Great Uncle John Tocher

I got an email today from another Tocher cousin, my second (third?) cousin. He was able to give me a bit more information about his grandfather and my great uncle John Tocher. My great uncle John Tocher, seated at right, aboard the Steam Ship Heronpool, circa 1910. Engineer, designer of the Portobello Wave Pool, Edinburgh.He went on to be a successful engineer.

Uncle John narrowly missed death in the sinking of the submarine HMS Thetis on its maiden voyage. Uncle John suffered from claustrophobia and decided not to go aboard. It sank, with 99 lives aboard lost. Two men managed to escape through a hatch and four others died trying the same escape route.

“On June 1, 1939, Thetis prepared to make its maiden voyage. The voyage was to be a test run and dive in the home waters of Liverpool Bay. Conditions on board were extremely cramped, with the submarine carrying 103 men – twice the number she was designed to carry. Thetis being launched Many aboard were engineers from Cammell Lairds. Only 69 of Thetis’s crew were sailors, the rest were mainly engineers from Cammell Laird. Laird’s workers were offered the opportunity to disembark prior to the dive, but all chose to stay aboard.”

For three days, those trapped inside the submarine waited for rescue before succumbing to the effects to carbon dioxide poisoning.

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