Saturday, December 02, 2006

Flt Lt. John.B 'Tommy' Thompson 1921-2012

Spitfite Mk9
Supermarine Seafire

Westland Welkin
Tommy Thompson started his flying career with the RAF at Stoke on Trent in August 1940 with No.5 EFTS on Magisters.In October he went to 14FTS at Cranfield to continue his training on Oxfords.This was followed by some time at 2 School of Air Navigation Specialist Air Nav Course for prospective Hampden co-pilots.(Jan-March 1941) but was switched to a Blenheim OTU (April - July 41).He went on to operations with 18 Squadron at Oulton and later to Horsham St Faith (Norwich City airport now)for Low level shipping strikes and High level Circus Raids until 21/8/41.
He was then posted to Overseas Aircraft Departure Unit Watton to collect new aircraft to ferry to the Middle East Blenheim Unit.On 27th August 1941 he suffered a forced landing at Aviero in Portugal but later escaped with R.N. assistance to Gibraltar and returned UK 8/10/41.On his return to the UK he was posted to the Test Flight at 13 M.U.Henlow. He flew Hampdens and Hurricanes on test,Hind,Prefects and Magisters on communication flights, Whitleys II and,very occasionally, Virginias drop testing parachutes. On the 18th March 1942 he switched posting to 7 Air Gunnery School at Stormy Down,Porthcawl.He flew Whitleys Mk I-V for Air gunnery training,Lysanders for drogue towing,Ansons for, Lysander for Air Sea Rescue in the Bristol Channel and Blenheims and Master I on local test flights.
A change of scene on 27th August 1943 when he was posted to 15 M.U. at Wroughton for Horsa Glider towing training with Whitley Vs, then on to 9 M.U.Cosford glider Delivery unit on 15/9/43.The unit delivered Horsas all over England and Scotland for build up for D-Day.He remained with the GDU until 8th May 1944 when he was posted to ATA FTS Thame for refresher flying on fast singles.
Tommy completed 13 hrs on Harvards, 3 hrs on Hurricanes and 3 hrs on Spitfire V before moving on to 33 M.U. Lyneham on the 21st May. Whilst with 33 M.U. he flew on test Spitfires Mk.1, 2, 4, 5, 5a, 5b, 7, 8, 9, 12, 14, 16, and 21.He also flew Seafires Mk.3, 15, and 17. In addition he flew Oxfords and Ansons on communication work. His last posting was to Westland Aircraft Ltd at Yeovil on 25/3/45.Here he flew Seafires Mk.3, 15, 17,Spitfire Mk.9,Welkin, Dominie, Auster V and a Miles Falcon for Comms flying.From Westlands Yeovilton factory he flew Spitfire 9s.His total number of Spitfires flown was 476 and Seafires 294. On the 7th August 1946 Tommy was demobilised,leaving the RAF with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
After the War his flying was mainly with the Portsmouth Aero Club and two private 0wners. From May 1963 to Aug 1984 there were summer time trips with The Parachute Regiment Free Fall Teams Rapides and Islander.In 1967 he joined the Flight Ops Dept at Hatfield being mainly concerned with the 125 until his retirement in October 1986.