Friday, June 20, 2008

S/Ldr Tommy J. Broom DFC** 1914-2010

Tommy Broom is one of the RAF's most legendary and popular heroes of World War II. He joined the service at eighteen years of age in 1932 and after service in the Middle East, he first saw action against Germany in a Fairey Battle during 1939 with No 105(B) Squadron. He continued to serve with 105 Squadron until November 1940, a period that included the disastrous Battle of France and the low-level attacks on the Channel ports to destroy the invasion barges, in both of which actions the squadron suffered severe losses. Having completed more than his share of front-line flying he was transferred to 13 Operational Training Unit at Bicester, to teach the influx of newly-trained navigators the additional skills required for combat situations. He returned to 105(B) Squadron in January 1942 to complete a further tour.

In August of 1942 his war came to a dramatic halt when his plane hit a pylon and crashed near Antwerp. The Mosquito was torn apart by the impact and he was temporarily knocked unconscious. After coming round he laid low in some woods for a couple of days before coming across a remote field hospital and managed to talk a nurse into helping him and the plane's pilot. They were put in contact with resistance fighters in Antwerp who provided forged documents and railway tickets to take them to Paris. He then spent two months desperately dodging the Gestapo as he made an incredible 1,000-mile journey across France and Spain to get back to Britain.
After his return Tommy Broom was paired with pilot Ivor Broom, who was no relation, and the men became known in the RAF as the 'Flying Brooms' completing 57 operations together He was active in front-line flying until the end of the war, belonging to numbers 571(B), 128(B) and 163(B) Mosquito Squadrons.

Tommy Broom took part in 83 sorties and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross three times.