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The Airmen's Stories - P/O R H Thomas


Rhys Henry Thomas was born in 1918 in Southampton and joined the RAFVR in May 1938 as an Airman u/t Pilot.

Called up on 1st September 1939, he completed his training at 2 FTS, was commissioned and arrived at 7 OTU Hawarden on 10th August 1940. After converting to Spitfires Thomas joined 266 Squadron at Wittering on 26th August, moved to 66 Squadron on the 28th and then to 64 Squadron on 10th September.

He remained with the squadron until 19th June 1941 when he was posted as a Flight Commander to 129 Squadron, then reforming at Leconfield.



The squadron became fully operational on 20th August 1941 and moved south to Westhampnett. Thomas was given command of 129 Squadron on 2nd January 1942 with the rank of Acting Squadron Leader.

He claimed a Fw190 destroyed on 5th May and was awarded the DFC (gazetted 22nd May 1942).

On 17th August Thomas damaged a Fw190. He led the squadron on the 19th in the Dieppe operation, carrying out an early-morning attack on gun positions and later in the day providing fighter cover on two separate sorties.. Thomas was posted to Hornchurch on 30th August 1942 as Wing Leader.

He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 11th September 1942).

On 29th July 1943 Thomas was appointed Wing Leader at Tangmere. He was posted away to HQ 11 Group in September to take a job on the Planning staff.

In March 1944 he did a short course at RAF Staff College, after which he joined 83 Group, 2nd TAF. Very much involved in the preparations for the invasion of Europe, Thomas went to France on D+1.

Thomas stayed on in the RAF after the war. He died of peritonitis in the Princess Beatrice Hospital in London on 19th May 1951.



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