|WW2 Memorial Profiles - West Mersea
GEORGE THOMAS STOKER
Ordinary Seaman LT/JX 242494
HMS VAN MEERLANT, Royal Naval Patrol Service.
Born 8 May 1920
Attended West Mersea School
Killed 4 June 1941 age 21 when HMS VAN MEERLANT was sunk by a mine.
Commemorated on Lowestoft Naval Memorial, West Mersea War Memorial, and on a plaque in West Mersea School.
George Thomas Stoker was born in 8 May 1920, the son of George James Stoker and Constance May Stoker. He had one sister, Eileen.
Before the outbreak of war, he worked with his father on the oyster layings. His family also ran Blanche's Cafe close to the beach in Kingsland Road, West Mersea, and in 1939 were living there.
George volunteered in January 1941, and on call up he went to Lowestoft where he joined the Royal Navy Patrol Service at the shore base, HMS EUROPA.
The 1939-45 base at Lowestoft for the Royal Naval Patrol Service, developed from the pre-war Royal Naval Reserve
Trawler Section. At the outset of the war the men of this service were mainly the fishermen of the
requisitioned trawlers and drifters used on patrol work, but later it included men from all walks of life and
various types of small craft. In the spring of 1944 the Royal Naval Patrol Service reached its maximum strength of
some 57,000. Between 1942 and 1946 new construction ships and craft manned by the Service totalled 1,637,
among them minesweepers of various kinds, corvettes, fuel carriers, motor launches and naval seaplane tenders.
Their objective was to maintain wartime patrols and safeguard the coasts of Britain.
Lowestoft was chosen as the site for the Memorial to those men of the Royal Naval Patrol Service who have no other grave than the sea.
7 March 1941 George was posted to the ship, H.M.S. VAN MEERLANT.
HNLMS VAN MEERLANT had been a Minelayer of the Royal Netherlands Navy, built in 1920. When the Netherlands was overrun in 1940, she escaped to Britain and was stationed first at Falmouth and then at Chatham, part of the Thames Local Defence Flotilla, responsible for the boom defences in the Thames Estuary. She transferred to the Royal Navy March 1941 becoming HMS VAN MEERLANT.
Prior to coming home on his first leave, on Wednesday 4th June 1941 near the Nore Light vessel, the vessel hit a mine and blew up in a matter of minutes. 42 men on board were lost. George's body was never recovered.
Essex County Standard, 14th June, 1941
Death of Mr George Stoker - Mr & Mrs Stoker of the Beach have received official intimation of the death of their only son George Thomas Stoker who was serving aboard a patrol boat. The utmost sympathy has been extended to them and their daughter in their grievous loss. George was 21 years old. Of a quiet and reserved disposition he was a very reliable character. He had passed through the Scout movement, joining as a cub and leaving as a patrol leader when the group was disbanded in 1933.
Essex County Standard, June 4th, 1943
STOKER - In loving memory of our dear nephew, George Thomas who was called to higher service while serving with the Royal Naval Patrol June 5, 1941. Worthy of everlasting remembrance. Ever fondly remembered by Aunt Grace and Uncle Jim, Banff, Scotland
STOKER - In loving memory of our dearly loved son, George Thomas Stoker, called to Higher Service June 4, 1941
In life one of the finest;
In death one of the brave;
He failed not in his duty,
For his young life he gave,
The gall of grief is sweetened
When to this thought we cling
He died in saving others
His Country and his King
From his loving Mother, Dad and sister Eileen, Blanches Cafe, West Mersea.
Lowestoft Naval Memorial
Son of George James and Constance May Stoker, West Mersea
Commemorated Lowestoft Naval Memorial, West Mersea War Memorial and plaque in West Mersea School
The bumkin BOY GEORGE had been built for George Thomas Stoker and named after his son 'young' George.
By 1988 BOY GEORGE was derelict and regularly sinking. It was donated by 'young' George's sister Eileen to John Milgate and was rebuilt by John and his students as part of the wooden boatbuilding course at Shell Bungalow, Peldon, in the 1990s.