Tommy was born in Deptford London on 31 July 1940.

Cpl BT Collins
Cpl BT Collins

Shortly after his birth, his family returned to their home town of Belfast. He was apprenticed to an upholsterer and continued with that trade throughout his life, albeit on a part-time basis in later life.

Tommy joined the QRIH in 1960 just 2 years after the amalgamation of the 4th and 8th Hussars, and he joined ‘B’ Squadron in Hohne.

In 1965 he joined the Special Recce Squadron which was soon after amalgamated with Cyclops Squadron of the RTR to form the RAC Parachute Squadron. He remained with the Squadron for 11 years completing well over 200 descents and where he became known as ‘Paddy’ Collins.

During his time with the Squadron, he became infamous for one parachute jump in particular. When airborne above Cyprus, he anticipated the jump signal and almost missed the island completely. He just managed to hit the beach getting his feet wet in the process. The incident was subsequently reported in Soldier magazine further adding to his reputation.

He left the Regiment in 1969 to pursue a civilian career.

Times were hard in Northern Ireland in those days and he eventually rejoined the Regiment and the RAC Parachute Squadron in 1970.

During his service, Tommy served in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Aden, Malaya, Brunei, Borneo and the Arabian Peninsula.

He took his final discharge in May 1976, when the RAC Parachute Squadron disbanded.

Tommy had a cheerful and outgoing personality and made friends quickly with everyone he met. This was especially the case during his prolonged visits to his son in Sennelager. Tommy married Ann in 1965, though she sadly passed away in 1997.

He is survived by his son, two daughters and three grandchildren.

With his youngest daughter at his side, Tommy died peacefully at home in Kidderminster on 19 April 2004, his 39th wedding anniversary. He is greatly missed by his family, his friends and all those that knew him.

Related topics

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  2. Aden and The Persian Gulf 1961
  3. Malaya and Borneo 1962-64