Uncle Tom

One of the most powerful memories I have from my childhood concerns my Uncle Tom. He was Mum’s only sibling, older than her by two years (Mum was a twin but I understand Nan lost the other baby during the pregnancy). Mum adored her big brother from a very young age.

Of the photos I have unearthed so far, this is the one in which he is youngest. Not sure about the woolly suit…

This one is with Ethel’s cousin Gladys. Mum thinks it may have been taken at the entrance to Pinks’ factory.

Gladys’ husband had a horse and dray wagon for delivering barrels of beer. It was a common job in those days. Just to give you an idea, the next photo is of a horse and dray.

This is my favorite.

This is with Mum.

So is this one. Sorry about the quality.

Tommy is in the front row, far left. I think Class 5 would have made him 10 or 11 (1933?).

At age 9, Tommy had an operation (Mum thinks it was on his knee). He was sent to convalesce to this home in Broadstairs (by the sea, in Kent).

This is the other side of the postcard, which he sent to Tom and Ethel.

Tommy was in the Air Force during World War 2. He was a flight mechanic. Mum remembers him being stationed in Khartoum (Sudan), where one of his friends was killed by a plane propeller on the airfield.

When I was in primary school, Mum worked and Nan would fetch me from school. I’d wait at her flat till Mum came to collect me. Tommy and other family members would drop by after work too. On Friday, 27 November 1959, Tommy came by because it was his birthday the following Sunday. That was the last time I saw him. On Monday, I was also at Nan’s when a policeman knocked at the door to inform her that Tommy had died at home the night before. On his birthday. I shall never forgot the scene as Nan broke down. It was one of the most emotionally impacting moments of my life. I rushed out, tore down the stairs and ran into the square of our flats. Mum was on her way in and I blurted out that Uncle Tommy was dead.

Growing up, people always said I reminded them of Tommy. I looked rather like him and people said I had a similar temperament. My recollections of him are as a gentle, affable man. His untimely death cast a long shadow over our family life. Mum feels the loss to this day.

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