Sunday, 18 August 2013

26. Tom Mallon

In an earlier post I described the death of Tom, the second of Bill Mallon's brothers to die, as follows: "Just before 4.30 a.m. on the 12th March 1945, Tom Mallon and his navigator, P/O George Brock (NZ429138), took off in their Mosquito Mark XXX (MT484) from Gilze-Rijen airfield in the Netherlands for a night patrol. Minutes later they crashed into a barn 2.5 km from the runway - both died later that day. Tom had become the second Mallon brother to be killed in action."

I was conscious as I wrote it of how impersonal the description seemed, rather like a few lines in a newspaper recording the loss of just another airman, but such was the scale of losses during this conflict that this was how each tragedy was reported at the time. Thanks to the generosity of Tom's nephew Barrie and niece Barbara I have now had the opportunity to see some of the more personal aspects of Tom's death and to experience, however remotely, some of the anguish that Tom's parents and sister must have felt when the news of a second family bereavement came through.

On the 14th March 1945 Tom's sister Dora May, known as May to her friends and family, received a telegram .

The telegram, dated just 2 day's after Tom's death, received by his sister May
I am not sure why May received the telegram, unless she had named herself as Tom's 'next of kin' after Jack's death to save her parents from the ordeal, if the worst happened, of receiving news of the death of another son. Some time later May received a letter, written at the same time as the telegram, from the New Zealand Air Department. It gave her more information about the circumstances of Tom's death.

Tom and his navigator P/O George Block are now lying in the Bergen op Zoom cemetery, 30 km west of Breda, but according to Tom's death certificate and a passage from Leslie Hunt's book "Defence until dawn" he was initially buried in Breda, about 10 km from the crash site.

Tom's final resting place in the
Bergen op Zoom Cemetery.
There is a memorial to Tom on this website

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