H.M.H.S. St. David

Thomas Boston Anderson

Rank.  Quartermaster. 
Service.  Merchant Navy.  
Unit TextHis Majesty’s Hospital Ship St. David
Killed in Action.  24 January 1944.
Husband of.  Winifred May Anderson, of South Benfleet.  Essex.
Memorial Ref.  Tower Hill Memorial.  London.

H.M.H.S. St. David. 

Designated as a hospital or medical treatment facility all hospital ships were protected under the Geneva Convention.  These ships were identified by having their structure painted white with a large red cross painted on each side.  This however did not stop the ships being attacked by the enemy and firing on a hospital ship was considered a war crime.

24 January 1944.  H.M.H.S. St. David, well illuminated and displaying the neutral markings of a hospital ship was about 25 miles south-west of Anzio  when she was attacked by enemy aircraft.  One bomb hit the ship in No.3 hold, two others exploded alongside No. 2 hold.  The ship was sinking fast and Captain Owens gave the order to abandon ship.  The crew attempted to save all those aboard but the ship sank five minutes after the initial hit.  Captain Owens lost his life with 12 of his crew, 22 patients and 22 Royal Army Medical Corps, including 2 nursing sisters from the Reserve Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service, Sarah Elizabeth Dixon and Winnie Alice Elizabeth Harrison.  159 people were saved.

During the war years the H.M.H.S. St. David carried 6000 patients and covered 25000 miles.

Reverse of postcard.  Posted to Bishops Waltham. Hampshire.  

Dear Mum/ Just arrived in ‘Blighty.’  Will let you know the hospital when I get there.  Lots of love ?

H.M.H.S. St. David.
Reverse of Post Card.

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  • Winnie Harrison was my Nans Sister. She is still remembered today and her picture is in the Anzio museum. She died trying to save others, a very brave nurse to the end!

    By Lauren Harrison (24/01/2020)
  • Just found details of my husbands uncle, Harry Henry Collinson who was on the St David. He was in the Royal Army Medical Corp. We found the tomb stone where he was mentioned in the cemetery in Italy. So So sad.

    By Grace Collinson (13/05/2019)
  • My Great Grandfather returned on the St David after being injured in the first world war. We have the card with a message written on his way home.

    By John Draper (28/12/2018)
  • My grandad served on the LCG 19 during WWII. He was acting temporary leading seaman on the landing craft. The LCG 19 killed the German bomber that bombed the St David’s Hospital Ship.

    By Michelle Atkinson (14/09/2018)
  • My father was last seen going below to save another patient just before the St. David sank, which is mentioned by another of the surgical team who saw him from a lifeboat. His brother Billy, also on board, met him descending to recover another of the wounded. Billy was on his way up and survived.

    By Christine Jee (12/01/2015)
  • The original correspondent  (Ronnie Pigram) mentioned that no image was available of the ill-fated ST. DAVID. On the following link to the internet are a number of images: 


    By Leslie Spurling (12/01/2015)
  • My Grandad Harry (Henry) Collinson serving in RAMC was also killed in action when the St. David was sunk. We have copies of the last letters he wrote to my Mum, very moving.

    By H Owens (18/01/2013)
  • Thanks for this very interesting information. My granddad (Maurice Lynden) was on HMHS St. David when she was sunk. The ship he was picked up by was later sunk too! He survived both times!

    By Stephen Hulbert (05/11/2012)
  • Dear Ronnie, Thank you for your research and for putting this page onto the Benfleet Community Archive. I believe that Thomas Boston Anderson is related to my wife (nee Anderson). I haven’t viewed the marriage certificate of Thomas Boston Anderson to Winifred May Anderson (nee ? Barker or Parker), but note that it took place in West Ham, Essex, in 1927, this being where his Father and Mother had retired to in the 1911 census. 

    I have a scanned copy of what I believe to be his seamen’s registration card, with an image attached. This is the only image we have of anybody from the family, earlier than my wife’s Dad. If we are talking about the same man, then his Great Grandfather was a shepherd in Tweedsmuir, Peebleshire from the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s. Do you have any further information about Thomas or his family, please? I am happy to share what I have found about his ancestors, with you. Thank you for your time. My regards, Bill Rayner.

    By Bill Rayner (24/06/2012)
  • I was unable to find a real photographic postcard of the ship that Thomas Boston Anderson served on. The postcard used on this site was an indication of the type used by the Royal Navy.  

    If anyone has a photograph of the actual ship we would appreciate hearing from you.

    By Ronnie Pigram (12/12/2011)

    By T Hissey (12/12/2011)

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