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The Story of An Unsung Hero Thomas Mearns

1929 - 1992

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Upon leaving school in 1943, Thomas worked as a Filleter of fish on St. Andrew’s Dock for two years until the age of sixteen.

Second from left

At the age of sixteen he enrolled to The 1st Battalion, The Border Regiment as

part of the National Service, under the command of officer I. M. F. Preston.

Back row, second from right

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Man Husband Father Grandfather Friend 9

Date: 20/11/1947

Army No: 21060456Rank: PTE

Surname: MearnsForename: ThomasD.O.B: 10/09/1929

Unit, Reg or Corps: 1st Bn, The Border Regiment

Place: East Africa

Trade on enlistment: Fisherman

Any person finding this book is requested to hand it in to any Barracks, Post Office, or Police Station, for transmission to the Under Secretary of State, The War Office, London, S.W.I.


During his national service in Eastern Africa, he worked as a part of the security detail for intern prisoners.

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‘Thomas has worked well and steadily with enthusiasm and has the will to give his very best. He is honest and of average intelligence, cheerful and is a strong worker.’

- Lt. Col Comd. I. M. F. Preston. 1st Bn. The Border Regiment.

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‘I have just scrubbed my webbing. You can see it in the background drying.’

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‘Can you see the bunch of bananas?’

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‘I love just sun bathing.’

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Upon finishing his National Service, he f lew back home via Dakota running with one engine.

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After an uneasy journey home, Thomas resumed work on the fish docks along with his two friends, Len and Bert Giles. At the age of twenty-five, Thomas accompanied his parents

to the Hessle Grange Club one evening. It was there that he was introduced to Joan, the nineteen year old daughter of a family acquaintance. From there on, the two of them were inseparable as they travelled to various tourist destinations

across the country during a six year courtship.

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On March 3rd, 1962, Joan took his hand in marriage at All Saints Church, Hessle.

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December 9th, 1962, his daughter, Tracey Mearns was born.

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One of my earliest memories of being with my Dad was every Saturday afternoon we used to watch the wrestling on the TV together. I was about seven or eight years of age. Mum used to make me sandwiches for tea and I’d sit watching the TV in the living room with my Dad.

During the Summer holidays we would have days out at the seaside with the whole family, usually Bridlington, with Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and my Nanna and Grandad. We would spend the whole day on the beach, taking a packed lunch with us, it was happy times.

Sometimes when the weather was warm and sunny my Dad would tie the garden hose to the top of the porch on the front door so that the water would spray down onto the garden and all the children who lived up the road would play in our garden dancing in and around the spray from the hose. We used to have a tent that my Dad put up in the garden and my friends and I would play there for hours on end.

Most Fridays Dad would come home from work with some fish off the dock where he worked, usually large Haddock fillets. We ate a lot of fish back then, they were plentiful and we made the most of it.

We had an off license around the corner from our house and sometimes my dad would let me and my friend take the empty bottles back to the shop because in those days you got some pennies back on your empties and with those pennies we would buy sweets.

Many times when my Dad was doing work on his car I would be in there with him, and in my own way helping him. I’d often just sit in the driving seat and pretend I was driving somewhere. I loved the thought of driving one day.

My Dad was a fairly active man, always pottering around at home or in the garden when he wasn’t working. He was very family orientated. He relished his time at home and loved his TV and armchair. The simple things in life pleased him.

Memoriesby Tracey Wharton

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Later in his career at St. Andrew’s Dock, Thomas went on to become a Bobber. This involved him unloading baskets of fresh fish which was delivered from the trawlers, upon their

arrival in Hull from the North Sea.

Due to Conservative government policies there was a decline of the fishing industry. The St. Andrew’s Dock closed in 1975. A year later, Thomas then gained employment at Capper Pass Smelting Works in Melton. In 1988 he was forced into an early retirement due to ill health after being

diagnosed with Angina.

It was from this point that his day to day life slowed down and he relied heavily on his family and friends.

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Upon receiving a triple bypass surgery due to his condition worsening, Thomas’ body slowly started to deteriorate after the operation. After two years of being on the waiting list for a heart transplant, a suitable donor was found in February,

1992 and he was given a new heart.

While the heart transplant was a success and the new heart worked healthily, the rest of his body continued to deteriorate. One month later, on March 22nd, 1992, Thomas

Mearns, passed away aged sixty-two.

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Tracey Wharton

My Dad, Thomas Mearns was a quiet, modest, easy going man. I remember

him as being a warm, loving and caring father, a man of few words. Growing up, my memories of him

are of fun and laughter, mixed with a strong sense of love for his family and doing his very best to provide for us.

My Dad was my hero and although he’s

been gone nearly twenty-one years there isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think about him with fondness and

love, he will always be missed.

Joan Mearns

We didn’t have a long time together but I had a loving husband and our

daughter, Tracey had a doting father.

My only regret is, that Luke never got to know a good person who would

have been very proud of him.

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34 The Story of An Unsung Hero

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Thomas Mearns 1929 - 1992