Thomas Harry Childs was born and grew up in Chelmsford. He worked for the Chelmsford electrical engineers Crompton-Parkinson before joining the R.A.F. in 1939. In June the following year he was one of thousands of Allied personnel killed when the troopship evacuating them from France, Lancastria, was sunk ny German aircraft off St. Nazaire. His home was in Glebe Road, Chelmsford.
Thomas was born in Chelmsford in 1920, the only son of Harry Childs (born in 1879) and May Childs (nee Lomas, born in 1887). His parents had married in Surrey in 1913). Harry had an elder sister, May, who was born in 1915 and died in 1996.
Thomas was baptised at Chelmsford Cathedral on Easter Day, 4th April 1920. At the time his parents were resident at 7 Glebe Road, Chelmsford and his father was a charge-hand.
Prior to the war Thomas worked for the Chelmsford-based electrical engineering company, Crompton & Co. In 1939 he joined the Royal Air Force where he served as Aircraftman 2nd Class in 98 Squadron.
For the first nine months or so of the Second World War the squadron served as a reserve squadron and during the period April to June 1940, was based in France.
Its homecoming was a tragic one, for on 17th June 1940, the 16,432 ton troopship Lancastria, which was carrying most of the squadron's personnel, was bombed and sunk three miles off St. Nazaire in north-western France.
Around four thousand of those on board were killed or drowned including 75 airmen of the squadron who were officially reported lost and fifteen others are believed to have perished. Thomas was one of those killed, aged 20.
Thomas Harry CHILDS, Aircraftman 2nd Class, 98 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed at sea when Lancastria was sunk off St. Nazaire, France. Aged 20
His body was later washed ashore and then buried at Prefailles Communal Cemetery, ten miles south of St. Nazaire (grave: 41).
At the time of his death Thomas' parents were still living at 7 Glebe Road. His father died in 1951; his mother in 1964.