Memorial: Pte Thomas Lee

Commemorated: Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. Grave Ref: A. 115. Memorials:Queensferry Memorial, Queensferry Parish Church and Queensferry Primary School Memorials.

Born:27/4/1898 Service:Private Thomas Lee, No: 41191, of 3rd Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, enlisted in Queensferry on 8.4.1916. Living in 2 Harbour Lane, Thomas was a Steel Driller at the time.

Thomas was in the Army Reserve from 9.4.1916, and mobilized on 16.2.1917. He served at Home until 19.5.1917 then sent to France as part of the Expeditionary Force on 20.5.1917. He received a gunshot wound to his thigh on 31.7.1917 and returned home on 13.8.1917. He was transferred to hospital in Glasgow 21.8.1917 – 25.9 1917. On his recovery, he was posted to Egypt on the Troop Ship SS Aragon.

On the 30th December 1917, the Troopship S.S. Aragon arrived at Alexandria Harbour, having sailed from Marseilles, where she lay 2 weeks in anchor, on the 17th December. She was laden with around 2,700 troops bound for the conflicts in Palestine. As she arrived in a convoy bound for the port, the rest of the ships sailed onwards to Alexandria and she lay up ten miles off shore, awaiting her escort. The 9588 tons of ocean liner drifted gently as she waited within sight of land but was torpedoed by the German Submarine and minelayer the UC-34. The destroyer HMS Attack dashed to her rescue as she sunk quickly, as well as every available ship within reach. Many of the men rescued and taken onto the HMS Attack had just stripped their oil drenched clothes from their bodies and laid on the deck when she too was torpedoed by the same submarine, almost blowing her in two. 610 of the 2,700 passengers on board the HMS Aragon were lost at sea. She was carrying about 2,200 troops to reinforce the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in the Palestine Campaign against the Ottoman Empire, plus about 150 military officers, 160 VADs and about 2,500 bags of Christmas mail.

Aragon remains a wreck off the Egyptian coast, lying in about 40 metres (130 ft) of water. Sadly this is when Thomas lost his life, Drowning on 30.12.1917, aged 19. His body was recovered. Thomas is buried in Grave Ref: A.115, Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.

Background:Thomas was born on 27.4.1898 in Edinburgh Royal Maternity Hospital. He died on 30.12.1917 aged 19. He is commemorated on Queensferry Memorial, Queensferry Parish Church and Queensferry Primary School Memorials. His Parents were Thomas, a Brick Layer, and Elizabeth Lee, ms Thomson. They married on 7.4.1896 in Irvine. Thomas’ Siblings were Elizabeth-c1902, Agnes-c1906, William-c1909 and Jessie-c1910. In 1901, Thomas aged 2, was living in Covenanters Close, Queensferry, with his Mother. In 1911, aged 11 He was living in Bellstane, Queensferry with Parents, Father Thomas 43, a Brick Layer, Mother Elizabeth 34, and Siblings Elizabeth-9, Agnes-5, William-2, and Jessie-5 months. Sister Mary was born around 1917.