Visit from Czech Royal Air Force Veteran Tomas Lom
Friday 5th July 2019
On Tuesday 25th June, we had the pleasure of welcoming Czech Royal Air Force Veteran Tomáš Lom to the Club for a lunch in the Dining Room followed by a visit to the Bomber Command Memorial on Piccadilly.
Tomáš, now 94 years old, is one of the few surviving Czechoslovaks who served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Born Tomáš Löwenstein into a Jewish family in Prague, Tomáš and his family relocated to the UK having fled Czechoslovakia days before Nazi invasion in 1939. He signed up in London the moment he turned 18, and has described his time in the Air Force in an interview with Ian Willoughby at Radio Prague (https://bit.ly/2Nq9OFz):
“The first month was just learning to parade the English way… We learned the left side is port, the right side is starboard, that the English ranks are from AC2 to wing commander, things like that. After about a month of these basic necessities, a committee arrived which had to select who was bound for ground crews, who was to be airborne, and among the airborne who was to be a pilot, who was to be a radio man, who was to be a navigator and so on. Of course I wanted to be a fighter pilot, but no luck. I was selected for radio service. In no time I was sent to Number 1 Radio School, where for about two months or so we did ground Morse code training. After that we did exercises in airborne radio stations… I had some idea about the theory of radio from my physics training in Scotland.”
Following his Cranwell radio training, Tomáš received his sergeant’s stripes. He then took on an air gunners course at Barrow-in-Furness, and was subsequently sent to the Czech 311 Squadron at Tain, where he took part in numerous missions. Following several near-death experiences, Tomáš served as a wireless operator in the Bahamas towards the end of the war.
During his visit to the Club, Tomáš was able to view the Czech No. 313 Squadron Badge and the badge of No. 68 Squadron, which had up to eight flying crews consisting entirely of Czechoslovak personnel. The Squadron Badge shows an owl's head and contains the Czech motto “Vždy Připraven”, meaning "always prepared" (pictured).
It was a pleasure to welcome Tomáš to the Club and learn of his incredible story.