Trib­ute to hus­band, hero and best friend

RAF vet­eran re­mem­bered by friends and fam­ily

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Kather­ine Cle­men­tine

HILLING­DON and the na­tion lost one of its wartime he­roes on Fri­day, as RAF vet­eran Tommy Thomas died aged 93.

The great-grand­fa­ther passed away at his home in Har­mondsworth sur­rounded by his wife of 46 years, Armelle, an and his two ch chil­dren, Alan, 69 an and Les­lie, 67.

Tommy was bo born in France in Ja Jan­uary 1922 and ca came to the UK on an ex­change ag aged 13. He be­gan vo volunteering at R RAF Uxbridge ag aged 17.

Af­ter tar­get to tow­ing in Ll Llandow, Wales, he help­ing train fig fighter pilots to hit tar­gets, he was se­lected for Temps­ford Spe­cial Du­ties Squadron 161 aged 21.

Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, Tommy was an air-gun­ner in­volved in dan­ger­ous night-time Mail Pick-Up (MPU) oper­a­tions, on board a spe­cially adapted Lysander, with a 15 foot bam­boo cane and hook sus­pended be­low the air­craft.

Bob Large, now 93, was Tommy’s pi­lot and will proudly wear his medals as a mark of re­spect.

He said: “When he was in the RAF he was young, fit, a good look­ing chap, very con­sci­en­tious, light­hearted and friendly.

“There’s quite a lot of un­der­stand­ing be­tween pi­lot and crew and he and I got on very well.

“He was the most won­der­ful crew that you could pos­si­bly find.

“By the end of the war, it was only he and I who did mail pick up and we stayed un­til af­ter D-Day.”

Tommy left the RAF in 1946 and joined BEA and spent 46 years at Heathrow Air­port, where he met his wife, Armelle.

She said: “We were down­stairs in Ter­mi­nal 1 in the VIP lounge. I had my eye on him im­me­di­ately, he was dash­ing now and dash­ing then.”

They

mar­ried

on Oc­to­ber 15, 1969 and Armelle moved into Tommy’s house in the vil­lage “He fell in love with,” she said.

Armelle said: “The day I mar­ried him it all be­came about Tommy. He was my part­ner, my soul­mate, my love, my best friend and a hero of the coun­try. If I was to do it all again, from the be­gin­ning, I would.”

Tommy was recog­nised for his brav­ery dur­ing the war in 1991 and awarded the Lé­gion D’hon­neur for courage by the French gov­ern­ment.

He was ad­mit­ted to Hilling­don Hos­pi­tal three weeks be­fore his death but dis­charged af­ter two days.

“He wanted to be looked af­ter and cared for at home,” said Armelle. “We couldn’t fault any­one at the hos­pi­tal. He was on Grange Ward and I’d like to give a mas­sive thank you to them, they bought me so much time with him.”

Tommy’s fu­neral will take place on Wed­nes­day Septem­ber 16, where his cof­fin – draped in a Union Flag – will leave Har­mondsworth Vil­lage Green at 12.30pm for a church ser­vice at St An­drew’s Church, Uxbridge at 1.30pm.

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