Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 28, 1900
Place of BirthCardiff
CountryWales
Marital StatusSingle
Service Details
ForceBritish Navy
BranchRoyal Naval Reserve
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentCardiff, Wales
Address at EnlistmentCardiff, Wales
Date of EnlistmentJuly 1918
Age at Enlistment17
Theatre of ServiceAt sea
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 11, 1962
Age at Death61

Thiis, Thomas

Midshipman Thomas Thiis was born on 28 December 1900 in Cardiff, Wales. His birth name was Thomas Richard ThГјs and his parents were John Prout ThГјs and Elizabeth Stoate Date. John’s father, Thomas Christian ThГјs, was a master mariner who had immigrated to England from Norway. Over time the surname ThГјs became Thiis but it also shows up in records as Thus, Thees, Thies and Theis. When the 1881 census was taken John was living in Appledore, Devonshire with his father, his mother Fanny (née Prout) and his two sisters, Evelina and Gwendoline. By 1891 the family had moved to Cardiff, Wales and John was working as an engineer.

John married Elizabeth Stoate Date in 1896 in Newport, Monmouthshire. They had at least three children, all born in Cardiff: Stanley Date (1897), Thomas Richard (1900) and Elizabeth Florence (1908). John died on 17 March 1911, when Thomas was ten years old. When the census was taken two weeks later Elizabeth and the children were living in Cardiff with her widowed mother and two brothers.

According to his Canadian Legion membership application, Thomas joined the merchant marine in 1914 at age 13. In July 1918 he became a midshipman in the Royal Naval Reserve and he served on the City of London, an armed merchant cruiser that sailed between England and New York. The Armistice was signed in November 1918 and Thomas was discharged from the RNR in January 1919 in Devonport. He immigrated to Canada a year later, arriving in Halifax in February 1920 on the SS Carmania. He said he was a student and he was on his way to Regina, Saskatchewan to join the Royal North West Mounted Police. He had a friend, Max Herbert Tapp, who was also born in Cardiff and already serving with the RNWMP.

Thomas was married in Bellingham, Washington four years later, on 3 March 1924. The Certificate of Marriage gave his address as Vancouver, British Columbia and his occupation as Police. His wife, Mary Ann Greer, was also living in Vancouver at the time. She was born in 1902 in Scotland, the daughter of David Greer and Catherine Carson. Her family had come to Canada in 1909, sailing on the SS Corsican and arriving in Quebec on 1 May. She had two sisters and three older brothers and her mother died in Vancouver in 1920.

In December 1925 Thomas was listed as a crew member on the Canadian Ranger, a ship that sailed between Vancouver and San Francisco. He was an Ordinary Seaman, 24 years old and he said he had five years of experience at sea. Not long after that he moved to Kenora, Ontario where he joined the Kenora branch of the Canadian Legion. He may have been divorced or widowed by then as he lived at the Railway YMCA, where single men boarded. The large brick building had a restaurant, games room, library and lounge area on the main floor and sleeping quarters for 50 to 60 men on the two upper floors. In the basement were a bowling alley and gym and outside there were lawn bowling greens and tennis courts. Thomas was a member of one of the YMCA 5-pin bowling teams, which was mentioned in the Kenora Miner and News.

When the 1935 federal voters lists were compiled (in 1934) Thomas was a salesman living in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He was married again in 1937 in Hammersmith, London, England. His wife, Muriel Jessie Mills, was born on 23 February 1902 in Hampstead, London. Thomas and Muriel lived in the Greater London area, first in Hamersmith then in Wembley Park. Thomas was a sales manager and his wife was a fashion buyer. They travelled to Canada several times including trips in July 1955 and August 1960.

Thomas passed away in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire on 11 December 1962, a few weeks before his 62nd birthday. Muriel died at Carlton Dene Home in London on 1 July 1995, at age 93.

By Becky Johnson

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