Crew list of Ships hit by U-boats

Norman Tomlinson

Merchant Navy (R93856). British

Born  24 Sep 1912Liverpool
Died   1990(77)Liverpool

Photo courtesy of Susan Awunor-Renner

Roster information listed for Norman Tomlinson

ShipTypeRank / roleAttacked onBoat
PolycarpSteam merchantSecond Cook and Baker2 Jun 1940U-101 (1)

Personal information

Norman Tomlinson’s Story – courtesy of his niece Susan Awunor-Renner

During World War 2 the families of merchant seamen had no idea where they were at sea at any given time, because of course it was secret. Norman Tomlinson’s mother Emma Jane had the reputation of being truly psychic, and the family was worried when she came downstairs at 6 Ilchester Road in Liverpool on the morning of 2 June 1940, saying that Norman had been calling her in the night.

It turned out to be true, he had. When the Polycarp was struck by a torpedo at 3 a.m. something shifted against the cabin door and the men in there were trapped. Norman said later that men were wailing and crying and he kept running at the door hitting it with his shoulder shouting “Ma!…... Ma!” Fortunately the Polycarp rolled back and whatever was against the door shifted and they clambered out.

The family story was that when they were rescued by the Espiguette and landed at Newlyn on a crowded Sunday, they only had a few pairs of pyjamas between them, so men raced to form a guard of honour for them, making a corridor of their coats for them to pass through. Shops were opened and the crew were given food and clothing and were well taken care of.

This catastrophe never left Norman. His shoulder hurt for about a year, but he was never again able to sleep with his bedroom door shut, and was occasionally woken by the sound of the explosion. I expect nowadays he would be diagnosed with PTSD. After a lifetime at sea, he did some security work at the docks. He never married but lived a quiet life with his sisters, meeting friends for a pint or attending dog races.

In his retirement he cooked for the family, cutting open just a corner of a potato sack, as one would do in a rolling kitchen onboard, and peeling far too many of them. In the way that Liverpudlians make light of things he said that the Polycarp with a cargo of cork should never have sunk.


  1. Personal communication

Crew list for Ships hit by U-boats