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Button sucked by sailor Thomas Wilson, in order to stave off thirst

Date made: n.d.

Maker: unknown

Description: This small object represents a dramatic incident at sea, and the fate which befell many sailors during the First World War. Thomas Wilson of Peel was a Royal Navy gunner aboard the armed merchantman SS Thirlby, when on 2 July 1917 she was attacked by a U-boat off the west coast of Ireland. Most of the crew were able to get into lifeboats before the Thirlby sank, but were then left adrift in the Atlantic Ocean with barely any provisions. For three days the survivors drifted, until they were eventually rescued. In that time, Wilson sucked on the button in order to produce saliva and fend off thirst as best he could.

Object name: button

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: L22783/2


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