Survives torpedo but loses to tuberculosis

Reprinted from The Packet, October 18, 2016
by Lester Green

Seaman Thomas Pond’s engagement papers. Source TRPAD_GN 182.14

Seaman Thomas Pond was only two years old when his father passed. He enlisted with the Royal Naval Reserve and survived the sinking of the Saint Barchan. The vessel was one of the last British merchant ship to be sunk by a German submarine in World War 1. He returned home but lost his battle with tuberculosis.

Thomas was born at Foster’s Point in 1896 to Thomas and Mary Eliza Pond. His father passed away two years later in 1898. His mother re-married to Josiah Butt in May 1900 and moved her family to St. Jones Within.

Thomas travelled to St. John’s and enlisted with the Royal Naval Reserve on August 26, 1915 for a term of one year. He listed his mother as Mary Eliza Butt and that he was a 19-year old resident of St. Jones Within.

After completing his training at HMS Calypso, he was deployed and travelled overseas aboard the RMS Scandinavian on December 8, 1915. Upon arrival, Seaman Pond was assigned to the accounting base HMS Victory 1 located at Portsmouth where he completed an additional nine months of training. He was transferred to the HMS Pembroke, Chatham for another three months where he served on Defensively Armed Merchant Ships (DAMS).

Seaman Thomas Pond’s naval service ledger. Source TRPAD_ GN 182.5

On October 26, 1916 he was returned to HMS Briton (formerly HMS Calypso) at St. John’s. His records show that he was then demobilized because his one-year contract had expired, and he returned home to St. Jones Within for a brief time period.

He returned to the HMS Briton and according to documents re-enlisted on November 3 for the duration of the war.

He returned overseas and was assigned to HMS President III on December 3, 1917. He spent the next 10 months assigned to this base but served on smaller coastal vessels. He was among the survivors of the Saint Barchan, a British merchant ship when it was torpedo and

Seaman Thomas Pond’s headstone at S. Jones Within

sunk off St. John’s Point, County Down, Ireland. The ship was sunk by the German UB-94 with the loss of eight crewmembers on October 21, 1918. This merchant ship was the last British merchant ship to be torpedoed in home waters during WW1.

Seaman Pond received orders on January 13, 1919 that he was going home to HMS Briton. He was demobilized on April 10, 1919 and returned to St. Jones Within.

Sometime before October 1923 he contracted tuberculosis. His death certificate records that he succumbed to the disease on October 23, 1923. He is buried at Faith United Church Cemetery, St. Jones Within.



St. Jones Within

One of the earliest documents to reference St. Jones Within can be found in the journals of Joseph Jukes during his geological surveys of Newfoundland in 1839. He describes approaching a fine harbour called Jones Harbour by the people who were harvesting the wood resource during the winter months and returning to their permanent homes across Trinity Bay.

St. Jones Within. Source Decks Awash November-December 1986

There were two St. Jones in Trinity Bay. People distinguished them by using the words Within and Without. St. Jones Without being located out in Trinity Bay is now an abandon community leaving only St. Jones Within.

During World War I, three individuals from St. Jones Within enlisted with the Royal Naval Reserve and one with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.