HMT THOMAS CONNOLLY
Boom Defence Vessel
Wildfire, Sheerness. (Wildfire III Queenborough)
The Thomas Connolly was a Boom Defence Vessel at the Thames Boom which stretched across the Thames Estuary from Sheppey to Foulness in Essex. This was a duty for which she paid with her sinking and the lives of her crew.
She was one of the many victims of the German Mining Offensive of the 8 to 15 December 1940 when over 350 enemy aircraft, each carrying two mines dropped their deadly cargoes in the Thames Estuary and along the East Coast.
On the night of the 12 December 1940, ninety-three enemy aircraft flew over the Thames Estuary and dropped their mines, by parachute, with a quarter of these falling inside the Thames Boom between Sheerness and Southend.
These mines were the new acustic mine, many with delay mechanisms. Shipping came to standstill in the Thames Estuary, but after three days with very few mines being found, the Thames Estuary was reopened.
Shipping was advised to travel at a low speed with minimal engine revs to try to avoid detonating the acoustic mines which were still believed to be in the Thames Estuary.
Seven ships detonated mines and blew up almost at once including the Thomas Connolly. Many of the mines had delay fused and in the weeks that followed nine more ships blew up with over 150 of their crews lost.
Counter measures were quickly developed to combat these new mines and Queenborough minesweeper were fitted with SA sweeping capabilities. SA is Sweep Acoustic, a device similar to a Kanga Hammer which makes a loud thumping noise to explode acoustic mine.
The Thomas Connolly was immobilized for three days when all movement of shipping in the Thames Estuary was stopped. When shipping was eventually given permission to move, she sailed along the Medway Channel and out through the Medway Gate in the Thames boom. Shortly after passing through the gate there was a huge explosion beneath the Thomas Connolly, devastating the vessel and killing seventeen of her crew.
November 1939. Requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to a Boom Defence Trawler and fitted with a 12 pound gun. Her larger size and speed making her more suitable for a Boom Defence Vessel than a Minesweeper.
15th September 1940, Nore Command, Sheerness, Wildfire III, Queenborough.
Boom Defence Vessels
Buckingham, Caliban, Sarba, Thomas Connolly, Bownet.
17 December 1940. The Thomas Connolly (Skipper A. Martell RNR) detonated a mine and sunk in Medway Channel off Sheerness, just outside the Medway gate in the Thames anti-submarine anti E-boat Boom.
Seventeen of her crew including her captain Temp. Lieutenant R. L. Langridge RNVR, were lost and Boom Skipper Martell was wounded.
THOMAS CONNOLLY, ship loss. (MPK = Missing Presumed Killed)
BARNES, Robert, Act/Rigger's Mate, R/JX 180720, MPK
BLACKMAN, Ralph D, Steward, C/LX 23365, MPK
BRODIE, John, Act/Rigger's Mate, R/JX 196522, MPK
CHAVE, Henry, Chief Petty Officer Stoker, D/K 474, (Wildfire, O/P), MPK
EDMUNDSON, James, Stoker 1c, R/KX 102238, MPK
EVANS, David E, Stoker 2c, R/KX 102242, MPK
GRAHAM, William B, Act/Rigger's Mate, R/JX 196520, MPK
HANCOCK, Alfred, Stoker 2c, R/KX 100794, MPK
HARKER, Ralph R, Stoker 2c, R/KX 100880, MPK
HARVEY, James, Chief Petty Officer Stoker, C/208315, MPK
JEHU, John, Ordinary Seaman, R/JX 213376, MPK
LANGRIDGE, Richard L, Ty/Lieutenant, RNR, MPK
MACLEAN, Donald J, Act/Rigger's Mate, R/SR 76230, MPK
MACLEAN, John R T, Act/Rigger's Mate, R/SR 76244, MPK
RICHARDSON, James W, Stoker 1c, R/KX 100793, MPK
WARMAN, Arthur L, Ordinary Seaman, R/JX 213327, MPK
WARREN, Ernest E, Stoker Petty Officer, C/K 2690, MPK
OTHER SHIPS SUNK IN THE GERMAN MINING OFFENSIVE OF THE NIGHT OF THE 12 DECEMBER 1940
Thomas Connolly, Royal Navy, Dec 17 1940, 17 crew lost.
Carry On, Royal Navy, Dec 17 1940, 7 crew lost.
Aquiety, Dec 17 1940, 6 crew lost.
Belvedere, Dec 17 1940, 4 crew lost.
Beneficient, Dec 17 1940, 6 crew lost.
Inver, Dec 17 1940, 17 crew lost.
Malrix, Dec 17 1940, 8 crew lost.
Arinia, Dec 19 1940, 60 crew lost.
Sun IX, Tug. Dec 21 1940, 3 crew lost.
Tic 12, Dec 21 1940. All crew saved.
River Thames Dec 21 1940, 3 crew lost.
Araby, Dec 27 1940, 6 crew lost.
Kinnaird head, Dec 27 1940, 6 crew lost.
Attendant 88, Jan 1 1940, Not known.
Pinewood, Jan 3 1941, 6 crew lost.
Lion, Royal Navy Jan 6 1941,All crew lost.
OFFICER ON NAVY LIST Dec 39
Not on List
OFFICER ON NAVY LIST July 40
Temp. Boom Skipper, R.N.R., A Martell, 7 Feb 40
Temp. Boom Engineer, R.N.R., J. Ellison, 30 Jan 40
OFFICER ON NAVY LIST June 41
Not on List, sunk 17 December 1940
If you, your father or your grandfather have any additional information about this ship, crew lists, stories, photographs, please send copies of them to be added to our records and this website.
We do not have a photograph of the Thomas Connolly but she would have looked exactly like her sister Castle Class Minesweeper the John Edmond,
Type of Vessel: Castle Class Minesweeper built to Admiralty specifications. Boom Defence Trawler in WW2.
Admiralty Number: 3589
Pennant: Z 141 as Boom Defence Vessel. FY 3589. M270 (Port number WW2). LO285.
Year Constructed: 1917. Launched 29 November 1917.
Built by: Cook, W & G.
Built at: Beverley .
Owner: 1918 the Admiralty. 1919, Brand and Curzon of Milford Haven. 1938 Milford Fishing Co.
Engine: 1 shaft Reciprocating (VTE) 480 IHP.
Speed: 10.5 knots.
Gross Tons: 290 gross tons. 119.39 net tons.
Length: 134 feet.
Beam: 23.6 feet.
Depth: 12.9 feet.
Compliment: 18 normally.
Armament: 1 x 12 pounder. 4 x Single 20mm Anti-aircraft guns.
Fate: Detonated a mine an sunk on 17 December 1940 with the loss of 17 crew.