b. 06/10/1862 Croydon, Surrey. d. 30/03/1911 ?
DATE OF AM ACTION: 17/12/1885 Cape Horn, and 13/12/1886 Sydney, Australia.
Thomas was born in Croydon, Surrey on 6th October 1862, and joined the Royal Navy at the age of 14. In 1893, he married Anne Cumberland in Ealing, London. He was originally awarded the 2nd Class Albert Medal, which was upgraded after the second incident of life saving that Thomas Whistler was involved in, a year after the first.
On the 17th of December, 1885, soon after 5.30 A.M., as the ” Ennerdale ” was rounding Cape Horn, an apprentice, named Duncan McCallum, fell from aloft into the sea, striking the rigging in his fall. Immediately, H. S. Pochin, an A.B., leapt overboard after McCallum, but the latter sank before Pochin could reach him. Pochin, afraid of being seized with cramp before a boat could come to his assistance, hailed the ship, asking for a lifebuoy to be thrown to him, and at the same moment the Master called all hands to man a boat. The First Mate, Mr. THOMAS AVERETT WHISTLER, 24 years old, who had been asleep in his berth, ran on deck and heard Pochin’s hail. Calling to the boatswain to heave him a lifebuoy, he at once sprang overboard, secured the lifebuoy which was thrown to him, and succeeded in reaching Pochin. The latter was already on the point of sinking, but, with the help of the lifebuoy, WHISTLER was able to keep him up. The water was bitterly cold, and a huge albatross hovered round the two men preparing to attack them. Meanwhile, considerable delay had occurred in the despatch of the boat, her lashings had been secured extra firmly for the passage round Cape Horn, and when at last launched, so many men crowded into her that she capsized. When righted and re-launched she finally succeeded in reaching and rescuing WHISTLER and Pochin, who were now entirely exhausted after an exposure of some 40 minutes in the water. The albatross had to be driven off with a boat hook. Directly they were lifted into the boat both men became insensible, and WHISTLER was delirious for some time afterwards.
About a year later Mr. WHISTLER again attempted to save life under the following circumstances : On the 13th December, 1886, while the ” Ennerdale ” was in Sydney Harbour, an apprentice named James F. Beattie was taking the Captain’s gig from the starboard to the port side of the vessel, when the boat sheered off, and he was thrown into the water. Mr. WHISTLER immediately dived, fully dressed, from the poop, but reached the water too close to the boy, who caught him from behind, put his arms around his wnist, and locked his legs in his. They both sank, and whilst under water, Mr. WHISTLER cleared himself from Beattie’s grasp, caught him by the shoulder and struck out for a lifebuoy which had been thrown overboard. Before it could be reached, both sank a second time, and WHISTLER, who was by this -time thoroughly exhausted, was obliged to let go his hold of the boy, who never rose alive again to the surface, and whose body was afterwards found floating in another part of the harbour.
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD. SOLD AT DNW IN MARCH 2013 FOR £15,000.
Allan Stanistreet – Image of Thomas Whistler AM.
Dix Noonan Webb – Image of the Whistler Albert Medal.