Saturday, 17 August 2013

27. Tom Mallon - "Say not 'Good-night' ........."

In 1949, four years after Tom Mallon died, F/L Leslie Hunt published "Defence until dawn: the story of 488 (NZ) Squadron".

The book recounts in great detail the actions of the squadron's night fighter unit from its formation at Church Fenton, Yorkshire, in June 1942 until it was disbanded in April 1945. At the end of the book there is the obligatory Roll of Honour listing the squadron's losses but it is the handful of references throughout the book that provide the real tribute to Tom Mallon and his navigator George Brock.
They are introduced on page 48:
  • "Tom Mallon of Taranaki and George Brock of Palmerston North ..... were posted in to the squadron and arrived in the early part of May (1944) for their first tour of operations"
After several months in the south of England the squadron were shipped in November 1944 to Amiens-Glisy in northern France to support the Allied advance but had to spend three weeks afloat because of an "administrative bungle". When they eventually arrived the old French airfield, which had been greatly improved by the Germans, had been badly damaged by sustained Allied bombing. Tom gets a special mention on page 72:
  •  "Winco Watts and Tom Mallon were responsible for an extraordinary feat of engineering and resourcefulness - the transfer in toto of a 25 foot aircrew hut from one site to another to be later used as the Intelligence 'House of Knowledge.'"
  • Page 74: "Christmas Eve's 'Peace on Earth' was shattered to some extent when P/O Tom Mallon and F/S George Brock caught up with a Junkers188 on which they closed and attacked from 300 yards hitting the starboard wing as the Hun returned the compliment with a burst from his upper rear turret. As he peeled off to port Tom fired two further bursts but did not see any strikes and the Junkers disappeared into the haze at 1000 ft and was not seen again"
A Junkers 188

  • Page 78: "March was again a particularly quiet month with the weather against us and alas was marked by the loss of a fine crew in Tom Mallon and George Brock who crashed when taking off on patrol from our Dutch advance base. (Gilze-Rijen) From the C.O. to the most junior airman came expressions of sorrow at the death of such a grand couple who in a short time had endeared themselves to all and had worked enthusiastically for the squadron. They had given of their best both in the air and on the ground and as the poet* says 'Say not good-night, but in some brighter clime bid them good morning."
  •  Page 94: May 1945 "... a few weeks later, before leaving Holland, the C.O. and I went .... to Breda to check that the graves of Tom Mallon and George Brock were being well kept ... "

* Anna Letitia Barbauld (1743 - 1825)

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