Walker, Thomas Henry; Stoker; RN/RAN 8289

Born at Radford, Nottingham, on 10 April 1885, Thomas Walker served on HM ships from 2 January 1908, aboard the Dolphin, Bonaventure and Maidstone. One of those selected by Captain Nasmith for loan to the RAN, Walker’s nickname aboard the AE2 was ‘Hookey’, derived from the stoker insignia on his uniform, or perhaps also from his penchant for a scrap.

Taken prisoner with his crewmates after the sinking of the AE2, Walker spent a miserable three and a half years in prison camps at Afion Kara Hissar and Belemedik, where his technical skills made him valuable. With the help of his mates, and parcels from the Red Cross, Walker managed to survive the disease, discomfort and near starvation of the camps. He socialised with the notorious mess of Catholic AE2 men nearby, and was mentioned by diarist, George Kerr on 18 February 1916:

At present Jim [Cullen] and Hookey Walker are adrift [AWOL]—have been absent from yesterday, when they set out to buy a padlock and some alcohol, with their hearts a good deal more interested in the latter, I think. They did not come home last night …

[Later] Jim and Hookey Walker turned up last night, being only a day and a half adrift. They were a good time away, which may point to the amount of liquor they had drunk during the two days. I told them it was rather lowdown to come home after two days absence and tell us what liquor they had consumed. I had rather they spoke of what they had brought home. After a while [Jim] began telling me of the information he and Hookey had gathered during their trip, and telling me that he was thinking out a plan of escape.

But guards prevented the escape and Walker, perhaps a victim of one of the many camp diseases, made no further attempts. He survived his experiences, however, and reached home in London, via Smyrna and Beirut, on 18 December 1918. He rejoined the RAN on 22 February 1919 and served at the London Depot on Platypus, but was finally invalided out and demobilised on 25 August 1919.