In our stunning building we have a space for hire that we are extremely proud of named the ‘Thomas Brown Room’. The room is a flexible space suitable for rehearsals, workshops, meetings and small conferences. There is history to read about this great young man and a large and beautiful stained glass window by artist Maralyn O’ Keefe. You can even toast him by buying a drink of Thomas Brown Golden Bitter in the bar.
Thomas Brown is a local war hero that the town is immensely proud of. He was the oldest brother from a big family consisting of seven sisters and five brothers. Only fifteen years old when he joined the NAAFI, he had to lie about his age in order to be accepted. He served as a catering assistant on HMS Petard, which helped sink U-Boat U-599 on October 30, 1942. Bravely, he was one of the three men who swam across to U-599 and helped retrieve important documents. Thomas escaped alive, his two comrades, First Lieutenant Anthony Fasson and Able Seaman Colin Grazier, sadly did not.
Thomas was unaware that the documents were in fact code books for the new German Enigma machine. The codes were sent to Bletchley Park where they were used to decipher German messages. A great deal of historians agree the actions of Thomas and his two ship-mates, helped shorten the war by at least two years saving many lives. Tragically, Thomas Brown died in 1945, along with his youngest sister, four and a half year-old Maureen, when the family home in North Shields was consumed by fire. He was buried with military honours and was posthumously awarded the George Medal in 1953.
On Thursday 5th July 2018, a green plaque was mounted on the wall at Tommy’s former home on Station Road, in Earl Shilton, where he lived with his aunt, uncle and cousin before joining the HMS Petard.
John Reed, from Hinckley, who nominated Thomas for the accolade, described him as a fearless young man whose bravery “changed the course of the Second World War”.
Councillor Louise Richardson, Leicestershire County Council’s cabinet member for green plaques, said,
“Tommy Brown was an enormously popular choice among the people of Leicestershire to receive a green plaque. It is fitting that we acknowledge Tommy’s tremendous bravery by creating a lasting reminder for the people of Earl Shilton of the hero who once lived in their community.”
Thomas Brown is honoured at Bletchley Park and we were especially proud to see that he was part of an exhibition for the Great Exhibition of the North, 2018 which was shown at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle.