Thomas Arthur Sketchley
Able Seaman (Wales Z/2293) Thomas Arthur Sketchley, born in Tredegar, Monmouthshire 5 July 1892 he lived in Tredegar.
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (HMS Malaya)
Died of his wounds on 3 June 1916
Parents: John Thomas and Ellen Emily Sketchley, he was living at 2, Greenfield Terrace, Tredegar, Mon in both the 1901 and 1911 census, he was one of five children. In the 1901 census he is 8 years old also there are his parents, brothers Frederick (11), Ivor (7), Frank (3) and sister Nellie (1). By the 1911 census he is 19 years old and employed as a coalminer his brothers Fred is an ironworker and Ivor a coalminer while younger brother Frank and sister Nellie are both in school. His mother Ellen died 16 September 1934 aged 66 and his father died 29 April 1943 aged 82. On the St George’s Church Roll of Honour he is shown to have lived at 2, Greenfield Terrace, Tredegar.
HMS Malaya was built by Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth and Company at High Walker a Queen Elizabeth class battleship which was launched on 18 March 1915. She was named in honour of the Federated Malay States in British Malaya, whose government paid for her construction, she had a crew of 1,217 officers and ratings. She took part in the battle of Jutland, being part of the 5th Battle Squadron which included HMS’s Barham (flagship), Valiant and Warspite, she was severely damaged by eight shells and took 8 weeks for repairs to be completed, 65 of the crew being killed during the battle, or later from their injuries. HMS Malaya suffered the most casualties of any British battleship at Jutland. Thomas died from his wounds in Invergordon, Scotland. His coffin was borne on a carriage draped in the Union Jack and the cortege was headed by the Tredegar Town Band. Thomas was buried in a private grave which sadly is now in a very poor condition. Grave ref, X. 2. 57. Cefn Golau Cemetery Tredegar.
Tredegar Naval Hero
Impressive Funeral Scenes
For the first time in its history Tredegar witnessed a naval funeral on Saturday last when the remains of Able Seaman Thomas Arthur Sketchley, of H M S Malaya, son of Mr and Mrs T Sketchley, 2, Greenfield Terrace, who died of wounds sustained in the recent naval action in the North Sea. The body was brought from Scotland on Tuesday evening and arrived on Wednesday morning. Not for a very long time have such impressive scenes been witnessed at a local funeral, which was conducted with full naval honours. All sections of the public were represented, with sympathetic crowds lining the streets, while at practically every business and private house on route to the cemetery the blinds were lowered. At the home of the deceased’s parents a service was conducted by the Rev. J E Collier, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, of which the young hero was a very faithful and active member.
The coffin, covered with the Union Jack, was placed on a carriage bier and drawn by Petty Officer A Savage, Leading Stoker J Knight, R W. R J Pearce, O S. Ivor Higgs and A B. William Harmston. The officers present were Chief Petty Officer T Ingram (in charge), F Blake and W Wilkes. Several of these men were in the action and are home on leave.
The procession was one of the largest seen in the town for years. It was headed by the following members of the Tredegar District Council: Messrs W H Wakefield (chairman), S Filer, Lewis Evans, Watkin Morgan, Watkin Lewis, W A Orchard, the Rev A Barrett, with the following officials: Messrs, H J C Shepard (clerk), W Phillips (treasurer), D W Davies (gas and water manager), A P J Gough (accountant), W Edgar Jones (water engineer).
Among the clergy and ministers were the Revs, John Evans (vicar of St James’s), J E Collier, G Osborne, Rhys Jenkins, J Pemberthy and C A Price. Bethel Baptist Church was strongly represented, practically all the officials and members being present. Among these were, Messrs C Denham, Gwilym Morgan, P Mantle, C Clarke, J Gabriel, J Topping and M Topping. The Fire Brigade, under Lieut. J Lush, were in uniform, while the Cadets Corps, with Captain E Fowler and Lieut. Apted, were present in strong force. A feature was the number of men present belonging to the Army. These were men home on leave. They were under Lieuts. D H Angus and Williams, others present were Sergeants’ Stewart and G O Thomas and several men who had been on active service. The general public present included Messrs E E Lawrence and J Lawrence, brothers of Ship’s Carpenter A E Lawrence, the other Tredegar victim of the action and with them much sympathy was felt. Others present were Messrs T J Price, J P., C C., Counc. C Digby Watkins, D E Davies, G E Goulding, Isiah Jones, J M James, J Jones B A., T S Jermine, T Tuck, G Ashman, Bert Morgan, W R Hopkins, D C Jenkins, E J Bevan, G Hopkins, J Hughes, D W Bowen, T Bowen, W Thomas, Supt., C Saunders and a number of members of the Tredegar Draughts Club, of which the deceased was a prominent player, including Messrs C Bowditch, S Carpenter, W Pemberthy and T Morgan. Immediately in front of the naval men and the coffin was the Tredegar Workmen’s Town Band, under Mr Eli Shaw and the beautiful rendering of the “Dead March” from “Saul” brought tears to many eyes. A spirit of reverence and respect was shown and the last tribute was in every way worthy of the young man who made the supreme sacrifice in action that upheld the traditions of the British Navy.
The following were the mourners: Mr and Mrs J T Sketchley, father and mother; Messrs Fred, Ivor and Frank Sketchley, brothers; Miss Nellie Sketchley, sister; Mr and Mrs F Stock, senior, Bargoed, grandparents; Mr George Sketchley, uncle; Mrs F Rawlins, aunt; Sergt. A Rawlins and Master W Rawlins cousins; Mr D Price (Penzance Cornwall), uncle; Mr and Mrs Reuben Stock (Tredegar) uncle and aunt; Mr and Mrs Fred Stock (Hollybush), uncle and aunt; Mr W Smith (Gilfach), uncle; Mrs W Smith (Bargoed), aunt; Mr and Mrs Robert Stock, uncle and aunt; Miss Iris Stock and Master Fred Stock, cousins; Mrs Thorpe (Fleur de Lys) and Mrs Haller (Bargoed), aunts; Mr and Mrs Reuben Stock, junior; Mrs J Powles, Private and Mrs E Williams, Mr W Stock (Tredegar), cousins; Mr and Mrs R Plumley, Mrs Gale, Mr and Mrs Hodge, Mr and Mrs Davis, Mr J Eglington (Ebbw Vale), cousins; Mrs I Mattick, Mr D Matthews and sons; Mrs Albert Jenkins (Tredegar), cousins.
The coffin was covered in wreaths and other floral tributes, which numbered over 30. Among those who sent them were the family, officers’ wives at Atness [sic] (Scotland), Tredegar District Council, Tredegar Institute Draughts and Chess Club, officials and workmen of Graham’s Navigation Colliery. Bethel Sunday School, Bethel Choir, Bethel Band of Hope, Bethel Christian Endeavour, Inspector Wilmot and family, Sergt. Howells and family, Mr and Mrs D T Jermine, Mr Cohen, Mrs Samuel, Mr and Mrs F Stock, Mr and Mrs R Stock, Mr Salmon and family and Mr Reuben Stock.
At the graveside an impressive service was conducted. The committal prayer was read by the Rev. John Evans, vicar of St James’ the Rev. George Osborne, Primitive Methodist minister offered a prayer of comfort and the Rev. J E Collier gave a short address in which he paid a tribute to the character and devotion of the deceased. Arthur Sketchley, said Mr Collier, had been in fellowship with the Bethel Church six years and he was a young man faithful to its institution. He answered the call of the nation because he thought it to be his duty. He quickly became efficient, he had made the supreme sacrifice in defending our shores from the enemy and for the sake of those at home. Their hearts and sympathy went out to the other Tredegar family, who had suffered a similar blow, and those loved ones who had perished with the ship. They prayed for the two families in the great loss they had sustained. After the Benediction, Bugler Nash, of the 3rd Mon’s sounded “The Last Post” over the graveside and as the last note died away, there were few dry eyes.
The naval and military men, the Cadets and Fire Brigade reformed in procession after the funeral ceremony, and headed by the band marched to the Circle at a swinging pace, where they were dismissed.
A memorial service which was of a very impressive nature, was held at Bethel on Sunday evening, the pastor Rev. E J Collier, referring in glowing terms to the excellent qualities of this young hero, who was a most conscientious and active member of the church and its institutions. Special hymns were rendered.
[Taken from Merthyr Express, 17th June 1916]
Alness not Atness
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