Born: 3rd June 1906, Antwerp, Belgium.

Died on or since: 13th August 1942; age 36; killed by enemy action.

William had worked his way up to Chief Officer for the Merchant Navy Cadet, and was expecting to be promoted to Captain when he was killed.

Residence: 2, Market Road, Chelmsford, Essex.


Rank: Chief Officer.

Regiment: Merchant Navy, M.V. ‘Waimarama’


Memorial Reference:

Panel 116.

Tower Hill Memorial,



Relatives Notified & Address: Son of Albert & Margaret Anna Thowless; husband of Margaret Mary Thowless, of West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire.




1911   1, Vienna Villa, Beach Road, Dovercourt, Essex.


William was 4 years old and living with his parents.

Albert Thowless, 33, a Pilot – Master Mariner, born Sandhurst, Berkshire.

Margaret Anna Thowless, 31, born St. Margaret’s, Liverpool, Lancashire.

1 general domestic servant.


William attended Ipswich School – he left the school in 1922 and immediately went to sea as a Merchant Navy Cadet.



On the 18th June 1941, Uppingham, Rutland, William married Margaret Mary Dolphin, born July 1913, Uppingham, Rutland, a Domestic Science Instructress.

They had 1 daughter.


Probate to Margaret Mary Thowless – widow & Albert Thowless – father, a Master Mariner.


William is also remembered on the Ipswich School Chapel war memorial.


1st MAY 1940 – S.S. ‘MATAKANA’


William was a crew member of the S.S.’Matakana’ a British refrigerated cargo ship bound from Australia to Britain with a cargo of frozen beef. He was 33 years old, 5ft 9ins, medium complexion, brown hair & brown eyes. William gave his address as Hereford Lees, The Lane, Dovercourt, Essex. On the 1st May 1940, S.S.’Matakana ran aground in heavy seas on Mayaguana Island, Bahamas and was wrecked. Her crew of 78 were rescued by the American ship S.S. ‘Panama’ near Flat Clay Island. The rescued crew travelled on the S.S. ‘Panama’ for repatriation to England via New York.




13th August 1942 – M.V. ‘WAIMARAMA’


‘OPERATION PEDESTAL’ was a British operation to get desperately needed supplies to the island of Malta in August 1942. Winston Churchill instructed that he be kept informed as to the progress of this convoy at every stage. If only one of the 14 Merchant Ship reached Malta the convoy would be considered a success. Convoy WS21S. was sent to reach and relieve Malta in August 1942, accompanied by the biggest Royal Navy escort assembled at any point in the Second World War. At 8.10am on the 13th August 1942, two Junkers 88 dive-bombers suddenly came screaming out of the sun and a concentrated attack of bombs fell on and around the ‘Waimarama’ which was carrying high explosives. Four bombs exploded amid the spirit and ammunition. ‘Waimarama’ blew up and caught fire with a spectacular roar with clouds of billowing smoke, to disappear in a few seconds. A loss of 93 of the 95 people on board. The two survivors were picked up by H.M.S. ‘Ledbury’.

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