Thomas James Quinn was born at 1 Court, 3 House, Liver Street, Liverpool, Lancashire, England, on the 13th June 1900, the son of Thomas William and Ann Jane Quinn. He was the eldest of seven children. By 1911, only two boys and three girls were surviving, and his birth place was the family home. His father was a professional sailor in the Mercantile Marine, employed by The Cunard Steam Ship Company.
Thomas James Quinn was educated at St. Peters School, in Park Lane, Liverpool and was a very intelligent pupil. Although his parents wanted him to complete his education, in early May 1915, whilst still at school and aged fourteen years, he decided, (like his father at the same age), that he would run away to sea. Consequently, he left home one morning at the usual time, but did not go to St. Peters and did not arrive back home again after school had finished. Thomas senior then went looking for him and when he eventually found him, realised that there was little point in sending him back to school and instead allowed him to engage on his own ship, the
Consequently, Thomas James Quinn signed on as Bosun's Boy in the Deck Department of the liner on 12th May 1915 at Liverpool, at a monthly wage of £1, and reported for duty on the morning of 17th May, the day she left Liverpool for the last time.
Tragically, it proved to be a fatal turn of fate for him, for he was killed after the steamer was torpedoed, just three weeks later. Although he had given his age on engagement as 15 years, he was, in fact, only 14 when he was killed.
His father survived, and as his son’s engagement was brought about with his compliance, he must have regretted it for the rest of his life. It is probable that Thomas James Quinn was the youngest crew member to be killed that day.
His body was not found and identified afterwards and as a consequence, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, Julie Langley, PRO BT100/345, PRO BT 334.