CWG: Chief Yeoman of Signals Thomas Funnell

Chief Yeoman of Signals Thomas Funnell

Thomas Richard Funnell was born on 7th May 1883 and was the second of five children. His father John was a cab driver, his mother Jane a laundress, and the family lived in Worthing, West Sussex. The small terraced house was close to both the central station and the one serving West Worthing, which would have given John plenty of opportunity for customers.

Thomas had a definite sense of adventure and helping his dad after he finished school was never going to be enough. He enlisted in the Royal Navy and, after an initial six months at the rank of Boy, he came of age, and began his training as a signalman.

Over the twelve years of his service, Thomas served on thirteen vessels, including the shore-based training ships. He rose through the signal ranks, eventually becoming Yeoman of Signals.

He ended his engagement in May 1913 although, with war on the horizon, this was extended to the completion of hostilities. His naval service continued through the war, and he rose to the rank of Chief Yeoman of Signals in August 1915, while aboard HMS Dido.

Away from his life at sea, Thomas met and married Frances McGregor, the daughter of a coastguard from Hampshire. They went on to have two children: Gurtrude was born in 1915, Nora in 1921. While her husband was at sea, Frances set up home in Portsmouth, where she raised the family.

When the war came to a close, Thomas was moved to shore-based vessels where, presumably, he used his years of experience to help train and develop others. In September 1920, he was assigned to HMS Greenwich. Sadly, his time there was short, on 20th January 1921, Thomas collapsed. Admitted to the Haslar Hospital in Portsmouth with a cerebral abscess he passed away. He was 37 years of age.

Rather than being buried close to his widow and family, Thomas’ body was brought back to his home town of Worthing for burial. He lies at ret in the Broadwater Cemetery to the north of the town centre.

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