Encyclopedia Titanica

George Terrill Thresher

Titanic Fireman

George Terrill Thresher
George Terrill Thresher

Mr George Terrill Thresher was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England on 1 June 1886. 

He was the son of George Samuel Thresher (1853-1903), an engine fitter, and Catherine Terrill (1855-1928).

Both George's parents were natives of Southampton and had married in 1878, producing at least ten children. George's known siblings were: Ethel Kate (b. 1878), Lilian Harriet (b. 1881), Ada (b. 1883), Emily Martha (b. 1884), Edith Ellen (b. 1888), John Thomas (b. 1890), Alice Hilda (b. 1892), Ernest Sydney (b. 1893) and Cordelia Florence (b. 1895).

George appears on the 1891 census living with his family at 50 Mount Pleasant, St Mary, Southampton but would appear at number 36 on the same street at the time of the 1901 census, he having left school by that time and being described as an errand boy. When George appeared on the 1911 census he was described as an unmarried seaman for the White Star Line and still living with his family at 36 Mount Pleasant Road, Southampton, his widowed mother then being described as a shopkeeper.

When he signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 Thresher gave his address as 36 Mount Pleasant Road, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Oceanic and as a fireman he could expect monthly wages of £6.

Thresher survived the sinking, in which lifeboat is not certain. He was not called to testify at either the American or British Inquiries into the sinking.

Thresher returned to England and continued working at sea as a fireman, sailing with the Mercantile Fleet Auxiliary through the dangerous waters of WWI; during that time he made the newspapers, this time for bravery.  On 20 August 1916, while serving aboard the Wearsider, a shipmate had fallen from a dingy at Caen, France. Thresher jumped after him and dived several times finally succeeded in getting hold of the man but had to let go on account of his struggles. George was brought ashore insensible and nearly lost his life, unfortunately, his shipmate did not survive.

At Newcastle today, George Thresher, a survivor of the Titanic and recently second engineer of the steamer Wearsider, was presented with the Human Society's vellum certificate for attempting to save the life of a shipmate at Caen last August. - Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail, 13 January 1917

At the time of this incident, his address was given as still living at 36 Mount Pleasant Road, Southampton.

He was awarded 3 medals for his service during the war (the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal) named to him as a Fireman (Fmn) in the Mercantile Fleet Auxiliary (MFA).

According to the official medal roll the last ship he served on during the war was the SS Sarnia, a converted Channel passenger ferry that was later sunk (on 12th September 1918) by the German submarine U-65, off Alexandria, Egypt.  

During peacetime Thresher was shown working again as a fireman for White Star Line; in 1923 he was listed as serving aboard both Majestic and Homeric. He was described as standing at 5' 8" and weighing 138 lbs.

On 31st December 1925 he joined the cargo ship Coaster run by Thomas Thompson of Newcastle and on 14th January 1927 he joined the cargo ship Tynesider.

Thresher remained a bachelor for much of his life before he resettled in northeast England and married in Gateshead, Durham in 1937 to Jane Fawcett (b. 7 August 1888). By 1939 their home address was 13 Easten Gardens in Felling, Gateshead in Co Durham. They had no children. 

George continued working at sea in the Merchant Navy. After WWII erupted he was working as a fireman and trimmer aboard the S.S. Parkhill, a cargo ship, when that vessel was torpedoed on 17 November 1939 off the coast of Aberdeen. The Parkhill had evaded an initial attack and steamed on but succumbed less than an hour later to a second assault from U-18. George Thresher became one of nine fatalities; his death record states:

Supposed drowned -- missing since the 17th November 1939

THRESHER--Felling, 13, Easten Gardens, reported missing November 27th (sic), lost at sea on s.s. Parkhill, George Terrill, beloved husband of Jane Thresher. Memorial service in Christ Church, Felling, on Sunday, January 21st, at 3 p.m.. Deeply mourned. - The Evening Chronicle, 18 January 1940

George's widow Jane never remarried and remained in Gateshead where she died in 1964.

George is remembered on the Tower Hill Memorial. London on Panel 79.

References and Sources

1891, 1901, 1911 Census
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Craig Stringer (2003) Titanic People, CD-ROM
National Archives CR10 Identity card c.1919
Newcastle Journal 12th Jan 1917
Northern Daily Mail, 13 January 1917
Merchant Navy service papers held by Southampton Archives (microfiche at National Archives BT364)

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr George Terrill Thresher
Age: 25 years 10 months and 14 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: at 36 Mount Pleasant RoadSouthampton, Hampshire, England
Occupation: Fireman
Last Ship: Oceanic
Embarked: Southampton on Saturday 6th April 1912
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Friday 17th November 1939 at Sea aged 53 years
Cause of Death:

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