The RNLI saves lives at sea.

William Benjamin Thomas

Also known as: Bill.

My father was an extraordinary man, combining an intriguing blend of sturdy old fashioned professionalism with a raw earthiness informed by a plethora of rich experiences.This was intertwined with a rather large streak of Welsh volatility, which produced a very formidable character indeed, definitley a force to be reckoned with. He first went to sea at the age of 17 in 1932 in order as he put it, to escape what he felt would inevitably have been a life at odds with a neat and sober small town society. Although he was forced through ill health to retire from the sea early, in his heart he never left her. Reading about his amazing experiences is still enthralling. The conditions at sea then were pretty awful but whether facing a surfaced U boat whilst stopped dead in a broken down ship in the Atlantic; being named as missing at sea twice following U boat attacks whilst in Atlantic convoys; working in the Hong Kong river police chasing pirates or sailing an American paddle steamer from Cardiff to China, his early life at sea was never dull. He was by all accounts a rebellious individual to start with and ended up a real old sea dog. Not obvious to many however was his cleverness and humility. When he died one of his old shipmates told me that my father was one of the youngest people at the time, to gain his Foreign going Masters certificate in Wales. Though he died in 1994 he is still very much alive to me, as he used to say, its difficult to put an old sea dog down. Like most sailors and their families, we were always thankfull to know that there were such brave people waiting to mount a rescue should the former be in difficulties at sea and I am most grateful that this wonderful organisation has created an opportunity for me to honour my father in this way. Thank you!

Added by: Margaret (Shan) Thomas on 11 December 2009.

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The RNLI is a charity that provides a 24-hour lifesaving service around the UK and Republic of Ireland.

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