Tom joined the Army in 1939 at the age of 20. His expansive tours of duty began with training in England before he saw action in Dunkirk, El Alamein, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
He had been promoted to Corporal by the time his regiment was posted to Italy in 1944. It was here that Tom’s life would be changed forever.
After fighting their way north to join the fierce battle of Monte Cassino, Tom and his regiment found themselves so close to the enemy that they could hear German soldiers talking. Then a mortar bomb landed close by, killing and wounding many of his colleagues. Tom was hit by both shrapnel and machine gun fire.
The next thing he remembers is waking up in a field hospital. The seriousness of Tom’s injuries meant that doctors had no other option than to amputate his left leg. Following a long spell of recovery, he returned to England for the first time in four years.
Making a new start
When Tom arrived home he was sent to Queen Mary’s hospital in Roehampton, London to be measured for an artificial limb. Little did he know that he would also be taking the first steps to a new career.
During the Second World War, Roehampton serviced the needs of those who had lost limbs. Shortly after learning to walk using his own artificial limb, Tom was offered a job there.
Tom recalls, “Having lost a knee, I made that my speciality. There were many limbless employees there and we used to experiment on one another with our ideas and models. We felt we were doing something worthwhile for those whose lives could be transformed in this way – as mine had.”
Tom continued to work in the industry for 40 years, until retirement and still wears one he made himself.
Came to live with us: