Tom Petty got out of the sleeping cabin after the first impact and was still on the midships section after the ship went on to The Scar.
Like so many others he was confused, not knowing what had happened or which was the safest course of action.
He met another man and they discussed which way to go. Tom decided to head for the stern. Very soon afterwards the ship broke into three pieces. There were a number of men on the separated stern section and the Captain urged them to get across the ever widening gap. A few succeeded but Tom was not one of them. About thirty remained stranded. The other man decided to remain on the centre section and survived. Later he told Tom’s brothers about the encounter but he did not know what subsequently happened.
Tom was thirty years of age and the youngest of four brothers. His sister Mary Alice was two years younger. He lived at 11, Coronation Street with his wife Sarah Annie and their three young sons. The new row of terrace houses, named after George the Fifth’s accession, was close to the cotton mills grouped on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Long lng, and very convenient for work.
Tom was the Rohilla’s unofficial barber.
Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981