Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A seaman’s death at Gallipoli: Thomas Troake, 28 April 1915

Seaman Thomas Troake served on HMS Canopus, seen above

Royal Navy warships and their crews also suffered significant losses during the Gallipoli campaign. HMS Inflexible, HMS Irresistible and HMS Ocean were all mined and sunk in one day on 18 March 1915.

On board the battleship HMS Canopus was Seaman 27670 Thomas Troake of the Royal Naval Reserve. Thomas Troake has been identified on the Devon Heritage website as having been born in Budleigh Salterton in 1889, and as the husband of Ethel, of Charles Street, in Exmouth.

However the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site does not list his place of birth, and he is not recorded on this Devon Remembers site. 


Canopus' 12-inch (305 mm) guns fire on Turkish defences in the Dardanelles, March 1915. Photo by Ernest Brooks.
This is photograph Q13783 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums (collection no. 1900-62)

It was Canopus which in December 1914 had fired the first shot in the Battle of the Falklands to avenge the Royal Navy’s disaster at the Battle of Coronel.  

In February 1915, the ship transferred to the Mediterranean to take part in the Dardanelles campaign. On 2 March 1915, she engaged in the second attack on the Ottoman Turkish entrance forts at the Dardanelles, taking hits that tore off her main topmast and damaged her after funnel and wardroom.


Image credit: Harvey Barrison

Thomas Troake was believed to have been on deck at the time. He died of wounds eight weeks later in a field hospital on 28 April, aged  34. His name is recorded on the Cape Helles Memorial in Turkey, shown above. 

‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ 2015 exhibition at Budleigh Salterton’s very special museum! Reviews included: “Wonderful display on WW1, informative, bright and relevant. Well done!! 


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