Thomas Henry Bray was born in 1925. His early diving career was salvage work in the Mediterranean around Malta. One of the projects he worked on was the clearance work on the USS Ohio from Malta Grand Harbour. The USS Ohio was the American tanker often called the Miracle Ship because of her remarkable story of survival. She was hit by bombs, torpedoes and a burning aircraft which crashed directly onto her deck. Despite carrying a cargo of aviation fuel she remained afloat delivering vital fuel for the War effort.

Tom Bray dressed in his Siebe Gorman 6 bolt suit.

From Malta, Thomas commenced clearance work at Corsica, clearing harbours. From there he travelled to South and East Africa through the late 40 s and early 50s on clearance projects. During 1951 and '52 he worked in the English Channel clearing the shipping lanes of sunken vessels.

By now Tom was working as Chief Diver for the renown salvage firm Risdon Beasley. The Salvage vessel he was assigned to was the SV Twyford. The next project was to be the salvage of gold bullion on the edge of the Grand Banks only seven miles from the resting place of the Titanic! The vessel being salvaged was the Empire Manor which had sunk on January 22 1944 after a collision with the American ship Edward Kavanagh . The Empire Manor caught fire and was abandoned shortly afterwards. The aft section broke away and sank whilst the fore section containing 800 Kgs of gold bullion remained afloat. At that time very few people knew of the gold and a simple opportunity to remove this precious cargo was lost. The fore section was sunk by the Canadian destroyer Wallaceburg as it was a menace to shipping.

Tom Bray and fellow diver Harry Sparks being lifted aboard the SV Twyford.

Following work on the Empire Manor, Tom returned to the Mediterranean for the salvage of the B.O.A.C. Comet 2 airliner Yoke Peter which crashed off the coast of Elba in 1954.
The Comet 2 was the latest of its type in operation so it was imperative to the British Airline Industry to salvage the craft. An observation bell was used for much of this work along with state of the art Marconi - Siebe, Gorman underwater television equipment and a salvage grab. The observation bell played an important part in many of Risdon Beasley's salvage operations. Diver Bray and two other divers are mentioned in Deep Diving and Submarine Operations for work performed on the Comet.
(7th ed by Sir Robert H Davis)

Tom in the Galeazzi observation bell Ro/bis/P depth capacity
600 metres with a maximum endurance capacity of 6 hours.
The overall height, 2 Metres and diameter 1.175 metres.

Salvage experts and crash investigators investigate the wreckage of the Comet on
board the Sea Salvor which recovered 70% of the wreckage over a four square mile area.
Other divers Tom worked with were : Ernie Goodman, who was Tom's best man when he and Lily were
married in Malta in 1946, Bob Light and William (Bunker) Bollard R.N. Petty officer on the HMS Reclaim
who once held the World record Dive of 535 feet in the 6 bolt flexible diving dress with standard helmet.

After Tom's Diving career he went on to work for Westminster Dredging Company of Southampton where he was Superintendent of the Civil Engineering Department.
Whilst working along the coast in Chichester harbour he became involved in another salvage mission and was highly commended for his heroism.

Letters of commendation following the bravery during the rescue of the two sailors.

Sadly, Tom Died in 2007.

Thomas Bray's 6 bolt Siebe Gorman helmet and torch used through most of his working life as a salvage diver.

We are indebted to Sandra Hayes, Tom's daughter for sending us the story of Tom's career and the wonderful photos of Tom's working life.