CHAMBERLAIN, Gerald Thomas

No.C/JX 141245, Able Seaman, Gerald Thomas CHAMBERLAIN
Aged 22

Royal Navy, H.M.S. "Southampton"
Killed in Action on Saturday, 11th January 1941

Gerald Thomas Chamberlain was born in Barnham in 1918 (Thetford Q3-1918 4B:469) son of William Lusher and Lily Edith CHAMBERLAIN (née HOWLETT).

In the 1911 census his family were at Euston Road, Barnham. Then they were :_ father William L CHAMBERLAIN [42] farm labourer, born Barnham; his mother Lily Edith [34] born Ashwellthorpe, Norfolk; half brother William C [15] watch maker's apprentice and brother Robert E [7]; half sister Winifred C [13]; sisters Elvie V [8], Edith [6] and Gertrude B [2]. All the children were born in Barnham.
It appears that Lily was his father's 2nd wife. Father was married in 1894 to Louisa Brock who died in 1900 married Edith in 1901. It seems likely there were also brothers Reginald W (1911) and Derrick J (1921) and sisters Isabel V (1914) and Margaret D.L. (1924). Hopefully relatives can be found to give us confirmation.

In the 1939 register his widowed mother [4-11-1876] was at 11 Euston Road, Barnham with Rose L.JONES (CURRAN) [13-3-1929] and Gladys S. SAMSON [20-4-1929]. These two girls may well have been evacuees. There are 2 closed records. Gerald's father had probably died in 1937

H.M.S. "Southampton" was one of a group of five "Town" class light cruisers, commissioned in 1937, pennant number C83. main armament 12 six inch (triple mounts, forward) and 8 four inch (double mounts, aft). She was damaged by enemy action several times in the war
Together with HMS GLOUCESTER and HM Destroyers ILEX and JAGUAR she was escort for EXCESS convoy to Alexandria. On 11th January 1941 she was attacked by Stuka dive bombers when SE of Malta. At least two delayed action bombs hit and set her on fire. 81 men died, survivors being picked up by HMS Gloucester and HMS Diamond. Heavily damaged and with no power, she was sunk by torpedoes from HMS Gloucester and HMS Orion.

As with all WW2 men, medal entitlements are only a surmise at this stage, unless relatives have specific information.

The Bury Free Press of 8th February 1941 reported his death and published his photograph.

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Gerald Chamberlain is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial, panel 42.2

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details