Thomas William Giles (known as William) was born on 20 January 1892 in Back Lane (now Winston Avenue), Tadley.
His parents were Edward and Clara Giles (née Dicker). Edward was a ‘Farm Labourer’.
William was the eldest of three children: William, Clayton (who died as a baby) and May.
In the 1901 Tadley Census, aged 9 years, William, his parents and sister continue to live in Back Lane. We now know this to have been ‘Rose Cottage’, later renamed ‘Back Lane Cottage’
In the 1911 Tadley Census William, aged 19 years, was listed as ‘Auxiliary Postman (Rural)’. He was still living with his parents and sister.
William worshipped at the Old Meeting, United Reformed Church, Tadley, where it is recorded that he was an Elder.
William was unmarried.
William served in the Royal Navy (service number: M/14876) as a cook’s mate on HMS Malaya.
HMS Malaya was one of five Queen Elizabeth class battleships, which were the world’s first oil burning large warships. Originally, only four ships were planned, but the Federated Malay States government offered to pay for a fifth as a gift to Britain and this ship was named after the country. She was launched in March 1915 although not completed until February 1916. She had a complement of between 1,124 and 1,300 men. Her armament consisted of eight 15 inch guns, twelve 6 inch guns, eight 4 inch anti-aircraft guns, sixteen 2 pounder anti-aircraft guns, and one aircraft. She had a speed of 24 knots and a displacement of 31,100 tons. During World War I, she served in Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas’s 5th Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet.
HMS Malaya took part in the Battle of Jutland, 31 May 1916, where she suffered major damage and heavy crew casualties. Early in the battle, together with other ships, she engaged four German battleships, the Derfflinger, Konig, Grosser Kurfurst and Markgraf. The Malaya was hit by eight 12 inch shells; she received two holes below the water line and a 6 inch battery was wrecked. Later in the battle HMS Malaya sank the German Destroyer (Torpedo Boat) S-35 with all hands. She fired a total of 215 15 inch shells during the engagement. A total of 65 men died during the battle or later of their injuries.
William was known to be a friend of Louis Stacey who lived nearby; they may possibly have enlisted together. Louis also died in World War I and is remembered on Tadley War Memorial.
William died on Wednesday 31 May 1916 during the Battle of Jutland, aged 24. Another local man, Frederick James Banbury, a stoker on HMS Tipperary, also died during the battle; he is remembered on the Pamber Priory Church Memorial.
He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial , Southsea Common.
He is also remembered on Tadley War Memorial and the Tadley United Reformed Church Roll of Honour.
William was awarded the Victory medal and the British War medal. These would have been sent to his family.