acoustic homing torpedo “Gnat”.

The ship was blown up on 23rd September 1943 when hit by an acoustic homing torpedo fired by the German submarine U-666.

There were only three survivors from her crew and the 81 survivors from HMS Polyanthus and HMCS St. Croix that she was carrying.  Petty Officer Toms is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

Born:18th December 1897
Where Born:Modbury
Address:3 Moon Lane, Modbury
Marital Status:
Next of Kin:Son of Fred (gardener) and SelinaToms; sister to Jane Toms
Service:Royal Navy
Service Number:D/K 32894
RankPetty Officer Stoker
UnitHMS Itchen
Died On:23rd September 1943
Where Buried:
Memorial:Plymouth Naval Memorial - ref Panel 81, Col 3
RemarksModbury Infant School Jan 1901 - Apr 1904