THOMAS GEORGE SAUL
from Martin Saul
This article was originally published in the December 2009 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
There is a Saul death commemorated on the War Memorial in Euston Place, Leamington: Thomas George Saul died while serving in the Royal Navy.
HMS President III M.V.Behar was lost at sea on Sunday 19th of March 1944. Able Seaman Thomas George Saul C/JX235844, age 23, the son of Thomas and Beatrice Saul, husband of Maude Saul of Shotton, County Durham. The M.V.Behar was sunk by an unidentified surface raider in the Indian Ocean south west of the Cocos Islands. His death is also commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent.
I was sure Thomas George must have been a Leamington Saul for his death to be remembered on the monument in Euston place, Leamington, but I had been unable found a wedding between a Thomas and Beatrice to be able to place them in the family tree. While looking though the GRO index looking for something else, I found a wedding for Thomas and Beatrice in 1920. I have just received their wedding certificate in the post and can confirm that Thomas George Saul is indeed linked to my family in Leamington. His father Thomas was the son of George born 1847 and his father was John born in 1815, brother to my great, great, great, grand father William Saul.
This is a detailed account of his death. The Passenger cargo ship Behar, 7,840grt, (Hain SS Co.) had been sailing from Newcastle, New South Wales & Melbourne with a cargo of zinc and 9 passengers. On the 9th March 1944 the ship was intercepted by the Heavy Japanese Cruiser Tone South-West of the Cocos Island and sunk.
Of the 104 crew, DEMS gunners and passengers picked up out of the water, 72 were randomly picked out and subsequently beheaded on the Tone's quarterdeck on the evening of the 18/19th March 1944. The execution order came from Vice Admiral Sakonji, who was later hung for war crimes 21st January 1948. Able seaman Thomas George Saul was one of the unlucky 72 crew and passengers, who were beheaded on the Tone's quarterdeck, on the evening of the 18/19th March 1944.
The Captain of the Tone, Mayazumi Haruo received 7 years imprisonment. His lenient sentence was due to the fact he had protested on several occasions about carrying out the execution orders. No one else was ever charged with war crimes from this atrocity mainly due to American intervention at having all war crime charges dropped if Japan agreed to become a Western style democracy in helping stop the spread of Communism across the Far East.
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