Tom Tamani died on Christmas Eve 1997 in his homeland of Fiji.
He was born Levani Valegatu Tamanikairukurukuiovalau on 27 April 1938 at Koromumu Sigatoka.
Before coming to England Tom served in the Fiji Merchant Marine. During his service, he was involved with the nuclear tests on Christmas Island. He had the distinction of being the eldest of the 212 Fijians who were the first to join the British Army in 1961.
QOH were very fortunate indeed to get someone of Tom’s calibre into their ranks. However, there was a problem with Tom’s surname of 24 letters. With very few in the Regiment being able to pronounce it or write it, it was agreed with MOD and RAC Records that only the first six letters would be used hence Tpr Tamani became a Queen’s Own Hussar, Tom started life in the Regiment as a tank driver in ‘B’ Squadron and followed the usual path through the junior ranks until he was deservedly promoted to Sergeant,
He was a very talented soldier who always wanted to be involved. His sense of humour was second to none and in a banter, he gave as good as he got, no matter what the situation might be. He was a very good Regimental rugby player and boxer, When in the ring one always knew if his opponent had hurt or upset him as he
would smile at him and then set about knocking the poor chap out, which was often the case.
While serving in Hohne, Tom organised a huge party for all the Fijians serving in BAOR, which was no mean feat. It really was a superb event which appeared to go on for days! Tom was greatly admired and respected by everyone,
He must go down as one of the Regiment’s great characters who brought a lot of joy to those around him. After returning to Fiji Tom went home to his village of Bureta in Levuka but, with village life not being what he had expected he joined the Reserve Bank of Fiji in 1984 as a member of the security forces. He stayed with the bank until his first serious illness in 1905 which was just before his official retirement from the bank.
Everyone who knew Tom was shocked and saddened to hear of his death but I’m sure his memory will live on for many years to come. To his family in Fiji and England, we send our deepest sympathy on their very sad loss of a dear husband and father.