ONE of my most treasured personal possessions is an autographed photograph sent by a young Paisley seaman to his twin sister just before he died during the Second World War.
Hero Tommy Corrigan perished in the freezing waters of the Arctic Ocean, along with 120 colleagues, when minesweeper HMS Bramble was shelled by German destroyers on December 31, 1942.
Tommy was an anti-submarine weaponry specialist on the vessel, which escorted supply convoys between Britain and the former Soviet Union.
Aged just 23 when he died, Tommy lived at “Teapot Terrace,” near Newton Street, in the West End of Paisley.
He worked as a conductor on Young’s “yellow buses” before enlisting in the Royal Navy in November, 1939.
His parents and his sister Sadie stayed at 28 Tennant Road, in Ferguslie Park.
The black-and-white photograph depicting Tommy smiling happily in naval uniform is signed poignantly: “To my sister Sadie, with all my love.”
It was gifted to me by his family following my involvement in a campaign to include Tommy in a book by naval historian David Griffiths which commemorates the sinking of HMS Bramble.
His cousin, Janette Robertson, from Bankfoot Road, Ferguslie Park, told me Tommy appeared in a dream to Sadie shortly before his death.
Said Janette: “Sadie described a terrifying dream she had the previous night. She heard Tommy call her name and saw him cold, wet, shivering and afraid. Soon afterwards, we heard he was killed in action.”
His younger brother James informed me Tommy was born at the Inkerman ironstone-mining village, between Ferguslie Park and Linwood. James told me: “When the industry collapsed, the miners’ rows (terraced houses) were demolished and the Corrigans rehoused in Ferguslie Park, Linwood and Elderslie.
“Tommy attended St Conval’s School, in Linwood. His death was a devastating blow for our family but darker days loomed because, less than two years later, John – another Corrigan brother – was killed in action while serving with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during the 1944 Normandy landings.”
The names of brave Buddie Tommy and his comrades-at-arms are inscribed on Plymouth Hoe War Memorial on the Devon coast.
This month sees the 66th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. We remember proudly local heroes like Tommy Corrigan, who will always be 23.
His imperishable memory lives eternally in the hearts of family and friends who knew and loved him.