Thomas Edward Alder GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 20/01/1907 Sunderland. d. 05/03/1973 Farringdon, Sunderland.

DATE OF GC ACTION: 16/17/11/1930 Yangtse-Kiang River, China.

Thomas Edward Alder EGM/GC was born on 20th January 1907 in Sunderland, County Durham, the son of Thomas Edward and Ellen (nee Anderson) who lived in the Millfield area. At 18, Thomas junior enlisted with the Green Howards Regiment and after his basic training at the Regimental Depot in Richmond, he was posted with the 2nd Battalion in Dover. He served with the Battalion in Jamaica and later Bermuda, before proceeding to Egypt in 1927.

Thomas E Alder GC

After two years in Egypt, and now promoted to Lance Sergeant, he and his Battalion was ordered to join the International Brigade in China and replace the 1st Battalion, stationed in Shanghai. He was there from 1929-1930, before moving on to Poona, India after his heroic actions from 1930-32.

On the night of 16th-17th November 1930, he was in charge of 3 men employed on anti-piracy duties on board the SS Wuhu. While proceeding up river, the ship was fired upon by communists with guns and small arms on 4 occasions. Fire was returned and a number of casualties were observed. At 4.30pm Alder and his party left the Wuhu in a sampan and proceeded two and a half miles under constant fire from both banks to the assistance of the SS Kiatung, which had run aground and was under attack by communists. Upon reaching the Kiatung, they boarded her, coming under fire from both banks until the 17th, when another vessel arrived to provide assistance. When they were relieved, they only had 43 rounds of ammunition between them.

Alder was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal for his actions. On his return to England he took a job with the Sunderland Health Department as a rodent control officer, until the outbreak of WWII, when he was called up from the Reserve to rejoin his old Regiment. He was captured in Sicily in 1943 and spent the remainder of the war in Italian and German POW camps, although he did escape from one Italian camp for a short period of time. After being repatriated, he was demobbed in 1946 as a Company Quartermaster Sergeant.

He returned to Sunderland to resume his job with the Health Department, got married to Elsie Poulter and bought a house in Archer Square, Farringdon, Sunderland. He would live there until his death on 5th March 1973, aged 66, just one year after retirement. He had battled cancer for a number of years. He was cremated at Sunderland Crematorium. His medals including his GC, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45 and 1953 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal were donated to the Green Howards Museum, Richmond, Yorkshire by his family.





Thomas Stewart – Image of the Alder GC Medal Group at the Green Howards Museum, Richmond, Yorkshire.