WW1 SS T.R. Thompson Traditional Geocache
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This cache is a magnetic 35mm film pot placed approximately 6ft / 1.8m above ground level.
SS T.R Thompson (source: Maritime Archaeology Trust):
The SS T.R Thompson was a WW1 cargo ship built by Short Brothers Ltd in Sunderland and owned by the Westoll Line. The ship was used to transport cargo such as iron ore to factories near the Western Front and to collect cargo from countries, such as resourceful-rich African countries, and take them back to the UK as supplies.
However, disaster eventually struck on 29th March 1918. She was travelling from Algeria to Middlesbrough when she was struck by a torpedo sent by the German U-boat 57, seven miles south of Newhaven. She sank within minutes. 33 out of the 36 crew were killed, including her Master.
A high proportion of the crew members were ‘Lascars’ (visit link)
Lascars, or Indian sailors, first began to be employed in small numbers from the seventeenth century by the East India Company, which was set up by private merchants in 1600 by Royal Charter to establish trade links with India. Lascars were engaged to fill the manpower gap on ships returning from India, as some British sailors deserted their ships in India and others died. When British sailors were needed for the Royal Navy during wartime, merchant ships had to rely on the labour of lascars. Lascars initially worked as able seamen, as deckhands and as cooks, and later, with the advent of steam-powered liners, in engine rooms as firemen and trimmers to stoke furnaces.
The term ‘lascar’ eventually became a descriptive term for almost all non-European sailors. Shipping companies recruited men of many backgrounds, including Arab, Cypriot, Chinese and East African. The vast majority though were recruited from the Indian sub-continent, mainly from maritime areas of Gujarat and Malabar on the west coast of India and the east coast from the area now known as Bangladesh. As demand for lascars increased, many were also recruited from agricultural lands in the Punjab and the North West Frontier Province, lured by the possibility of a regular income.
By the twentieth century, as trade expanded, many merchant ships began employing lascars and their numbers increased. By 1914, lascars made up 17.5 per cent of the total number of mariners manning British registered ships – some 51,000 men. Employed on ‘Asiatic Articles’ as opposed to ‘European Articles’, which defined their conditions of employment, lascars were paid less than European sailors by the shipping industry, which could make large savings by using lascars to increase their profits. At times, whole crews consisted of lascars. And, across many fleets, their treatment on board ships was harsh.
The wreck of the SS T. R. Thompson has been adopted by Meridian Divers and Newhaven Scuba Club. (visit link)
(visit link) - good description of the wreck
(visit link) photo
(visit link) – details artefacts recovered.
(visit link) - good story about a descendent of a crew member.
(No hints available.)