Tom Fleming died on the 24th of April 2009 (just three months short of his ninetieth birthday) after a long period in hospital.

Tpr TA Fleming
Tpr TA Fleming

He was born in Hull (along with his twin brother Gerry) on the 25th of July 1919. Educated at the local school he went into the print trade as an engraver with the Hull City Engraving Company and was employed there until he and Gerry volunteered and joined the Army in December 1939 on a six-year engagement.

Tom went to the RAC and subsequently to ‘A’ Squadron The 4th Hussars, who were equipped with light MK VIB tanks and trained as a Driver MECH. His brother went to the RASC.

The Regiment sailed for Egypt in November 1940 as part of the First Light Armoured Brigade and commenced training for desert warfare. During this period Tom heard that his brother’s unit was stationed in the vicinity.

He went to visit his brother’s Unit and enquired at a tent if anyone knew Gerry Fleming. The soldier turned around and he was confronted by his brother.

In January 1941 Germany was preparing to invade Greece and the Balkans and the decision was made to send a force to assist the Greeks. A force of some 54 thousand men (which included The 4th Hussars) sailed for Greece under the command of General Maitland Wilson on the 6th of March.

Unfortunately when the Germans did invade they had superiority in men, tanks and air support. On Easter Sunday ‘A’ Squadron 4th Hussars were fighting a rearguard action during which Tom’s vehicle commander Lt. Alan Nicholl (Troop Leader) was killed. Tom survived that one but was eventually taken prisoner on the 28th of April and remained a Prisoner of War in Germany until July 1945.

Sadly more than four hundred Officers and men of The 4th Hussars were captured in the operation in Greece.

When Tom returned home he resumed his previous job and worked for the company until he retired. He met his future wife Ada in 1946 and they married on the 16th of March 1951.

It appears Tom was a quiet, very popular man who enjoyed a pint but rarely spoke about his POW experiences. Ada told me he had a good send-off with a full church which reflects his popularity.

He was awarded the Africa Star and the War Medal.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. Middle East (Greece and Crete) timeline