‘My dad survived four German bomb attacks’

Tommy Sadler
Tommy Sadler

The story of a Boston man, who sailed with Lord Mountbatten, survived four German bomb attacks and built bridges in the town, is being told.

The wartime achievements of Thomas Arthur Sadler (Tommy) are being recalled following news he would be receiving a medal for bravery were he still alive today.

Tommy Sadler working on the construction of Haven Bridge in the 1960s.

Tommy Sadler working on the construction of Haven Bridge in the 1960s.

His proud daughter, June Wells, of Wyberton, takes up the story: “A lot of people in the town may remember my father Tommy who was born on May 15, 1922.

“In 1939 he joined the naval cadets aged 17 and later joined his first ship, HMS Windsor.

“His second ship was HMS Jersey which hit a mine in Malta harbour and sunk.”

Tom had just one week survivors’ leave before joining his third ship, HMS Kelly, where he was under the command of Lord Mountbatten.

Some 21 days after the Jersey sunk, HMS Kelly was attacked by dive bombers off Crete in 1941. It also sank.

Tom then joined HMS Forrester in September 1941 and was posted to the Arctic Ocean on the Russian Convoys.

“Dad assisted in nine return trips keeping supply lines open to the the Eastern Front,” said June.

“While on one of the convoys the Forrester was attacked by three German destroyers, resulting in the loss of the boilers and two of three gun turrets. He and other sailors manned the remaining turret until help arrived.

“Dad then transferred to the Atlantic Convoys where he served until the end of the war.

He was discharged from the Royal Navy in 1946 on medical grounds having sustained permanent hearing damage from his time on HMS Forrester. As a result, he received the Kings Badge for loyal service during the war.

“Dad remained in Boston after the war and in ‘civvie street’ helped to build Haven Bridge and Sluice Bridge as a steel erector,” said June.

Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron announced on behalf of the Conservative Government to award a medal for bravery to the remaining survivors of the Russian Convoys.

Mr Sadler, who died in March, 2005, would have been been one of the recipients of this medal had he been 
alive today.

“I’m so proud of him, I just want him to be recognised for what he did,” said June.

“It’s sad but I don’t think he will be getting the medal as they cannot be awarded posthoumously.”

She added: “He was the best dad anyone could have wished for, without all his help through difficult times, I wouldn’t have the happy life I have now.”

On the back of his Navy photo (pictured above), dated December 19, 1942, is written: ‘To my dearest wife Peggy, wishing you a Happy New Year – all my love your everloving husband Tom’ followed by a drawing of two cupid’s hearts featuring their names.