Thomas Flemming BESANT


BESANT, Thomas Flemming

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Last Unit: HMAS AE1 (Submarine)
Born: Liverpool, England, 22 December 1883
Home Town: London, England, United Kingdom
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Naval Officer
Died: Accidental (Drowned in accidental loss of vessel), St George's Channel, Papua New Guinea, 14 September 1914, aged 30 years
Cemetery: Plymouth Naval Memorial
No known grave (at sea)
Memorials: Plymouth Naval Memorial to the Missing / Lost at Sea
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World War 1 Service

14 Sep 1914: Involvement Royal Navy, Lieutenant Commander, SN Officer, HMAS AE1 (Submarine), German New Guinea

Boxer Rebellion (China) Service

Date unknown: Involvement Royal Australian Navy, Midshipman, Unspecified British Units

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Biography contributed by Sharyn Roberts

Son of Edgar and Mary BESANT

Of 2 St. John's Gardens, Lodbrooke Avenue, London, W.


Thomas Fleming S. BESANT had entered the Royal Navy at the age of 15 years in 1898. Thomas was the third child of five children to Edgar Besant and Mary Evans. (double check this with Dorothy) His eldest sister married but had no children; his elder brother Reginald never married. Younger brother Lionel migrated to Canada and his youngest sister Janette went to Hong Kong. In 1930, a cousin, Arthur Digby Besant, had this to say about Thomas Besant in a monologue called 'The Besant Pedigree' -

"He joined the navy at the early age of 15, that being the practice of those days; and less than two years later, as a young midshipman, he saw active service in China during the Boxer rising. On his return home he began by specialising in gunnery and torpedo courses; but shortly afterwards he decided to devote all his energies and brains to a study of the new field which submarines and hydro-aeroplanes were then opening up to the keenest type of the young school of intellectual naval officers.He quickly became recognised as an expert in submarine matters, and early in 1914 was selected to command A.E.1., the first submarine constructed here for service in Australian waters. His vessel, travelling under its own power, reached Sydney in May, and was the first submarine to stand the test of a long ocean voyage. The next few months were occupied in cruises and naval manoeuvres

There his submarine A.E.1. mysteriously disappeared and no trace of her has ever been found. War broke out in August and the movements of the vessel in the preceding weeks had not been kept secret. Of her fate nothing can learnt: we can only surmise what happened. Fleming , at any rate, with all his gallant crew, went down with his ship."