Ceremony to honour Second World War hero Tommy Brown

Two of Thomas Browns surviving siblings, Norman and Nancy.
Two of Thomas Browns surviving siblings, Norman and Nancy.

A Second World War hero from North Shields is to be honoured at a special ceremony.

Thomas Brown was just 16 years old when serving as a canteen assistant on HMS Petard, which helped sink U-Boat U-599 on October 30, 1942.

He swam over to the stricken submarine and helped retrieve documents from inside.

Of the three men who boarded, he was the only one to survive.

Unknown to Thomas, the documents he rescued were codebooks for the new German Enigma machine.

The codes were sent to Bletchley Park, where they were used to decipher German messages.

Historians agree the actions of Thomas and his two ship-mates helped shorten the war by at least two years.

He was posthumously awarded the George Medal after his death in 1945.

To mark 75 years since Thomas’s heroics, The Exchange in North Shields is rededicating its Thomas Brown Room to North Shields’ own war hero on Saturday.

The day will include a grand re-opening of the room – which features a stained glass window depicting Thomas – plus readings, an exhibition as well as an afternoon tea for special guests, which will include Thomas’ family.

Also to mark the 75th anniversary, author and journalist Phil Shanahan is offering a special deal on his book, The Real Enigma Heroes, which tells the story of Tommy and his two colleagues.

He campaigned to bring public recognition to Tommy and his colleagues.

An updated version of the book has been printed, also released in ebook form for the first time, with people in North Shields able to get a 25 per cent discount if they order the book via 01256 302699 and quote NB8 before November 11.

Phil said: “I can’t believe that it’s nearly 20 years since I started that campaign and there’s hardly been a year since when there hasn’t been some development.”