Man refused a pension ‘because he was 20 days short’ – despite 10-year Navy career

When Gordon Thomas finally retired he contacted the Royal Fleet Auxilliary about the pension due to him – but he is still fighting to get what he says he is due

Gordon Thomas served in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary as a younger man
Gordon Thomas served in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary as a younger man

A man claims he has been refused a pension because he was 20 days short of his service record.

Former Royal Fleet Auxiliary Commander Gordon Thomas, who now lives in a care home, was devastated after he was refused his pension that he claims is owed to him, Plymouth Live reports.

Despite having served his country, he is determined to get a pension for his 10 years’ service.

To be eligible for a pension, he has to have to served 10 years and he is just 20 days short of the requirement.

However, Gordon said that after leaving the RFA initially, he returned and was deployed to the Suez Canal during the crisis in 1956, and was redeployed in Argentina during the rebel uprising against Peron.

Gordon Thomas was devastated after he was refused his pension



Gordon Thomas on deck in RFA uniform where he served from the late 1940s to early 1950s


Gordon Thomas/Jane Owen)

He served in the Suez, and recalls the dangerous times while working for the past.

Gordon told Plymouth Live : “We were put on a war footing at Suez, sitting ducks on our oil tanker when an Israeli jet fighter buzzed us. We feared for our lives, we really did.”

He and the rest of his crew were then paid an East of Suez bonus and a War bonus, and were promised that their time in the war zone would ‘count as double’ for their pensionable service record.

After leaving the RFA he went on to teach navigation at the Plymouth Polytechnic and many of his students went on to be officers on oil tankers.

When he finally retired, he contacted the RFA about the pension due to him, but he is still fighting to get his pension.

He added: “They tried to fob me off on to the Merchant Service Pension Fund but I was in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. I just can’t understand it”.

Gordon hopes he will be given the pension he says he is entitled to



Gordon recently moved from his home in Plymouth to the Long Brook Residential Home in Plympton St Maurice, and the money he says is ‘due to him from the RFA’ would help to pay for the care he needs.

Gordon turned 90 in November, and he told us he ‘knows his time is running out’, but he hopes the RFA will finally reward him for his service.

He said: “It is rather ridiculous, because it should be made up by my war service. I had war service to be paid from the Suez Canal Crisis which I attended, and the First Cod War, which I was also present at.

“Those two alone should make up my service record. I’ve been told that my record goes back so far that it is beyond possibility to look at my records, because it’s so long ago – which seems to be a rather feeble excuse.

“I’ve got my own service records and discharge books covering the various periods, but they say that’s not sufficient.”

He added: “It’s very frustrating for me, because I’ve been trying for the last four years off and on. The story is that the pension people say the records go back so far, that it is beyond their means to access them anymore, and also, the War Bonus that I should have got, they haven’t recognised.

“That should make up the deficit of the 20 days, because you were paid a bonus to go to the war zone. The war bonus was paid as an extra on top of the wages, so very often you didn’t actually get any receipt at all because it was literally paid over the counter.

“There was a far eastern bonus as well, but they’ve said they can’t recognise that bonus because I don’t have any receipts for it.

“I’ve told them on numerous occasions that nobody got a receipt for it, because it was paid on the spot, and you could sub on your eastern bonus to pay for everyday expenses.

“That seems to be gone out of the window as far as the pension people are concerned.”

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) delivers worldwide logistic and operational support to Royal Navy military operations and are the uniformed civilian branch of the Naval Service, staffed by UK merchant sailors.

It supports a wide spectrum of operations from high-tempo upthreat war-fighting to counter-piracy, disaster relief, counter-narcotics, law enforcement and evacuation operations.

The DWP said it did not get involved in issues around individual pension schemes.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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