My father, William Rowland Thomas (always called ‘Rowland’)
photographed in Cairo in April 1944 when he was commissioned as War Substantive Second Lieutenant, Royal Fusiliers. He is
wearing the ribbon of the Africa Star for previous service in North Africa. He was wounded in the left hip by a German machine-gun
bullet near Rimini, eastern Italy, in July 1944, but made it home to London to his wife Mary. He also returned to his teaching career
and in 1946 his first son, Nigel - that’s me - was born.
I was always proud of my father’s service in the Second World War and I think that it was this photograph that first got me interested in military uniforms
NEAR ST.PAUL'S CATHERDRAL IN LONDON
This statue can be found in Seaham, County Durham and was created by local artist Ray Lonsdale and is intended to represent Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which many of the returning soldiers endured during World War I. The statue, called Tommy, is depicted with his head bowed and his rifle in hand
as he reflects on the horror of World War I during the first minute after peace was declared in 1918.
It was installed in May 2014 and intended for 3 months but it has remained in place as it now depicts itself as a monument to the town. It can be found on the seafront near the Terrace Green centotaph.
LONDON BOROUGH OF NEWHAM
Former East Ham Mayor Mr Banks-Martin was the architect of the war memorial in Central Park. It was unveiled in 1921 as a space for contemplation.
The memorial names 1824 men including local man Frederick Gray, who was of the Second Battalion of the Essex regiment
recruited from East and West Ham. He was killed at Ypres, Belgium on 2nd May 1915.
This weekend takes place in July every year and it is fun to walk around in a genuine or reconstructed World War II uniform. Several Yorkshire towns have introduced these events and I recommend anyone to visit. It is a great atmosphere.
This is me wearing (most of) my father’s service uniform at the 1940’s weekend at Leyburn, North Yorkshire, 23rd July 2015. I can just about squeeze into the tunic but the Sam Browne belt is too small for me and the pistol holster was brown leather, but I painted it black when I was about 10 years old. The cap has the Royal Army Ordnance Corps cap-badge as i lost the RF badge. In my left hand is a brown leather covered swagger stick. Should be wearing it hard against my left armpit; here it looks like a cigar.
Left: A Major of Polish paratroops (with a light grey beret) talks to a Luftwaffe officer. Recently the Event organisers have asked visitors not to come in ‘enemy’ (which usually means German) uniform, in order not to offend those in Allied uniform.
Right: I see General Patton has arrived.
CENTENARY NOT FORGOTTEN
EAST HAM CENTRAL PARK, LONDON BOROUGH OF NEWHAM
It is one of the biggest free events in the borough and in 2014, it had the 'Centenary not forgotten' exhibition dedicated to the First World War.