War office declared wrong Tom was dead
Relative keen to trace family
It was one of those terrible but thankfully few mistakes that sadly happen in wartime…
An official letter telling a local family that their son had been tragically killed in action was delivered to the house.
But, although the authorities had the correct name, they had misidentified the person who was killed and had the wrong address.
The notice of death from the UK War Office had been delivered in error.
It had been sent to the family of soldier Tom King from Clydebank.
But his comrade Tom King from Dumbarton was, in fact, the one who perished at the Battle of Medenine, in Tunisia, on March 23, 1943.
Details of this terrible mistake have been revealed on social media by a former pupil of St Patrick’s High School in Dumbarton.
Mr King, also called Tom - the nephew of the Clydebank soldier Tom King - asked anyone with a photograph of Tom King, the Dumbarton soldier who did actually die, to contact him.
The dead soldier’s family only found out officially months after the initial letter had been delivered to the wrong family.
The 71-year-old said: “As a pupil in St Patrick’s during the late 1950s and early 1960s I would glance periodically at the school war memorial as I had a namesake T. King listed with the Second World War dead.
“This coincidence was always at the back of my mind, but it was not until some 40 years later that my uncle, also Thomas (Tommy) King, discussed our mutual namesake listed on the memorial.
“He advised me that not only had they served together in the Cameron Highlanders as lance corporals, but that they were friends and been given almost identical army numbers.
“Tommy King from Dumbarton was 2934143 while Tommy King from Clydebank was 293443.
“They both took part in the battle of El Alamein and both men subsequently fought with their regiment across North Africa to outside Tunis.
“My uncle was reported killed as per the attached letter from the War Office.
“The family of Tommy from Dumbarton having heard of my uncle’s death travelled from Dumbarton to Dalmuir to commiserate with my grandparents, Jessie and Patsy.
“Approximately a month after my uncle was reported killed in action, the War Office realised that an error had been made, and that it was in fact Tommy King from Dumbarton who had been killed on March 23 while fighting beside my uncle.
“This happened during the assault by the 51st Highland Division on the Mareth Line at Medenine, an action that had started in