Tribute to husband, hero and best friend
RAF veteran remembered by friends and family
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.”
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.