University of Oxford
9 files

Are you there Tommy?

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 17:32 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Janet wanted to talk about her father, Thomas William Laycock. He was called up on 26th June 1940 and went to Strensall and Catterick for training. Then he joined the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and went by ship from Liverpool to India and Burma. This was in August 1940. Janet was born in January 1940. She brought a photo taken just before he went away in her grandparents' garden in Otley. Janet and her parents lived in Leeds in a back to back so they spent a lot of time in Otley, because Thomas' parents had a big garden. Janet's sibling was born when Thomas landed in India and he was told by telegram, which initially went to the wrong Laycock, who must have had a bit of a shock! Janet's mother had no idea where Thomas was.

Janet took a photo album of his time in India and various papers and deposited them in the KOYLI museum in Doncaster. Janet also brought in his service record. At one point Thomas was in hospital with leg ulcers due to serving in the jungle. They wanted to amputate his leg but he refused. He just told Janet later that the gouges in his leg were a football injury. He rarely talked about his experiences, but did write a sheet of A4 about his war service after being asked to by Janet's brother.

He sailed to Cape Town in 1941, then on to Bombay. He was transferred to the 149 RAC. He drove tanks and talked to Mountbatten, then went to Burma and Chittagong. He left before the monsoon. He could hear the Japanese in the jungle when his tank broke down: 'We know where you are Tommy!'. The joke was that her father was called 'Tommy!'. But it was very frightening. They made jokes about it. Then there was more training. He was posted to Deolali. He was repatriated after 4 years and came from Bombay va Suez dut to VE day being declared. He arrived back in Glasgow, went on leave then back to Catterick. He was then posted to Germany to Fallingbostel near Belsen, and was possibly involved in demolishing Belsen. He was awarded the following medals: The Burma Star, War medal 1939-1945 , Defence Medal.


Item list and details

1. Wooden box from India x2 2. Army days in India and duststorm going through Kedgaon 3. A4 sheet giving details of service 4. Tom and growing family in Otley 5. Crossing the Equator

Person the story/items relate to

Thomas William Laycock

Person who shared the story/items

Janet Kitching

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

He was her father

Type of submission

Shared at Kirklands Community Centre, West Yorkshire on 4 November 2023. Organised by Menston Heritage Group/Menston Parish Council.

Record ID

121182 | KIR007