Tom Wingham was born a true cockney, in Old Mile End, London, in 1923.
He was the fourth of four children. His father died in 1928 and unable to support four children in the height of the Depression, his mother placed him in Spurgeons Orphanage in 1930.
Here he received a good basic education and won a scholarship to the Borough Polytechnic where he spent three years studying electrical engineering.
Tom left both the orphanage and polytechnic in 1939 and, having been brought up on Biggles and with the war looming, had a desire to make a career in the RAF, but his mother refused to sign the necessary papers.
Attaining 18 in January 1941 he volunteered for aircrew, was accepted as an air observer, and joined as a cadet in July of the same year.
During his training he was based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. On 5th February 1943 he was posted to 102 Squadron and took his first flight on the 13th of February and completed a tour. His crew were;
L-R standing –
Flight Engineer Joe Holliday,
Pilot Dave Hewlet,
Navigator H.A. ‘Blackie’ Blackallar,
Wireless Operator Norman ‘Cheifie’ Beale. (just done 20 ops with crew, completed his 2nd tour) Kneeling –
Air Gunner Andy Reilly,
Bomb Aimer Tom Wingham,
Mid Upper Gunner E. Willie Hall.
Wireless Operator J. Nightingail (replacing Chiefie)
At this years reunion I (webmaster) took possession of everything that was sent to Chris Goss when he wrote the squadron book, 'It's suicide, but it's fun'. Within the masses of paperwork and photo's was the one below. We think this is priceless as not only does it show Tom with Dave, BUT.. next to them.. the soon to be S/L of B Flight, John Marshall.
On 23 rd April 1944 whilst serving with 76 Squadron Toms Halifax was shot down on a raid to Dusseldorf. He survived but sadly two of his 76 Sqd crewmen died. He evaded capture for 5 months in Belgium and was eventually repatriated by the Americans. After a brief spell on R&R he completed a navigators refresher course and was accepted into 105 Squadron Path Finder Force. The war was coming to an end and Tom flew just 4 more trips operating Oboe on Mosquitoes.
Leaving the RAF in 1946 he was engaged in industrial management, although not completely severing himself from the air, rejoining the RAFVR in 1949 for 10 years. Later he moved on to management training and retired in 1986. He has been an active member of the RAFA, RAF Escaping Society (until its disbandment in 1995) and Aircrew Association. Since 1993 to date Tom has been the Honory Secretary of the 102 (Ceylon) Squadron Association and has dutifully represented the squadron at many commemorations across Europe.
On the 21st July 2012 the 102 Ceylon Squadron Association appointed Tom Wingham as Life President.
There is still more to come on Tom, because we have a copy of his log book and other photo's.
Below you can watch Tom giving an interview some years ago.