The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. A H Thom
Alexander Henry Thom of Perth, Scotland was born on 29th May 1919. While training as a quantity surveyor he joined the RAFVR on 24th June 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot and began his weekend flying at 11 E&RFTS Perth.
Called to full-time service at the outbreak of war, he was posted to 3 ITW Hastings on 2nd October, moved to 15 EFTS Redhill on 29th April 1940 and then to 15 FTS on 15th June, firstly at Brize Norton and later at Chipping Norton.
On 22nd September Thom went to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge and after converting to Hurricanes joined 79 Squadron at Pembrey on 6th October. He was posted on to 87 Squadron at Exeter on the 31st.
Above image courtesy of the collection of F/O R Watson.
Thom was still serving with the squadron during 1941.
On 21st July he and F/O GL Roscoe shared in the destruction of a He111 which crashed into the sea off the Scillies. The crew took to a life raft and Thom circled them until a motor launch came and picked them up. Thom later met the crew and was given a flying helmet by the German pilot.
On 21st October, this time with F/O EG Musgrove, Thom shared a Me110 southeast of the Scillies.
Commissioned in early December 1941, Thom was appointed 'B' Flight Commander on 10th July 1942 and awarded the DFC (gazetted 14th August 1942).
On the 19th August 1942, while supporting the ground forces at Dieppe, his Hurricane was hit by ground fire and lost oil pressure. He managed to limp back to England where he made a forced landing at East Dean. Thom managed to get back to his airfield as a passenger in a Master flown by F/Sgt. Lowe and immediately took off again in another Hurricane, flew back to Dieppe and proceeded to strafe enemy positions.
He was then credited with two enemy aircraft destroyed and a He111 probably destroyed.
In November 1942 87 Squadron went to North Africa. Thom was posted away on 7th May 1943 to be a flying control officer at Bone.
He returned to 87 Squadron, then at Tingley, and took command on 27th June 1943. He was again posted away on 27th September, this time to return to the UK.
On 17th November Thom became an instructor at 55 OTU Annan. He moved to 53 OTU Kirton-in-Lindsey on 12th March 1944.
He was appointed Flight Commander, Fighter Affiliation Flight at 84 (Bomber) OTU at Husbands Bosworth on 19th May 1944 and remained there until 10th October when he went to RAF Peterhead as adjutant.
Thom's final posting was to HQ 13 Group at Inverness on 8th May 1945 as a staff officer. He was released from the RAF on 4th December 1945 as a Flight Lieutenant.
He then completed his training as a quantity surveyor and remained in this profession until retiring in the 1980s. His final appointment was Regional Quantity Surveyor for the Western Region Hospital Board in Scotland.
Thom died on 10th January 2016.