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British Industrial History

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George Thomson (1887-1965)

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Rear Admiral Sir George Thomson (1887-1965)

1965 Obituary [1]

'We regret to have to announce the death of Rear-Admiral Sir George Thomson C.B., C.B.E. For many years, almost up to the time of his death he was Naval Correspondent of this journal. Though not an engineer he brought to that task a deep understanding of the needs of the Navy and of the value to it of the variety of technical equipment which engineers are providing. He was born in 1887. Upon joining the Navy he specialised in submarines, serving in submarine commands during most of the First World War. His service in and around submarines totalled twenty-five years; and he loved to talk about them. He retired from the Navy early in 1939. But he still had a great service to perform for the nation.

When the Second World War broke out plans made in advance to set up a Ministry of Information were executed and a Censorship Division was created under Admiral Usborn. He found himself swamped with work. There was an intense need for someone who could remain on good terms with the Press and at the same time make it understandable that certain information must be censored. Thomas was recalled to take up a job which became titled Chief Press Censor. He did the job not merely well but with a touch of genius. Whoever head of a censor who was popular with the Press? Thomson was. Quite soon indeed, pressmen were referring to him as "Tommy"! The reason lay in a genius for making friends with everyone whether or not he agreed with them; and in the straight-forward commonsense be brought to the job. He was always prepared - whatever the rules and regulations said - to consider whether an item of information was really likely to be of value to the enemy or not; and he was just as prepared to dispute such a matter with the Services side as with the Press side. Above all his decisions were prompt - a matter of great concern to the daily press.

After the war, he became public relations officer of the Latin America Centre. But he also continued his wartime work in a modified form as the Secretary of an important but little know body, the Services, Press and Broadcasting Committee. There he showed great sympathy for the views of the technical and trade press and gave much encouragement to its representatives on that Committee.

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